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.
A panel discussion event held on May 28th, 2010, at the 2010 Platypus International Convention held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
To many on the Left today, opposition to imperialism has become a political litmus test of sorts, but historically anti-imperialism was by no means an exclusively leftist political projectâwhether we are speaking of right-wing anti-colonialism in the metropole or in the colonies. In light of these confusions, this panel seeks to clarify the character of the imperialism question on the Left from the Second International to the contemporary anti-war movement, in three interrelated papers. The first will begin at the end of this trajectory by examining anti-anti-imperialist discourse on the Left from the debate Bill Warrenâs Imperialism through Bosnian solidarity in the 1990s and the writings of anti-anti-imperialist leftists such as Fred Halliday, Christopher Hitchens, and Moishe Postone after 9/11. It will address centrally the question of the status and strategic significance of left anti-imperialism in the context of a moribund world revolution as well as in light of the 19th century Marxist legacy respecting the National Question. The second paper will revisit the foundational debates on "imperialism" in the Second International and the early Comintern. By returning to this locus classicus the aim is to examine the impetus given to the âcolonial questionâ by the Bolshevik Revolution and the formation of the Third International. The interconnection for Lenin and Third International radicals between the national and the colonial questions with world revolutionary strategy came to be unhinged for later apologists of Third World nationalism. The third will consist a close consideration of the Stalinization of the imperialism question with special reference to the Communist parties of India and Pakistan from 1928-1968. This is a particularly appropriate test case given the centrality of the subcontinentâs centrality in the history of decolonization and the fact that the Marxist Left in India emerged only after the Stalinization of the international Left.
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.
Panel held on December 6th, 2009, at the University of Chicago.
A moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A bringing together three leading figures of the Pakistani labor movement to talk about workers rights, women’s rights, the struggle to organize in the shadow of the Taliban, and the impact of the ongoing war in Afghanistan on the workers of Pakistan. These topics will be explored in light of the increasingly pressing need to reconstitute an international Left.
President, Working Women Organization; and Chair, All Pakistan Trade Union Federation
Platypus Affiliated Society; and PhD candidate in History at the University of Chicago
Introduced and moderated by Spencer Leonard, Platypus Affiliated Society; Editor-in-Chief, The Platypus Review; and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences, University of Chicago
Panel presentation by the Platypus Affiliated Society at Left Forum 2009: "Turning Points," Pace University, NYC, April 17-19, 2009
The panelists elucidate significant moments in the progressive separation of theory and practice in the 20th and 21st Century history of Leftist politics: 2001 (Spencer Leonard); 1968 (Atiya Khan); 1933 (Richard Rubin); and 1917 (Chris Cutrone). Each of these dates marked fundamental transformations on the Left. How do we relate to their legacies today? How has the problem of relating theory to practice, and ends to means, been dealt with politically on the Left? How has the political thought and action associated with each of these historical turning points revealed or obscured problems on the Left? How do the historical failures of the Left affect possibilities for the Left today and in the future?