President's report delivered by Chris Cutrone on April 8, 2018 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as the closing plenary of the 2018 international convention of the Platypus Affiliated Society.
Chris' prepared remarks were published in the Platypus Review Issue #106.
As a part of the 10th annual Platypus International Convention, we hosted a panel on the history of Platypus and its engagement with the Left. Held April 7th, 2018 at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. The discussion was moderated by Erin Hagood.
Ian Morrison (1st Phase: Anti-war Movement / Anti-Imperialism)
Spencer Leonard (2nd Phase: The "Marxist Turn" / IBT, CPGB Engagement)
Tom Carey (3rd Phase: #Occupy / Marxism and Anarchism)
Ed Remus (Protracted 4th Phase: Syriza, Podemos / What is Political Party for the Left?)
Omair H (4 ½ Phase: The "Socialist Turn" / Millennial Left)
Draining the swamp, psychoanalyst of the Left, and training the next generation of revolutionaries, are all more or less problematic formulations which we have used to describe what motivates the Platypus project. That given, these formulations all betray a peculiar attachment to that which Platypus wishes to forget: the dead Left. Perhaps they express a secret and difficult desire: that the object of critique might also be saved from the swamp, be receptive to the analysis, or indeed might learn better from our pedagogy. And yet we admit that this will not be the case.
The task of this panel is not so much to inoculate such formulations, rather it aims to dissect them, to observe the motivations of our activity within Platypus, especially where we encounter the greatest difficulty for reflection—that is, when we mean to regard our activity as Platypus itself. With these thoughts in mind, we propose to ask ourselves: Who is Platypus for? How do we assess our progress—as a membership? as an organization? How do we identify our audience?—and how do we become a Platypus for them?
The history of the Platypus Critique begins with a judgment issued on the dead-end course of the 20th century, indeed on the situation arrived at by all history preceding: that the Left has lived and died; that the ‘progress of freedom’ continues to exhaust itself in chimerical forms—a Platypus among others. But this judgment was not passed in condemnation, with the same breath it cried also: Long Live the Left! The very unnaturalness of the historical chimera, it was thought, might mask—and hence disclose—the purpose of its true nature. At least for those still learning how to look upon its monstrous features, illumined by the thought that “the new does not add itself to the old but remains the old in distress, in its hour of need...”
But today, this problematic has itself matured. We have now a ‘first decade’ of the Platypus Critique—this has consequences for the continuing possibility of such a critique. Today, perhaps, the swamp of the dead Left drains itself—in fact, this was already the case even before the first moments of the Platypus Critique. We must admit: our glance is retrospective, our pronouncements made post-festum. But they, like capital, accumulate. It is left for us to reason through this process, and so reflect on our reflection of the past which is the present.
Held on April 6th at the University of Chicago, as part of the 2018 international convention of the Platypus Affiliated Society.
The financial crash in 2008 caused a crisis for the neoliberal order which has dominated Europe since the 1970s. Initially people put their hopes in neoliberalism, to rectify the situation, by trying to replace one neoliberal party with another but it became increasingly clear that the crisis was terminal. As a result they turned increasingly towards non-neoliberal parties, mostly on the right. Why this turn to the right? Why are people's concerns and needs apparently better met by the right than the left? What does this mean for the left?
Pam Nogales (Berlin, Germany)
Rory Hannigan (London, U.K.)
Jan Schroeder (Vienna, Austria)
David Mountain (London, U.K.)
Dom Jones (London, U.K.)
Clint Montgomery (Leipzig, Germany)
Padraig Macguire (London, U.K.)
Held at the University of Chicago on April 6, 2018 as part of the 10th annual international convention of the Platypus Affiliated Society.
An edited transcript of the event was published in The Platypus Review.
Abdul Alkalimat (Professor of African-American Studies at UIC; author of Malcolm X for Beginners)
Mitchell Cohen (Author of An American in Revolutionary Nicaragua and Listen, Bookchin!)
Johnny Mercer (Socialist Party of Great Britain)
Joseph Estes (Platypus Affiliated Society)
For half a century, 1968 has represented a high-water mark of social and political transformation, a year of social upheaval that spanned the entire globe. Ushered in by a New Left that sought to distinguish itself from the Old Left that emerged in the 20s and 30s, the monumental events of 1968 set the tone for everything from protest politics to academic leftism.
Today, with the U.S. entangled in a seemingly endless war in Asia and people calling for the impeachment of an unpopular president, with activists fighting in the streets and calling for liberation along the lines of race, gender, and sexuality, the Left’s every attempt to discover new methods and new ideas seems to invoke a memory of the political horizons of 1968. We can perhaps more than ever feel the urgency of the question: what lessons are to be drawn from the New Left as another generation undertakes the project of building a Left for the 21st century?