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For 2017, the third time the Platypus Affiliated Society hosts its European Conference and we are happy to announce the University of Vienna as this year's location. The program includes two panel discussions on the Politics of Critical Theory and the Crisis of Neoliberalism as well as several workshops.

University of Vienna

Panel Speakers (in order):

- Chris Cutrone, Platypus Affiliated Society, Chicago

- John Milios, former Chief economic advisor of SYRIZA, Athens

- Emmanuel Tomaselli, Funke Redaktion , International Marxist Tendency, Wien

- Boris Kargalitzky, Institute of Globalisation Studies and Social Movements, Moskau

The Left has for over a generation – for more than 40 years, since the crisis of 1973 – placed its hopes in the Democratic and Labour Parties to reverse or slow neoliberal capitalism – the move to trans-national trade agreements, the movement of capital and labor, and austerity. The post-2008 crisis of neoliberalism, despite phenomena such as SYRIZA, Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring and anti-austerity protests more generally, Bernie Sanders's candidacy, and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership, has found expression on the avowed Right, through UKIP, Brexit, the U.K. Conservatives' move to "Red Toryism" and now Donald Trump's election. The old neoliberal consensus is falling apart, and change is palpably in the air. Margaret Thatcher's infamous phrase "There Is No Alternative" has been proven wrong. What can the Left do to advance the struggle for socialism under such circumstances?

In the 1960s the Left faced political and social crises in an era of full employment and economic growth. Departing from official Communism, which had largely supported the development of the welfare state in industrialized capitalist countries, many on the Left challenged the existing political order, of Keynesian-Fordism, through community organising on the principle of expanding individual and collective freedom from the state. Against Keynesian economic demands, many of these Leftists supported the Rights efforts, to integrate formerly oppressed identity groups into the corporate professional-managerial class. Since the 1970s, the significance of the fact that all these aims were taken up, politically, by the Right, in
the name of ‘freedom’, in the form of neo-liberalism is still ambiguous today.

Some on the Left have understood this phase of ‘neo-liberalism’ to be continuous with the post-war Fordist state, for example in Ernest Mandel’s conception of “late capitalism” and David Harvey’s idea of “post-Fordism”. The movement of labor and capital was still administered by the Fordist state. Distinctively, others on the Left have opposed neo-liberalism for over a generation through a defence of the post-war welfare state, through appeals to anti-austerity and anti-globalisation.

How does this distinction within the Left between the defense of the welfare state and the defense of individual freedom affect the Left’s response to the crisis of neo-liberalism? Why has the Left recently supported attempts to politically manage the economic crisis post-2008, against attempts at political change? How can the Left struggle for political power, with the aim of overcoming capitalism and achieving socialism, when the political expression of the crisis of neoliberalism has largely come from the Right, and Trump won the election in November?

Play

For 2017, the third time the Platypus Affiliated Society hosts its European Conference and we are happy to announce the University of Vienna as this year's location. The program includes two panel discussions on the Politics of Critical Theory and the Crisis of Neoliberalism as well as several workshops.

University of Vienna

Speakers: Dirk Lehmann und Anne Koppenburger, Bielefeld

Play

For 2017, the third time the Platypus Affiliated Society hosts its European Conference and we are happy to announce the University of Vienna as this year's location. The program includes two panel discussions on the Politics of Critical Theory and the Crisis of Neoliberalism as well as several workshops.

University of Vienna

What is the legacy of the 1917 Russian Revolution today? A teach-in on problems of Leftist historiography.

Speakers (in order):

- Chris Cutrone

- Richard Rubin

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For 2017, the third time the Platypus Affiliated Society hosts its European Conference and we are happy to announce the University of Vienna as this year's location. The program includes two panel discussions on the Politics of Critical Theory and the Crisis of Neoliberalism as well as several workshops.

University of Vienna

Speakers (in order):

- Chris Cutrone, Platypus Affilated Society, Chicago

- Martin Suchanek, Workers Power, Berlin

- Haziran Zeller, Berlin

Recently, the New Left Review published a translated conversation between the critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer causing more than a few murmurs and gasps. In the course of their conversation, Adorno comments that he had always wanted to develop a theory that remains faithful to Marx, Engels and Lenin, while keeping up with culture at its most advanced.’ Adorno, it seems, was a Leninist. As surprising as this evidence might have been to some, is it not more shocking that Adorno’s politics, and the politics of Critical Theory, have remained taboo for so long? Was it really necessary to wait until Adorno and Horkheimer admitted their politics in print to understand that their primary preoccupation was with maintaining Marxism’s relation to bourgeois critical philosophy such as Kant and Hegel? This panel proposes to state the question as directly as possible and to simply ask: How did the practice and theory of Marxism, from Marx to Lenin, make possible and necessary the politics of Critical Theory?

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Hier findet ihr einen Audiomitschnitt zur Podiumsdiskussion "Politik der Arbeit" vom 31.01.2017 in Frankfurt am Main.
Aus gegebenem Anlass widmet sich diese Podiumsdiskussion dem Verständnis einiger grundlegender Fragen des Marxismus mit Blick auf ihre heutige Relevanz:
Traditionell unterstützten Marxisten und andere Teile der Linken auf politischer Ebene die Forderung der Arbeiter nach Reformen, welche ihre Lebensbedingungen verbessern sollten. Doch verstanden führende Persönlichkeiten der marxistischen Tradition wie Lenin, Luxemburg und Trotzki, dass solche Reformen zugleich die Krise des Kapitalismus vertieften, da sie seine immanenten Widersprüche zuspitzten.
So ist z.B. die Vollbeschäftigung eine – vom Standpunkt der Arbeiter – notwendige Forderung. Gleichzeitig aber wird das gesamte System der Beschäftigung gefährdet, welches unter Bedingungen kapitalistischer Produktion auf die Abschöpfung des Mehrwerts der verfügbaren Arbeitskraft angewiesen ist.
Um die Probleme und Ambiguitäten einer möglichen Politik der Arbeit herauszuschälen, lassen wir verschiedene linke Perspektiven zu Wort kommen. Diese Diskussion soll ein Klärungsversuch zentraler Fragen für eine neu konstituierte internationale marxistische Linke darstellen. Welches sind gegenwärtig theoretische und praktische Hindernisse einer solchen Linken, die durch die Politik der Arbeit die Befreiung der Arbeiterklasse anstreben würde?
Ist die Arbeiterklasse eine Identität neben anderen unterdrückten Identitäten? Gibt es heute eine Arbeiterklasse und muss diese sich selbst emanzipieren? Auf welchem Weg kann das erreicht werden? Welche Prinzipien zeichneten die Politik der Arbeit einst aus? Was ist das Verhältnis von Reform und Revolution?
Mit:
Thomas Seibert - Interventionistische Linke
Holger Marcks - unter_bau
Jonas - farbeRot
Heinz Klee - Arbeiterbund zum Wiederaufbau der KPD
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7:00pm / 30 November 2016
London School of Economics

Speakers (in order):

Adam Booth (writer and activist with Socialist Appeal and the International Marxist Tendency)
James Heartfield (Sp!ked / Author of 'An Unpatriotic History of the Second World War')
Patrick Neveling (SOAS Development Studies, Utrecht University Cultural Anthropology)
Paul Demarty (Weekly Worker / CPGB)

Panel description:

The Left has for over a generation – for more than 40 years, since the crisis of 1973 – placed its hopes in the Democratic and Labour Parties to reverse or slow neoliberal capitalism – the move to trans-national trade agreements, the movement of capital and labor, and austerity. The post-2008 crisis ofneoliberalism, despite phenomena such as SYRIZA, Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring and anti-austerity protests more generally, Bernie Sanders's candidacy, and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership, has found expression on the avowed Right, through UKIP, Brexit, the U.K. Conservatives' move to "Red Toryism" and now Donald Trump's election. The old neoliberal consensus is falling apart, and change is palpably in the air. Margaret Thatcher's infamous phrase "There Is No Alternative" has been proven wrong. What can the Left do to advance the struggle for socialism under such circumstances?

Some background:

In the 1960s the Left faced political and social crises in an era of full employment and economic growth. Departing from official Communism, which had largely supported the development of the welfare state in industrialized capitalist countries, many on the Left challenged the existing political order, of Keynesian-Fordism, through community organising on the principle of expanding individual and collective freedom from the state. Against Keynesian economic demands, many of these Leftists supported the Rights efforts, to integrate formerly oppressed identity groups into the corporate professional-managerial class. Since the 1970s, the significance of the fact that all these aims were taken up, politically, by the Right, in the name of ‘freedom’, in the form of neo-liberalism is still ambiguous today.

Some on the Left have understood this phase of ‘neo-liberalism’ to be continuous with the post-war Fordist state, for example in Ernest Mandel’s conception of “late capitalism” and David Harvey’s idea of “post-Fordism”. The movement of labor and capital was still administered by the Fordist state. Distinctively, others on the Left have opposed neo-liberalism for over a generation through a defence of the post-war welfare state, through appeals to anti-austerity and anti-globalisation.

How does this distinction within the Left between the defense of the welfare state and the defense of individual freedom affect the Left’s response to the crisis of neo-liberalism? Why has the Left recently supported attempts to politically manage the economic crisis post-2008, against attempts at political change? How can the Left struggle for political power, with the aim of overcoming capitalism and achieving socialism, when the political expression of the crisis of neo-liberalism has largely come from the Right, and Trump won the election in November?

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A panel on the politics of work held at the University of Houston, December 4, 2016 by Platypus Houston.

Panelists:

Dylan Daney - UNITE HERE!
David Michael Smith - Houston Socialist Movement
Duy Lap Nguyen - Professor of World Cultures and Literatures, University of Houston

"Capital is not a book about politics, and not even a book about labour: it is a book about unemployment." - Fredric Jameson, Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One

"...the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all." - Joan Robinson

"The error consists in believing that labor, by which I mean heteronomous, salaried labor, can and must remain the essential matter. It's just not so. According to American projections, within twenty years labor time will be less than half that of leisure time. I see the task of the left as directing and promoting this process of abolition of labor in a way that will not result in a mass of unemployed on one side, and aristocracy of labor on the other and between them a proletariat which carries out the most distasteful jobs for forty-five hours a week. Instead, let everyone work much less for his salary and thus be free to act in a much more autonomous manner...Today "communism" is a real possibility and even a realistic proposition, for the abolition of salaried labor through automation saps both capitalist logic and the market economy." - Andre Gorz

It is generally assumed that Marxists and other Leftists have the political responsibility to support reforms for the improvement of the welfare of workers. Yet, leading figures from the Marxist tradition-- such as Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky-- also understood that such reforms would broaden the crisis of capitalism and potentially intensify contradictions that could adversely impact the immediate conditions of workers. For instance, full employment, while being a natural demand from the standpoint of all workers’ interests, also threatens the conditions of capitalist production (which rely on a surplus of available labor), thereby potentially jeopardizing the system of employment altogether. In light of such apparent paradoxes, this panel seeks to investigate the politics of work from Leftist perspectives. It will attempt to provoke reflection on and discussion of the ambiguities and dilemmas of the politics of work by including speakers from divergent perspectives, some of whom seek after the immediate abolition of labor and others of whom seek to increase the availability of employment opportunities. It is hoped that this conversation will deepen the understanding of the contemporary problems faced by the Left in its struggles to construct a politics adequate to the self-emancipation of the working class.

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A Platypus panel at NYU, Kimmel Center, room 808

Panelists (in speaking order):

R.L. Stephens (Labor organizer and editor of The Orchestrated Pulse)
Benjamin Serby (volunteer-organizer, Team Bernie NY and PhD Candidate in US History, Columbia)
Howie Hawkins (Green Party, USA)
Karl Belin (Socialist worker from Pittsburgh, labor organizer

Moderated by Tana Forrester (Platypus).

The Left has for over a generation -- for more than 40 years, since the crisis of 1973 -- placed its hopes in the Democratic and Labour Parties to reverse or slow neoliberal capitalism -- the move to trans-national trade agreements, the movement of capital and labor, and austerity. The post-2008 crisis of neoliberalism, despite phenomena such as SYRIZA, Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring and anti-austerity protests more generally, Bernie Sanders's candidacy, and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership, has found expression on the avowed Right, through UKIP, Brexit, the U.K. Conservatives' move to "Red Toryism" and now Donald Trump's election. The old neoliberal consensus is falling apart, and change is palpably in the air. Margaret Thatcher's infamous phrase "There Is No Alternative" has been proven wrong. What can the Left do to advance the struggle for socialism under such circumstances?

Recent generations of marginalized radicals have been forced to grapple with an impossible choice: they must either submit to a “realistic” electoral compromise with the status quo, often in the form of “lesser evilism,” or they must vote for a third-party candidate, hoping that by making their platform public the winning party could be pushed leftward. Alternatively, out of exhaustion with this impasse, they may choose not to vote, advocating instead a principled abstention from electoral politics.

What lessons can the Left draw from the history of mass electoral parties for socialism to create more emancipatory choices in the future? How do we reimagine the role of electoral campaigns for Leftist politics today? Given that a significant number of working people in America have left the Democratic Party, what is possible?

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This event is free and open to the public. All are welcome.

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The Platypus Affiliated Society, established in December 2006, organizes reading groups, public fora, research and journalism focused on problems and tasks inherited from the “Old” (1920s-30s), “New” (1960s-70s) and post-political (1980s-90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today.

http://platypus1917.com/newyork

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Thursday 11 February 2016, 7pm, Goldsmiths, University of London

N.B. An audience question has been removed from audio at the request of the questioner.

Speakers in order:

Jack Conrad - CPGB / Weekly Worker

Elaine Graham-Leigh - Counterfire

Jamie Green - Goldsmiths Labour Students / Momentum

Judith Shapiro - London School of Economics

Panel Description

The conditions for the novel political formations of Syriza and Podemos developed out of the disintegration of the traditional Social Democratic parties in Greece and Spain. Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of the Labour Party in Britain, argued for greater democracy in the party and invoked Labour's origins in working-class organisation and socialism. Yet it is unclear by the invocation exactly what is being remembered, and what is being forgotten. The Bernie Sanders campaign as a "socialist" candidate for leadership of the US Democratic Party appears equally obscure. Precisely when historical consciousness is most necessary, the project of Social Democracy seems to be fading from memory. Little remains of the foundation moment of Social Democracy today, both in practice and thought.

In the late nineteenth century, working people’s response to capital was expressed in the political demand for Socialism. This demand galvanized the formation of European Social Democratic parties guided by the ideology of Marxism. Among the most influential members of the German Social Democratic Party, the political leaders of the Second International, agreed that the primary task of Social Democratic parties was bringing about the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is, the decisive political struggle between capital and labor. And while some of these leftist ultimately found the revolution too risky in the decisive decades of the 1910s and 1920s, even their political judgment is far to the left to those Social Democratic party members who, after World War II, openly espoused the integration of workers into a more just and thus more democratic capitalist order.

Once a global movement for the self-emancipation of the working class, today’s social democratic parties have fully substituted the task of educating workers in order to overthrow capitalism, with the task of creating and maintaining the conditions for a more just market economy. The present standpoint of social democracy is society as such, bound by national economies and mediated by the state. Social Democracy today promises to fight socialinjustice in the name of the people, but it no longer promises to realize socialism.

Yet what remains is the name, and with it the promise and the problem of Social Democracy.
In this panel we would like to investigate this transformation by looking at the history, the birth and decline, of Social Democracy. How can we understand the historical crisis of social democracy for the Left today? How, if at all, could the trajectory of social democracy shed light on problems yet to be superseded on the Left today?

Questions to panellists:

1. What was Social Democracy? How was it constituted, how did it form and what was it ideological foundation? What problem did it address and what promises did it make?

2. What role did Social Democracy play for the Left throughout the 19th and 20th century? How has this role changed? How did it affect the world and how was it affected by a changing world? When did it come into its own?

3. Was the promise of Social Democracy fulfilled? If yes, how, if no, why did it fail? The current crisis of the Left reveals a need for a reconsideration of Socialist Politics, yet Social Democratic parties are on the retreat and are unable to offer a credible alternative. What does this crisis tell us about the success, failure and the need for Social Democracy?

4. What would you characterize as the beginning moment of the crisis of Social Democracy? Was it the revisionist dispute in 1903, the voting of the war credits in 1914, the Russian Revolution of 1917, the New Left of 1960, the crisis of Fordism in the 1970s, the Reagan and Thatcher era of 1980s, the creation of New Labour in 1994 or the economic crisis of 2008?

5. Taken at face value today, is Social Democracy still project of the Left? Does Social Democracy represent a way forward, or a road block? Do we need a return of the politics of Social Democracy? What problems would they address today, and what lessons could be gained from its reconsideration?

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Gespräch vom 15.12.16 mit Hans-Gerd Öfinger ( "Der Funke", deutsche Sektion der "International Marxist Tendency"), der über die Schwierigkeiten der Kräfte des Trotzkismus in den 1930er, 1940er und 1950er Jahren bei der Erfassung der neuen Weltlage und Verteidigung der grundlegenden Ideen, zu den Ursachen von Spaltungen und den unterschiedlichen Einschätzungen hierzu, darüber hinaus über Ted Grant als "Pionier des britischen Trotzkismus" und die historische Basis, auf die sich die IMT stützt, einen kleinen Votrag halten wird. Im Anschluss besteht die Möglichkeit für Anmerkungen, Rückfragen und eine Diskussion.