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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/2013 Platypus International Convention: "Program" and "Utopia"

2013 Platypus International Convention: "Program" and "Utopia"

“Program” and “Utopia” have for well over a century now sat in uneasy tension within the politics of the Left, in tension both with each other and with themselves. Political programs tend to be presented in the sober light of practicability — straightforward, realistic, matter-of-fact. Social utopias, by contrast, appear quite oppositely as the virtue of aspiring ambition — involved, unrealistic, exhilarating. Historically, then, the two would appear to be antithetical. In either case, one usually offers itself up as a corrective to the other: the programmatic as a harsh “reality check” to pipe-dream idealism; utopianism as an alternative to dreary, cynical Realpolitik.

Today, however, it is unavoidable that both program and utopia are in profound crisis. For those Leftists who still hold out some hope for the possibility of extra-electoral politics, an impasse has arisen. Despite the effusive political outbursts of 2011-12 in the Arab Spring and #Occupy — with their emphasis on the identity of means and ends, anti-hierarchical modes of organization, and utopian prefiguration — the Left still seems to have run aground. Traces may remain in the form of various issue-based affinity groups, but the more ambitious projects of achieving sweeping social transformation have been quietly put to rest, consoled with the mere memory of possibility.

Meanwhile, longstanding Left organizations, having temporarily reverted to the usual waiting game of patiently tailing popular discontents with the status quo, until the masses finally come around and decide to “get with the program” (i.e., their program), have experienced a crisis of their own: slowly disintegrating, with occasional spectacular implosions, many of their dedicated cadre call it quits amid demoralization and recriminations. What possibilities might remain for a Left whose goal is no longer utopian, and whose path is no longer programmatically defined?


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///4.5.13///Opening Plenary: The Left in Power?

///4.6.13///What is Imperialism? (What Now?)

///4.6.13///Capital, History and Environmental Politics

///4.6.13///Marx and "Wertkritik"

///4.6.13///The Labor Left After Politics and After Utopia

///4.6.13///Closing Plenary: "Program" and "Utopia"



A series of workshops with twelve different organizations identifying on the "Left." Held from April 5-6, at the 2013 Platypus International Convention.

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4.5.13 Workshops

///Internationalist Perspective (US)



///Green Party (US)

///New Compass and Demokratisk Alternativ (Norway)

///Québec solidaire (Canada)

///Party for Socialism and Liberation (US)




///EXIT! (Germany)


4.6.13 Workshops

///SYRIZA (Greece)

///International Marxist-Humanist Organization (US)
///Revolutionary Communist Party (US)

///International Marxist Tendency (US)

///Solidarity Halifax (Canada)

2013 International Convention Platypus Events

A series of events concerning Platypus, the organization, that took place on 4.7.13.

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 ///Platypus Plenary

///President's Report