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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.
Taking stock of the multifaceted universe of positions and goals that constitute Left politics today, we are left with the disquieting suspicion that perhaps a deeper commonality underlies this apparent variety: what exists today is built on the desiccated remains of what was once felt to be possible...
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”?
Taking stock of the universe of positions and goals that constitutes leftist politics today, we are left with the disquieting suspicion that a deep commonality underlies the apparent variety: What exists today is built upon the desiccated remains of what was once possible...
Chris Cutrone Platypus is an idea for a journal project on the Marxian Left several of us have had for a number of years, starting with two of us with a long political background on the Trotskyist Left, going back to our undergraduate years (1989-92) at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The journal idea has been grounded in our shared commitments to challenging post-New Left politics. In recent years, the initial two of us were joined by a few University of Chicago students of the critical social theorist and Marx scholar Moishe Postone. We have been motivated by questioning what a Leftist politics today might be -- we are struck by the decline if not total demise of the Left, and by the certain absence of Leftist politics informing the world. So our project involves radically interrogating the self-declared "Left," taking nothing for granted in our sense of the necessity for reformulating a Leftist politics and re-appropriating the history of the Left towards the present.