112 s Michigan Room 501
Summer and Fall/Autumn 2018 – Winter 2019
I. What is the Left? – What is Marxism?
• required / + recommended reading
Marx and Engels readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)
Week 3. What is Marxism? I. Socialism | Oct. 31, 2018
• Marx, selections from Economic and philosophic manuscripts (1844), pp. 70–101
• Marx, Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League (1850), pp. 501–511
Week 4. What is Marxism? II. Revolution in 1848 | Nov. 7, 2018
• Engels, The tactics of social democracy (Engels's 1895 introduction to Marx, The Class Struggles in France), pp. 556–573
Week 5. What is Marxism? III. Bonapartism | Nov. 14, 2018
+ Karl Korsch, "The Marxism of the First International" (1924)
• Marx, Inaugural address to the First International (1864), pp. 512–519
+ Korsch, Introduction to Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1922)
• Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 525–541
• Marx, Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880)
Week 6. What is Marxism? IV. Critique of political economy | Nov. 21, 2018
• Marx, Capital Vol. I, Ch. 1 Sec. 4 "The fetishism of commodities" (1867), pp. 319–329
Week 7. Nov. 28, 2018 U.S. Thanksgiving break
Winter break readings
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)
+ 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
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)
Week 8. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Dec. 5, 2018
Week 9. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Dec. 12, 2018
Week 10. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Dec. 19, 2018
• Korsch, “Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15
+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145
Presented by the Platypus Affiliated Society at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 3 February, 2016, 7 pm
In the mid-19th century, Marx and Engels observed, in the Communist Manifesto, that a specter was haunting Europe - the specter of Communism. A century and a half later, it is Marxism itself that continues to haunt the Left, while capitalism remains.
What were Marxism's original points of departure for considering radical possibilities for freedom that might still speak to the present?
Thursday, Sept. 24
White Oak Room
Student Center East
750 S Halsted
We generally assume that Marxists and other Leftists have the political responsibility to support reforms for the improvement of the welfare of workers. Yet, leading figures from the Marxist tradition– such as Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky– also understood that such reforms would broaden the crisis of capitalism and potentially intensify contradictions that could adversely impact the immediate conditions of workers. For instance, full employment, while being a natural demand from the standpoint of all workers’ interests, also threatens the conditions of capitalist production (which rely on a surplus of available labor), thereby potentially jeopardizing the current system of employment altogether. In light of such apparent paradoxes, this panel seeks to investigate the politics of work from Leftist perspectives. It will attempt to provoke reflection on and discussion of the ambiguities and dilemmas of the politics of work by including speakers from divergent perspectives, some of whom seek after the immediate abolition of labor and others of whom seek to increase the availability of employment opportunities. We hope that this conversation will deepen the understanding of the contemporary problems faced by the Left in its struggles to construct a politics adequate to the selfemancipation of the working class.
The widely publicized killings of black men by police and the resulting movement with its slogan "Black Lives Matter" put back on the agenda of a beleaguered American Left a seemingly perennial question, one that evokes a long history of struggle, longing, and disappointment. With a black president in the White House having survived or co-opted the #Occupy Movement, the Black Question seems to pose a return to the old platitude that America is racist. At the same time, precisely because
Christopher P. (Anarcho-Syndicalist Review)
Michael Staudenmaier (author, Truth and Revolution)
Mel Rothenberg (Chicago Political Economy Group)
Jamie Theophilos (local activist)
Where & When:
Thursday, November 20, 7:00 - 9:30 pm
5811 S. Ellis Ave.
University of Chicago
It seems that there are still only two radical ideologies: Anarchism and Marxism. They emerged out of the same crucible - the Industrial Revolution, the unsuccessful revolutions of 1848 and 1871, a weak liberalism, the centralization of state power, the rise of the workers movement, and the promise of socialism. They are the revolutionary heritage, and all significant radical upsurges of the last 150 years have returned to mine their meaning for the current situation. In this respect, our moment seems no different.
There are a few different ways these ideologies have been taken up. Recent worldwide square occupations reflect one pattern: a version of Marxist theory — understood as a political-economic critique of capitalism — is used to comprehend the world, while ananarchist practice — understood as an anti-hierarchical principle that insists revolution must begin now — is used to organize, in order to change it. Some resist this combination, claiming that Marxism rejects anti-statist adventurism, and call for a strategic reorganization of the working class to resist austerity, and perhaps push forward a “New New Deal”. This view remains wedded to a supposedly practical welfarist social democracy, which strengthens the state and manages capital. There is a good deal of hand waving in both these orientations with regard to politics, tactics, and the end goal. Finally, there have been attempts to leave the grounds of these theories entirely — but these often seem either to land right back in one of the camps or to remain marginal.
To act today we seek to draw up the balance sheet of the 20th century. The historical experience concentrated in these ideas must be unfurled if they are to serve as compass points. To see in what ways the return of these ideologies represent an authentic engagement and in what ways the return of a ghost. Where have the battles left us? What forms do we have for meeting, theoretically and practically, the problems of our present?