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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category Event Speakers

Teach-in on Ireland and the Left by Padraig Macguire, held April 20, 2019 at Goldsmiths, University of London. This is the second in a series of three recordings.

Held April 19, 2019 at the University of Houston.

Speakers:

Bernard Sampson (CPUSA)
Ryan Booker (Socialist Alternative)
Duy Nguyen (Assistant Professor of World Cultures and Literatures, UH)
Danny Jacobs (Platypus Affiliated Society, Houston)

Panel Description:

“The conquest of the governmental power by an hitherto oppressed class, in other words, a political revolution, is accordingly the essential characteristic of social revolution in this narrow sense, in contrast with social reform.” - Karl Kautsky, member of the First Marxist International (“On the Social Revolution”, 1902)

In 1918, a revolutionary moment gave rise to an opportunity for seizure of state power in Germany. This task was put on the table for a divided German Left that sought to bring about in political form the change that the masses were already demanding in practice. This posed the question of leadership directly—what does it mean to take power? What would revolution in a highly industrialized country entail, especially in relation to the Russian experience that polarized the German Left, and how might the Left of today be a legacy of such an unresolved moment in Left-centric history?

How can we politically understand the relationship between reformism, reformists, and opportunism, alongside the ideas of Revolution: when we think of Russia 1917, Germany 1918, and the failed world socialist revolution on our present? How does the history of the German Revolution inform the 20th century and today about what is considered a ‘social’ revolution and what is considered a ‘political’ revolution?

Held at the University of Sheffield on April 12, 2019.

Description:

From Brexit and the French yellow-vests to the AfD in Germany, the present centre of political attention is the crisis being expressed through democratic politics both within the nation-state and at the level of the EU. How should the Left understand and relate to this crisis? More broadly speaking, what is the history informing the demands for greater democracy today, and how does the Left adequately promote - or not - the cause of popular empowerment?

Speakers:

Anton Jäger (PhD History student, University of Cambridge)
Patrick Finan (Alliance for Workers' Liberty)
Isaac Stovell (Independent researcher, activist, ecclesial ecologist)

Moderated by Rory Hannigan

Questions for panelists:

  1. What is the relationship between democracy and the working class today? Do you consider historical struggles for democracy by workers as the medium by which they were “assimilated” to the system, or the only path to emancipation that they couldn’t avoid trying to take?
  2. Do you consider it as necessary to eschew established forms of mass politics in favour of new forms in order to build a democratic movement? Or are current mass form of politics adequate for a democratic society?
  3. Why has democracy emerged as the primary demand of spontaneous forms of discontent? Do you consider it necessary, or adequate, to deal with the pathologies of our era?
  4. Engels wrote that “a revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is”. Do you agree? Can this conception be compatible with the struggle for democracy?
  5. Is democracy oppressive, or can it be such? How would you judge Lenin’s formulation that: “…democracy is also a state and that, consequently, democracy will also disappear when the state disappears”?

Held at Columbia University on April 11, 2019. The discussion was moderated by Erin Hagood.

Panelists:

- Dan Driscoll, Direct Outreach Coordinator for Columbia’s Housing Equity Project
- Andy Gittlitz, writer for the New Inquiry and the New York Times
- Jennifer Wenzel, Associate Professor in English and Comparative Literature, and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, at Columbia University
- Frederico of the Revolution Club

A teach-in by Platypus member Jensen Suther on Hegel's Science of Logic and its relationship to Marxism, given April 6th, 2019 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as part of the 11th annual international convention of the Platypus Affiliated Society.