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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category 2015

A workshop with Manuel Kellner of Ernest Mandel und die internationalen sozialistischen linken (ISL), held on November 7, 2015 at the 2nd Annual European Conference of the Platypus Affiliated Society in Frankfurt. Every year at Platypus conferences, speakers from various perspectives are asked to bring their experience of the Left’s recent history to bear on today’s political possibilities and challenges as part of the “Differing Perspectives on the Left” workshop series.

A workshop with Paul Demarty of the CPGB held on November 7, 2015 at the 2nd Annual European Conference of the Platypus Affiliated Society in Frankfurt. Every year at Platypus conferences, speakers from various perspectives are asked to bring their experience of the Left’s recent history to bear on today’s political possibilities and challenges as part of the “Differing Perspectives on the Left” workshop series.

Ursula Jensen (IBT)
Paul Demarty (CPGB)
Moderator: Richard Rubin

In the late nineteenth century, working people’s response to capital was expressed in the political demand for Socialism. This demand galvanized the formation of European Social Democratic parties guided by the ideology of Marxism. Among the most influential members of the German Social Democratic Party, the political leaders of the Second International, agreed that the primary task of Social Democratic parties was bringing about the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is, the decisive political struggle between capital and labor. And while some of these leftist ultimately found the revolution too risky in the decisive decades of the 1910s and 1920s, even their political judgment is far to the left to those Social Democratic party members who, after World War II, openly espoused the integration of workers into a more just and thus more democratic capitalist order.

Once a global movement for the self-emancipation of the working class, today’s social democratic parties have fully substituted the task of educating workers in order to overthrow capitalism, with the task of creating and maintaining the conditions for a more just market economy. The present standpoint of social democracy is society as such, bound by national economies and mediated by the state. Social Democracy today promises to fight social injustice in the name of the people, but it no longer promises to realize socialism.

Yet what remains is the name, and with it the promise and the problem of Social Democracy.
In this panel we would like to investigate this transformation by looking at the history, the birth and decline, of Social Democracy. How can we understand the historical crisis of social democracy for the Left today? How, if at all, could the trajectory of social democracy shed light on problems yet to be superseded on the Left today?

Juan Roch (Podemos)
Jens Wissel (Assoziation fĂĽr Kritische Gesellschaftsforschung)
Martin Suchanek (GAM/LFI)
Nikos Nikisianis (DIKTIO)
Moderator: Thodoris Velissaris

A united and peaceful Europe seemed to be a distant dream for a generation which went through the experience of war and destruction. Today, 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” the project finds itself in a prolonged crisis with uncertain expectations. The Euro-­crisis, massive austerity and the increasing interference into democratic principles, a growing division between powerful and weak economies, Germany's new hegemony and the growing influence of financial capital 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. At the same time the rejection of the EU is ceded to a growing Right. What is the EU for the Left today? 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.

Cornelia Möser (HU Berlin)
Joy McReady (LFI)
Lucy Parker (Platypus Affiliated Society)
Ursula Jensen 
(IBT)

Moderator: Hannah Schroeder

A namesake of Juliet Mitchell’s 1966 essay, this panel will explore the long history of the struggle for women’s liberation from the vantage point of the Left today. Mitchell critiques bourgeois feminist demands such as the right to work and equal pay to posit the need instead for equal work. She calls for a politics capable of taking on the fundamental transformation of society and more immediate demands “in a single critique of the whole of women’s situation.” In keeping with the spirit of this essay, we ask again what the relationship might be between the struggle for social emancipation and the particular tasks of feminism? How have Leftists imagined this relationship historically? What do we make of it today?

While the “woman question” has played an important role in the history of the Left, its knee-jerk inclusion in current Leftist politics does not necessarily reflect a greater understanding of what the struggle for women’s liberation might mean politically. How exactly is it “the longest revolution?” When did it begin? If the crisis of bourgeois society in the industrial revolution posed the need for women’s freedom as inseparable from the project of human emancipation, then what do we make of the later separation of the feminist movement from the workers’ movement for socialism? In the beginning of the 20th Century the woman's movement seems to demand unitary for political and legal rights, although the bourgeois feminist movement and the socialist woman's movement where distinctly opposed in their political perspective. Is the relevance of the conflict gone all together with a further perspective of the woman's question in Socialism? What do the seeming successes of feminism tell us when thought in relation to the failure of the proletarian struggle to deepen/realize the task of human freedom?