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Revolutionaries study revolutions. Many lessons might be learned from looking at the 1917 Russian Revolution and its aftermath. It began with such promise, bringing hope of a world without war, oppression, capitalism, imperialism, and states. How did it result in Stalinist mass murder and state capitalism, and finally to collapse back into traditional capitalism?
A Channel 4 News interview with the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek circulated on the internet during November 2016, just days before the U.S. presidential election. In the video, the leftist philosopher appears in his usual manner—twitchy, repeatedly rubbing his nose—as he answers the question as to who would win his vote if he were American. Without hesitation, Žižek belts out, “Trump!” Then he elaborates: Trump is not the better candidate, or even likable, but Clinton poses the threat of absolute inertia.
On April 8, 2017, for the closing plenary of its 9th Annual International Convention, the Platypus Affiliated Society organized a panel discussion, 1917–2017, at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Tasked with reflecting on the historical significance of 1917 for the Left, the panel brought together Bryan Palmer, Chair of the Canadian Studies Department at Trent University and author of numerous histories of the Left; Leo Panitch, Professor of Political Science at York University, author, and co-editor of the Socialist Register; and Chris Cutrone, President of the Platypus Affiliated Society. Pamela Nogales, of Platypus, moderated. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.
Sascha Staničić ist Bundessprecher der Sozialistischen Alternative (SAV) sowie verantwortlicher Redakteur des Internetportals und gleichnamigen Magazins Seit 1987 ist er aktiv in der sozialistischen und gewerkschaftlichen Bewegung, seit 2010 Mitglied der LINKEN. Er ist (Mit-)Autor der Bücher „Anti-Sarrazin“ (PapyRossa, 2011), „Brandstifter: AfD. Pegida. Islamhass“ (Manifest-Verlag, 2017) und Mitherausgeber von „Nach Goldschätzen graben und Regenwürmer finden. Die Linke und das Regieren“ (PapyRossa, 2016).
Ein Interview von Stefan Hain. Wolfgang Gehrcke ist Mitglied des Bundestags und seit 2007 Mitglied des Parteivorstands der Partei DIE LINKE. 1961 trat er in die damals verbotene KPD ein und war 1968 Gründungsmitglied der DKP, aus der er 1990 austrat. Im selben Jahr trat er der PDS bei, war von 1993–1998 deren stellvertretender Bundesvorsitzender und von 1998–2002 stellvertretender Vorsitzender der PDS-Bundestagsfraktion.
Werner Dreibus war Mitbegründer der WASG, die sich 2007 mit der Linkspartei.PDS zur Partei DIE LINKE vereinigt hat. Von 2010–2012 war er Bundesgeschäftsführer der Partei DIE LINKE. Außerdem arbeitete er langjährig als Gewerkschaftssekretär.
Dietmar Bartsch ist Bundestagsabgeordneter und einer von zwei Fraktionsvorsitzenden der LINKEN. 1977 trat er in die SED ein und promovierte 1990 in Moskau im Fach Ökonomie. Er war lange Jahre Schatzmeister der PDS. Außerdem ist er ehemaliger Geschäftsführer der Jungen Welt, später des Neuen Deutschlands. 2008–2010 war er Bundeswahlkampfleiter der LINKEN.
AMONGST HIS MANUSCRIPTS Max Horkheimer left behind an essay, written in 1928 but unpublished during his lifetime, whose subject is Lenin's important work Materialism and Empiriocriticism, which had appeared in German translation the year before. The publication of Horkheimer’s response to Lenin was eventually undertaken by Horkheimer’s pupil and successor, Alfred Schmidt in 1985.
On April 7, 2017 the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a discussion at its Ninth Annual International Convention in Chicago on the subject of “Marxism in the Age of Trump.” The event’s speakers were Chris Cutrone, President of the Platypus Affiliated Society and teacher of Critical Theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Catherine Liu, Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine and author of The American Idyll: Academic Anti-Elitism as Cultural Critique; and Greg Lucero, a founding member of the Revolutionary Students' Union and a member of the Chicago chapter of the Socialist Party USA.
WHEN FIRST ENCOUNTERING the Impeach Bush movement in 2007 I responded, almost flippantly, “Why not impeach the system that gave us Bush?” “Otherwise,” I said, “we risk having someone in the White House who’ll make us long for Bush.” If prescient, my response was admittedly formulaic and evidently deficient. Not surprisingly, whiffs of a new impeachment movement are again in the air since the November 2016 surprise. Those blowing from the Left, however, are again devoid of systemic/structural thinking and, alas, to its peril. It is to those who are wary of being seduced by this crowd that this more substantive response is directed, rather than to the lesser-evil true believers for whom hope springs eternal.