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In the years immediately following World War II French intellectuals Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon turned their attention to racism, anti-semitism and anti-black racism. Both men were engaged with both. Neither wrote from identity, but rather both sought to link their reflections to Marxism, to its failure and possible reconstitution.

The texts Sartre and Fanon wrote during the years 1945-1952 – primarily Anti-Semite and Jew and “Black Orpheus” by one and Black Skin, White Masks by the other – remain enigmatic, resisting assimilation to the canons of identity politics. Unlike later writings taken up by the New Left in the 1960s, above all Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth with Sartre’s notorious preface, the writings from the immediate post-war years are rarely revisited today and, insofar as they cannot be rendered mere precursors to the later works, they are ignored.

This talk seeks to recover the concerns of Sartre and Fanon regarding racism in the post-war years and, if possible, to estrange these writings in the process. That is, it seeks to raise as a question what has since become falsely naturalized: How did Sartre and Fanon intend their writings on racism not as contributions to the dismantling of Marxism, but to its reconstitution?

Wednesday, November 17 @ 5pm
UIC Stevenson Hall Room 303
701 S Morgan St

Recommended reading: selections from Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks and Sartre's "Anti-Semite and Jew"

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Socialism, feminism and the New Left

Juliet Mitchell and the recovery of Marxism

A teach-in hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society
"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, "Women: The Longest Revolution" (1966)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 5PM

Univ. Illinois Chicago Stevenson Hall 701 S. Morgan St. room 319

Juliet Mitchell's groundbreaking essay, "Women: The Longest Revolution" (1966), brilliantly anticipated the feminist critique of Marxism. But Mitchell found feminism, too, to be lacking. Far from dismissing Marxism as some retrograde, patriarchal theory, Mitchell embarked on an effort to recover Marxism as a philosophy of freedom that could orient political activists' efforts to overturn sexism and revolutionize society. Unfortunately, women's liberation activists failed to heed Mitchell's call to attend critically to history to help get a better grasp of 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 potential paths of Marxism not taken by post-1960s radicalism, and discuss what could be involved in reformulating a theory of sexual freedom that answers the needs of the present.

Suggested reading - Juliet Mitchell's Women: The Longest Revolution

The Platypus Affiliated Society, established in 2006, focuses on problems and tasks inherited from the "Old" (1920s–'30s), "New" ('60s–'70s), and post-political ('80s–'90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today.

The Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion on the Politics of the Contemporary Student Left at the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit on June 26, 2010. Moderated by Laurie Rojas, assistant editor for the Platypus Review, the panel consisted of Will Klatt, member of the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Luis Brennan, a student organizer at University of Chicago and former member of the new SDS; Aaron Petcov, formerly of the new SDS and currently a member of the Organization for a Free Society (OFS); and Ashley Weger, an organizer for Platypus and a former organizer for UNITE HERE.

Transcript in Platypus Review #27 (Click below):

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.

Reading:

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)