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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?

Held 17 February 2018 from 11:00-13:00 in RHB 137a of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference, 50 Years After '68: Does Socialism Have a Future? The discussion was moderated by David Mountain.

Please note: The audio quality for the first few minutes is poor. This improves a couple of minutes into Simon's initial remarks.

Event Speakers:

Simon Elmer (Architects for Social Housing)
Matthew Lee (Stop the Elephant Development; UCL Cut the Rent)
Austin Williams (Future Cities Project; author, ‘China's Urban Revolution’)

Panel Description

In recent years, a significant current of Left activists and thinkers has sought to mobilise around issues relating to urban change, most notably housing provision. Much activity has involved resisting gentrification--the economic displacement of marginalised communities--and lobbying established political parties, such as Labour, for investment in social housing or for rent controls. Since Engels wrote about the housing condition of the English working class in the 1840s, political changes in capitalism have seen different forms of state management of the housing issue, yet it remains a symptom of the crisis of capitalism. How have these political struggles of the past--for better housing, more equitable planning, against neoliberalism and against gentrification--responded or related to the struggle for socialism and the pursuit of freedom? How could they advance the struggle for socialism and the pursuit of freedom in the present?

Questions for panelists:

  1. What is gentrification? How do you understand this term?
  2. What significance has it had and should it have for the Left?
  3. How do housing struggles in the present relate those of the past?
  4. Why does capitalism appear to produce a housing crisis? Can it be solved in capitalism? 
  5. How has the housing problem changed in the history of capitalism? How has the left changed in relation this history?
  6. In what way was the post-war provision of social housing and urban renewal--planning issues of slum clearance etc.--considered socialist?
  7. How and why did the New Left in the '60s and '70s take up urban geography and housing?
  8. How do campaigns around housing relate to the struggle for socialism? How does this task the Left today?

A teach-in by Chris Cutrone on the Death of the Millennial Left, held February 16, 2018 from 16:00-17:30 in RHB 137 of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference. The discussion was moderated by Jan Schroeder.

Held 16 February 2018 from 19:00-21:00 in RHB 137a of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference. The discussion was moderated by Nunzia Faes.

Event Speakers:

Robert Borba (Revolutionary Communist Party USA)
Judith Shapiro (London School of Economics)
Jack Conrad (Communist Party of Great Britain; Weekly Worker)
Hillel Ticktin (University of Glasgow; Founding Editor, Critique)

Panel Description:

For half a century, 1968 has represented a high-water mark of social and political transformation, a year of social upheaval that spanned the entire globe. Ushered in by a New Left that sought to distinguish itself from the Old Left that emerged in the 20s and 30s, the monumental events of 1968 set the tone for everything from protest politics to academic leftism.

Today, with the U.S. entangled in a seemingly endless war in Asia and people calling for the impeachment of an unpopular president, with activists fighting in the streets and calling for liberation along the lines of race, gender, and sexuality, the Left’s every attempt to discover new methods and new ideas seems to invoke a memory of the political horizons of 1968. We can perhaps more than ever feel the urgency of the question: what lessons are to be drawn from the New Left as another generation undertakes the project of building a Left for the 21st century?

Questions for the panelists

Please answer the following questions in two registers: 1. What did you think in the 1960's 2. what do you think is possible now?

  1. Why did separatist politics (according to, e.g., race, gender, and sexuality, Black Power, feminism, gay liberation, etc.) become so salient in the 60s? What was common to the “movement” that transcended these diverse struggles for self-determination?
  2. Why was a “new” Left needed? What were the tasks that the New Left inherited from the Old Left?
  3. What was the relationship between the labor and students’ movements? Is a labour-student alliance needed today?
  4. How was the U.S. role in the war in Vietnam understood in relation to other social and political issues? Did the shift from the Civil Rights Movement to the anti-war movement change the possibilities for progressive politics?
  5. It is said that those of you participating in the 1960s movement(s) thought you could have changed the world. How was this change imagined? How did the efforts in the 1960's fail or succeed?