During his visit to New York this week to address the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to go to Columbia University to address faculty members and also to meet with a group of American religious leaders. His arrival was preceded by weeks of commotion and dispute: should Ahmadinejad have been allowed to visit ground zero? Should Columbia have agreed to host him? Should he even have been granted a visa to enter at all? In a spasm of infantilism, Republican presidential hopefuls and the right-wing punditocracy have seized the occasion to demonstrate their toughness, decrying the Iranian leader's mere presence on US soil.
Stumbling into the wars resisters office, I found Josh Russell and Madeline Gardner wearing headsets and pacing. It was a week before the convention and they were having yet another discussion as to whether or not the planning committee had the authority to decide whether or not they had the right to make any decisions. In the words of Lisa Fithian, we were processing ourselves to death.
Hungarian literary critic and political theorist Georg Lukács is generally recognized, along with thinkers such as Antonio Gramsci and Rosa Luxemburg, as one of the most influential intellectual figures of twentieth century Marxism. And while Lukács’ reading of Marx is possibly the most sophisticated and intellectually rigorous to be found in the century and a half long trajectory of historical materialism, his legacy suffers from the “misfortune” that, unlike Gramsci and Luxemburg, he survived what is known as the heroic period of Third International Marxism: the late teens and early twenties.
In subsequent issues Platypus will serialize a “History of the Left”. The phrase has a strange ring to it! A human being has a history, a nation, a people have a history. One is not the “same person” one was twenty years ago perhaps, yet one can not make sense of who one is now without a sense of who one “was” even if that person has come to seem as alien as a stranger. A people too may “remember” its past, its becoming, its suffering, its ancient glories and yet no living member of that people may have experienced any of these. Such remembering and rethinking what has been whether personal and collective is obvious to us. But “the Left”?