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You are here: Platypus /Archive for category Introductory Reading Groups

10 sessions of readings introducing the raison d’être of the Platypus project.


Week 1

• Cutrone, “Symptomology: Historical transformations in social-political context”
• Cutrone, “Capital in history: The need for a Marxian philosophy of history of the Left”
• Cutrone, “Class consciousness (from a Marxist persective) today”
+ Capital in history timeline and chart of terms
+ video of Communist University 2011 London presentation
+ Marx on "becoming" (from the Grundrisse)
+ Marx and Engels as philosophes of a Second Enlightenment


Week 2

• Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left”
• Adorno, “Imaginative excesses”


Week 3

• Blumberg, Cutrone, Khan, Leonard, and Rubin, Forum: The decline of the Left in the 20th century


Week 4

• Anderson, Cutrone, Kreitman, Postel, and Turl, Forum: Imperialism: What is it, why should we be against it?
• Albert, Cutrone, Duncombe, and Holmes, Forum: The 3 Rs: reform, revolution and “resistance:” The problematic forms of “anti-capitalism” today


Week 5

• Brennan, Davis, Hendricks, Mujica, and Rubin, Forum: What is a movement?
• Hendricks, Hughes, Mwaura, and Thindwa, Forum: Left behind: The working class in the crisis


Week 6

• Platypus Historians Group, Catastrophe, historical memory, and the Left: 60 years of Israel-Palestine
• Ibish, Kovel, and Rubin, Forum: Which way forward for Palestinian liberation?
• Goodman and Rubin, Forum: Marxism and Israel


Week 7

• Farrow, Gabrellas, Mucciaroni, and Wolf, Forum: Which way forward for sexual liberation?
• Nogales, Pereira Di Salvo, and Rojas, Forum: Politics of the contemporary student Left
• Brennan, Klatt, Petcov, and Weger, Forum: Ideology and the student Left


Week 8

• Bernstein, Cutrone, Goehr, and Horowitz, Forum: The relevance of Critical Theory to art today
• Cutrone, Feenberg, Westerman, and Brown, Platypus convention plenary: The politics of Critical Theory


Week 9

• Horkheimer and Adorno, “Discussion about Theory and Praxis” (AKA “Towards a New Manifesto?”) [Deutsch] (1956)
• Horkheimer, selections from Dämmerung
• Adorno, “Resignation”
• Cutrone, “The Marxist hypothesis”
• Cutrone, “The Left is dead! — Long live the Left!” Vicissitudes of historical consciousness and the possibilities for emancipatory social politics today


Week 10

• Cutrone, Morrison, and Rubin, Platypus convention plenary: The Platypus synthesis: History, theory, and practice

A series of 10 sessions introducing Platypus’s approach to the history of Marxism.


• required / + recommended [ / ++ supplemental ] readings

Essential background reading:

• Leszek Kolakowski, “The Concept of the Left


Recommended preliminary/background readings:

+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889-1914 (1966)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918-19 (1968)


Week 1

• Chris Cutrone, “The Marxist hypothesis: a response to Alain Badiou’s ‘communist hypothesis’
• Cutrone“Capital in history: The need for a Marxian philosophy of history of the Left”
+ Cutrone, “The Left is dead! — Long live the Left!” Vicissitudes of historical consciousness and the possibilities for emancipatory social politics today
+ Kant, “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View” (1784)
+ Benjamin Constant, “The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns” (1819)
[ ++ Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754) ]
[ ++ Rousseau, selection from The Social Contract (1762) ]


Week 2

• Marx and Friedrich Engelsselections from the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), pp. 469-500
• MarxTo make the world philosophical (from Marx’s dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
• MarxFor the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15


Week 3

• Screening: Margarethe von Trotta, dir., Rosa Luxemburg (1986 film)
• Rosa Luxemburg, “The Crisis of German Social Democracy” Part 1 (1915), and “Order Reigns in Berlin” (1919)
• J. P. Nettl“The German Social Democratic Party 1890-1914 as a Political Model” (1965)
[ ++ James Joll, The Second International 1889-1914 (1966) ]


Week 4

• Cliff Slaughter, “What is Revolutionary Leadership?” (1960)


Week 5

• Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate A&ZIntroducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)


Week 6

• Spartacist LeagueLenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)


Week 7

• Luxemburg“The Russian Tragedy” (1918), “Order Reigns in Berlin” (1919)
[ ++ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918-19 (1968) ]


Week 8

• Tariq Ali and Phil EvansIntroducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)


Week 9

• Max Horkheimerselections from Dämmerung
+ Theodor W. Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)


Week 10

• Theodor W. Adorno“Reflections on Class Theory” (1942)
+ Adorno and Horkheimer, “Towards a New Manifesto?” (1956)
• Adorno“Resignation” (1969)