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A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.

Alain Badiou's writings promoting what he calls the "communist hypothesis" have sparked growing interest and debate. In 2009, the journal Demarcations published a polemic against Badiou's political philosophy, arguing that this was a politics locked within the confines of the existing social order. In 2010, Chris Cutrone of Platypus authored a critique of the Demarcations polemic and of Badiou, raising the issue of the relationship between Marxism and communism. Bruno Bosteels, author of the forthcoming Badiou and Politics, brings yet another critical perspective to bear on key elements of Badiouâs âcommunist hypothesis. This panel will carry forward the debate: *Are communism's horizons defined by the struggle for equality? *Does Badiou's reading of the Cultural Revolution square with its actual aims and legacy? *Does Badiou's "politics at a distance from the state" provide compass points for the challenges of making revolution in a highly globalized capitalist world?

Panelists
Bruno Bosteels - Cornell University
Chris Cutrone - School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Nayi Duniya - Demarcations Journal
Saul Thomas - University of Chicago, student

A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.

The "bourgeois revolutions" from the 16th through the 19th centuries-- extending into the 20th--conformed humanity to modern city life, ending traditional, pastoral, religious custom in favor of social relations of the exchange of labor. Abbe Sieyes wrote in 1789 that, in contradistinction to the clerical 1st Estate who "prayed" and the aristocratic 2nd Estate who "fought," the commoner 3rd Estate "worked:" "What has the 3rd Estate been? Nothing." "What is it? Everything." Kant warned that universal bourgeois society would be the mere midpoint in humanity's achievement of freedom. After the last bourgeois revolutions in Europe of 1848 failed, Marx wrote of the "constitution of capital," the ambivalent, indeed self-contradictory character of "free wage labor." In the late 20th century, the majority of humanity abandoned agriculture in favor of urban life--however in "slum cities." How does the bourgeois revolution appear from a Marxian point of view?

Panelists
James Vaughn - University of Texas at Austin, Platypus Affiliated Society
Jeremy Cohan - New York University
Richard Rubin - Platypus Affiliated Society
Spencer Leonard - University of Chicago, Platypus Affiliated Society

A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011 at Left Forum, Pace University.

Panel Abstract: This panel will focus on the aesthetic tropes that activists use to express political dissent. Theatrical gestures such as street art (e.g., glamdalism), dance parties (e.g., Funk the War), or costumes have found their way into protest tactics. Simultaneously, many contemporary artists create 'activist' or 'social' art by pulling off media pranks against the government or corporations (e.g., Yes Men), reenact past protests (e.g., Mark Tribe or Sharon Hayes) and other forms of public performances. What are the historical roots that contribute to the use of current aesthetic interventions in political protests? In what ways do they expand or limit the possibilities for protests to transform the social order? How does experimenting with aesthetic and artistic sensibilities influence our political consciousness and practice? Political thinkers and art-activists will address these questions in order to make sense of the various forms of protest today.

Chris Mansour - Parsons School of Design, Platypus Affiliated Society
Jamie Keesling - 491
Laurel Whitney - Yes Men
Marc Herbst - Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Reclaim the Streets
Stephen Duncombe - New York University

Transcript of Chris Mansour's remarks in Platypus Review #39 (Click below):

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/54660348]

On March 21, 2011, the Program in Critical & Visual Studies at Pratt Institute was pleased to join with the Platypus Affiliated Society sponsoring this talk by Professor Tim Hall of the University of East London.

For more information about Pratt's Program in Critical & Visual Studies, please see their site at: http://www.pratt.edu/academics/liberal_arts_and_sciences/critical_visual_studies/

Recent attempts to address the question of the good or worthwhile life have placed it at the center of social and political theory. These attempts have come, for the most part, from explicitly conservative commentators. Timothy Hall reminds us that such questions about the good life are also at the heart of critiques of social domination. In this talk, Hall discusses the continued relevance of Georg Lukacs' critical theory of the social relations of capital and the pervasive nihilism it produces. At a time of uneven challenges to authoritarian regimes and policies, questions of social justice and questions of the meaningful, good, or worthwhile life cannot be separated or put aside, but are pivotal to understanding resistance and social change. Hall brings Lukacs --- and perhaps Critical Theory itself --- back to this contested terrain.

Tim Hall is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of East London. His main areas of interest are Marxism and Frankfurt School critical theory. His publications include The Modern State: theories and ideologies (Edinburgh 2007) with Erika Cudworth and John McGovern and The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence (Continuum 2010) with Timothy Bewes. He is currently writing a book on the political thought of Theodor Adorno. In addition he has an interest in state theory and international ethics and is currently researching Marxist state theory and Cosmopolitan political theory.

Sponsored by
The Platypus Affiliated Society
The Department of Social Science & Cultural Studies
and its Program in Critical & Visual Studies, Pratt Institute.

A roundtable discussion between Alan Goodman from The Revolutionary Communist Party USA, and Richard Rubin from Platypus entitled “Marxism and Israel: Left Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” at Hunter College in New York City. Panelists were asked to speak on the role the Left has played in the development of Israel, the Left’s analysis of the role of American intervention in the Middle East, and what a critical Marxian approach to the conflict currently looks like, compared to what it might look like.

Transcript in Platypus Review #35 (Click below):

Questions for the panelists:
1. Historically, what role has the Marxist Left played in the development of Israel? What would a critical Marxist perspective on Israel, the ideology of Zionism and the Palestinian conflict look like? Has a Left critique historically been applied?

2. What is the relationship between American political hegemony and Israel? How has this traditionally been understood by the "Left", and how is it now portrayed? Has this understanding obscured attempts at political and theoretical analysis? How has it affected the international "Left's" approach to the actual political opposition among Palestinians?

3. Why have leftist approaches to the conflict emphasized a politics of resistance over cogent political visions? Do measures, such as BDS campaigns and the Flotilla effort, that seek to delegitimize Israel and the ideology of Zionism through resistance to its immediate means and policies ameliorate immediate social conditions or clarify political conditions? If not, what sort of approach should be emphasized?