Panel held on March 31st, 2012 at the Fourth Annual Platypus International Convention, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The two decades of the 1990s-2000s form a cycle containing certain common as well as differing concerns. The second decade of the 21st century has begun under the mixed legacy of recent history, presenting important problems needing to be worked through, moving forward.
For Platypus's 2012 international convention, two plenary panels will ask speakers from various perspectives to bring their experience of the Left"s recent history to bear on today's political possibilities and challenges.
The '90s Left Today
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and collapse of the Soviet Union soon after, a new political era opened, in which Marxism was discredited and anarchism became predominant on the radical Left. The most pressing challenges of post-Cold War neo-liberal globalization came amid an era of prosperity at the supposed "end of history." Postmodernist disenchantment with "grand narratives" of emancipation meant a turn against "ideology." Social "justice" rather than freedom became the watchword for a better world. "Resistance" and "horizontal" or "rhizomatic" politics provided a model for "changing the world without taking power" (as John Holloway, inspired by the Zapatistas, put it). Information technology -- the rise of the internet -- matched the new cosmopolitanism. The global order of "empire" confronted by the "multitude" demanded access to the "commonwealth" (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri). The "death of communism" challenged the Left's imagination of an emancipated future. "Black bloc" protest and "communisation" theory replaced traditional socialism, as the 20th century came to an uncertain close.
The '00s Left Today
As a result of the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terror rekindled anti-imperialist protest, even while it seemed to deliver a grave blow to the newly emergent World Social Forum, "alterglobalisation" movement. Neo-conservatism in the U.S. presented the specter of growing divisions in the global order, to which the world's most vulnerable might fall victim. Religious fundamentalism appeared to surge. Disenchantment with capitalist development accompanied the social imagination of ecological crisis and economic downturn: the desire for a "green economy" and apparent need for decreased consumption. At the same time, new intensification of global migration of workers presented challenges for political integration. The U.S. and allied wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond, were met by an anti-war movement and a new generation of radicalization. But the wars were eclipsed by financial crisis and Obamaâs election, bringing anti-austerity protests (setting the stage later for #Occupy), as the first decade of the 21st century ended with the economic crisis lingering and even deepening, scotching hopes for a reversal of neoliberalism and return to "Keynesian" social investment policies. Neoliberalism and neoconservatism both stood discredited, but without presenting a clear alternative for the future.
Daniel Dulce (Crimthinc)
Thodoris Velissaris (Platypus)
Nick Kreitman (Platypus, Formerly new SDS)
Mike Ely (Kasama)
Joshua Moufawad-Paul (Supporter, Parti communiste revolutionnaire - Revolutionary Communist Party (Canada)
Φιλοσοφική Σχολή Α.Π.Θ.
@Thessaloniki, Greece: Wednesday, Nov. 23rd, 6:00 – 9:00pm
New building of School of Philosophy, Room 112
An international forum on the
CRISIS OF THE LEFT
Chicago | NYC | Philly | Boston | Thessaloniki
A panel of the Crisis of the Left international forum held on November, 23rd, 2011 at Aristotle University
Crisis: Pathol. The point in the progress of a disease when an important development or change takes place which is decisive of recovery or death. “…Existing strategies and theories seem inadequate in a bewildering contemporary political scene. Disparate groups have begun to show an interest in rethinking the fundamentals of Left politics…”
Many on the Left feel a sense of crisis.
Existing strategies and theories seem inadequate in a bewildering contemporary political scene. Disparate groups have begun to show an interest in rethinking the fundamentals of Left politics. The Platypus Affiliated Society seeks to make the conversation explicit, and to host a series of discussions about the crisis of the contemporary Left: its quality, causes, and significance for future reconstitution and transformation.
Across five cities worldwide, we’ve invited figures from across the Left–academics, political organizers, theorists–to answer and debate six fundamental questions. We also pose these questions to the Left as a whole and invite responses from all quarters. The questions below stem from confusion; taking nothing for granted, we hope that confronting this confusion might open up future possibilities for renewed consciousness and practice on the Left.
1.) How would you define the Left?
2.) Do you think the Left is in crisis? If so, then what constitutes the crisis?
3.) In trying to understand the contemporary Left, what history matters most? What tasks and problems have we inherited from the Old Left and the New Left?
4.) Could the Left have done something to avoid its current impasses? If so, what?
5.) What is the relationship between the Left and anti-capitalism? Between the Left and Marxism? What should it be?
How does the Left need to change? Who is responsible for making the change happen?
Speakers: Stavros Mavroudeas, Xristos Laskos, Grigoris Tsilimantos, Babis Kouroundis
Moderated by Thodoris Velissaris
Stavros Mavroudeas is an Associate Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Economics of the University of Macedonia, where he has worked and taught since 1993. He’s published several articles in international and Greek journals of political economy, including Science & Society, Review of Radical Political Economics, Review of Political Economy, and has contributed to edited volumes. His publications include “Forms of existence of abstract labour and the value-form,” “Regulation theory: The road from creative Marxism to post-modern disintegration” and “Henryk Grossmann’s falling rate of profit theory of crisis: A presentation and a reply to old and new critics,” among many others. He is also a founding member and secretary of the Greek Scientific Society of Political Economy.
Xristos Laskos is an economist and member of the Political Secretariat of SYN (Coalition of Left and Ecological Movements). His articles frequently appear in newspapers such as Avgi and Epochi, and he is a member of the editorial board of Entos Epochis (a journal distributed every two weeks with Epochi). His recent book, No turning back: From Keynes to Thatcher: Capitalist crises, social needs, socialism (with Eykleidis Tsakalotos) was recently published in Greece by Kapsimi editions.
Grisgoris Tsilimantos lives and works in Thessaloniki. He is a member of the Anti-authoritarian Movement.
Babis Kouroundis is a lawyer who lives in Thessaloniki. He is a member of the Socialist Workers Party’s Regional Committee of Thessaloniki, and is also a member of the national coordinating committee of the ANTARSYA (Front of the Greek Anti-capitalist Left).
Thodoris Velissaris has studied economics and philosophy, and currently works as a teacher. He has been active in several political projects in Greece over the past years. He is now a member of Platypus Affiliated Society. Check out his recent article on the Greek crisis in the Platypus Review.