The Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion on the Politics of the Contemporary Student Left at the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit on June 26, 2010. Moderated by Laurie Rojas, assistant editor for the Platypus Review, the panel consisted of Will Klatt, member of the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Luis Brennan, a student organizer at University of Chicago and former member of the new SDS; Aaron Petcov, formerly of the new SDS and currently a member of the Organization for a Free Society (OFS); and Ashley Weger, an organizer for Platypus and a former organizer for UNITE HERE.
Platypus panel held at Left Forum 2010 in New York City, Pace University, March 20, 2010.
One catch-phrase that has flown in the wake of the successful election of Barack Obama is "post-racial," raising the question of the degree to which America has overcome racism. But perhaps the matter is not one of our historical moment being post-"racial" but rather post-racist. This panel will pose the question of how racism has changed since the historical racism that plagued the U.S., from the failure of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era through Jim Crow until the overcoming of legal racial segregation with the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s-60s. If today this historical form of racism is over it has not meant the meaningful improvement of conditions of life for the vast majority of black people in America, but rather has accompanied worsening conditions, as part of the broader greater stratification and brutalization of American society in the general downturn since the late 1960s - early '70s. This situation demands a strident refutation of the pseudo-problem of "class versus race" and rather requires today's Left to seriously consider the implications of the political scientist Adolph Reed's formulation that racism is a class issue. This panel will address this issue by approaching racism as a historical social problem that was surpassed but not fundamentally overcome, thus allowing the structural conditions that shaped racism historically to continue if in increasingly unrecognized, and thus de-politicized forms. This panel will address how the resolution to the "black question" was not the result of the emancipatory outcome of the Civil Right / Black Power movements of the 1960s, but was rather a part of the general de-politicization of American society in our era. Panelists will assess the historical depths of the present post-political situation by examining how the American Left failed to adequately politicize the social issue of racism in three significant periods of the history of the American Left, the pre-World War One Socialist Party, the early years of the Communist Party, and the decade of the New Left.
Tim Barker, Columbia University
Benjamin Blumberg, Platypus Affiliated Society
Pamela Nogales, Platypus Affiliated Society
Chris Cutrone, Platypus Affiliated Society, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Chicago
On February 23th, 2010, Platypus hosted an event entitled Which Way Forward for Palestinian Liberation? in which Joel Kovel, author of Overcoming Zionism and frequent commentator on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and Hussein Ibish, political analyst and senior fellow at The American Task Force on Palestine, answered questions posed by Richard Rubin of Platypus.
Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine and is the executive director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab- American Leadership. From 1998-2004, he was Communications Director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab-American membership organization in the United States, with which he authored, along with Ali Abunimah, the issue-paper The Palestinian Right of Return. Ibish will discuss his recent book, What’s Wrong with the One State Agenda? Why Ending the Occupation and Peace with Israel is Still the Palestinian National Goal.
Joel Kovel is professor emeritus of social studies at Bard College, editor in chief of Capitalism, Nature, Socialism and the author of several books, including White Racism: A Psychohistory, A Complete Guide to Therapy, The Age of Desire: Case Histories of a Radical Psychoanalyst, The Radical Spirit, and The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or The End of the World. In 1998, he was the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senator from New York. He will be discussing his most recent book, Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine.
At the 1st annual international convention of the Platypus Affiliated Society, in Chicago, June 12-14, 2009, the concluding plenary event, a discussion on Platypus's theoretical stance, its raison d'etre, and where the project will be going.
Richard Rubin speaks on "Four Types of Ambiguity;" Chris Cutrone speaks on "History, Theory;" and Ian Morrison speaks on "What is to be Done?" Audience question-and-answer discussion follows. Held on June 14th, 2009 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Transcript can be found on our website (Click below):
The Platypus Affiliated Society presents a moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A addressing issues of global capital, trade unions, workers rights, international solidarity, and immigration, in light of recent economic and political change. Held on Thursday April 23, 2009, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Abraham Mwaura, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, organizer at the Republic Windows & Doors Factory.
Chuck Hendricks, Unite Here organizer
Aaron Hughes, representative at the International Labor Conference Erbil Iraq, and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War
James Thindwa, executive director of Chicago Jobs with Justice