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Opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, 2008.
Opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, 2008.

“Society is a reality sui generis; it has its own characteristics that are either not found in the rest of the universe or are not found there in the same form."
"Society is a sui generis being with its own special nature, distinct from that of its members, and a personality of its own different from individual personalities."
-- Emile Durkheim


Fridays 6:30-8:30pm at the May Day Rooms in the "Reading Room"

88 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1DH

Join London Platypus or follow Platypus LSESU or Platypus at UCL on facebook for updates.

All welcome & no prior knowledge required.


( • required / + recommended readings)

Required background reading:
• Chris Cutrone, "Back to Herbert Spencer! Industrial vs. militant society" (2016)

Recommended supplemental parallel reading:
+ Adorno, "Static and Dynamic as Sociological Categories" (1961)
+ Adorno, Introduction to Sociology 1962 lectures
+ Adorno, Philosophical Elements of a Theory of Society 1964 lectures
+ Adorno, Philosophy and Sociology 1960 lectures

Preliminary readings:
• Adorno“Society” (1965)
• Benjamin Constant"The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns" (1819)

Charts of terms:
Capital in history timeline and chart of terms
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 
Commodity form chart of terms
Reification chart of terms


Week 1: June 10, 2022

• Gillian RoseHegel Contra Sociology (1981/95) selections: Preface for 1995 reprint, 1. The Antinomies of Sociological Reason, 7. With What Must the Science End?


Week 2: June 17, 2022

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by Louis Menand (on Marx and Engels), Karl Marxon "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58)
• Max WeberThe Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) selections: Author's Introduction, Part I Chapters 1-3, Part II (+ Chapter 4,) Chapter 5


Week 3: June 24, 2022

• Auguste ComteIntroduction to Positive Philosophy (1830-42) I. The nature and importance of the positive philosophyThe Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte vol. III Bk. VI. Social Physics pp. 1-11, 199-216, 277-344; A General View of Positivism Ch. II. The Social Aspect of Positivism pp. 63-78, Ch. VI. The Religion of Humanity pp. 340-426


Week 4: July 1, 2022

+ Chris Cutrone, "Back to Herbert Spencer! Industrial vs. militant society" (2016) [audio]
• Herbert SpencerPrinciples of Sociology Vol. I Part I The Data of Sociology Ch. I-IV pp. 3-40 and Part II The Inductions of Sociology Ch. I-II pp. 447-462; On Social Evolution (Univ. Chicago selections): IV 15–16 Societal Typologies, Militancy and Industrialism and V 18–19 Ceremonial and Political InstitutionsThe Man Versus the State VI The Great Political Superstition


Week 5: July 8, 2022

• Emile Durkheim, Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912) Introduction

Durkheim, On Morality and Society (1890), selections Chapter 3. "The principles of 1789 and sociology", and part V. Social Creativity, Chapters 11-12


Week 6: July 15, 2022

• Émile Durkheim, Author's Preface to 1st Edition and Introduction (pp.xxv-xxx and 1-10) in The Division of Labor in Society (1893)

• Durkheim, selections from On Morality and Society (1898): Chapter 4. "Individualism and the intellectuals" (1898), Chapter 6. "Progressive preponderance of organic solidarity", and Chapter 10. "The dualism of human nature and its social conditions" (1914)


BREAK - no reading group - on July 22, 2022


Week 7: July 29, 2022

• DurkheimThe Division of Labor in Society (1893) selections IV. The Evolution of Morality Chapters 7-9, in On Morality and Society; Preface to the 2nd Edition (pp. xxxi-lix)


Week 8: August 5, 2022

Taking place at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (145 Fleet St, London EC4A 2BP) which is a short walk from the MayDay Rooms.

Message us on facebook or WhatsApp if you can't find us.

Readings:

• Frankfurt SchoolAspects of Sociology (1956) selections: Preface by Horkheimer and Adorno, Chapters I-VI, XII
• Adorno“Society” (1965)
+ Adorno, "Static and Dynamic as Sociological Categories" (1961)

Lenin in Smolny

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Every Saturday at 11am

Caffe Nero (Unit 1A, 100-110 High Holborn)

Everyone welcome

Facebook pages: Platypus UCL | Platypus LSE | London Platypus


• 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)
+ Carl Schorske, The SPD 1905-17: The Development of the Great Schism (1955)
+ J.P. Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg (1966) [Vol. 1] [Vol. 2]
+ 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


Winter–Spring 2022

Week 10. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Jan. 15, 2022

• Korsch“Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ Herbert Marcuse, "Note on dialectic" (1960)
+ 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


II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Week 11. Revolutionary leadership | Jan. 22, 2022

• 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 12. Reform or revolution? | Jan. 29, 2022

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


Week 13. Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb. 5, 2022

• Spartacist LeagueLenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)


Week 14. What is to be done? | Feb. 12, 2022

• V. I. LeninWhat is to be Done? (1902)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)


Week 15. Mass strike and social democracy | Feb. 19, 2022

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


Week 16. Feb. 26, 2022 (reading week break)


Week 17. Permanent revolution | Mar. 5, 2022

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


Week 18. State and revolution | Mar. 12, 2022

• LeninThe State and Revolution (1917)


Week 19. Imperialism | Mar. 19, 2022

“The bourgeoisie makes it its business to promote trusts, drive women and children into the factories, subject them to corruption and suffering, condemn them to extreme poverty. We do not ‘demand’ such development, we do not ‘support’ it. We fight it. But how do we fight? We explain that trusts and the employment of women in industry are progressive. We do not want a return to the handicraft system, pre-monopoly capitalism, domestic drudgery for women. Forward through the trusts, etc., and beyond them to socialism!”
— Lenin, The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution (1916/17)

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


Week 20. Failure of the revolution | Mar. 26, 2022

• 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 21. Apr. 2, 2022 (Platypus international convention)


Week 22. Retreat after revolution | Apr. 9, 2022

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


Week 23. Dialectic of reification | Apr. 16, 2022

• 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
Commodity form chart of terms
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms + Organic composition of capital chart of terms
Reification chart of terms
+ Lukács, “The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)


Week 24. Lessons of October | Apr. 23, 2022

• TrotskyThe Lessons of October (1924) [PDF]
• Trotsky"Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)


Week 25. Trotskyism | April 30, 2022

+ Trotsky, "To build communist parties and an international anew" (1933)
+ Trotsky, "If America should go communist" (1934)
• TrotskyThe Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (AKA The Transitional Program and the Struggle for Socialism, 1938)
+ Trotsky, "Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay" (1940)
+ Trotsky, Letter to James Cannon (September 12, 1939)


Week 26. The authoritarian state | May 7, 2022

• Friedrich Pollock"State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941) (note 32 on USSR)
• Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1942) [PDF]
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 


Week 27. On the concept of history | May 14, 2022

• 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, "Fire alarm" (from One-Way Street, 1928)
[JPG] [PDF]
+ Benjamin, "Experience and poverty" (1933)
+ Benjamin, Theologico-political fragment (1921/39?)
Benjamin on history chart of terms
• Benjamin"On the Concept of History" (AKA "Theses on the Philosophy of History") (1940) [PDF]
• BenjaminParalipomena to "On the Concept of History" (1940)
+ Benjamin, Arcades Project Convolute N, "On the theory of knowledge, theory of progress" (see especially p. 471 [N8,1] on Horkheimer on unredeemablility of past suffering)
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms


Week 28. Reflections on Marxism | May 21, 2022

Capital in history timeline and chart of terms
Benjamin on history chart of terms
• 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 29. Theory and practice | May 28, 2022

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
Commodity form chart of terms
Reification chart of terms
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms
Adorno's critique of actionism chart of terms
• 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)
Organic composition of capital chart of terms
+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)
+ Adorno, Interview with Der Spiegel magazine (1969)

Every Saturday morning 11am

Caffe Nero on High Holborn

Unit 1A, 100-110 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6QL

Everybody welcome!

London Platypus facebook | Platypus at UCL facebook | Platypus LSE facebook


• required / + recommended reading


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


Remaining sessions of Radical Bourgeois Philosophy


Week 1. Radical bourgeois philosophy V. Kant and Constant: Bourgeois society | Oct. 2, 2021

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

Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) chart of terms

+ Kant's 3 Critiques [PNG] and philosophy [PNG] charts of terms

• 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 2. Radical bourgeois philosophy VI. Hegel: Freedom in history | Oct. 9, 2021

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

Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) chart of terms


What is the Left?


Week 3. What is the Left? I. Capital in history | Oct. 16, 2021

• 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), Karl Marxon "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58), and Peter Preuss (on history)

Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) chart of terms

• Chris Cutrone"Capital in history" (2008)

Capital in history timeline and chart of terms

video of Communist University 2011 London presentation

Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 

• Cutrone"The Marxist hypothesis" (2010)

• Cutrone“Class consciousness (from a Marxist persective) today” (2012)

+ G.M. Tamas, "Telling the truth about class" [HTML] (2007)

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

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


Week 4. What is the Left? II. Utopia and critique | Oct. 23, 2021

• Max Horkheimerselections from Dämmerung (1926–31)

• Adorno“Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)

• Leszek Kolakowski“The concept of the Left” (1958)

• Herbert Marcuse"Note on dialectic" (1960)

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

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

Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 

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


What is Marxism?


Week 5. What is Marxism? I. Socialism | Oct. 30, 2021

• Marxselections from Economic and philosophic manuscripts (1844), pp. 70–101

Commodity form chart of terms

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

Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 

• Marx and Friedrich Engelsselections from the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), pp. 469–500

• Marx, The coming upheaval (from The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847), pp. 218–19


Week 6. LSE Reading Week break | Nov. 6, 2021


Week 7. What is Marxism? II. Revolution in 1848 | Nov. 13, 2021

• MarxAddress to the Central Committee of the Communist League (1850), pp. 501–511 and Class struggle and mode of production (letter to Weydemeyer, 1852), pp. 218–220

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

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

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


Week 8. What is Marxism? III. Bonapartism | Nov. 20, 2021

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

• MarxInaugural address to the First International (1864), pp. 512–519

• Marxselections 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)

• MarxCritique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 525–541

• MarxProgramme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880)


Week 9. What is Marxism? IV. Critique of political economy | Nov. 27, 2021

The fetish character of the commodity is not a fact of consciousness; rather it is dialectical, in the eminent sense that it produces consciousness. . . . [P]erfection of the commodity character in a Hegelian self-consciousness inaugurates the explosion of its phantasmagoria.
— Theodor W. Adorno, letter to Walter Benjamin, August 2, 1935

Commodity form chart of terms

Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 

Organic composition of capital chart of terms 

Marx on surplus-value chart of terms

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

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

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


Week 10. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Dec. 4, 2021

• 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
Reification chart of terms
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms
Organic composition of capital chart of terms
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms


Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Dec. 11, 2021

• Lukács“Class Consciousness” (1920), Original Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), History and Class Consciousness (1923)
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 
Reification chart of terms
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
+ Herbert Marcuse, "Note on dialectic" (1960)
+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302


Week 10. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Dec. 18, 2021

• Korsch“Marxism and philosophy” (1923)

Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 

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

+ Herbert Marcuse, "Note on dialectic" (1960)
+ 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 Break

Some suggested 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)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)
+ Carl Schorske, The SPD 1905-17: The Development of the Great Schism (1955)
+ J.P. Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg (1966) [Vol. 1] [Vol. 2]
+ 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