A plenary presentation by Chris Cutrone, Spencer Leonard, and Richard Rubin, delivered on April 7th, 2012 as part of the 2013 Platypus Affiliated International Convention held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, upon the trajectories of their personal political development that led to Platypus.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to technical issues, only the first forty-five minutes of the talk were recorded.
A discussion led by Platypus Affiliated Society member Spencer A. Leonard on the current economic crisis, longue-durée social change, and the Left. This teach-in was an introduction to the some of essential problems to be explored in the Chicago iteration of the "Radical Interpretations of The Present" panel on December 3rd, 2012.
In 1999 the prominent social theorist Moishe Postone published an artile entitled "Contemporary Historical Transformations: Beyond Post-Industrial Theory and Neo-Marxism" in which he interrogated the two predominant theories of the social change that had been formulated in the 1970s by Daniel Bell and Ernest Mandel. Today we live in what would seem like a historical moment far removed from the economic boom of the late 90s, but how much has society really changed from the one Postone described just over a dozen years ago?
The "Contemporary Historical Transformations: Beyond Post-Industrial Theory and Neo-Marxism: article discussed can be found here.
On February 28, 2012, the radio program Radical Minds on WHPK-FM Chicago broadcast an interview with Mary Gabriel, the author of Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011). The interview was conducted by Spencer A. Leonard of the Platypus Affiliated Society.
A presentation by Platypus member Spencer Leonard on August 19th, 2011, at Communist University, which took place from August 17th to August 20th, 2011, at Goldsmiths, University of London.
For background reading please see the attached PDFs, also available at the following URLs:
Cutrone, "Capital in history" (2008)
Cutrone, "The Marxist hypothesis" (2010)
Panel held at the Marxist Literary Group Summer 2011 Institute on Culture and Society at the Institute for the Humanities, University of Illinois at Chicago on June 22, 2011
The legacy of revolution 1917-19 in Russia, Germany, Hungary and Italy is concentrated above all in the historical figures Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky, leaders of the Left in the Second International (1889-1914) — what they called “revolutionary social democracy” — in the period preceding the crisis of war, revolution, counterrevolution and civil war in World War I and its aftermath. In 1920, Georg Lukács summed up this experience as follows: “[T]he crisis [of capital] remains permanent, it goes back to its starting-point, repeats the cycle until after infinite sufferings and terrible detours the school of history completes the education of the proletariat and confers upon it the leadership of mankind. . . . Of course this uncertainty and lack of clarity are themselves the symptoms of the crisis in bourgeois society. As the product of capitalism the proletariat must necessarily be subject to the modes of existence of its creator. . . . inhumanity and reification.” Nonetheless, these Marxists understood their politics as being “on the basis of capitalism” itself (Lenin). How were the 2nd Intl. radicals, importantly, critics, and not merely advocates, of their own political movement? What is the legacy of these figures today, after the 20th century — as Walter Benjamin said in his 1940 “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” “against the grain” of their time, reaching beyond it? How did Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky contribute to the potential advancement and transformation of Marxism, in and through the crisis of Marxism in the early 20th century? How can we return to these figures productively, today, to learn the lessons of their history?