On May 9, 2018, Spencer A. Leonard interviewed Gregory Claeys, historian of socialism and author of Machinery, Money and the Millennium: From Moral Economy to Socialism, 1815–1860 (1987), Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire, 1850–1920 (2010), Marx and Marxism (2018), among others. The day after recording the interview it was broadcast on “Radical Minds” on WHPK–FM (88.5 FM) in Chicago. What follows is an edited version of the interview.
MARXISM CONSIDERED PHILOSOPHY as “bourgeois ideology.” This meant, first and foremost, radical bourgeois philosophy, the modern philosophy of bourgeois emancipation, the thought of the revolt of the Third Estate. But pre-bourgeois philosophy, traditional philosophy, was also addressed as bourgeois ideology, as ideology. But ideology is a modern phenomenon. There’s little point in calling either Aristotle or Augustine “ideology.” It is when philosophy is invoked in bourgeois society that it becomes ideological. (Religion, too!)
Presented at the Left Forum 2018 on the panel “Has ‘the Left’ Accommodated Trump (and Putin)? A Debate,” with Ravi Bali, Brendan Cooney, Anne Jaclard, Daphne Lawless and Bill Weinberg, organized by the Marxist-Humanist Initiative at John Jay College in NYC on June 2, 2018.
On April 6, 2018, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion, Fifty Years of 1968, as the opening plenary of its 10th International Convention, 1918–2018: A Century of Counterrevolution, held in Chicago. Speaking at the event were Abdul Alkalimat, professor of African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champagne, and author of numerous books, including Malcolm X for Beginners; Joseph Estes, a member of Platypus and of the Campaign for a Socialist Party; Johnny Mercer, a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain and an artist working in Chicago; and Mitchel Cohen, pamphleteer, poet, and founder of the Red Balloon Collective at SUNY Stony Brook in 1969. What follows is an edited transcript of their conversation.
On February 17, 2018, at the 4th Platypus European Conference, the following panel discussion was held at Goldsmiths University London, with Simon Elmer (Architects for Social Housing), Matthew Lee (Stop the Elephant Development; University College London Cut the Rent) and Austin Williams (Future Cities Project; author, China's Urban Revolution).
On February 17, 2018, the white-nationalist Traditionalist Workers’ Party (TWP) held a rally on the campus of the University of Tennessee. The rally was led by Matthew Heimbach, a central organizer of the Unite the Right rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 in opposition to the planned removal of a public statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The TWP’s February 2018 rally on the University of Tennessee (UT) campus drew about 45 white nationalists, about 250 protesters, and about 200 law enforcement officers. In light of these events, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a conversation about the Left’s relation to racism and fascism on campus and in society at large. Speakers included Jordan Rogers, President of the UT chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA); Dr. Raja Swamy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UT; and Chris Irwin of the Appalachian Anti-Racist Action Tea Party.
On October 17, 2017, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion entitled "Anti-fascism in the Age of Trump” at Berkeley City College. The event’s speakers were Eugene Ruyle of Peace and Freedom (Democratic Socialists of America), Luma Nichol of Freedom Socialist Party, Victoria Fierce of East Bay for Everyone (Democratic Socialists of America), and Ramsey Kanaan of PM Press and founder of AK Press. The event was moderated by William Lushbough of Platypus. What follows is an edited transcript of the discussion.
Detlev Claussen is Professor Emeritus at Leibniz University in Germany and author of Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius. He defends Critical Theory’s political relevance against both academic co-optation and the charge of retreat into the academic ivory tower. His writings investigate, among other things, Lenin’s influence on Adorno’s thought. Jan Schroeder is a member of Platypus. The following interview was conducted in German on March 21, 2017. What follows is Clara Picker’s translation of the transcript of that interview.
Recently, I came across a 1938 article by the “Left communist” Paul Mattick, Sr., titled “Karl Kautsky: From Marx to Hitler.” In it, Mattick asserted that the reformist social democracy that Kautsky ended up embracing was the harbinger of fascism — of Nazism. There is a certain affinity to Friedrich Hayek’s book on The Road to Serfdom (1944), in which a similar argument is made about the affinity of socialism and fascism. If Marxism (e.g. Kautsky) led to Hitler, as Hayek and Mattick aver, then this is because the counterrevolution was in the revolutionary tradition.
On February 17, 2018 the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a discussion at its Fourth Annual European Conference at Goldsmith’s University on the subject of “Marxism and Feminism.” The event’s speakers were Roxanne Baker of the International Bolshevik Tendency; Judith Shapiro, Undergraduate Tutor at the London School of Economics; and Sarah McDonald of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The event was moderated by Erin Hagood of Platypus. What follows is an edited transcript of the translated discussion