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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category 2010

Socialism, feminism and the New Left

Juliet Mitchell and the recovery of Marxism

A teach-in hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society
"Socialism will be a process of change, of becoming. A fixed image of the future is in the worst sense ahistorical. . . . As Marx wrote: 'What is progress if not the absolute elaboration of humanity's creative dispositions . . . unmeasured by any previously established yardstick[,] an end in itself . . . the absolute movement of becoming?' . . . The liberation of women under socialism will [be] . . . a human achievement, in the long passage from Nature to Culture which is the definition of history and society."
-- Juliet Mitchell, "Women: The Longest Revolution" (1966)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 5PM

Univ. Illinois Chicago Stevenson Hall 701 S. Morgan St. room 319

Juliet Mitchell's groundbreaking essay, "Women: The Longest Revolution" (1966), brilliantly anticipated the feminist critique of Marxism. But Mitchell found feminism, too, to be lacking. Far from dismissing Marxism as some retrograde, patriarchal theory, Mitchell embarked on an effort to recover Marxism as a philosophy of freedom that could orient political activists' efforts to overturn sexism and revolutionize society. Unfortunately, women's liberation activists failed to heed Mitchell's call to attend critically to history to help get a better grasp of and clarity about the pursuit of gender and sexual liberation, and abandoned the utopian possibilities of socialism, in favor of the politics of established social identities. Join us to reconsider the potential paths of Marxism not taken by post-1960s radicalism, and discuss what could be involved in reformulating a theory of sexual freedom that answers the needs of the present.

Suggested reading - Juliet Mitchell's Women: The Longest Revolution

The Platypus Affiliated Society, established in 2006, focuses on problems and tasks inherited from the "Old" (1920s–'30s), "New" ('60s–'70s), and post-political ('80s–'90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today.

I. What is the “Left?” — What is “Marxism?”

Saturdays 1–4PM

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
112 S. Michigan Ave. room 920


University of Chicago (UChicago)
The Reynolds Club 2nd floor South Lounge
5706 S. University Ave.

• required / + recommended reading

A. Sept. 11, 2010 (SAIC only)

• Moishe Postone“History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism”(2006)
+ Iraqi Communist Party, Letter about the Situation in Iraq (2006)
• Spartacist League“The Senile Dementia of Post-Marxism” (2006)
+ Liza Featherstone, Doug Henwood, and Christian Parenti, “ ‘Action Will Be Taken’: Left Anti-Intellectualism and its Discontents” (2002)

 B. Sept. 18, 2010 (SAIC only)

• Karl MarxTo make the world philosophical (from Marx’s dissertation, 1839–41), For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (1843), Theses on Feuerbach (1845)

 C. Sept. 25, 2010 (SAIC only)

• epigraphs by James Miller (on Rousseau), Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche) and Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson) on modern history and freedom
• Robert Pippin“On Critical Theory” (2003)
• Chris Cutrone“Capital in History” (2008)

 Week 1. Oct. 2, 2010

• Kant,  “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View” (1784)
+ Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754)
• Benjamin Constant, “The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns” (1819)
+ Rousseau, selection from The Social Contract (1762)

 Week 2. Oct. 9, 2010

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

 Week 3. Oct. 16, 2010

• Max Horkheimerselections from Dämmerung (1926–31)
• Theodor W. Adorno“Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)

 Week 4. Oct. 23, 2010

• Siegfried Kracauer“The Mass Ornament” (1927)
• Wilhelm Reich“Ideology as Material Power” (1933/46)

Week 5. Oct. 30, 2010

• Marxselections from Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844)
• Marx and EngelsManifesto of the Communist Party (1848)

 Week 6. Nov. 6, 2010

• Georg Lukács“The Phenomenon of Reification” (Part I of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)

 Week 7. Nov. 13, 2010

• Lukács“Preface” (1922) “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919) “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)

 Week 8. Nov. 20, 2010

• Karl Korsch“Marxism and Philosophy” (1923)
+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx’s dissertation, 1839–41), For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (1843)
+ Korsch, “The Marxism of the First International” (1924)

 Week 9. Dec. 4, 2010 (SAIC) / Jan. 15, 2011 (UChicago)

• Juliet Mitchell“Women: the Longest Revolution” (1966)
• Clara Zetkin and Vladimir Lenin“An interview on the woman question” (1920)
• Adorno“Sexual Taboos and the Law Today” (1963)
• John D’Emilio“Capitalism and Gay Identity” (1983)

 Week 10. Dec. 11, 2010 (SAIC) / Jan. 22, 2011 (UChicago)

• Richard Fraser“Two Lectures on the Black Question in America and Revolutionary
• James Robertson and Shirley Stoute“For Black Trotskyism” (1963)
+ Spartacist League, “Black and Red: Class Struggle Road to Negro Freedom” (1966)
+ Bayard Rustin, “The Failure of Black Separatism” (1970) 
• Adolph Reed“Black Particularity Reconsidered” (1979)
+ Reed, “Paths to Critical Theory” (1984)

 Week 11. Dec. 18, 2010 (SAIC) / Jan. 8, 2011 (UChicago)

+ Marx, selections from the Grundrisse (1857–61)
• Martin Nicolaus“The Unknown Marx” (1968)
• Postone“Necessity, Labor, and Time” (1978)
+ André Gorz, from Strategy for Labor (1964)
+ Murray Bookchin, Listen, Marxist! (1969)

DAVID BHOLAT ADOPTED, as epigraph for his essay “Beyond Equality,” the following passage from Joseph Schumpeter’s classic 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy: First and foremost, socialism means a new cultural world…. But second—what cultural world?… Some socialists are ready enough with folded hands and the smile of the blessed on their lips, to chant the canticle of justice, equality, freedom in general and freedom from “the exploitation of man by man” in particular, of peace and love, of fetters broken and cultural energies unchained, of new horizons opened, of new dignities revealed. But that is Rousseau adulterated with some Bentham.

The Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion on the Politics of the Contemporary Student Left at the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit on June 26, 2010. Moderated by Laurie Rojas, assistant editor for the Platypus Review, the panel consisted of Will Klatt, member of the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Luis Brennan, a student organizer at University of Chicago and former member of the new SDS; Aaron Petcov, formerly of the new SDS and currently a member of the Organization for a Free Society (OFS); and Ashley Weger, an organizer for Platypus and a former organizer for UNITE HERE.

Transcript in Platypus Review #27 (Click below):

Platypus Marxist reading group

June 5 – August 14, 2010

Saturdays 1–4PM at:

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
112 S. Michigan Ave. room 707

Marx and Marxism

Marx and Engels at work together
Marx and Engels at work together

Readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978) (* at

June 5

Karl Marx on the history of his opinions (from Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy), pp. 3–6

Marx, To make the world philosophical, pp. 9–11

Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing, pp. 12–15

Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, pp. 143–145

June 12

Marx, On The Jewish Question, pp. 26–52

June 19

Marx, The coming upheaval [see bottom of section, beginning with "Economic conditions had first transformed the mass"] (from The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847), pp. 218–219

Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto, pp. 469–500

Marx, Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League, pp. 501–511

June 26

The tactics of social democracy (Engels's introduction to Marx, The Class Struggles in France), pp. 556–573

Marx, from The Class Struggles in France 1848–50, pp. 586–593

July 3

[break for Independence Day weekend]

July 10

Marx, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, pp. 594–617

July 17

Marx, On imperialism in India, 653–664 (available online as The British Rule in India and The Future Results of British Rule in India)

Marx and Engels, Europocentric world revolution, pp. 676–677 (available online as Marx to Engels October 8, 1858 and Engels to Kautsky September 12, 1882)

July 24

Marx, The Civil War in France, pp. 618–652

July 31

Marx, Inaugural address to the First International, pp. 512–519

Karl Korsch, The Marxism of the First International *

August 7

Korsch, Introduction to Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme *

Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 525–541

August 14

Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1940) (in The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, eds. Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt, pp. 95–117)

* * *

August 28

Vladimir Lenin, "Karl Marx" (1914)