As a consolidation of some of the themes explored last term, we will spend the first two weeks addressing the history of politics of gender, sexuality and race from a Marxist perspective.
Following this, we will be starting a new series of readings on the history of the revolutionary Marxism of the 2nd International, and their followers.
Gender, sexuality and Left | Jan. 12, 2015
- Juliet Mitchell, “Women: The longest revolution” (1966)
- Clara Zetkin and Vladimir Lenin, “An interview on the woman question” (1920)
- Theodor W. Adorno, “Sexual taboos and the law today” (1963)
- John D’Emilio, “Capitalism and gay identity” (1983)
Anti-black racism in the U.S. | Jan. 19, 2015
- Richard Fraser, “Two lectures on the black question in America and revolutionary integrationism” (1953)
- James Robertson and Shirley Stoute, “For black Trotskyism” (1963)
+ Spartacist League, “Black and red: Class struggle road to Negro freedom” (1966)
+ Bayard Rustin, “The failure of black separatism” (1970)
- Adolph Reed, “Black particularity reconsidered” (1979)
+ Reed, “Paths to Critical Theory” (1984)
II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism
Revolutionary leadership | Jan. 26, 2015
- Rosa Luxemburg, “The Crisis of German Social Democracy” Part 1 (1915)
- J. P. Nettl, “The German Social Democratic Party 1890–1914 as a Political Model”(1965)
- Cliff Slaughter, “What is Revolutionary Leadership?” (1960)
Reform or revolution? | Feb. 2, 2015
- Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution? (1900/08)
Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb. 9, 2015
- Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)
What is to be done? | Feb. 16, 2015
- V. I. Lenin, What is to be Done? (1902)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
Mass strike and social democracy | Feb. 23, 2015
- Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906)
+ Luxemburg, "Blanquism and Social Democracy" (1906)
Permanent revolution | Mar. 2, 2015
- Leon Trotsky, Results and Prospects (1906)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners(1980)
State and revolution | Mar. 9, 2015
- Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)
Imperialism | Mar. 16, 2015
- Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)
Failure of the revolution | Mar. 30, 2015
- Luxemburg, “What does the Spartacus League Want?” (1918)
- Luxemburg, “On the Spartacus Programme” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, "German Bolshevism" (AKA "The Socialisation of Society") (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “The Russian Tragedy” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “Order Reigns in Berlin” (1919)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)
Platypus International convention Apr. 10-12, 2015
Retreat after revolution | Apr. 20, 2015
- Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920)
+ Lenin, "Notes of a Publicist" (1922)
Dialectic of reification | Apr. 27 , 2015
- Lukács, “The Standpoint of the Proletariat” (Part III of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” 1923). Available in three sections from marxists.org:section 1 section 2 section 3
Lessons of October | May 4, 2015
+ Trotsky, "Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)
Trotskyism | May 11, 2015
+ Trotsky, "To build communist parties and an international anew" (1933)
+ Trotsky, "Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay" (1940)
+ Trotsky, Letter to James Cannon (September 12, 1939)
The authoritarian state | May 18, 2015
- Friedrich Pollock, "State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941) (note 32 on USSR)
- Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1942)
On the concept of history | May 25, 2015
- epigraphs by Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson) and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche) on the modern concept of history
+ Charles Baudelaire, from Fusées [Rockets] (1867)
+ Bertolt Brecht, "To posterity" (1939)
+ Walter Benjamin, "To the planetarium" (from One-Way Street, 1928)
+ Benjamin, "Experience and poverty" (1933)
+ Benjamin, Theologico-political fragment (1921/39?)
- Benjamin, "On the Concept of History" (AKA "Theses on the Philosophy of History")(1940) [PDF]
- Benjamin, Paralipomena to "On the Concept of History" (1940)
Reflections on Marxism | Jun. 1, 2015
+ Horkheimer and Adorno, "Discussion about Theory and Praxis" (AKA "Towards a New Manifesto?") [Deutsch] (1956)
Theory and practice | Jun. 8, 2015
+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
+ Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)
+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)
November 20th 2014
Room 309, Richard Hoggart Building,
Goldsmiths' College, University of London
facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1494809277454523/
John Sinha, Occupy London Activist and member of SWP
Tony Wood, Anarchist Bookfair organiser
Iain McKay, author of An Anarchist FAQ
Dan Morley, Socialist Appeal (International Marxist Tendency)
+ a representative from Alliance for Workers' Liberty
This is part of an international series of panels organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society. For previous panels in this series please see:
It seems that there are still only two radical ideologies: Anarchism and Marxism. They emerged out of the same crucible - the Industrial Revolution, the unsuccessful revolutions of 1848 and 1871, a weak liberalism, the centralization of state power, the rise of the workers movement, and the promise of socialism. They are the revolutionary heritage, and all significant radical upsurges of the last 150 years have returned to mine their meaning for the current situation. In this respect, our moment seems no different.
There are a few different ways these ideologies have been taken up. Recent worldwide square occupations reflect one pattern: a version of Marxist theory — understood as a political-economic critique of capitalism — is used to comprehend the world, while an anarchist practice — understood as an anti-hierarchical principle that insists revolution must begin now — is used to organize, in order to change it. Some resist this combination, claiming that Marxism rejects anti-statist adventurism, and call for a strategic reorganization of the working class to resist austerity, and perhaps push forward a “New New Deal”. This view remains wedded to a supposedly practical welfarist social democracy, which strengthens the state and manages capital. There is a good deal of hand waving in both these orientations with regard to politics, tactics, and the end goal.
Finally, there have been attempts to leave the grounds of these theories entirely — but these often seem either to land right back in one of the camps or to remain marginal.
To act today we seek to draw up the balance sheet of the 20th century. The historical experience concentrated in these ideas must be unfurled if they are to serve as compass points. To see in what ways the return of these ideologies represent an authentic engagement and in what ways the return of a ghost. Where have the battles left us? What forms do we have for meeting, theoretically and practically, the problems of our present?
Questions to panellists
1. What do Marxism and Anarchism have to say to those politicized today? Do they instruct us as to how we might act, now? Must we return to these orientations? If so, how?
2. Many recent leftist groupings tend toward square occupation and leaderless horizontality, while retaining an unclear, even reformist, ideological orientation toward capitalism and the state. How do you understand the advent of these forms? Do they challenge traditional Marxist theory and ways of organizing? Are they affirmations of Anarchist modes of thinking and practice? In general, what forms of organization are necessitated by the theories we inherit and the tasks of today?
3. Can you briefly assess the most important splits and breaks between and within both traditions? Does the historical divide between Marxism and Anarchism still matter? What are the significant splits within Marxism and within Anarchism that continue to shape the context?
4. What are the inalienable values and the end goals of radical politics? Are Marxism and Anarchism ideologies of freedom? Of democracy? Of the working class? How do they handle the objective contradictions of realizing these principles under the conditions of capitalist life?
5. What should we fight for today - more state or less state?
6. Has history vindicated Marxism or Anarchism or neither at all?
Platypus London: Goldsmiths College: Intro Reading Group, Autumn 2014
Mondays 7pm, Room TBC – check facebook for details: https://www.facebook.com/groups/londonplatypus
Week 1 (29 Sep 2014)
- Cutrone, “Symptomology: Historical transformations in social-political context”
- Cutrone, “Capital in history: The need for a Marxian philosophy of history of the Left”
Week 2 (6 Oct 2014)
Week 3 (13 Oct 2014)
- Blumberg, Cutrone, Khan, Leonard, and Rubin, Forum: The decline of the Left in the 20th century
Week 4 (20 Oct 2014)
- Anderson, Cutrone, Kreitman, Postel, and Turl, Forum: Imperialism: What is it, why should we be against it?
- Albert, Cutrone, Duncombe, and Holmes, Forum: The 3 Rs: reform, revolution and “resistance:” The problematic forms of “anti-capitalism” today
Week 5 (27 Oct 2014)
- Brennan, Davis, Hendricks, Mujica, and Rubin, Forum: What is a movement?
- Hendricks, Hughes, Mwaura, and Thindwa, Forum: Left behind: The working class in the crisis
[3 Nov 2014 – No meeting – Goldsmiths’ reading week]
Week 6 (10 Nov 2014)
- Platypus Historians Group, Catastrophe, historical memory, and the Left: 60 years of Israel-Palestine
- Ibish, Kovel, and Rubin, Forum: Which way forward for Palestinian liberation?
- Goodman and Rubin, Forum: Marxism and Israel
Week 7 (17 Nov 2014)
- Farrow, Gabrellas, Mucciaroni, and Wolf, Forum: Which way forward for sexual liberation?
- Nogales, Pereira Di Salvo, and Rojas, Forum: Politics of the contemporary student Left
- Brennan, Klatt, Petcov, and Weger, Forum: Ideology and the student Left
Week 8 (24 Nov 2014)
- Bernstein, Cutrone, Goehr, and Horowitz, Forum: The relevance of Critical Theory to art today
- Cutrone, Feenberg, Westerman, and Brown, Platypus convention plenary: The politics of Critical Theory
Week 9 (1 Dec 2014)
- Horkheimer and Adorno, “Discussion about Theory and Praxis” (AKA “Towards a New Manifesto?”)[Deutsch] (1956)
- Horkheimer, selections from Dämmerung
- Adorno, “Resignation”
- Cutrone, “The Marxist hypothesis”
- Cutrone, “The Left is dead! — Long live the Left!” Vicissitudes of historical consciousness and the possibilities for emancipatory social politics today
Week 10 (8 Dec 2014)
- Cutrone, Morrison, and Rubin, Platypus convention plenary: The Platypus synthesis: History, theory, and practice
A panel event held at the Inaugural European Conference of the Platypus Affiliated Society contemplating the question of left unity. The panel was held at Goldsmiths College on July 19, 2014.
Communist Party of Great Britain
International Bolshevik Tendency
A workshop with the International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) held at the Inaugural European Conference of the Platypus Affiliated Society on Saturday, July 19th, 2014 at Goldsmiths College, London.
Every year at Platypus conferences, speakers from various perspectives are asked to bring their experience of the Left’s recent history to bear on today’s political possibilities and challenges as part of the “Differing Perspectives on the Left” workshop series.