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You are here: Platypus /Platypus primary Marxist Reading Group Winter–Spring 2018

Platypus primary Marxist Reading Group Winter–Spring 2018

 Lenin

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Santa Cruz: Thursdays 7:30–9:00 PM

University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
McHenry Library, Room 0359

*Location subject to change. Please consult our weekly email for updates.


• required / + recommended reading


Marx and Engels readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


Winter 2018

I. What is the "Left?" -- What is "Marxism?"


Week 10. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Dec. 7, 2017

• Georg Lukács“The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)

Commodity form chart of terms

Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms


Recommended winter break preliminary readings:

+ Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)
+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6


Film screenings: January 2018

• 37 Days (2014) [Episode 1] [Episode 2] [Episode 3]
• Fall of Eagles (1974) episodes: "Absolute Beginners," "The Secret War," and "End Game"
• Rosa Luxemburg (1986)
• Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States (2012) Episodes A (1900-20) and B (1920-40)
• Reds (1981)


Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Jan. 11, 2018

• LukácsOriginal Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)
+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302


Week 12. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Jan. 18, 2018

• Korsch“Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ 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
+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145


Winter–Spring 2018

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism


Week 13. Revolutionary leadership | Jan. 25, 2018

• Rosa Luxemburg, “The Crisis of German Social Democracy” Part 1 (1915)
• J. P. Nettl“The German Social Democratic Party 1890–1914 as a Political Model” (1965)
• Cliff Slaughter, “What is Revolutionary Leadership?” (1960)


Week 14. Reform or revolution? | Feb. 1, 2018

• LuxemburgReform or Revolution? (1900/08)
+ Eugene Debs, "Competition versus Cooperation" (1900)


Week 15. Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb. 15, 2018

• Spartacist LeagueLenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)


Week 16. What is to be done? | Feb. 8, 2018

• V. I. LeninWhat is to be Done? (1902)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)


Week 17. Mass strike and social democracy | Feb. 22, 2018

• LuxemburgThe Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906)
+ Luxemburg, "Blanquism and Social Democracy" (1906)


Week 18. Permanent revolution | Mar. 1, 2018

• Leon TrotskyResults and Prospects (1906)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)


Week 19. State and revolution | Mar. 8, 2018

• LeninThe State and Revolution (1917)


Week 20. Failure of the revolution | Mar. 15, 2018

• Luxemburg“What does the Spartacus League Want?” (1918)
• Luxemburg“On the Spartacus Programme” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, "German Bolshevism" (AKA "The Socialisation of Society") (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “The Russian Tragedy” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “Order Reigns in Berlin” (1919)
+ Eugene Debs, “The Day of the People” (1919)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)


Week 21. Mar. 22, 2018 (spring break)


Week 22-23. April 5-7, 2018 [Platypus international convention]


Week 24. Retreat after revolution | Apr. 12, 2018

• Lenin“Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920)
+ Lenin, "Notes of a Publicist" (1922)


Week 25. Dialectic of reification | Apr. 19, 2018

• Lukács“The Standpoint of the Proletariat” (Part III of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” 1923). Available in three sections from marxists.org: section 1 section 2 section 3
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms


Week 26. Lessons of October | Apr. 26, 2018

• TrotskyThe Lessons of October (1924) [PDF] + Trotsky, "Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)


Week 27. Trotskyism | May 3, 2018

+ Trotsky, "To build communist parties and an international anew" (1933)
• TrotskyThe Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)
+ Trotsky, "Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay" (1940)
+ Trotsky, Letter to James Cannon (September 12, 1939)


Week 28. The authoritarian state | May 10, 2018

• Friedrich Pollock"State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941) (note 32 on USSR)
• Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1942)


Week 29. On the concept of history | May 17, 2018

• epigraphs by Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson) and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche) on the modern concept of history
+ Charles Baudelaire, from Fusées [Rockets] (1867)
+ Bertolt Brecht, "To posterity" (1939)
+ Walter Benjamin, "To the planetarium" (from One-Way Street, 1928)
+ Benjamin, "Experience and poverty" (1933)
+ Benjamin, Theologico-political fragment (1921/39?)
• Benjamin"On the Concept of History" (AKA "Theses on the Philosophy of History") (1940) [PDF] • BenjaminParalipomena to "On the Concept of History" (1940)
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms


Week 30. Reflections on Marxism | May 24, 2018

• Theodor Adorno“Reflections on Class Theory” (1942)
• Adorno“Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ Adorno, Dedication"Bequest""Warning: Not to be Misused" and "Finale"Minima Moralia (1944–47)
+ Horkheimer and Adorno, "Discussion about Theory and Praxis" (AKA "Towards a New Manifesto?") [Deutsch] (1956)


Week 31. Theory and practice | May 31, 2018

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
• Adorno“Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
• Adorno“Resignation” (1969)
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)
+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)

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