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A teach-in on Trumpism by Chris Cutrone held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on April 6, 2017.

It's generally agreed upon that the Republican Party is being fundamentally transformed under the leadership of president Donald Trump. But toward what? And how will the Left be affected by these changes? This teach-in will attempt to answer some of these fundamental questions.

From the Second International to the Frankfurt School

Loyola University
Tuesdays, 7-9:30 PM
6738 N Sheridan Ave
at Starbucks

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
Tuesdays, 6-9 PM
112 S Michigan Ave
MacLean Center, Room TBA

University of Chicago
Tuesdays, 6:30-9 PM
1116 E 59th St
Harper Memorial Library, Room 102

University of Illinois at Chicago
Tuesdays, 6-9 PM
701 S Morgan St
Stevenson Hall, Room 101


  • required reading / + recommended reading


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)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)
+ 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


Film screenings: January 2017

  • 37 Days(2014) [Episode 1] [Episode 2] [Episode 3]
    • Fall of Eagles (1974) episodes: "Absolute Beginners," "The Secret War," and "End Game"
    • Rosa Luxemburg (1986)
    • Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States (2012) Episodes A (1900-20) and B (1920-40)
    • Reds (1981)


Winter–Spring 2017


  1. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Week 13. Revolutionary leadership | Jan 31, 2017

Week 14. Reform or revolution? | Feb 7, 2017

Week 15. Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb 14, 2017

Week 16. What is to be done? | Feb 21, 2017

Week 17. Mass strike and social democracy | Feb 28, 2017

Week 18. Permanent revolution | Mar 7, 2017

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

Week 19. State and revolution | Mar 14, 2017

Week 20. Imperialism | Mar 21, 2017

Week 21. Mar 28, 2017 (spring break)

Week 22. Failure of the revolution | Apr 4, 2017

Week 23. March 31-April 2, 2017 [Platypus International Convention]

Week 24. Retreat after revolution | Apr 18, 2017

Week 25. Dialectic of reification | Apr 25, 2017

Week 26. Lessons of October | May 2, 2017

Week 27. Trotskyism | May 9, 2017

Week 28. The authoritarian state | May 16, 2017

Week 29. On the concept of history | May 23, 2017

Week 30. Reflections on Marxism | May 30, 2017

Week 31. Theory and practice | Jun 7, 2017

Held at the University of Illinois at Chicago on November 7, 2016.


Ralph Cintron, professor of English and Latino and Latin American Studies at UIC
Jorge Mujica, Chicago Socialist Campaign and Moviemiento 10 de Marzo
Jacqueline Stevens, professor of Political Science at Northwestern


Neo-liberalism, as the current organization of capitalism, promised to overcome the crisis of the Keynesian-Fordist states through the attainment of a free, cosmopolitan society. Yet, the weight of national borders continues to be felt. While capital can easily move to a home where it is profitable, workers find their movement more stifled. From Brexit to the US presidential elections, immigration has become unavoidable in political discourse: some politicians have promised comprehensive immigration reform, while others have considered the undocumented culpable for the decline of the nation's economy and sovereignty. In each case, a crisis of Neo-liberalism is registered - but what is the meaning of the question to the Left and its attempts to change the world? 

Famously, the Communist Manifesto says "the working men have no country." The incessant drive to realize profit sends capital all over the world, uprooting established relations and dynamizing the global economy. Workers are forced to consider themselves internationally in the fight against capital. Further, immigration might even centralize the gravediggers of capitalism.

However, if this process is not grasped by the workers, it offers an opportunity for the capitalists to secure their reign. The precarity of immigrants can be exploited by the ruling class to split the proletariat and contain their political struggle - that is, unless there is a Left to lead. 


  1. How has the Left approached the question of immigration historically? What opportunities exist in the immigrant rights movement today for an emancipatory politics? 
  2. How has immigration related to other demands made by the Left?
  3. What role can Left organizations - civil and/or political - play in immigration politics?

Presented by the Platypus Affiliated Society at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 3 February, 2016, 7 pm

A teach-in


In the mid-19th century, Marx and Engels observed, in the Communist Manifesto, that a specter was haunting Europe - the specter of Communism. A century and a half later, it is Marxism itself that continues to haunt the Left, while capitalism remains.

What were Marxism's original points of departure for considering radical possibilities for freedom that might still speak to the present?


Brendan McQuade
Jamie Merchant
Jen Phillis
Earl Silbar

Thursday, Sept. 24
7 pm
White Oak Room
Student Center East
750 S Halsted
Chicago, IL

We generally assume that Marxists and other Leftists have the political responsibility to support reforms for the improvement of the welfare of workers. Yet, leading figures from the Marxist tradition– such as Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky– also understood that such reforms would broaden the crisis of capitalism and potentially intensify contradictions that could adversely impact the immediate conditions of workers. For instance, full employment, while being a natural demand from the standpoint of all workers’ interests, also threatens the conditions of capitalist production (which rely on a surplus of available labor), thereby potentially jeopardizing the current system of employment altogether. In light of such apparent paradoxes, this panel seeks to investigate the politics of work from Leftist perspectives. It will attempt to provoke reflection on and discussion of the ambiguities and dilemmas of the politics of work by including speakers from divergent perspectives, some of whom seek after the immediate abolition of labor and others of whom seek to increase the availability of employment opportunities. We hope that this conversation will deepen the understanding of the contemporary problems faced by the Left in its struggles to construct a politics adequate to the self­emancipation of the working class.