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On April 8, 2017, for the closing plenary of its 9th Annual International Convention, the Platypus Affiliated Society organized a panel discussion, 1917–2017, at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Tasked with reflecting on the historical significance of 1917 for the Left, the panel brought together Bryan Palmer, Chair of the Canadian Studies Department at Trent University and author of numerous histories of the Left; Leo Panitch, Professor of Political Science at York University, author, and co-editor of the Socialist Register; and Chris Cutrone, President of the Platypus Affiliated Society. Pamela Nogales, of Platypus, moderated. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.
On April 7, 2017 the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a discussion at its Ninth Annual International Convention in Chicago on the subject of “Marxism in the Age of Trump.” The event’s speakers were Chris Cutrone, President of the Platypus Affiliated Society and teacher of Critical Theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Catherine Liu, Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine and author of The American Idyll: Academic Anti-Elitism as Cultural Critique; and Greg Lucero, a founding member of the Revolutionary Students' Union and a member of the Chicago chapter of the Socialist Party USA.
On February 18, 2017, as part of its third European Conference, the Platypus Affiliated Society organized a panel discussion, “The Crisis of Neoliberalism,” at the University of Vienna. The event brought together the following speakers: Chris Cutrone, President of Platypus; John Milios, former chief economic advisor of SYRIZA; Emmanuel Tomaselli, of the International Marxist Tendency; and Boris Kargalitsky, of the Institute for Globalization Studies and Social Movements in Moscow. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.
On February 17, 2017, as part of its Third European Conference, the Platypus Affiliated Society organized a panel, “The Politics of Critical Theory.” Held at the University of Vienna, the event brought together the following speakers: Chris Cutrone, President of the Platypus Affiliated Society; Martin Suchanek of Workers Power, an international organization fighting to build a Fifth International; and Haziran Zeller of Humboldt University, in Berlin. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.

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.

University of Vienna

Panel Speakers (in order):

- Chris Cutrone, Platypus Affiliated Society, Chicago

- John Milios, former Chief economic advisor of SYRIZA, Athens

- Emmanuel Tomaselli, Funke Redaktion , International Marxist Tendency, Wien

- Boris Kargalitzky, Institute of Globalisation Studies and Social Movements, Moskau

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.

University of Vienna

What is the legacy of the 1917 Russian Revolution today? A teach-in on problems of Leftist historiography.

Speakers (in order):

- Chris Cutrone

- Richard Rubin

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.

University of Vienna

Speakers (in order):

- Chris Cutrone, Platypus Affilated Society, Chicago

- Martin Suchanek, Workers Power, Berlin

- Haziran Zeller, Berlin

Recently, the New Left Review published a translated conversation between the critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer causing more than a few murmurs and gasps. In the course of their conversation, Adorno comments that he had always wanted to develop a theory that remains faithful to Marx, Engels and Lenin, while keeping up with culture at its most advanced.’ Adorno, it seems, was a Leninist. As surprising as this evidence might have been to some, is it not more shocking that Adorno’s politics, and the politics of Critical Theory, have remained taboo for so long? Was it really necessary to wait until Adorno and Horkheimer admitted their politics in print to understand that their primary preoccupation was with maintaining Marxism’s relation to bourgeois critical philosophy such as Kant and Hegel? This panel proposes to state the question as directly as possible and to simply ask: How did the practice and theory of Marxism, from Marx to Lenin, make possible and necessary the politics of Critical Theory?

On April 1st, 2016, during its eighth international convention in Chicago, Illinois, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion entitled, “What is socialism? International social democracy.” The panelists were Bernard Sampson, a member of the CPUSA and a precinct chair in Houston, Texas, for the Democratic Party; Karl Belin, a socialist worker, writer, and member of the Pittsburgh Socialist Organizing Committee; Jack Ross, a freelance editor and historian, and author of The Socialist Party of America: A Complete History (2015); and Chris Cutrone, president of the Platypus Affiliated Society.

This panel invites you to reflect on the history of social democracy from a Leftist viewpoint. Such a perspective raises the specter of Socialist (Second) International - the Marxist political organization that led the workers movement for socialism around the turn of the 20th century.