One of four panels held by the Platypus Affiliated Society at Left Forum 2014, from May 30th to June 1st, 2014.
Much has taken place over the last 50 – 60 years in the realm of sexual liberation. The new left of the 1960s and 70s sparked a progression of women's liberation and gay rights by challenging both legislation and cultural norms. In the 1980s and 90s a sexually constricting society was further challenged through sex-positive activism in art and politics and on the street. Today, trans-identified individuals are more prominent in the media, non-heteronormative sexual identifications are more widely accepted, and the binary of gender is challenged through queer theory and supportive communities more widely accessible through the internet. Despite apparent gains in the project of sexual liberation, human sexuality remains subject to daily constraints: structural sexism persists, sex-work remains criminalized, the bourgeois family is the social norm, and impotence and fear of intimacy are among the many rampant inhibitions to sexual experience. What orientation should a movement for sexual liberation take toward sexuality? How can we today reflect on the efficacy or inefficacy of past movements. What are the limitations of politics today to address sexuality? Also, what is sexual repression and how does it function in society? Did past movements for sexual liberation undermine themselves? How were they successful and how did they fail?
Chair: Tana Forrester (Platypus)
In the mid-19th century, Marx and Engels famously observed in the Communist Manifesto that a specter was haunting Europe the specter of Communism. 160 years later, it is Marxism itself that haunts us.
In the 21st century, it seems that the Left abandoned Marxism as a path to freedom. But Marx critically intervened in his own moment and emboldened leftists to challenge society; is the Left not tasked with this today? Has the Left resolved the problems posed by Marx, and thus moved on?
Does Marxism even matter?
A teach-in led by Platypus Affiliated Society Member Jamie Keesling on October 6, 2011, at the New School.
A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011 at Left Forum, Pace University.
Panel Abstract: This panel will focus on the aesthetic tropes that activists use to express political dissent. Theatrical gestures such as street art (e.g., glamdalism), dance parties (e.g., Funk the War), or costumes have found their way into protest tactics. Simultaneously, many contemporary artists create 'activist' or 'social' art by pulling off media pranks against the government or corporations (e.g., Yes Men), reenact past protests (e.g., Mark Tribe or Sharon Hayes) and other forms of public performances. What are the historical roots that contribute to the use of current aesthetic interventions in political protests? In what ways do they expand or limit the possibilities for protests to transform the social order? How does experimenting with aesthetic and artistic sensibilities influence our political consciousness and practice? Political thinkers and art-activists will address these questions in order to make sense of the various forms of protest today.
Chris Mansour - Parsons School of Design, Platypus Affiliated Society
Jamie Keesling - 491
Laurel Whitney - Yes Men
Marc Herbst - Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Reclaim the Streets
Stephen Duncombe - New York University