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You are here: Platypus /Archive for category Richard Rubin

The closing plenary of the 2013 Platypus International Convention, held from April 5-7, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Transcripted in Platypus Review #58 (Click below to see):

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“Program” and “Utopia” have for well over a century now sat in uneasy tension within the politics of the Left, in tension both with each other and with themselves. Political programs tend to be presented in the sober light of practicability — straightforward, realistic, matter-of-fact. Social utopias, by contrast, appear quite oppositely as the virtue of aspiring ambition — involved, unrealistic, exhilarating. Historically, then, the two would appear to be antithetical. In either case, one usually offers itself up as a corrective to the other: the programmatic as a harsh “reality check” to pipe-dream idealism; utopianism as an alternative to dreary, cynical Realpolitik.

Today, however, it is unavoidable that both program and utopia are in profound crisis. For those Leftists who still hold out some hope for the possibility of extra-electoral politics, an impasse has arisen. Despite the effusive political outbursts of 2011-12 in the Arab Spring and #Occupy — with their emphasis on the identity of means and ends, anti-hierarchical modes of organization, and utopian prefiguration — the Left still seems to have run aground. Traces may remain in the form of various issue-based affinity groups, but the more ambitious projects of achieving sweeping social transformation have been quietly put to rest, consoled with the mere memory of possibility.

Meanwhile, longstanding Left organizations, having temporarily reverted to the usual waiting game of patiently tailing popular discontents with the status quo, until the masses finally come around and decide to “get with the program” (i.e., their program), have experienced a crisis of their own: slowly disintegrating, with occasional spectacular implosions, many of their dedicated cadre call it quits amid demoralization and recriminations. What possibilities might remain for a Left whose goal is no longer utopian, and whose path is no longer programmatically defined?

Speakers:
Aaron Benanav (Endnotes)
Stephen Eric Bronner (Rutgers University)
Sam Gindin (Socialist Project)
Roger Rashi (Québec solidaire)
Richard Rubin (Platypus)

Richard Rubin
Lecture 7:
1953-1963

Part of the Summer 2012 Platypus Affiliated Society Primary Reading Group Lecture Series: Trotsky and Trotskyism

• recommended / + supplemental reading

Week 7 Readings:

+ Cornelius Castoriadis, “The workers and organization” (1959)
• Cliff Slaughter, “What is revolutionary leadership?” (1960)
• Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Workers Party/U.S., “In defense of a revolutionary perspective” (1962)
+ Tony Cliff, “The coming Russian revolution” (final chapter of Russia: A Marxist Analysis, 1964)
+ Hal Draper, “The two souls of socialism” (1966)
+ Isaac Deutscher, “Marxism in our time” (1965)
+ Murray Bookchin, “Listen, Marxist!” (1969)
• Spartacist League, “Genesis of Pabloism” (1972)

Richard Rubin
Lecture 6
1940-1953

Part of the Summer 2012 Platypus Affiliated Society Primary Reading Group Lecture Series: Trotsky and Trotskyism

• recommended / + supplemental reading

Week Six Readings:
+ James Cannon, “The coming American revolution” (1946)
+ C.L.R. James, Raya Dunayevskaya, et al., “Program of the minority tendency of the Workers Party/U.S.” (1946)
+ C.L.R. James, “Dialectical materialism and the fate of humanity” (1947)
+ Herbert Marcuse, “33 Theses” (1947)
+ Earl Browder and Max Shachtman with C. Wright Mills, “Is Russia a socialist community?” (1950)
+ Ernest Mandel, “The theory of ‘state capitalism’” (1951)
+ Michel Pablo, “On the duration and the nature of the period of transition from capitalism to socialism” (1951)
+ Pablo, “Where are we going?” (1953)

Richard Rubin
Lecture 5:
1933-1940

Part of the Summer 2012 Platypus Affiliated Society Primary Reading Group Lecture Series: Trotsky and Trotskyism

• recommended / + supplemental reading

Week 5 Readings:

• Trotsky, “Stalinism and Bolshevism” (1937)
• Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)
+ Trotsky, “Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay” (1940)
+ Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed (1936)
+ Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism (1939/40), especially “Letter to James Cannon” (September 12, 1939)
+ Trotsky, “Art and politics on our epoch” (1938)
+ Mary McCarthy, “My Confession” (1954)

Richard Rubin
Lecture 3:
1917-1923

Part of the Summer 2012 Platypus Affiliated Society Primary Reading Group Lecture Series: Trotsky and Trotskyism

Recorded on 6.30.12
The New School

• recommended / + supplemental reading

Week 3 Readings:
• Trotsky, Terrorism and Communism (1920)
• Trotsky, The Lessons of October (1924) [PDF]
+ Trotsky, Literature and Revolution (1924)
+ Bret Schneider, “Trotsky’s theory of art” (2011)

Full Syllabus and Readings