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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category Goldsmiths Media

A discussion on Democracy and the Left held at Goldsmiths, University of London, on March 28, 2019.


Benjamin Studebaker (Cambridge University, What's Left podcast)
Marjorie Mayo (Emeritus Professor, Goldsmiths University)
James Heartfield (Independent author, Spiked!)
Adam Buick (Socialist Party of Great Britain)


Corbyn, Sanders, Trump, Brexit, and the gilet jaunes among others have all claimed the mantle of democracy, but what does it mean for the Left? Our panel will be held on the eve of the planned (at the moment!) date for the UK to leave the EU.

This panel will be part of an international series put on by Platypus on the same theme, addressing the democratic movements which have been taken up by both the left and right in recent years.

Questions for panelists:

  1. What is the relationship between democracy and the working class today? Do you consider historical struggles for democracy by workers as the medium by which they got “assimilated” to the system, or the only path to emancipation that they couldn’t avoid trying to take?
  2. Do you consider it as necessary to eschew established forms of mass politics in favour of new forms in order to build a democratic movement? Or are current mass form of politics adequate for a democratic society?
  3. Why has democracy emerged as the primary demand of spontaneous forms of discontent? Do you also consider it necessary, or adequate, to deal with the pathologies of our era?
  4. Engels wrote that “A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is”. Do you agree? Can this conception be compatible with the struggle for democracy?
  5. Is democracy oppressive, or can it be such? How would you judge Lenin’s formulation that: “…democracy is also a state and that, consequently, democracy will also disappear when the state disappears.”

An interview with Lawrence Parker, the author of Communists and Labour: The National Left-Wing Movement, 1925-1929, conducted by Efraim Carlebach of the Platypus Affiliated Society on July 21, 2018.

An edited transcript of the interview was published in the Platypus Review Issue #111.

Teach-in by Boris Kagarlitzky (Author; Institute of Globalization and Social Movements) on the first year of Trump. Held February 18, 2018 from 13:00-14:30 in RHB 137a of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference. The discussion was moderated by Jerzy Sobotta.

Held on February 18, 2018 from 18:00-20:00 in RHB 137a at Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference. The discussion was moderated by Pam Nogales.


Boris Kagarlitsky (Author; Institute of Globalization and Social Movements)
Alex Demirovic (University of Frankfurt; Rosa Luxemburg Foundation)
Mark Osbourn (Alliance for Workers Liberty)
Hillel Ticktin (University of Glasgow; Founding Editor, Critique)

Chris Cutrone (School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Platypus)


The recent polarisation of politics, in the UK manifested around Corbyn and Brexit, has led some commentators to herald the end of neoliberalism. This undetermined moment has been welcomed variously as a potential opening for emancipatory politics, political engagement and a renewed imagination of 'socialism'. For others, it has been received with belligerence, as a turn toward a new, populist right. This panel discussion aims to clarify the range of Left perspectives on the question of the future of socialism today.


  1. Are we in a moment of stability or instability? How so? Can we talk, as CNN notes, of an upset equilibrium in the world? (CNN: “The Trump effect could be all the more pronounced because the political
    equilibrium of much of the world has been upset, straining institutions and assumptions in international relations that have endured for decades. To judge how much has changed, and why the prospects of 2017 look so uncertain, it's worth looking back a year.”)
  2. Is there a “re-politicisation of public life … reviving a culture of political participation and democratic debate”? If so, what kind of politics are emerging in this moment?
  3. Does the success of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders constitute a resurgence of socialists politics today? What is the character of these socialist politics?
  4. Do you see a future for socialist politics? In what way would this be a break from the history of previous attempts at socialism, for example the anti-war movement and the New Left? What are the political tasks socialists must face today?
  5. Do we still need the dictatorship of the proletariat? Why or why not?

Held 17 February 2018 from 14:00 -16:00 in RHB 137a of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference. The discussion was moderated by Erin Hagood.


Roxanne Baker (International Bolshevik Tendency)
Judith Shapiro (London School of Economics)
Sarah McDonald (Communist Party of Great Britain; Weekly Worker)

Event Description

Feminism and the women's question has continually played an important role in the history of the Left. This workshop seeks to bring together feminists of different generations to discuss the changing meaning of the relationship between feminism and socialism, in order to begin to talk about what the struggle for women’s liberation might mean politically in the future.

Questions for panelists

  1. What is feminism? What is the struggle for women's emancipation?
  2. How should we interpret the greater separation of mainstream feminism from socialist politics and from Marxist politics over the 20th century?
  3. What is the relationship between the fight for women's freedom and the project of human emancipation?
  4. What do the seeming advancements and successes of feminism in recent decades tell us when considered in relation to the failure of the proletarian struggle?