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Mark Rudd
Alan Spector
Osha Neumann
Tim Wohlforth

Spencer A. Leonard

The memory of the 1960s, which has long kindled contestation and debate on the means and ends of freedom politics, is rapidly fading into the political unconscious. The election of Barack Obama and the collapse of the anti-war movement mark the end of a period that has now come full circle. After a half-century of rebellion, many old New Left- ists now call for a “New New Deal” to return to welfare-statist and authoritarian society against which the New Left rebelled. History threatens to repeat itself, this time in an even more dimly recognized and ferocious form. “In the United States today there is no Left,” C. Wright Mills declaimed in the waning months of the 1950s, making him one of the most be- loved intellectuals of his generation, “political activities are monopolized by an irresponsible two-party system; cultural activities—though formally quite free, tend to become nationalis- tic or commercial—or merely private.” If Mills continues to speak to us, it is as a reminder of tasks long deferred, memories long repressed.

This panel attempts to address the current moment, in which many who participated in the moment of the New Left’s beginnings have survived a full cycle of history. Rather than a rehash of old debates or yet another nostalgia- ridden recap of the era, interventions which have ceased to offer critical perspective on the present, this panel seeks to ask the simple but fundamental question: What, if any, is significant for us today in the thwarted attempt by 1960s radicals to re-found emancipatory politics?

Lead-Up Events:

Teach-In Poetry Unfulfilled: The Beats and the New Left
Tuesday, November 2 @5:00pm
Rosenwald 405, 1101 E. 58th St.

What Was "New" in the New Left?
Presented by Ian Morrison
Sunday, November 7th @ 7:00pm
Wilder House, 5811 S. Kenwood Ave.

All events are free and open to the public.
RSVP on Facebook.

Join Platypus for a teach-in and group discussion on the historical character of sexual identity and the character of freedom that capitalism presents.

Thursday, October 21 at 6pm

Harper Library, University of Chicago, 1116 E. 59th St.

Suggested Reading: John D'Emilio, "Capitalism and Gay Identity"

RSVP for the event on Facebook

Platypus presents:

Tuesday, May 18th 8:00 PM
5710 S. Woodlawn

Featuring a presentation by Chris Cutrone on Juliet Mitchell’s “Women: The longest revolution” (1966)

Join us for dinner and discussion

“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

Juliet Mitchell’s groundbreaking essay, “Women: The longest revolution” (1966), brilliantly anticipated the feminist critique of Marxian socialism. But Mitchell found feminism, too to be lacking. Far from dismissing Marxism as a retrograde, patriarchal theory, Mitchell embarked on an effort to reconstruct Marxism as a philosophy of freedom that could orient political activists' efforts to overturn male dominance and establish the equality of the sexes. Unfortunately, feminism after Mitchell's essay failed to heed her call to attend critically to history to help get a better grasp 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 paths not taken out of 1960s radicalism, and work towards reformulating a theory of sexual freedom that answers the needs of the present.


Juliet Mitchell Women: The Longest Revolution (1966)

The Platypus Affiliated Society at Woodlawn Collaborative present...
When:Saturday, May 8 1:30pm - 3:00pm.
Where: Woodlawn Collaborative 6400 S. Kimbark Ave., John Knox Hall.

The German Marxist critical theorist Theodor W. Adorno (1903-69) is known, along with his friend and mentor Walter Benjamin, for the critique of mid-20th century art and culture. What is less well understood is the specific character of Adorno’s Marxism, how his political perspective related to his philosophical concerns. This workshop will address several aspects of Adorno’s Marxism that relate to his critique of Leftist politics, in both periods of his early and late life, in the Old Left (1920s-40s) and New Left (1960s), and how Adorno remains relevant to issues and problems of Leftist politics today.

Recommended background readings:

Max Horkheimer, “The Little Man and the Philosophy of Freedom” (1926)

Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944)

Adorno, “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)

Adorno, “Resignation” (1969)

Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)

On Thursday March 11, 2010, Platypus Review Editor-in-Chief Spencer A. Leonard interviewed the prominent 1960s radical and last National Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Mark Rudd, to discuss his recently published political memoir, Underground. In April, Leonard’s interview with Rudd, prepared in conjunction with Atiya Khan, was broadcast in two parts on “Radical Minds” on WHPK-FM 88.5 Chicago.

Transcript in Platypus Review #24 (Click below):

Audio Recordings:
Part One:

Part Two: