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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Platypus Philadelphia Introductory Reading Group

Platypus Philadelphia Introductory Reading Group

September 21 – November 30

Wednesdays 6:30PM at:

Saxby’s Coffee @ Temple University

1902 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA  19122


What is the ‘Left’? / What is ‘Marxism’?

Platypus is a project for the self-criticism, self-education, and, ultimately, the practical reconstitution of a Marxian Left. At present the Marxist Left appears as a historical ruin. The received wisdom of today dictates that past, failed attempts at emancipation stand not as moments full of potential yet to be redeemed, but rather as “what was” — utopianism that was bound to end in tragedy. As critical inheritors of a vanquished tradition, Platypus contends that — after the failure of the 1960s New Left, and the dismantlement of the welfare state and the destruction of the Soviet Union in the 1980s-90s — the present disorientation of the Left means we can hardly claim to know the tasks and goals of social emancipation better than the “utopians” of the past did.

In the face of the catastrophic past and present, the first task for the reconstitution of a Left as an emancipatory force is to recognize the reasons for the historical failure of human emancipation and to clarify the necessity of a Left for the present and future. — If the Left is to change the world, it must first transform itself!

The improbable — but not impossible — reconstitution of an emancipatory Left is an urgent task; we believe that the future of humanity depends on it. While the devastating forces unleashed by modern society — capitalism — remain, the unfulfilled promise of social emancipation still calls for redemption. To abdicate this or to obscure the gravity of past defeats and failures by looking to “resistance” from “outside” the dynamics of modern society is to affirm its present and guarantee its future destructive reality.

What has the Left been, and what can it yet become?



September 21

• Cutrone, “Symptomology: Historical transformations in social-political context”
• Cutrone, “Capital in history: The need for a Marxian philosophy of history of the Left”

September 28

• Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left”
• Adorno, “Imaginative excesses”

October 5

• Blumberg, Cutrone, Khan, Leonard, and Rubin, Forum: The decline of the Left in the 20th century

October 12

• Anderson, Cutrone, Kreitman, Postel, and Turl, Forum: Imperialism: What is it, why should we be against it?
• Albert, Cutrone, Duncombe, and Holmes, Forum: The 3 Rs: reform, revolution and “resistance:” The problematic forms of “anti-capitalism” today

October 19

• Brennan, Davis, Hendricks, Mujica, and Rubin, Forum: What is a movement?
• Hendricks, Hughes, Mwaura, and Thindwa, Forum: Left behind: The working class in the crisis

October 26

• Platypus Historians Group, Catastrophe, historical memory, and the Left: 60 years of Israel-Palestine
• Ibish, Kovel, and Rubin, Forum: Which way forward for Palestinian liberation?
• Goodman and Rubin, Forum: Marxism and Israel

November 2

• Farrow, Gabrellas, Mucciaroni, and Wolf, Forum: Which way forward for sexual liberation?
• Nogales, Pereira Di Salvo, and Rojas, Forum: Politics of the contemporary student Left
• Brennan, Klatt, Petcoff, and Weger, Forum: Ideology and the student Left

November 9

• Bernstein, Cutrone, Goehr, and Horowitz, Forum: The relevance of Critical Theory to art today
• Cutrone, Feenberg, Westerman, and Brown, Platypus convention plenary: The politics of Critical Theory

November 16

• Horkheimer, selections from Dämmerung
• Adorno, “Resignation”
• Cutrone, “The Marxist hypothesis”
• Cutrone, “The Left is dead! — Long live the Left!” Vicissitudes of historical consciousness and the possibilities for emancipatory social politics today

November 30

• Cutrone, Morrison, and Rubin, Platypus convention plenary: The Platypus synthesis: History, theory, and practice