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What is the Left?

Platypus Reading Group at Dartmouth College
Mondays 4-7 PM
McCulloch Hall, basement seminar room*

 required / + recommended reading

Week 1. What is the Left? I. Capital in history | Oct 2

• Max Horkheimer, "The little man and the philosophy of freedom" (1926–31)

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by Louis Menand (on Marx and Engels) and Karl Marx, on "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58)

• Chris Cutrone, "Capital in history" (2008)

+ Capital in history timeline and chart of terms

+ Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) chart of terms

+ video of Communist University 2011 London presentation

 Cutrone, "The Marxist hypothesis" (2010)

 Cutrone, “Class consciousness (from a Marxist persective) today”

Week 2. What is the Left? II. Bourgeois society | Oct 9

• Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view" and "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)

• Benjamin Constant, "The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns" (1819)

+ Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the origin of inequality (1754)

+ Rousseau, selection from On the social contract (1762)

Week 3. What is the Left? III. Failure of Marxism | Oct 16

• Max Horkheimer, selections from Dämmerung (1926–31)

 Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)

Week 4. What is the Left? IV. Utopia and critique | Oct 23

• Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)

 Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11

 Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15


* McCulloch is a residence hall connected to Brace Commons, behind 17 East Wheelock Street in Hanover. Street parking is available in front of the Dartmouth Gym. To gain access to the building, meet at the Brace Commons entrance which is located at the back of the courtyard to the right of 13 East Wheelock (a large white house).

Once inside the outer door, take a right and walk down a long hallway into McCulloch. Find stairs on your left, if you see a pool table you have gone too far. The McCulloch Seminar room is in the basement to your right after you get out of the stairwell.

If you do not have a Dartmouth ID card, you may need assistance entering the building. Please contact us ahead of time and we will make sure you can get inside.