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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category 2014
January 18, 1-4 PM, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan Ave, Room 920

A moderated panel discussion hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society on the interrelation of capital, history and ecology, held at York University on January 15, 2014.

- Jordan Briggs, International Bolshevik Tendency
- Michelle Mawhinney, Political Science, York University
- Raymond Rogers, Environmental Studies, York University

The Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen recently characterized the period marked by the start of the industrial revolution in the 18th Century to the present as a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This periodization is meant to capture a change in the history of the planet, namely that for the first time in history its course will be determined by the question of what humanity will become.

This event will focus on different interpretations of why the Left has failed to deal with the deepening crisis of the Anthropocene through the 19th and 20th Centuries and how and if this problem is interrelated with the growing problems associated with ecological systems across the earth. While Karl Marx would note that the problem of freedom shifted with the industrial revolution and the emergence of the working class - the crisis of bourgeois society that Marx would term capital - the idea of freedom seemed not to survive the collapse of Marxist politics in the 20th Century. We seem to live in a world in which the fate of ecological systems seem foreclosed, where attempts at eco-modernization seem to emerge many steps behind the rate of ecological degradation. For many, degradation of the environment appears a permanent feature of modern society, something which can only be resisted but never transformed.

This panel will consider the relationship between the history of capital and the Left—and thus the issue of history and freedom - and how it may be linked to our present inability to render environmental threats and degradation visible and comprehensible, and by extension, subject to its conscious and free overcoming by society.

A Platypus-wide teach-in on the CPGB’s campaign against Lukacs and its stakes for Platypus as a project.

Held on Saturday January 11 1-4PM at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago 112 S. Michigan Ave. room 920 while simultaneously broadcast internationally via Livestream.

James Turley's historical chart of Lukacs's influence on Platypus:

The preparatory readings for this event are as follows and can be found at:

- Mike Macnair, “The philosophy trap” 11/21/13ács-the-philosophy-trap

- Chris Cutrone, “Defending Marxist Hegelianism against a Marxist critique” 8/11/11

- Georg Lukacs, Original Preface (1922) to History and Class Consciousness (1923)

CPGB contra Lukács
Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee)
contra Georg Lukács
James Turley, Chris Cutrone, Lawrence Parker

Originally published in Weekly Worker January 24 – March 14, 2013. PDF:

- James Turley, “The antinomies of Georg Lukács” 1/24/13
- Chris Cutrone, “Regression” 1/31/13
- James Turley, “Dummy” 2/21/13
- Chris Cutrone, “Nota bene” 2/28/13
- James Turley, “Bacon” 3/7/13
- Lawrence Parker, “Lukács reloaded” 3/7/13
- Chris Cutrone, “Unreloaded” 3/14/13


Chris Cutrone, “Gillian Rose’s ‘Hegelian’ critique of Marxism” 3/1/10

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Boston, Chicago, Frankfurt, Graz, London, New York, Thessaloniki, Toronto

Saturdays 1–4PM CST

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

Friday 7:30 PM CST

University of Chicago (UChicago)
Harper 141

Chicago Platypus Facebook invitation:

Saturdays 2–5PM EST

Harvard University
Emerson Hall room 318

Boston Platypus Facebook invitation:

Saturdays 2–5PM

Richard Hoggart Bldg. room 356
Goldsmiths College, New Cross, Lewisham, London SE14

London Platypus Facebook invitation:

Sundays 2–5PM EST

School of Visual Arts
133 West 21st St room 402

NYC Platypus Facebook invitation:

Thursdays 7–10PM EST

University of Toronto
71 Queen’s Park Crescent, Second Floor Group Study Room

Toronto Platypus Facebook invitation:

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

Recommended winter break preliminary 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)
+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)

Film screenings: January 2014

Reds (1981)
Rosa Luxemburg (1986)

Winter 2014

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

Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Jan. 11–12, 2014

Lukács, Original Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)
+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302

Week 12. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Jan. 18–19, 2014

Korsch, “Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15
+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145

Winter–Spring 2014

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Week 13. Revolutionary leadership | Jan. 25–26, 2014

• 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 14. Reform or revolution? | Feb. 1–2, 2014

Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution? (1900/08)

Week 15. Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb. 8–9, 2014

Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)

Week 16. What is to be done? | Feb. 15–16, 2014

• 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 17. Mass strike and social democracy | Feb. 22–23, 2014

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

Week 18. Permanent revolution | Mar. 1–2, 2014

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

Week 19. State and revolution | Mar. 8–9, 2014

Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)

Week 20. Imperialism | Mar. 15–16, 2014

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 21. Mar. 22–23, 2014 (spring break)

Week 22. Mar. 29–30, 2014 TBA

Week 23. Apr. 5–6, 2014 (Platypus international convention)

Week 24. Failure of the revolution | Apr. 12–13, 2014

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

Week 25. Retreat after revolution | Apr. 19–20, 2014

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

Week 26. Dialectic of reification | Apr. 26–27, 2014

Lukács, “The Standpoint of the Proletariat” (Part III of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” 1923). Available in three sections from section 1 section 2 section 3

Week 27. Lessons of October | May 3–4, 2014

Trotsky, The Lessons of October (1924) [PDF] + Trotsky, "Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)

Week 28. Trotskyism | May 10–11, 2014

+ Trotsky, "To build communist parties and an international anew" (1933)
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 29. The authoritarian state | May 17–18, 2014

• Friedrich Pollock, "State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941) (note 32 on USSR)
• Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1942)

Week 30. On the concept of history | May 24–25, 2014

• epigraphs by Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson) and 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, "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)

Week 31. Reflections on Marxism | May 31–Jun. 1, 2014

• Theodor Adorno, “Reflections on Class Theory” (1942)
Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)
+ 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 32. Theory and practice | Jun. 7–8, 2014

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
Adorno, “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
Adorno, “Resignation” (1969)
+ Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)
+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)