A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 20, 2011 at Left Forum, Pace University.
Marx and Engels were not the preeminent socialists but rather socialism's greatest critics, distinguishing their "communism" from "reactionary," "bourgeois" and "democratic" socialism. Lately, Marx is taken for his theoretical analysis of capitalism more than his and Engels's revolutionary politics, discredited after the 20th century's spectacular failures of "Marxism." So what is Marx and Engels's political legacy? What Marx wrote after the failed "social-democratic" revolutions of 1848 still resonates: "Every demand of the simplest bourgeois financial reform, of the most ordinary liberalism, of the most formal republicanism, of the most insipid democracy, is simultaneously castigated as an 'attempt on society' and stigmatized as 'socialism'." How does Marx and Engels's politics of "communism," that is, socialism aware of its historical vocation, task us today?
A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.
Panel Abstract: It may seem untimely to reconsider Georg Lukacs, after the demise of the "Bolshevik experiment" with which he was associated. Who was Lukacs? Critic of reification, founder of Hegelian Marxism, Critical Theory, Western Marxism? Or: philosopher of Bolshevism, apologist for Leninism, romantic socialist, voluntarist idealist, terrorist revolutionary? Lukacs is usually read as an interpreter rather than a dedicated follower of Marxism, leaving Lukacs's particular contribution obscure. Lukacs was most original--and influential--when he accepted the presuppositions of Marxism, the political practice and theory of revolution, in earnest, from 1919-25, in History and Class Consciousness and associated works--however Lukacs himself may have disavowed them subsequently. What can we make of Lukacs's legacy today, his investigation and elaboration of the problematic of Marxism, and what are the essential issues potentially raised for our time?
Chris Cutrone - School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Jeremy Cohan - New York University
Marco Torres - University of Chicago
Neil Larsen - University of California at Davis
Timothy Bewes - Brown University
Timothy Hall - University of East London, U.K.
A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.
Panel Abstract: What was Trotsky's contribution to revolutionary Marxism? At one level, the answer is clear. Above even his significance as organizer of the October insurrection and leader of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War, what makes Trotsky a major figure in the history of Marxism is his status as the leader of the Left Opposition and, later, his founding of the Fourth International. But this panel asks whether stating this fact is sufficient for understanding Trotsky's Marxism, or whether this might not in fact merely beg the question. The issue remains what was it in Trotsky's evolution from the period of 1905 through the Russian Revolution of 1917, that allowed him to become the leader of the left opposition and the great Marxist critic of Stalinism in the 1920s and 1930s? What of Trotsky, rather than Trotsky-ism?
Ian Morrison - Platypus Affiliated Society; University of Chicago
Jason Wright - International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT)
Spencer Leonard - Platypus Affiliated Society; University of Chicago
Susan Williams - Freedom Socialist Party
A panel organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.
Over 90 years ago, Rosa Luxemburg was killed in the failed German Revolution of 1918-19. Yet the controversy surrounding the politics of her final years still smolders. Was she a critic of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution, democratic advocate of spontaneity âfrom below?â Or, was she an orthodox Marxist, proponent of revolution through the determined political leadership of labor and other social-reform movements? Perhaps it's time that the matter is reposed. If Luxemburg still speaks to us, it is not in abstract lessons torn from history, but, as Walter Benjamin put it, by her struggle in and âagainst the grainâ of history. Luxemburg wrote that âSocialism is the first popular movement in world history that has set itself the goal of bringing human consciousness, and thereby free will, into play in the social actions of mankind.â How might we yet learn from Luxemburg's example? Why must we remember her attempt to realize socialism; what might be the consequences of forgetting?
A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011 at Left Forum, Pace University.
Panel Abstract: What was distinctive about Vladimir Lenin's Marxism? What was its relationship to the other forms of Marxism and Marxists of his era? Was Lenin orthodox or heterodox? Was there a "unity" to Lenin's political thought, as Georg Lukacs argued, or do his major works -- What is to Be Done? (1902), Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916), The State and Revolution (1917), "Left-Wing Communism": An Infantile Disorder? (1920) -- express distinctive and even contradictory phases in Lenin's political development? How did Lenin's Marxism overcome -- or not -- other competing forms of Marxism? How should we understand Lenin's historical contribution to Marxism, today?