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You are here: Platypus /Platypus primary Marxist reading group Winter–Spring 2019

Platypus primary Marxist reading group Winter–Spring 2019

Wednesdays
4:00pm to 7:00pm

GMU-Fairfax campus, room subject to change. Check our social media for up-to-date locations.

Find us on social media! Facebook

Contact us with platypus.metrodc@gmail.com

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• required / + recommended reading

Recommended winter break 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)


Film screenings winter 2019:

 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)


Winter 2019 (continuation from fall syllabus)

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

Week 7. What is Marxism? IV. Critique of Political Economy | Jan. 23, 2019

+ commodity form chart of terms

 Marx, selections from the Grundrisse (1857–61), pp. 222–226, 236–244, 247–250, 276–293 ME Reader pp. 276-281

 Marx, Capital Vol. I, Ch. 1 Sec. 4 "The Fetishism of Commodities" (1867), pp. 319–329

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


Week 8. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Unavailable

Week 9. What is Marxism? VI. Class Consciousness | Unavailable

Week 10. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of Philosophy | Unavailable


Spring 2019 syllabus

II. Introduction to Revolutionary Marxism

Week 11. Revolutionary Leadership | Jan. 30, 2019

• 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 12. Reform or Revolution? | Feb. 6, 2019

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


Week 13. Lenin and the Vanguard Party | Feb. 13, 2019

 Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)


Week 14. What is to be done? | Feb. 20, 2019

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


Week 15. Mass Strike and Social Democracy | Feb. 27, 2019

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


Week 16. Permanent Revolution | Mar. 6, 2019

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


Week 17: No Session on March 13th (GMU's spring break)


Week 18. State and Revolution | Mar. 20, 2019

 Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)


Week 19. Imperialism | Mar. 27, 2019

 Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)
+ Lenin, Socialism and War Ch. 1 The principles of socialism and the War of 1914–15 (1915)


Week 20. Failure of the Revolution | Apr. 3, 2019

 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. Retreat after Revolution | Apr. 10, 2019

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


Week 22. Dialectic of Reification | Unavailable


Week 23. Lessons of October | Apr. 17, 2019

 Trotsky, The Lessons of October (1924) [PDF]

 Trotsky, "Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)


Week 24. Trotskyism | Apr. 24, 2019

 Trotsky, "To Build Communist Parties and an International Anew" (1933)
+ Trotsky, "If America Should Go Communist" (1934)
 Trotsky, The 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)

+ Platypus Historians Group, "The Dead Left: Trotskyism" (2008)


Week 25. The Authoritarian State | May TBA, 2019

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


Week 26. On the Concept of History | May TBA, 2019

• epigraph by Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson)

• epigraph by 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, "Fire alarm" (from One-Way Street, 1928)
[JPG] [PDF]
+ 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]

 Benjamin, Paralipomena to "On the Concept of History" (1940)

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


Week 27. Reflections on Marxism | May TBA, 2019

• 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", selections from Minima Moralia (1944–47)
Horkheimer and Adorno, "Discussion about Theory and Praxis" (AKA "Towards a New Manifesto?") (1956)


Week 28. Theory and Practice | May TBA, 2019

 Adorno, “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
 Adorno, “Resignation” (1969)
Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
+ being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms

+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)
+ Adorno, Interview with Der Spiegel magazine (1969)

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