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You are here: Platypus /Santa Cruz reading group Winter/Spring 2020

Santa Cruz reading group Winter/Spring 2020


II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism


Beginning April 2, 2020 all events are Thursdays, 5:30PM @ zoom for the spring quarter: https://zoom.us/j/922323603?pwd=VVZGZUdjdndlYUZudjh0cXRDc3dvUT09

required / + recommended reading


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


Screening A | Monday, Jan. 6

Rosa Luxemburg (1986)


Week 11. Revolutionary leadership | Monday, Jan. 13

• 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)


Teach-in: Capital in History | Wednesday, Jan. 15 2:30PM @ Kresge 348


Screening B | Monday, Jan. 20

Fall of Eagles episodes: #5 "The Last Tsar" and #6 "Absolute Beginners" on the origins of the Bolsheviks 


Screening C | Monday, Jan. 27

37 Days Episode #3 "One Long Weekend" (uncut BBC version including the Socialists) on the start of WWI; and Fall of Eagles episode #12 "The Secret War" on WWI and the Russian Revolution 


Week 12. Reform or revolution?  | Monday, Feb. 3

Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution? (1900/08)

+ Eugene Debs, "Competition versus Cooperation" (1900)


Week 13. Lenin and the vanguard party | Monday, Feb. 10

Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)

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


Week 14. What is to be done? | Monday, Feb. 17

• 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 | Monday, Feb. 24

Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906)

+ Luxemburg, "Blanquism and Social Democracy" (1906)


Week 16. Permanent revolution | Monday, Mar. 2

• Leon Trotsky, Results and Prospects (1906)

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


Week 17. State and revolution | Monday, Mar. 9

Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)


March 16 Final Exams


Week 18. March 23 Spring Break


Week 19. Imperialism | Thursday, Apr. 2

Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)

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


Week 20. Platypus International Convention, Chicago | Apr. 3-5 - CANCELED


Week 21. Failure of the revolution | Thursday, Apr. 9

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 22. Retreat after revolution | Thursday, Apr. 16

Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920)

+ Lenin, "Notes of a Publicist" (1922)


Week 23. Dialectic of reification | Thursday, Apr. 23

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 1section 2section 3

+ 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 | Thursday, Apr. 30

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

Trotsky, "Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)


Week 25. Trotskyism | Thursday, May 7

+ 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)


Week 26. The authoritarian state | Thursday, May 14

• Friedrich Pollock, "State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941) (note 32 on USSR)

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

+ Capitalist contradiction chart of terms


Week 27. On the concept of history | Thursday, May 21

• epigraphs by Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson) and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche) on the modern concept of history

+ Charles Baudelaire, fromFusées[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 history chart of terms

Benjamin, "On the Concept of History" (AKA "Theses on the Philosophy of History") (1940) [PDF]

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

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

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


Week 28. Reflections on Marxism | Thursday, May 28

+ Capital in history timeline and chart of terms

+ Benjamin on history chart of terms

• 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 29. Theory and practice |  Thursday, June 4

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

+ Commodity form chart of terms

+ Reification chart of terms

+ Capitalist contradiction chart of terms

+ Adorno's critique of actionism chart of terms

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)

+ Organic composition of capital 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 withDer Spiegelmagazine (1969)

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