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The Russian Revolution, which Lenin held up as the torch-light of emancipation for the world proletariat, is being run into national socialist channels. . . . “The Russian proletariat,” said Lenin, “cannot single-handed bring the socialist revolution to a victorious conclusion. But it can give the Russian revolution a mighty impetus such as would create most favorable conditions for a socialist revolution, and would, in a sense, start it. It can help to create more favorable circumstances for its most important, most trustworthy and most reliable collaborator, the European and American proletariat, to join the decisive battles” (“Farewell letter to the Swiss workers,” 1917).

– “Lenin lives in the work of the Opposition” (1931)

Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Philadelphia

Video will be broadcast live and available as recordings at: http://www.livestream.com/platypusaffiliatedsociety


Saturdays 1–4PM CST

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
112 S. Michigan Ave. room 920

Chicago Platypus Facebook invitation: http://www.facebook.com/events/140497572752262/


Saturdays 2–5PM EST

The New School
6 E. 16th St. (between Union Square West and 5th Ave.) room 1001

• recommended / + supplemental reading


Recommended preliminary readings:

+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ Nicolas Krassó, “Trotsky’s Marxism” (1967)
• Platypus Historians Group“The dead Left: Trotskyism” (2008)
• Richard Rubin“The decline of the Left in the 20th century: 1933″ (2009)
• Ian Morrison“Trotsky’s Marxism” (2011)
• Mike Macnair, Bryan Palmer, Richard Rubin, and Jason Wright“The legacy of Trotskyism” (2011)
• Grover Furr“Learning from the Communist Movement of the 20th century: A response to Richard Rubin”(2012)
+ Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1978)
+ Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet: Trotsky biography (three volumes: 1954, 1959, 1963)


Week 1. Jun. 16, 2012

1879–1905

lecture: video recording | audio recording

• Tariq Ali and Phil EvansIntroducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
• Leon TrotskyResults and Prospects (1906)


Week 2. Jun. 23, 2012

1905–17

lecture: video recording [glitches after ~32:00] | audio recording [without glitches]

+ Trotsky, 1905 (1907)


Week 3. Jun. 30, 2012

1917–23

lecture: video recording | audio recording

• TrotskyTerrorism and Communism (1920)
• TrotskyThe Lessons of October (1924) [PDF] + Trotsky, Literature and Revolution (1924)
+ Bret Schneider, “Trotsky’s theory of art” (2011)


Week 4. Jul. 7, 2012

1923–33

lecture: video recording | audio recording

+ Trotsky, Where is Britain Going? (1925)
+ Trotsky, Problems of the Chinese Revolution 1927–31 (1932)
+ Trotsky, writings on the rise of Hitler and the destruction of the German Left (1930–40), especially “To build communist parties and an international anew” (1933)


Week 5. Jul. 14, 2012

1933–40

lecture: video recording | audio recording

• Trotsky“Stalinism and Bolshevism” (1937)
• TrotskyThe Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)
+ Trotsky, “Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay” (1940)
+ Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed (1936)
+ Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism (1939/40), especially “Letter to James Cannon” (September 12, 1939)
+ Trotsky, “Art and politics on our epoch” (1938)
+ Mary McCarthy, “My Confession” (1954)


Week 6. Jul. 21, 2012

1940–53

lecture: video recording | audio recording

+ James Cannon, “The coming American revolution” (1946)
+ C.L.R. James, Raya Dunayevskaya, et al., “Program of the minority tendency of the Workers Party/U.S.” (1946)
+ C.L.R. James, “Dialectical materialism and the fate of humanity” (1947)
+ Herbert Marcuse, “33 Theses” (1947)
+ Earl Browder and Max Shachtman with C. Wright Mills, “Is Russia a socialist community?” (1950)
+ Ernest Mandel, “The theory of ‘state capitalism’” (1951)
+ Michel Pablo, “On the duration and the nature of the period of transition from capitalism to socialism” (1951)
+ Pablo, “Where are we going?” (1953)


Week 7. Jul. 28, 2012

1953–63

lecture: video recording [ends ~4:00 prematurely] | audio recording [complete]

+ Cornelius Castoriadis, “The workers and organization” (1959)
• Cliff Slaughter“What is revolutionary leadership?” (1960)
• Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Workers Party/U.S.“In defense of a revolutionary perspective”(1962)
+ Tony Cliff, “The coming Russian revolution” (final chapter of Russia: A Marxist Analysis, 1964)
+ Hal Draper, “The two souls of socialism” (1966)
+ Isaac Deutscher, “Marxism in our time” (1965)
+ Murray Bookchin, “Listen, Marxist!” (1969)
• Spartacist League“Genesis of Pabloism” (1972)


2012–13

Primary Marxist reading group

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

• required / + recommended reading

Week A. Aug. 4, 2012

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by James Miller (on Jean-Jacques Rousseau), Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson), Karl Marxon “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 RousseauDiscourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754) PDFs of preferred translation (5 parts):[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
• Rousseauselection from On the Social Contract (1762)


Week B. Aug. 11, 2012

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


Week C. Aug. 18, 2012

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


Week D. Aug. 25, 2012

• Nietzscheselection from On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873)
• NietzscheOn the Genealogy of Morals (1887)


Week E. Sep. 1, 2012 Labor Day weekend

• Martin Nicolaus“The unknown Marx” (1968)
• 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. Sep. 8, 2012

• 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. Sep. 15, 2012

• 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 H. Sep. 22, 2012

• Wilhelm Reich“Ideology as material power” (1933/46)
• Siegfried Kracauer“The mass ornament” (1927)
+ Kracauer, “Photography” (1927)


Week 1. Sep. 29, 2012

• Chris Cutrone“Capital in history” (2008)
• Cutrone“The Marxist hypothesis” (2010)

 

Held on March 16th, 2012, at Housmans in London.

Speakers:
Barbara Dorn (IBT)
Tammy Samede, Occupier
Ed Nagle, Activist
Steve Maclean, and Michael Richardson, editors of The Occupied Times

A roundtable discussion with students and activists either directly involved with Occupy Wall St. or who are closely following the #Occupy movement.

The recent #Occupy protests are driven by discontent with the present state of affairs: glaring economic inequality, dead-end Democratic Party politics, and, for some, the suspicion that capitalism could never produce an equitable society. These concerns are coupled with aspirations for social transformation at an international level. For many, the protests at Wall St. and elsewhere provide an avenue to raise questions the Left has long fallen silent on:

What would it mean to challenge capitalism on a global scale?
How could we begin to overcome social conditions that adversely affect every part of life?
And, how could a new international radical movement address these concerns in practice?

Although participants at Occupy Wall St. have managed thus far to organize resources for their own daily needs, legal services, health services, sleeping arrangements, food supplies, defense against police brutality, and a consistent media presence, these pragmatic concerns have taken precedent over long-term goals of the movement. Where can participants of this protest engage in formulating, debating, and questioning the ends of this movement? How can it affect the greater society beyond the occupied spaces?

We in the Platypus Affiliated Society ask participants and interested observers of the #Occupy movement to consider the possibility that political disagreement could lead to clarification, further development and direction. Only when we are able create an active culture of thinking and debating on the Left without it proving prematurely divisive can we begin to imagine a Leftist politics adequate to the historical possibilities of our moment. We may not know what these possibilities for transformation are. This is why we think it is imperative to create avenues of engagement that will support these efforts.

Towards this goal, Platypus will be hosting a series of roundtable discussions with organizers and participants of the #Occupy movement. These will start at campuses in New York and Chicago but will be moving to other North American cities, and to London, Germany, and Greece in the months to come. We welcome any and all who would like to be a part of this project of self-education and potential rebuilding of the Left to join us in advancing this critical moment.

The Platypus Affiliated Society
October 2011

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Please join us for the first platypus public event of the year

Friday 16 of March 2012

7pm @ Housmans
(Peace House, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1 9DX)

Speakers:
Barbara Dorn (IBT)
Michele Kidane Mariam, Occupier
Tammy Samede, Occupier
Ed N, Activist
Steve, Michael and Martin, editors of The Occupied Times

LISTEN TO AUDIO

The recent #Occupy protests are driven by discontent
with the present state of affairs: glaring economic
inequality, dead-end electoral politics, and, for some,
the suspicion that capitalism could never produce an
equitable society. These concerns are coupled with
aspirations for social transformation at an international level in the #occupy movement.

Although participants at #Occupy sites managed to organize resources for their own daily needs, legal services, health services, sleeping arrangements, food supplies, defense against police brutality, and a consistent media presence, these pragmatic concerns have taken precedent over long-term goals of the movement. Where can participants of this protest engage in formulating, debating, and questioning the ends of this movement? How can it affect the greater society beyond the occupied spaces?

We in the Platypus Affiliated Society ask participants and interested observers of the #Occupy movement to consider the possibility that political disagreement could lead to clarification, further development and direction. Only when we are able create an active culture of thinking and debating on the Left without it proving prematurely divisive can we begin to imagine a Leftist politics adequate to the historical possibilities of our moment. We may not know what these possibilities for transformation are. This is why we think it is imperative to create avenues of engagement that will support these efforts.

Towards this goal, Platypus will be hosting a series of roundtable discussions with organizers and participants of the #Occupy movement. These have started at campuses in New York, Halifax and Chicago but will be moving to other North American cities, and beyond London, to Germany, and Greece in the months to come. We welcome any and all who would like to be a part of this project of self-education and potential rebuilding of the Left to join us in advancing this critical moment.

-The Platypus Affiliated Society

UPDATE:

Since November of 2011, and with the help of working groups and organizers of OWS, Platypus has been hosting a series of roundtable discussions reflecting on the obstacles and possibilities, political content, and potential future of the #Occupy movement. These have taken place in New York, Chicago, Boston, Halifax (Canada), London (UK). We welcome any and all who would like to be a part of this project of self-education and potential rebuilding of the Left to join us in advancing this critical moment.

Click on banners to see event media.

/// Platypus on the Airwaves: Pam Nogales on Occupy Wall Street Radio /// 5.4.12 ///

/// The Day After: What is the #Occupy Movement? NYC III /// 5.2.12 ///

 

 

 

 

 

/// Defining Democracy: The Labor Movement and #Occupy /// 3.31.12 /// 

/// Lenin and the Marxist Left after #Occupy /// 3.31.12 ///

/// Whence Anarchism? The Historical Conjuncture of #Occupy /// 3.31.12 ///

/// The Environmentalism of #Occupy /// 3.18.12 ///

/// 2011, 1999, 1968 — and 2012? The History of the Left and #Occupy /// 3.18.12 ///

/// The Significance of Art in the Occupy Movement /// 3.17.12 ///

/// Finance Capital and #Occupy /// 3.17.12 ///

/// What is the #Occupy Movement? London I /// 3.16.12 ///

/// What is the #Occupy Movement? Cambridge I /// 12.15/11 ///

/// What is the #Occupy Movement? NYC II /// 12.9.11 ///

/// What is the #Occupy Movement? Halifax I /// 11.16.11 ///

/// What is the #Occupy Movement? NYC I /// 10.28.11 ///

Live broadcast: www.livestream.com/platypus1917

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:

"1917"
http://platypus1917.org/2009/11/18/the-decline-of-the-left-in-the-20th-century-1917/

"Lenin's liberalism"
http://platypus1917.org/2011/06/01/lenin%E2%80%99s-liberalism/

"Lenin's politics"
http://platypus1917.org/2011/09/25/lenins-politics/

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/30622273]

A presentation by Platypus member Spencer Leonard on August 19th, 2011, at Communist University, which took place from August 17th to August 20th, 2011, at Goldsmiths, University of London.

For background reading please see the attached PDFs, also available at the following URLs:

Mike Macnair's Critique of Platypus

Also:

Cutrone, "Capital in history" (2008)

Cutrone, "The Marxist hypothesis" (2010)