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Welcome back to our first *in-person* reading group since the lockdown! We'll be meeting on Fridays at 6pm.

Given the potentially ongoing Covid/Lockdown situation and the British Summer situation, we'll be playing locations by ear each week, and updating this page as appropriate. We will meet at mainline rail stations each week, and decide where to go from there. If you're interested to join and haven't been in touch before, please feel free to write to london@platypus1917.org or facebook.com/platypusmanchester

( • required / + recommended readings)

Required background reading:
• Chris Cutrone, "Revolution without Marx? Rousseau, Kant and Hegel" (2013); Review of Andrew Feenberg, The Philosophy of Praxis (2015); "Why still read Lukacs? The place of 'philosophical' questions in Marxism" (2014); "Ends of philosophy" (2018); "On philosophy and Marxism" (2020); and “The negative dialectic of Marxism” (2021)

Recommended supplemental reading:
+ Adorno, Lectures on Negative Dialectics; History and Freedom; Introduction to Dialectics; Ontology and Dialectics; Metaphysics: Concepts and Problems

Primary sources:
• Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics (1966, trans. E.B. Ashton, 1973)
+ Alternate translation by Dennis Redmond (2001/2021) [2021 updated PDF]

Charts of terms:
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ Kant's 3 Critiques [PNG] and philosophy [PNG] chart of terms
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 
Commodity form chart of terms
Reification chart of terms
+ Adorno's critique of actionism chart of terms

Week 1: June 4, 2021

Meet on Manchester Victoria station concourse: between the buffet entrance and nearby ticket barriers.

• Gillian Rose, Review of Adorno's Negative Dialectics (1976)
• Theodor W. Adorno, "Why still philosophy?"
• Chris Cutrone, "Ends of philosophy" (2018); "On philosophy and Marxism" (2020); and “The negative dialectic of Marxism” (2021)

Week 2: June 11, 2021

Meet on Manchester Victoria station concourse: between the buffet entrance and nearby ticket barriers.

Adorno, Negative Dialectics, Prologue (Preface and Introduction) 

Week 3: June 18, 2021

Adorno, Negative Dialectics, Part One: Relation to Ontology: I. The Ontological Need

Week 4: June 25, 2021

Adorno, Negative Dialectics, Part One: Relation to Ontology: II. Being and Existence

Week 5: July 2, 2021

Adorno, Negative Dialectics, Part Two: Negative Dialectics: Concepts and Categories

Week 6: July 9, 2021

Adorno, Negative Dialectics, Part Three: Models: I. Freedom

Week 7: July 16, 2021

Adorno, Negative Dialectics, Part Three: Models: II. World Spirit and Natural History

Week 8: July 23, 2021

Adorno, Negative Dialectics, Part Three: Models: III. Meditations on Metaphysics
+ Cutrone, "Ends of philosophy" (2018); "On philosophy and Marxism" (2020); and “The negative dialectic of Marxism” (2021)

7pm Wednesday, November 30
London School of Economics
Room 2.05
Clement House
99 Aldwych
WC2B 4JF
The building is open to the public without swipecard access
 
Panellists
Adam Booth (writer and activist with Socialist Appeal and the International Marxist Tendency)
Paul Demarty (Weekly Worker/ CPGB)
James Heartfield (Sp!ked, author of An Unpatriotic History of the Second World War)
Patrick Neveling (SOAS Development Studies & Utrecht University Anthropology)

Panel description: 

The Left has for over a generation – for more than 40 years, since the crisis of 1973 – placed its hopes in the Democratic and Labour Parties to reverse or slow neoliberal capitalism – the move to trans-national trade agreements, the movement of capital and labor, and austerity. The post-2008 crisis ofneoliberalism, despite phenomena such as SYRIZA, Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring and anti-austerity protests more generally, Bernie Sanders's candidacy, and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership, has found expression on the avowed Right, through UKIP, Brexit, the U.K. Conservatives' move to "Red Toryism" and now Donald Trump's election. The old neoliberal consensus is falling apart, and change is palpably in the air. Margaret Thatcher's infamous phrase "There Is No Alternative" has been proven wrong. What can the Left do to advance the struggle for socialism under such circumstances?

Some background: 

In the 1960s the Left faced political and social crises in an era of full employment and economic growth. Departing from official Communism, which had largely supported the development of the welfare state in industrialized capitalist countries, many on the Left challenged the existing political order, of Keynesian-Fordism, through community organising on the principle of expanding individual and collective freedom from the state. Against Keynesian economic demands, many of these Leftists supported the Rights efforts, to integrate formerly oppressed identity groups into the corporate professional-managerial class. Since the 1970s, the significance of the fact that all these aims were taken up, politically, by the Right, in the name of ‘freedom’, in the form of neo-liberalism is still ambiguous today.

Some on the Left have understood this phase of ‘neo-liberalism’ to be continuous with the post-war Fordist state, for example in Ernest Mandel’s conception of “late capitalism” and David Harvey’s idea of “post-Fordism”. The movement of labor and capital was still administered by the Fordist state. Distinctively, others on the Left have opposed neo-liberalism for over a generation through a defence of the post-war welfare state, through appeals to anti-austerity and anti-globalisation.

How does this distinction within the Left between the defense of the welfare state and the defense of individual freedom affect the Left’s response to the crisis of neo-liberalism? Why has the Left recently supported attempts to politically manage the economic crisis post-2008, against attempts at political change? How can the Left struggle for political power, with the aim of overcoming capitalism and achieving socialism, when the political expression of the crisis of neo-liberalism has largely come from the Right, and Trump won the election in November?

Our preliminary readings have four weeks on radical bourgeois philosophy (Rousseau, Hegel, Nietzsche), three weeks on the 1960's New Left (neo-Marxism, gender and sexuality, anti-black racism in the US) and one week on 'precursors' to the Frankfurt School (Reich and Kracauer). The primary reading group lasts eleven weeks and focuses on two questions: What is the left, and what is Marxism?

Platypus London invites you to our inaugural public forum event at the London School of Economics on what Brexit means for the Left.

**TIME 7pm, Wednesday 8th June**
**ROOM: Tower 2, 9th floor, room 9.05**

Panelists:

Neil Davenport - Institute of Ideas / Spiked
Gerry Downing - Socialist Fight
Sacha Ismail - Alliance for Workers' Liberty
Mike Macnair - Communist Party of Great Britain / Weekly Worker

Panel Description:

A united and peaceful Europe seemed to be a distant dream for a generation which went through the experience of war and destruction. In the latter part of the 20th century, this hope gained shape in the new realities of the European Union. Despite its official proclamation of peace, social well being and an “alternative to capitalism and communism”, today the project finds itself in a prolonged crisis with uncertain expectations. The refugee crisis, the Euro-crisis, massive austerity and the increasing interference into democratic principles, a growing division between powerful and weak economies, and Germany's new hegemony appear in stark contrast to the official slogans of “European values and solidarity”. The desperate struggle of SYRIZA demonstrated the necessity and seeming impossibility of the Left across Europe to answer with a politics that would be truly international and go beyond “resisting austerity.”

Despite growing social unrest, the deep ambivalence towards the EU expresses itself in the inability of the Left to formulate a coherent vision of a political alternative. Should it be overcome on the basis of the EU itself, or against the EU? The clarification of its nature and appropriate responses seem to be one of the most pressing issues for the Left on the continent and beyond.

Questions:
1. The EU ideologically relies on defining itself as a project of pacifism (peace in Europe) and a “third way” politics of a “social market economy”. What do you make of these claims? Should the Left be fighting for the fulfillment of the promise of the EU? How would you characterize the evolution and realization of the EU project in light of its foundational claims?

2. How can the project of the EU be described in political and economic terms? Is it an “imperialist” project? If so, who are the “Imperialists”? Is the EU a “neoliberal” project? If so, to what end? What do these terms clarify? What would an anti-neoliberal or anti-imperialist politics entail?

3. What are the driving forces behind the EU and what are the implications for a Left politics in Europe? Can the EU be ‘pushed to the Left’ or is it a project against the Left?

4. Today, the Left’s response to the Euro-crisis has mostly confined itself to nation states. Yet, the EU represents a “transnational” project. How does this affect the nature of internationalism for the Left? Is this an opportunity yet to be realized, or does the EU represent an obstacle to a true international?

5. SYRIZA was seen as an indicator of shifting political and economic forces in the EU, yet the Left in stronger economies has remained weak. What did its election reveal? What has the Brexit question revealed about the European Left and its tasks? How do both of these affect the dynamic of the EU and how do they task the greater Left?

How has art under a capitalist society changed from its pre-capitalist practices? What is the commodity form, and what is art's relationship to its logic? Must art seek emancipation from the commodity form, or is it at home in it? In what sense does art take part in the Left and emancipatory politics, if at all? By asking these questions, this panel seeks to reinvestigate art's relationship to the commodity form, and make intelligible how this problematic relationship still sticks with us today.