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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category Platypus International Convention 2012

At the fourth annual international convention of the Platypus Affiliated Society, speakers from various perspectives were asked to bring their experience of the Left’s recent history to bear on today’s political possibilities and challenges as part of the "Differing Perspectives on the Left" workshop series.

A workshop on the First of May Anarchist Alliance with Michael Staudenmaier held on March 31st, 2012.

Panel held on March 31st, 2012 at the Fourth Annual Platypus International Convention, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Transcript in Platypus Review #46 (Click below):

Hegel famously remarked that the task of philosophy was to "comprehend its own time in thought." In a sense, we can extend this as the raison d'etre for artistic production, albeit in a modified way: art's task is to "comprehend its own time in form." Yet only with the revolutionary rise of modernity can this dictum make sense. Beginning in the 18th Century, art sought to register and materialize the way in which social consciousness changed along side the developing material conditions of social life. Thus, in times of great social transformation, we also bear witness to major shifts in artistic production: The French Revolution and David, The Revolutions of 1848 and Courbet, and the Russian Revolution and Suprematism and Constructivism are three major examples.

This panel focuses on the relationship between social and aesthetic transformation. How do shifts in formal processes and approaches towards materiality speak to larger changes in the structures of social life? Is the focus on changes within art's form too confining of vision, and must art also concern itself with intervening into the political and social arena? Is art always reacting to, or tailing after social transformations, or can shifts in Culture prefigure such developments? -- In other words, can there be a cultural lag and a cultural leep? The panelists have been asked to address these questions among others in order to flesh out the uneven and at times obscure relationship that art has with a society that is constantly in flux.

Panelists:
Mary Jane Jacob (School of the Art Institute)
Walter Benn Michaels (University of Illinois Chicago)
Robert Pippin (University of Chicago)

Panel held on March 31st, 2012 at the Fourth Annual Platypus International Convention, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The two decades of the 1990s-2000s form a cycle containing certain common as well as differing concerns. The second decade of the 21st century has begun under the mixed legacy of recent history, presenting important problems needing to be worked through, moving forward.

For Platypus's 2012 international convention, two plenary panels will ask speakers from various perspectives to bring their experience of the Left"s recent history to bear on today's political possibilities and challenges.

The '90s Left Today

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and collapse of the Soviet Union soon after, a new political era opened, in which Marxism was discredited and anarchism became predominant on the radical Left. The most pressing challenges of post-Cold War neo-liberal globalization came amid an era of prosperity at the supposed "end of history." Postmodernist disenchantment with "grand narratives" of emancipation meant a turn against "ideology." Social "justice" rather than freedom became the watchword for a better world. "Resistance" and "horizontal" or "rhizomatic" politics provided a model for "changing the world without taking power" (as John Holloway, inspired by the Zapatistas, put it). Information technology -- the rise of the internet -- matched the new cosmopolitanism. The global order of "empire" confronted by the "multitude" demanded access to the "commonwealth" (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri). The "death of communism" challenged the Left's imagination of an emancipated future. "Black bloc" protest and "communisation" theory replaced traditional socialism, as the 20th century came to an uncertain close.

The '00s Left Today

As a result of the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terror rekindled anti-imperialist protest, even while it seemed to deliver a grave blow to the newly emergent World Social Forum, "alterglobalisation" movement. Neo-conservatism in the U.S. presented the specter of growing divisions in the global order, to which the world's most vulnerable might fall victim. Religious fundamentalism appeared to surge. Disenchantment with capitalist development accompanied the social imagination of ecological crisis and economic downturn: the desire for a "green economy" and apparent need for decreased consumption. At the same time, new intensification of global migration of workers presented challenges for political integration. The U.S. and allied wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond, were met by an anti-war movement and a new generation of radicalization. But the wars were eclipsed by financial crisis and Obamaâs election, bringing anti-austerity protests (setting the stage later for #Occupy), as the first decade of the 21st century ended with the economic crisis lingering and even deepening, scotching hopes for a reversal of neoliberalism and return to "Keynesian" social investment policies. Neoliberalism and neoconservatism both stood discredited, but without presenting a clear alternative for the future.

Panelists:
Daniel Dulce (Crimthinc)
Thodoris Velissaris (Platypus)
Nick Kreitman (Platypus, Formerly new SDS)
Mike Ely (Kasama)
Joshua Moufawad-Paul (Supporter, Parti communiste revolutionnaire - Revolutionary Communist Party (Canada)

Panel held on March 31st, 2012 at the Fourth Annual Platypus International Convention, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 2009 President Obama's auto bailouts became a major flashpoint between the left and the mainstream of the labor movement. The majority of the left, including UAW dissidents, felt the auto bailouts were a missed opportunity to retool our manufacturing base, and a miserable half-measure.

On the other hand, mainstream labor leaders, and a consistent majority of polled union members, endorsed Obama's plan and explanation that the bailouts were an extraordinary measure and that government support for union ownership of firms was generally inappropriate. In 2009 an absolute majority of Americans opposed the auto bailouts altogether by an average 3 to 2 margin.

What does #Occupy's demand for "more democracy" in the labor movement mean in this context, where the majority of members did not support a comprehensive intervention into the affairs of GM and Chrysler?

Panelists:
John Peterson (International Marxist Tendency)
David Moberg (In These Times)
James Manos (Occupy Chicago Labor Committee)

A panel discussion held at the 2012 Platypus International Convention on 31 March 2012.

Ben Lewis - Communist Party of Great Britain
Tom Riley - International Bolshevik Tendency
Chris Cutrone (Moderator) - Platypus Affiliated Society

Transcript in Platypus Review #47 (Click below):