RSS FeedRSS FeedLivestreamLivestreamVimeoVimeoTwitterTwitterFacebook GroupFacebook Group
You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category UChicago


In the Fall of semester of 2015 we are now meeting at three locations, on three different days of the week!

[Beginning in October/2nd session] University of Chicago (UC)
Room TBD

TUESDAYS | 7 PM - 9:30 PM
Loyola University (LU)
Damen Student Center
1032 W Sheridan Rd
Room 122

School of the Art Institute (SAIC)
MacClean Center
112 S Michigan Ave
Room 818

Week 1. What is the Left? I. Capital in history | Sept 29 (LU), Sept 30 (SAIC) 2015

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by Louis Menand (on Marx and Engels) and Karl Marx, on "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58)

• Chris Cutrone, "Capital in history" (2008)

+ Capital in history timeline and chart of terms

+ video of Communist University 2011 London presentation

Cutrone, "The Marxist hypothesis" (2010)

Week 2. What is the Left? II. Bourgeois society | Oct 3 (UC), Oct 6 (LUC), Oct 7 (SAIC) 2015

• Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view" and"What is Enlightenment?" (1784)

• Benjamin Constant, "The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns"(1819)

+ Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the origin of inequality (1754)

+ Rousseau, selection from On the social contract (1762)

Week 3. What is the Left? III. Failure of Marxism | Oct 10 (UC), Oct 13 (LU), Oct 14 (SAIC) 2015

• Max Horkheimer, selections from Dämmerung (1926–31)

Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)

Week 4. What is the Left? IV. Utopia and critique | Oct 17 (UC), Oct 20 (LU), Oct 21 (SAIC) 2015

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

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

Week 5. What is Marxism? I. Socialism | Oct 24 (UC), Oct 27 (LU), Oct 28 (SAIC) 2015

Marx, selections from Economic and philosophic manuscripts (1844), pp. 70–101

+ Commodity form chart of terms

Marx and Friedrich Engels, selections from the Manifesto of the Communist Party(1848), pp. 469-500

Marx, Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League (1850), pp. 501–511

Week 6. What is Marxism? II. Revolution in 1848 | Oct 31 (UC), Nov 3 (LU), Nov 4 (SAIC) 2015

Marx, The coming upheaval (from The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847) and Class struggle and mode of production (letter to Weydemeyer, 1852), pp. 218-220

Engels, The tactics of social democracy (Engels's 1895 introduction to Marx, The Class Struggles in France), pp. 556–573

Marx, selections from The Class Struggles in France 1848–50 (1850), pp. 586–593

Marx, selections from The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), pp. 594–617

Week 7. What is Marxism? III. Bonapartism | Nov 7 (UC), Nov 10 (LU), Nov 11 (SAIC) 2015

+ Karl Korsch, "The Marxism of the First International" (1924)

Marx, Inaugural address to the First International (1864), pp. 512–519

Marx, selections from The Civil War in France (1871, including Engels's 1891 Introduction), pp. 618–652

+ Korsch, Introduction to Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1922)

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

Marx, Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880)

Week 8. What is Marxism? IV. Critique of political economy | Nov 14 (UC), Nov 17 (LU), Nov 20 (SAIC) 2015

+ Commodity form chart of terms

Marx, selections from the Grundrisse (1857–61), pp. 222–226, 236–244, 247–250, 276–293 ME Reader pp. 276-281

Marx, Capital Vol. I, Ch. 1 Sec. 4 "The fetishism of commodities" (1867), pp. 319–329

Week 9. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Nov 21 (UC), Nov 24 (LU), Nov 25 (SAIC) 2015

• Georg Lukács, “The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)

+ Commodity form chart of terms

Week 10. Nov 28-Dec 1, 2015 U.S. Thanksgiving break

Winter break readings

+ 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)

Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Dec 8 (LU), Dec 9 (SAIC) 2015 / Jan 9 (UC) 2016

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 | Dec 15 (LU), Dec 16 (SAIC) 2015 / Jan 16 (UC) 2016

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

The widely publicized killings of black men by police and the resulting movement with its slogan "Black Lives Matter" put back on the agenda of a beleaguered American Left a seemingly perennial question, one that evokes a long history of struggle, longing, and disappointment. With a black president in the White House having survived or co-opted the #Occupy Movement, the Black Question seems to pose a return to the old platitude that America is racist. At the same time, precisely because

Presented by the Platypus Affiliated Society at the University of Chicago, 5 February 2015


Whether it is the gruesome murder of school children in Peshawar or the brutal killing of editors of Charlie Hebdo, it is clear that our world is in the grip of militant Islam. But what is even more shocking is the response of the Left to these incidents. Mired in confusion, the contemporary Left has failed to comprehend the gravity of the current situation and continues to make confounding gestures towards the force of political Islam, liberal values, such as the freedom of speech, and above all, its own orientation toward the current political crisis. This teach-in will address the rise of political Islam as a consequence of the demise of the Left internationally.

Christopher P. (Anarcho-Syndicalist Review) Michael Staudenmaier (author, Truth and Revolution) Mel Rothenberg (Chicago Political Economy Group) Jamie Theophilos (local activist)