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You are here: Platypus /Platypus primary Marxist reading group Winter–Spring 2020

Platypus primary Marxist reading group Winter–Spring 2020


II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

brodsky_leninsmolnypalace

Every Tuesday

5:00pm to 8:00pm

Johnson Center 234

GMU-Fairfax campus

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Find us on Mason360!

Contact us with platypus.metrodc@gmail.com


Recommended winter break preliminary readings:

+ Leszek Kolakowski, “The Concept of the Left” (1968)

+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)

+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)

+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940)

+ Georg Lukacs, Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought (1924)

+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate , Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)


Film screenings: spring 2020

• Fall of Eagles (1974) episodes: "The Last Tsar," "Absolute Beginners," "Dearest Nicky," "The Appointment," "The Secret War," and "End Game"


• 37 Days (2014) ([Episode 1] [Episode 2][Episode 3]


• Rosa Luxemburg (1986)


• Reds (1981)


• Lenin: The Train (1988)


• Doctor Zhivago (1965)


• Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States (2012) Episodes A (1900-20) and B (1920-40)


Winter–Spring 2020

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism


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

• required / + recommended reading


Week 11. what is the Platypus raison d'etre? | Jan. 21, 2020

We will be welcoming all new and returning attendees to the reading group. We will make introductions, explain the purpose of Platypus, field any questions about future events, and discuss how to prepare for next week's readings. If you have the time, please review these recommended readings.

Statement of Purpose

What is a platypus?

A Short History of the Left

Vicissitudes of Historical Consciousness and Possibilities for Emancipatory Social Politics Today

+ Does Marxism Even Matter?! Freedom in History (a teach-in)

+ The History of the Platypus Critique (a public forum from the 10th annual Platypus International Convention )


Week 12. Revolutionary Leadership | Jan. 28, 2020

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


Week 13. Reform or Revolution? | Feb. 4, 2020

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


Week 14. Lenin and the Vanguard Party | Feb. 11, 2020

• Spartacist LeagueLenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)

+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate , Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)

+ Georg Lukacs, Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought (1924)


Week 15. What is to be done? | Feb. 18, 2020

• V. I. LeninWhat is to be Done? (1902)

+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate , Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)

+ Georg Lukacs, Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought (1924)


Week 16. Mass Strike and Social Democracy | Feb. 25, 2020

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


Week 17. Permanent Revolution | Mar. 3, 2020

• Leon TrotskyResults and Prospects (1906)

+ Trotsky, 1905 (1907)

+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980) [ask for PDF]


Week 18. NO SESSION, GMU's Spring Break | Mar. 10, 2020


Week 19. State and Revolution | Mar. 17, 2020

• LeninThe State and Revolution (1917)


Week 20. Imperialism | Mar. 24, 2020

• LeninImperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1915-17)


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

+ Nikolai Bukharin, Imperialism and World Economy (1915-17)


Week 21. Failure of the Revolution | Mar. 31, 2020

• Luxemburg“What does the Spartacus League Want?” (1918)
• Luxemburg“On the Spartacus Programme” (1918)


+ Luxemburg, "German Bolshevism" (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)


Apr. 3rd-5th, 2020 [Platypus international convention] --- all are invited


Week 22. Retreat after Revolution | Apr. 7, 2020

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


Week 23. Dialectic of Reification | Apr. 14, 2020

• Lukács“The Standpoint of the Proletariat” (Part III of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” 1923). Also available on Marxists.org


Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
Commodity form chart of terms
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 

Organic composition of capital chart of terms
Reification chart of terms
+ Lukács, “The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)


Week 24. Lessons of October | Apr. 21, 2020

• TrotskyThe Lessons of October (1924)
• Trotsky"Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)


Week 25. Trotskyism and the 4th International| Apr. 28, 2020

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


• 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)

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


Week 26. The Authoritarian State | May 12, 2020

• Friedrich Pollock"State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941)


• Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1942)


Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 


Week 27. On the Concept of History | May 19, 2020

• two epigraphs, Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson, 2003) and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche, 1980)

• Benjamin"Theses on the Philosophy of History" (1940) [PDF]
• BenjaminParalipomena to "On the Concept of History" (1940)

+ 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, Arcades Project Convolute N, "On the theory of knowledge, theory of progress" (see especially p. 471 [N8,1] on Horkheimer on unredeemablility of past suffering)

+ Charles Baudelaire, from Fusées [Rockets] (1867)
+ Bertolt Brecht, "To posterity" (1939)

Benjamin on history chart of terms

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


Week 28. Reflections on Marxism | May 26, 2020

• Theodor Adorno“Reflections on Class Theory” (1942)
• Adorno“Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)

+ Adorno, four selections from Minima Moralia (1944–47)  Dedication"Bequest""Warning: Not to be Misused" and "Finale"

+ Horkheimer and Adorno, "Discussion about Theory and Praxis" (a.k.a "Towards a New Manifesto?") (1956)

Capital in history timeline and chart of terms

Benjamin on history chart of terms

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


Week 29. Theory and Practice | June 2, 2020

• Adorno“Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
• Adorno“Resignation” (1969)

+ Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (a.k.a. “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)

+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)

+ Adorno, Interview with Der Spiegel magazine (1969)

+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)

Adorno's critique of actionism chart of terms

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

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