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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category Dalhousie Upcoming Events

Please join the Platypus Affiliated Society for every second Thursday (beginning Sept 5) for a film series that examines the history of socialism from the Second International to the New Left.

The first two films in the series are part of the 2013 NSPIRG Rad Frosh.

// The Second International (1889-1914)
5 Sept @ 7pm (Dalhousie Art Gallery)
Rosa Luxemburg (1986, 122 min, dir. Margarethe von Trotta (German with English Subtitles))
Cannes Palme D’Or nominee and Best Actress winner (for Barbara Sukowa’s luminous performance), this is a sweeping biopic of radical socialist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919).

// The Russian Revolution (1917)
19 Sept @ 6pm (Dalhousie Art Gallery)
Reds (1981, 195 min, dir. Warren Beatty, English)
A film about John Reed, author of Ten Days that Shook the World on the Russian Revolution, and Louise Bryant and their Greenwich Village milieu, including Emma Goldman, Eugene O'Neill, Max Eastman and others during the early years of American Communism, directed by Warren Beatty and starring Beatty, Diane Keaton, and Jack Nicholson.

// The 1930s Old Left
10 Oct @ 7pm (Room 307, Dalhousie Student Union Building)
Cradle Will Rock (1999, 132 min., dir. Tim Robbins, English)
A drama based on real events about theater life in the 1930s during the times of the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration, the Red Scare (anti-communism), fascism, unions, Hitler, Mussolini, New York mayor Nelson Rockefeller, director Orson Welles, painter Diego Rivera, and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. The film focuses on the lives of several people during hard times in New York as many struggle to find their place in America. The main focus of the film is a play titled Cradle Will Rock, which tells a pro-union story about lower class workers trying to survive in a growing power-hungry world.

// The 1960s New Left
24 Oct @ 6pm (Dalhousie Art Gallery)
Le fond de l'air est rouge (Grin without a Cat) (1977, 180 min, dir. Chris Maker, French, Spanish, English, and German with English subtitles)
Chris Marker’s epic account of the rise and fall of the New Left. Part One, “Fragile Hands,” charts the growth of the student-protest movement amid a background of Vietnam, the Black Panthers, the Red Brigade, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara, climaxing in the events of 1968. Part Two, “Severed Hands,” analyzes the movement’s tortuous decline, both from outside aggression (in Czechoslovakia and Chile) and internal dissension.

A moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A with thinkers, activists and political figures focused on contemporary problems faced by the Left in its struggles to construct a politics adequate to the self-emancipation of the working class. Hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society.

Room 224, Dalhousie Student Union Building
October 2nd, 7:00 PM

George Caffentzis - Midnight Notes Collective
Shay Enxuga - Baristas Rise Up
Larry Haiven -Solidarity Halifax / Saint Mary's University

Co-sponsored by the Halifax Radical Imagination Project:

It is generally assumed that Marxists and other Leftists have the political responsibility to support reforms for the improvement of the welfare of workers. Yet, leading figures from the Marxist tradition-- such as Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky-- also understood that such reforms would broaden the crisis of capitalism and potentially intensify contradictions that could adversely impact the immediate conditions of workers. For instance, full employment, while being a natural demand from the standpoint of all workers’ interests, also threatens the conditions of capitalist production (which rely on a surplus of available labor), thereby potentially jeopardizing the system of employment altogether. In light of such apparent paradoxes, this panel seeks to investigate the politics of work from Leftist perspectives. It will attempt to provoke reflection on and discussion of the ambiguities and dilemmas of the politics of work by including speakers from divergent perspectives, some of whom seek after the immediate abolition of labor and others of whom seek to increase the availability of employment opportunities. It is hoped that this conversation will deepen the understanding of the contemporary problems faced by the Left in its struggles to construct a politics adequate to the self-emancipation of the working class.

Live broadcast:

Saturday, December 17, 2011
9AM U.S./Canada PST / 10AM MST / 11AM CST / 12PM EST;
and 17:00 London / 18:00 Frankfurt and Berlin /
19:00 Thessaloniki / 22:30 Delhi / 02:00 Seoul

If you are in Chicago:
Saturday, 11am | 17 December 2011 |School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan Ave. room 919

Please join Platypus for a brief introduction to and discussion about the relevance of Lenin today, in anticipation of our Winter-Spring 2012 primary Marxist reading group, on the history of revolutionary Marxism, centered on the writings of Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky, and Adorno.

The Encyclopedia Britannica's entry on Lenin states that,

"If the Bolshevik Revolution is -- as some people have called it -- the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century's most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union, but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx."

Lenin is the most controversial figure in the history of Marxism, and perhaps one of the most controversial figures in all of history. As such, he is an impossible figure for sober consideration, without polemic. Nevertheless, it has become impossible, also, after Lenin, to consider Marxism without reference to him. Broadly, Marxism is divided into avowedly "Leninist" and "anti-Leninist" tendencies. In what ways was Lenin either an advance or a calamity for Marxism? But there is another way of approaching Lenin, which is as an expression of the historical crisis of Marxism. In other words, Lenin as a historical figure is unavoidably significant as manifesting a crisis of Marxism. The question is how Lenin provided the basis for advancing that crisis, how the polarization around Lenin could provide the basis for advancing the potential transformation of Marxism, in terms of resolving certain problems.

The Frankfurt School Critical Theorist Theodor Adorno, in his 1966 book Negative Dialectics, wrote of the degeneration of Marxism due to "dogmatization and thought-taboos." There is no other figure in the history of Marxism who has been subject to such "dogmatization and thought-taboos" as much as Lenin.

It is important to note as well that Adorno himself sought to remain, as he put it, "faithful to Marx, Engels and Lenin, while keeping up with culture at its most advanced," to which his colleague Max Horkheimer replied, simply, "Who would not subscribe to that?"

Today, such a proposition seems especially implausible, in many ways. Yet perhaps the memory of Lenin haunts us still, however obscurely.

The discussion will be broadcast live on the web. Additionally, a recording will be made available after the event.

Recommended background readings:


"Lenin's liberalism"

"Lenin's politics"