On Wednesday September 14th, 2011 in New York City, Platypus hosted a dialogue with Sebastian Traenkle, editor of the influential German left journal Phase II revolving around what does contemporary landscape of left politics look like in Germany and the United States? What are the points of convergence and departure that shape left politics in these two countries? What might we learn from one another? This conversation will touch on the legacy of 9-11, the Anti-Deutsch milieu, popular anticapitalism versus value critique, the relative prominence of the Marxist and anarchist traditions, and the contentious differences in orientation towards the Israel-Palestine conflict, among other themes.
This event is part of the transatlantic dialogue series initiated by the Platypus Affiliated Society which aims to rebuild an emancipatory internationalism.
A lecture by Platypus member James Vaughn upon the history of humanity up to 1750, given as part of the Platypus summer 2011 radical bourgeois philosophy reading group. Held on June 30st, 2011 at New York University.
Platypus Summer Reading Group 2011: Radical Bourgeois Philosophy
We will address the greater context for Marx and Marxism through the issue of bourgeois radicalism in philosophy in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Discussion will emerge by working through the development from Kant and Hegel to Nietzsche, but also by reference to the Rousseauian aftermath, and the emergence of the modern society of capital, as registered by liberals such as Adam Smith and Benjamin Constant.
"The principle of freedom and its corollary, 'perfectibility,' . . . suggest that the possibilities for being human are both multiple and, literally, endless. . . . Contemporaries like Kant well understood the novelty and radical implications of Rousseau's new principle of freedom [and] appreciated his unusual stress on history as the site where the true nature of our species is simultaneously realized and perverted, revealed and distorted. A new way of thinking about the human condition had appeared. . . . As Hegel put it, 'The principle of freedom dawned on the world in Rousseau, and gave infinite strength to man, who thus apprehended himself as infinite.'"
- James Miller (author of The Passion of Michel Foucault, 2000), Introduction to Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (Hackett, 1992)
A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 20, 2011 at Left Forum, Pace University.
Marx and Engels were not the preeminent socialists but rather socialism's greatest critics, distinguishing their "communism" from "reactionary," "bourgeois" and "democratic" socialism. Lately, Marx is taken for his theoretical analysis of capitalism more than his and Engels's revolutionary politics, discredited after the 20th century's spectacular failures of "Marxism." So what is Marx and Engels's political legacy? What Marx wrote after the failed "social-democratic" revolutions of 1848 still resonates: "Every demand of the simplest bourgeois financial reform, of the most ordinary liberalism, of the most formal republicanism, of the most insipid democracy, is simultaneously castigated as an 'attempt on society' and stigmatized as 'socialism'." How does Marx and Engels's politics of "communism," that is, socialism aware of its historical vocation, task us today?
A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.
Panel Abstract: It may seem untimely to reconsider Georg Lukacs, after the demise of the "Bolshevik experiment" with which he was associated. Who was Lukacs? Critic of reification, founder of Hegelian Marxism, Critical Theory, Western Marxism? Or: philosopher of Bolshevism, apologist for Leninism, romantic socialist, voluntarist idealist, terrorist revolutionary? Lukacs is usually read as an interpreter rather than a dedicated follower of Marxism, leaving Lukacs's particular contribution obscure. Lukacs was most original--and influential--when he accepted the presuppositions of Marxism, the political practice and theory of revolution, in earnest, from 1919-25, in History and Class Consciousness and associated works--however Lukacs himself may have disavowed them subsequently. What can we make of Lukacs's legacy today, his investigation and elaboration of the problematic of Marxism, and what are the essential issues potentially raised for our time?
Chris Cutrone - School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Jeremy Cohan - New York University
Marco Torres - University of Chicago
Neil Larsen - University of California at Davis
Timothy Bewes - Brown University
Timothy Hall - University of East London, U.K.
A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.
Panel Abstract: What was Trotsky's contribution to revolutionary Marxism? At one level, the answer is clear. Above even his significance as organizer of the October insurrection and leader of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War, what makes Trotsky a major figure in the history of Marxism is his status as the leader of the Left Opposition and, later, his founding of the Fourth International. But this panel asks whether stating this fact is sufficient for understanding Trotsky's Marxism, or whether this might not in fact merely beg the question. The issue remains what was it in Trotsky's evolution from the period of 1905 through the Russian Revolution of 1917, that allowed him to become the leader of the left opposition and the great Marxist critic of Stalinism in the 1920s and 1930s? What of Trotsky, rather than Trotsky-ism?
Ian Morrison - Platypus Affiliated Society; University of Chicago
Jason Wright - International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT)
Spencer Leonard - Platypus Affiliated Society; University of Chicago
Susan Williams - Freedom Socialist Party