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II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism


Room 257, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths.
Sundays, 1-4pm.


required / + recommended reading


Marx and Engels readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


Recommended winter break preliminary readings:

+ Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)
+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6


Film screenings: January 2018

37 Days (2014) [Episode 1] [Episode 2] [Episode 3]
Fall of Eagles (1974) episodes: "Absolute Beginners," "The Secret War," and "End Game"
Rosa Luxemburg (1986)
• Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States (2012) Episodes A (1900-20) and B (1920-40)
Reds (1981)


Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Jan. 14, 2018

Lukács, Original Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)
+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302


Week 12. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Jan. 21, 2018

Korsch, “Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
+ Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15
+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145


Winter–Spring 2018

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Week 13. Revolutionary leadership | Jan. 28, 2018

• 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)


Week 14. Reform or revolution? | Feb. 4, 2018

Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution? (1900/08)
+ Eugene Debs, "Competition versus Cooperation" (1900)


Week 15. Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb. 11, 2018

Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)


Break for Platypus European Conference  | Feb. 18, 2018


Week 16. What is to be done? | Feb. 25, 2018

• 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)


Week 17. Mass strike and social democracy | Mar. 4, 2018

Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906)
+ Luxemburg, "Blanquism and Social Democracy" (1906)


Week 18. Permanent revolution | Mar. 11, 2018

• Leon Trotsky, Results and Prospects (1906)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)


Week 19. State and revolution | Mar. 18, 2018

Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)


Week 20. Imperialism | Mar. 25, 2018

Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)
+ Lenin, Socialism and War Ch. 1 The principles of socialism and the War of 1914–15 (1915)


Week 22. Failure of the revolution | Apr 1, 2018

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)
+ Eugene Debs, “The Day of the People” (1919)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)


Week 23. Apr. 8, 2018 [Platypus international convention]


Week 24. Retreat after revolution | Apr. 15, 2018

Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920)
+ Lenin, "Notes of a Publicist" (1922)


Week 25. Dialectic of reification | Apr. 22, 2018

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
+ Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms


Week 26. Lessons of October | Apr. 29, 2018

Trotsky, The Lessons of October (1924) [PDF]
+ Trotsky, "Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)


Week 27. Trotskyism | May 6, 2018

+ Trotsky, "To build communist parties and an international anew" (1933)
Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)
+ Trotsky, "Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay" (1940)
+ Trotsky, Letter to James Cannon (September 12, 1939)


Week 28. The authoritarian state | May 13, 2018

• Friedrich Pollock, "State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941) (note 32 on USSR)
• Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1942)


Week 29. On the concept of history | May 20, 2018

• 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)
+ Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms


Week 30. Reflections on Marxism | May 27, 2018

• Theodor Adorno, “Reflections on Class Theory” (1942)
Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)
+ Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ Adorno, Dedication, "Bequest", "Warning: Not to be Misused" and "Finale", Minima Moralia (1944–47)
+ Horkheimer and Adorno, "Discussion about Theory and Praxis" (AKA "Towards a New Manifesto?") [Deutsch] (1956)


Week 31. Theory and practice | Jun. 3, 2018

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
Adorno, “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
Adorno, “Resignation” (1969)
+ Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ 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)


Panel discussion hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society at Goldsmiths University of London on October 19, 2017.

Speakers:

Jack Conrad (Communist Party of Great Britain / Weekly Worker)
HaPe Breitman (International Bolshevik Tendency)
Lyndon White
(Political education officer, East Finchley Labour Party)
Robert Liow (Student activist, Kings College London)

Panel Description:

Labour lost the election. But Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran of the 1980’s Labour left, seems to have saved the party. Corbyn's tenure has raised old questions about the Left's relationship to the Labour Party. While some on the Left take the crisis within Labour to be an opportunity, in various ways, for its transformation, others reject Labour as a dead end.

For Ralph Miliband, the crisis of Stalinism and welfare-state social democracy in the 1950s raised the problem of the political party for socialism. He thought Labour’s defeat in the 1959 general election made apparent what would have otherwise been obscure: “the Labour Party is a sick party.” This “sickness” was taken as an opportunity for the Left to clarify the nature of the Labour Party and go beyond the “labourism” which had defined it up until that point. The New Left sought to leverage this moment to educate a new generation “into the promise and the conditions for socialism in the 1960’s.” However, by the early 1970’s Miliband felt this opportunity had passed. How should we understand Labour’s metaphorical “sickness”? Should we seek to save the patient or to learn from its death?

Sundays
1pm - 4pm
Room 257, Richard Hoggarth Building, Goldsmiths, University of London, SE14 6NW

Summer and Fall/Autumn 2017 – Winter 2018

I. What is the Left? -- What is Marxism?

Tuesdays, 6:30pm Room 257, Richard Hoggarth Building, Goldsmiths, University of London, SE14 6NW


 required / + recommended reading


Marx and Engels readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


Week A. Radical bourgeois philosophy I. Rousseau: Crossroads of society | Aug. 8, 2017

Whoever dares undertake to establish a people’s institutions must feel himself capable of changing, as it were, human nature, of transforming each individual, who by himself is a complete and solitary whole, into a part of a larger whole, from which, in a sense, the individual receives his life and his being, of substituting a limited and mental existence for the physical and independent existence. He has to take from man his own powers, and give him in exchange alien powers which he cannot employ without the help of other men.

-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract (1762)

• Max Horkheimer, "The little man and the philosophy of freedom" (1926–31)

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by James Miller (on Jean-Jacques Rousseau), Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson), Karl Marx, on "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58), and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche)

+ Rainer Maria Rilke, "Archaic Torso of Apollo" (1908)

+ Robert Pippin, "On Critical Theory" (2004)

• Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754) PDFs of preferred translation (5 parts): [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

 Rousseau, selection from On the Social Contract (1762)


Week B. Radical bourgeois philosophy II. Hegel: Freedom in history | Aug. 15, 2017

• G.W.F. Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History (1831) [HTML] [PDF pp. 14-128] [Audiobook]


Week C. Radical bourgeois philosophy III. Nietzsche (1): Life in history | Aug. 22, 2017

• Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life (1874) [translator's introduction by Peter Preuss]

+ Nietzsche on history chart of terms


Week D. Radical bourgeois philosophy IV. Nietzsche (2): Asceticism of moderns | Aug. 29, 2017

+ Human, All Too Human: Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil (1999)

 Nietzsche, selection from On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873)

 Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic (1887)


Week E. 1960s New Left I. Neo-Marxism | Sep. 5, 2017 U.S. Labor Day weekend

• Martin Nicolaus, “The unknown Marx” (1968)

+ Commodity form chart of terms

• Moishe Postone, “Necessity, labor, and time” (1978)

+ Postone, “History and helplessness: Mass mobilization and contemporary forms of anticapitalism” (2006)

+ Postone, “Theorizing the contemporary world: Brenner, Arrighi, Harvey” (2006)


Week F. 1960s New Left II. Gender and sexuality | Sep. 12, 2017

• 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)


Week G. 1960s New Left III. Anti-black racism in the U.S. | Sep. 19, 2017

• 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)


Week 1. What is the Left? I. Capital in history | Sep. 26, 2017

• Max Horkheimer, "The little man and the philosophy of freedom" (1926–31)

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by Louis Menand (on Marx and Engels) and Karl Marx, on "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58)

• Chris Cutrone, "Capital in history" (2008)

+ Capital in history timeline and chart of terms

+ video of Communist University 2011 London presentation

 Cutrone, "The Marxist hypothesis" (2010)


Week 2. What is the Left? II. Bourgeois society | Oct. 3, 2017

• Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view" and "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)

• Benjamin Constant, "The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns" (1819)

+ Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the origin of inequality (1754)

+ Rousseau, selection from On the social contract (1762)


Week 3. What is the Left? III. Failure of Marxism | Oct. 10, 2017

• Max Horkheimer, selections from Dämmerung (1926–31)

 Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)


Week 4. What is the Left? IV. Utopia and critique | Oct. 17, 2017

• Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)

 Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11

 Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15


Week 5. What is Marxism? I. Socialism | Oct. 24, 2017

 Marx, selections from Economic and philosophic manuscripts (1844), pp. 70–101

+ Commodity form chart of terms

 Marx and Friedrich Engels, selections from the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), pp. 469-500

 Marx, Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League (1850), pp. 501–511


Week 6. What is Marxism? II. Revolution in 1848 | Oct. 31, 2017

 Marx, The coming upheaval (from The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847) and Class struggle and mode of production (letter to Weydemeyer, 1852), pp. 218-220

 Engels, The tactics of social democracy (Engels's 1895 introduction to Marx, The Class Struggles in France), pp. 556–573

 Marx, selections from The Class Struggles in France 1848–50 (1850), pp. 586–593

 Marx, selections from The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), pp. 594–617


Week 7. What is Marxism? III. Bonapartism | Nov. 7, 2017

+ Karl Korsch, "The Marxism of the First International" (1924)

 Marx, Inaugural address to the First International (1864), pp. 512–519

 Marx, selections from The Civil War in France (1871, including Engels's 1891 Introduction), pp. 618–652

+ Korsch, Introduction to Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1922)

 Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 525–541

 Marx, Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880)


Week 8. What is Marxism? IV. Critique of political economy | Nov. 14, 2017

+ Commodity form chart of terms

 Marx, selections from the Grundrisse (1857–61), pp. 222–226, 236–244, 247–250, 276–293 ME Reader pp. 276-281

 Marx, Capital Vol. I, Ch. 1 Sec. 4 "The fetishism of commodities" (1867), pp. 319–329


Week 9. Nov. 25, 2017 U.S. Thanksgiving break


Week 10. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Nov. 28, 2017

• Georg Lukács, “The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)

+ Commodity form chart of terms


Winter break readings

+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)

+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)

+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6

+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)

+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)


Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Dec. 5, 2017 / Jan. 13, 2018

 Lukács, Original Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)

+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302


Week 12. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Dec. 12, 2017 / Jan. 20, 2018

 Korsch, “Marxism and philosophy” (1923)

+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11

+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15

+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145


Winter–Spring 2018

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

On March 23, 2017, the Platypus Affiliated Society organized a panel discussion, “What is Socialism? International Social Democracy,” at the London School of Economics. Moderated by Nunzia Faes of Platypus, the event brought together the following speakers: Jack Conrad of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Weekly Worker; Adam Buick of the Socialist Party of Great Britain; and Robin Halpin, translator of works by the Exit! group. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.