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A paradox confronts American environmentalists, according to James Gustave Speth, the Dean of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies: “We now have a flourishing environmental movement, a proliferating number of organisations, more and more money going into this, decades now of environmental legislation and programs, at all levels of government, and the environment keeps going downhill.”
I would like to respond to Chris Cutrone’s article, "Review: Angela Davis 'How does change happen?'" from the March 2008 issue #3. I agree with Cutrone’s general sentiment that we as a country have failed to productively engage the problem of race, and that an honest critique of capitalism is pretty much absent from American politics. However, one does not necessarily follow the other. I disagree that a discussion of capitalism must necessarily displace a discussion of race, a term which Cutrone disrespectfully frames in quotation marks and describes as a “distraction” and “inadequate category.”
The new Mayday magazine (UK) and Platypus have been in dialogue on the issues of anarchism and Marxism and the state of the "Left" today in light of history. Principia Dialectica, another new British journal, also has taken note of Platypus, specifically with our interview of Moishe Postone on "Marx after Marxism". In their note of us, Principia Dialectica cites our interview with Postone to say that "Postone's reflections on Lukács are certainly bracing, and enough to challenge any cryogenically frozen leftoid stuck in 1917."
Crisis is the condition of everyday life in capital. Capitalism kills in silently effective ways without necessary recourse to spectacle, through institutional mechanisms like patent controls on life-saving drugs. This is why everyday squalor in the Middle East is equally, if not more, fitting a symbol for Marxists than Muslims in the ‘state of exception’ on Guantanamo Bay.
The following are excerpts from the transcript of a moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A on problems of strategies and tactics on the Left today, organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society. Panelists: Michael Albert (Z Magazine, author of Parecon: Life After Capitalism), Chris Cutrone (Platypus), Stephen Duncombe (Gallatin School of New York University, editor of Cultural Resistance Reader), Brian Holmes (Continental Drift and Université Tangente), and Marisa Holmes (new Students for a Democratic Society).
A new chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was formed in February at the University of Chicago (UChicago) in tandem with chapters forming throughout the city and across the country. The new SDS is a national student organization dedicated to progressive political change, whose name was borrowed from the famous New Left organization that helped to shape the social unrest of the 1960s.
Alasdair Macintyre begins After Virtue with a parable: Populist demagogues declare war on the natural sciences. Every lab bombed, every chemistry department ransacked, every copy of Nature burned. Once the luddite swell subsides, a group of enlightened citizens attempt to reconstruct science from the remaining fragments. To us, natural science is a way of making sense of the physical world through experiment and observation. In this imaginary future, such a context has been lost. The new, reconstructed science is a wholly self-enclosed activity, like the creation of an imaginary language. Yet however hermetic this science may be, it is consistent; the proofs and the equations mean nothing, but they add up.
It may be that the political meaning of the recent violence in Kenya will exceed the explanatory capabilities of the news media, but the question itself has not yet adequately been posed. In place of a serious engagement with the crisis, coverage of the events has been characterized by genuine shock that this could have happened in Kenya.
Writing from Kenya after 10 years of what he calls “international exile,” former Kenyan-Chicagoan Oketch Onyango told us that he intended on going back in late 2007 to “raise a little bit of hell in the political scene,” but went “running away from the commodity and bang full circle into it in the savanna!,” and so in response he’s been immersed in “reading critical theory like mad” and “doing some writing which papers here don’t want to touch.” This is one article submitted.
Platypus focuses on redeeming the problematic history of the Marxist Left, “against the grain” (Benjamin) of its more or less contingent or necessary outcomes, in order to discover and provoke conscious recognition of the historically obscured necessities for social-emancipatory political struggle in the present. Political organizations and parties and their programs need to be understood both as forms of action and as forms of memory.