Held 16 February 2018 from 19:00-21:00 in RHB 137a of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference. The discussion was moderated by Nunzia Faes.
Robert Borba (Revolutionary Communist Party USA)
Judith Shapiro (London School of Economics)
Jack Conrad (Communist Party of Great Britain; Weekly Worker)
Hillel Ticktin (University of Glasgow; Founding Editor, Critique)
For half a century, 1968 has represented a high-water mark of social and political transformation, a year of social upheaval that spanned the entire globe. Ushered in by a New Left that sought to distinguish itself from the Old Left that emerged in the 20s and 30s, the monumental events of 1968 set the tone for everything from protest politics to academic leftism.
Today, with the U.S. entangled in a seemingly endless war in Asia and people calling for the impeachment of an unpopular president, with activists fighting in the streets and calling for liberation along the lines of race, gender, and sexuality, the Left’s every attempt to discover new methods and new ideas seems to invoke a memory of the political horizons of 1968. We can perhaps more than ever feel the urgency of the question: what lessons are to be drawn from the New Left as another generation undertakes the project of building a Left for the 21st century?
Questions for the panelists
Please answer the following questions in two registers: 1. What did you think in the 1960's 2. what do you think is possible now?
- Why did separatist politics (according to, e.g., race, gender, and sexuality, Black Power, feminism, gay liberation, etc.) become so salient in the 60s? What was common to the “movement” that transcended these diverse struggles for self-determination?
- Why was a “new” Left needed? What were the tasks that the New Left inherited from the Old Left?
- What was the relationship between the labor and students’ movements? Is a labour-student alliance needed today?
- How was the U.S. role in the war in Vietnam understood in relation to other social and political issues? Did the shift from the Civil Rights Movement to the anti-war movement change the possibilities for progressive politics?
- It is said that those of you participating in the 1960s movement(s) thought you could have changed the world. How was this change imagined? How did the efforts in the 1960's fail or succeed?
Held on February 15, 2018 from 19:00-21:00 in RHB 137a of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference, 50 Years After '68: Does Socialism Have a Future? The discussion was moderated by Sophia Freeman.
Mataio Austin Dean (Student Activist, UCL)
Gregor Baszak (Researcher, Black literature and politics, University of Illinois, Chicago; Platypus)
Robert Borba (Revolutionary Communist Party USA)
Beneath a consensus of avowed anti-racism, the Left remains conflicted about whether and how to politicise race, often placing its hopes in the Democratic and Labour Parties to vouch for better democratic representation of the underprivileged. How could the politics of anti-racism advanced the struggle for socialism and the pursuit of freedom given the recent political changes?
A discussion on the crisis of neoliberalism, held on February 18, 2017 at the University of Vienna, as part of the third annual Platypus European Conference.
An edited transcript of the event was published in The Platypus Review Issue #96.
Speakers (in order):
Chris Cutrone - Platypus Affiliated Society; School of the Art Institute (Chicago)
John Milios - former Chief economic advisor of SYRIZA (Athens)
Emmanuel Tomaselli - Funke Redaktion; International Marxist Tendency (Vienna)
Boris Kargalitzky - Institute of Globalisation Studies and Social Movements (Moscow)
The Left has for over a generation – for more than 40 years, since the crisis of 1973 – placed its hopes in the Democratic and Labour Parties to reverse or slow neoliberal capitalism – the move to trans-national trade agreements, the movement of capital and labor, and austerity. The post-2008 crisis of neoliberalism, despite phenomena such as SYRIZA, Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring and anti-austerity protests more generally, Bernie Sanders's candidacy, and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership, has found expression on the avowed Right, through UKIP, Brexit, the U.K. Conservatives' move to "Red Toryism" and now Donald Trump's election. The old neoliberal consensus is falling apart, and change is palpably in the air. Margaret Thatcher's infamous phrase "There Is No Alternative" has been proven wrong. What can the Left do to advance the struggle for socialism under such circumstances?
In the 1960s the Left faced political and social crises in an era of full employment and economic growth. Departing from official Communism, which had largely supported the development of the welfare state in industrialized capitalist countries, many on the Left challenged the existing political order, of Keynesian-Fordism, through community organising on the principle of expanding individual and collective freedom from the state. Against Keynesian economic demands, many of these Leftists supported the Rights efforts, to integrate formerly oppressed identity groups into the corporate professional-managerial class. Since the 1970s, the significance of the fact that all these aims were taken up, politically, by the Right, in
the name of ‘freedom’, in the form of neo-liberalism is still ambiguous today.
Some on the Left have understood this phase of ‘neo-liberalism’ to be continuous with the post-war Fordist state, for example in Ernest Mandel’s conception of “late capitalism” and David Harvey’s idea of “post-Fordism”. The movement of labor and capital was still administered by the Fordist state. Distinctively, others on the Left have opposed neo-liberalism for over a generation through a defence of the post-war welfare state, through appeals to anti-austerity and anti-globalisation.
How does this distinction within the Left between the defense of the welfare state and the defense of individual freedom affect the Left’s response to the crisis of neo-liberalism? Why has the Left recently supported attempts to politically manage the economic crisis post-2008, against attempts at political change? How can the Left struggle for political power, with the aim of overcoming capitalism and achieving socialism, when the political expression of the crisis of neoliberalism has largely come from the Right, and Trump won the election in November?
For 2017, the third time the Platypus Affiliated Society hosts its European Conference and we are happy to announce the University of Vienna as this year's location. The program includes two panel discussions on the Politics of Critical Theory and the Crisis of Neoliberalism as well as several workshops.
February 18, 2017
University of Vienna
Speakers: Dirk Lehmann und Anne Koppenburger, Bielefeld