On April 2, 2022, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted this panel at Northwestern University as a part of the 2022 Platypus International Convention. The panelists were Benjamin Studebaker (formerly of What’s Left?, PhD from the University of Cambridge, benjaminstudebaker.com), Donald Parkinson (editor-in-chief of Cosmonaut magazine and a member of the Marxist Unity Group organizing committee), James Heartfield (historian and activist, author of Britain’s Empires (2020) among others, heartfield.org), and Chris Cutrone (original lead organizer of the Platypus Affiliated Society, teaches philosophy and critical social theory at SAIC and the Institute for Clinical Social Work).
WHY IS THERE WAR? Because capitalism is self-contradictory, and this is expressed in conflicts among workers as well as among capitalists, and between “national” working classes and capitalist states, between politicians and political parties both within and between nation-states, and often these conflicts are violent.
BENEDICT CRYPTOFASH CRITICIZES me for using the “Left” as a concept for its alleged idealism and metaphysical essentialism. But by identifying the “Left” with a group of people, e.g. members of Jacobin/DSA et al., Cryptofash reifies the phenomenon of the Left, and in the worst possible way, by personalizing it.
LESZEK KOŁAKOWSKI’S “THE CONCEPT OF THE LEFT” (1958) is useful for addressing what it means to say that there is a Left and a Right in Marxism. The actual occasion for Kołakowski’s article was Soviet Premier and Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin for “crimes against Leninism” and against socialism. What did this mean?