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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category Panels

One of four panels held by the Platypus Affiliated Society at Left Forum 2014, from May 30th to June 1st, 2014.

Much has taken place over the last 50 – 60 years in the realm of sexual liberation. The new left of the 1960s and 70s sparked a progression of women's liberation and gay rights by challenging both legislation and cultural norms. In the 1980s and 90s a sexually constricting society was further challenged through sex-positive activism in art and politics and on the street. Today, trans-identified individuals are more prominent in the media, non-heteronormative sexual identifications are more widely accepted, and the binary of gender is challenged through queer theory and supportive communities more widely accessible through the internet. Despite apparent gains in the project of sexual liberation, human sexuality remains subject to daily constraints: structural sexism persists, sex-work remains criminalized, the bourgeois family is the social norm, and impotence and fear of intimacy are among the many rampant inhibitions to sexual experience. What orientation should a movement for sexual liberation take toward sexuality? How can we today reflect on the efficacy or inefficacy of past movements. What are the limitations of politics today to address sexuality? Also, what is sexual repression and how does it function in society? Did past movements for sexual liberation undermine themselves? How were they successful and how did they fail?

Chair: Tana Forrester (Platypus)

Speakers: Cornelia Möser
Lonely Christopher (Kristiania Collective)
Jamie Keesling (Platypus)

 

One of four panels held by the Platypus Affiliated Society at Left Forum 2014, from May 30th to June 1st, 2014.

Although the art world seemed mostly unscathed by the 2008 financial crisis and the Occupy movement, a notable focus on the art market and the power structures of the art world has emerged in the past few years. This trend has been visible in gallery and museum shows, which have taken on a more introspective, historical character and largely shied away from the overblown spectacle of years past, and in numerous articles in various media outlets, from niche blogs to the New York Times. Moreover, the language of the art world, from gallery or museum press releases and catalogs to reviews to lengthy theoretical articles, has long been steeped in Marxist cultural critique, although this influence mostly remains implicit, unstated, and perhaps unconscious. Ben Davis’s recent book, 9.5 Theses on Art and Class, arrived as something of an anomaly in this atmosphere. A welcome anomaly, though, and one worth exploring further. What does a Marxist approach to contemporary art look like, separate from merely a critique of the art market or a preference for overtly “political” art? Davis and others have suggested that art’s true power lies in the utopian image of the figure of the artist, who embodies personally fulfilling labor, rather than art as such. This begs the fundamental question: what is the role of art itself in the contemporary landscape, and can this be separated from the structures (institutional and financial) in which it is embedded?

Chair:
Robin Treadwell

Speakers:
Bret Schneider (Platypus)
Saul Ostrow (Critical Practices Inc.)
Mike Pepi
Oxana Timofeeva (Chto delat?/What is to be done?)

One of four panels held by the Platypus Affiliated Society at Left Forum 2014, from May 30th to June 1st, 2014.

We generally assume 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 current 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. We hope 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.

Chair:
Justin Elm

Speakers:
Jon Bekken
Alan Milchman
James Livingston

A panel discussion held at Loyola University on April 3rd, 2014.

Tarek Shalaby (Revolutionary Socialists) 
Quentin Cyr (Quebec Student Strike) 
Glauk Tahiri (VETEVENDOSJE! movement) 

Respondent: Samir Gandesha 

Moderator: Nathan Smith

Panel Description: 
From massive demonstrations by students in the UK and Canada, to square occupations and general strikes in Greece, to the reemergence of Left political currents in Kosovo in response to waves of privatization and austerity, responses to the economic downturn were international in character. While the crisis has stabilized, conditions for many remain desperate. The fate of these new political movements in light of changed conditions is uncertain.

These new developments require coordination across global networks and it is why Platypus at Loyola is organizing a series of international panels that we hope can take place in Universities across the world where Platypus student members have been able to forge connections.

We hope that this panel will be an opportunity to report on activity and form new connections across international efforts. Panelists will report on the state of the Left in their respected regions and reflect on their experience as organizers while helping formulate what the next steps in organizing and planning could look like in the months and years ahead.

A panel held on April 5th, 2014 at the Sixth Annual Platypus International Convention at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Panelists:
Chris Cutrone (Platypus)
Samir Gandesha (Simon Fraser University)
Nikos Malliaris (Lieux Communs)
Dimitrios Roussopoulos (Transnational Institute of Social Ecology)
Joseph Schwartz (Temple University)

Description:
“No coarser insult, no baser defamation, can be thrown against the workers than the remark, ‘Theoretical controversies are for the intellectuals’“
— Rosa Luxemburg, Reform and Revolution (1900)

“Since there can be no talk of an independent ideology formulated by the working masses themselves in the process of their movement the only choice is — either bourgeois or socialist ideology… This does not mean, of course, that the workers have no part in creating such an ideology. They take part, however, not as workers, but as socialist theoreticians, as Proudhons and Weitlings; in other words, they take part only when they are able, and to the extent that they are able, more or less, to acquire the knowledge of their age and develop that knowledge.“
— Vladimir Lenin, What is to be Done? (1905)

"The liquidation of theory by dogmatization and thought taboos contributed to the bad practice."
— Adorno, Negative Dialectics (1966)

This discussion will reflect on the relationship between revolutionary politics and thinking in the past and present and ask why has it become increasingly difficult to render political life intellectual and intellectual life political today? Panelists will consider the historical role of revolutionary theory as a moment of revolutionary politics, and the ways in which thinking can be held responsible for politics, and politics held responsible for thinking.