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January 28, 7:00 PM, Debates Room, Hart House, University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle

The Platypus Affiliated Society at U of Toronto presents a public forum on:
The 3 Rs: Reform, Revolution, and "Resistance": The problematic forms of "anticapitalism" today.

Audio link is here: (click here

Wednesday 14 Mar, 7 PM
OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) Room 5170, University of Toronto

A moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A on problems of strategies and tactics on the Left today.
Moderated by Ashley Weger (Platypus)
Panelists:
Clare O'Connor
Baolinh Dang (Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee-Revolutionary Students Movement),
Cam Hardy (Platypus),
Megan Kinch (#Occupy Toronto participant, Toronto Media Co-op) and
Jim Stanford (Canadian Auto Workers).

"After the failure of the 1960s New Left, the underlying despair with regard to the real efficacy of political will, of political agency, in a historical situation of heightened helplessness, became a self-constitution as outsider, as other, rather than an instrument of transformation. Focused on the bureaucratic stasis of the Fordist, late 20th Century world, the Left echoed the destruction of that world by the dynamics of capital: neoliberalism and globalization.

The idea of a fundamental transformation became bracketed and, instead, was replaced by the more ambiguous notion of 'resistance.' The notion of resistance, however, says little about the nature of that which is being resisted, or of the politics of the resistance involved.

'Resistance' is rarely based on a reflexive analysis of possibilities for fundamental change that are both generated and suppressed by the dynamic heteronomous order of capital. 'Resistance' is an undialectical category that does not grasp its own conditions of possibility; it fails to grasp the dynamic historical context of capital and its reconstitution of possibilities for both domination and emancipation, of which the 'resisters' do not recognize that that they are a part."

— Moishe Postone, "History and Helplessness: Mass mobilization and contemporary forms of anticapitalism" (2006)

Live broadcast: www.livestream.com/platypus1917

Saturday, December 17, 2011
9AM U.S./Canada PST / 10AM MST / 11AM CST / 12PM EST;
and 17:00 London / 18:00 Frankfurt and Berlin /
19:00 Thessaloniki / 22:30 Delhi / 02:00 Seoul

If you are in Chicago:
Saturday, 11am | 17 December 2011 |School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan Ave. room 919

Please join Platypus for a brief introduction to and discussion about the relevance of Lenin today, in anticipation of our Winter-Spring 2012 primary Marxist reading group, on the history of revolutionary Marxism, centered on the writings of Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky, and Adorno.

The Encyclopedia Britannica's entry on Lenin states that,

"If the Bolshevik Revolution is -- as some people have called it -- the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century's most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union, but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx."

Lenin is the most controversial figure in the history of Marxism, and perhaps one of the most controversial figures in all of history. As such, he is an impossible figure for sober consideration, without polemic. Nevertheless, it has become impossible, also, after Lenin, to consider Marxism without reference to him. Broadly, Marxism is divided into avowedly "Leninist" and "anti-Leninist" tendencies. In what ways was Lenin either an advance or a calamity for Marxism? But there is another way of approaching Lenin, which is as an expression of the historical crisis of Marxism. In other words, Lenin as a historical figure is unavoidably significant as manifesting a crisis of Marxism. The question is how Lenin provided the basis for advancing that crisis, how the polarization around Lenin could provide the basis for advancing the potential transformation of Marxism, in terms of resolving certain problems.

The Frankfurt School Critical Theorist Theodor Adorno, in his 1966 book Negative Dialectics, wrote of the degeneration of Marxism due to "dogmatization and thought-taboos." There is no other figure in the history of Marxism who has been subject to such "dogmatization and thought-taboos" as much as Lenin.

It is important to note as well that Adorno himself sought to remain, as he put it, "faithful to Marx, Engels and Lenin, while keeping up with culture at its most advanced," to which his colleague Max Horkheimer replied, simply, "Who would not subscribe to that?"

Today, such a proposition seems especially implausible, in many ways. Yet perhaps the memory of Lenin haunts us still, however obscurely.

The discussion will be broadcast live on the web. Additionally, a recording will be made available after the event.

Recommended background readings:

"1917"
/2009/11/18/the-decline-of-the-left-in-the-20th-century-1917/

"Lenin's liberalism"
/2011/06/01/lenin%E2%80%99s-liberalism/

"Lenin's politics"
/2011/09/25/lenins-politics/

Friday, February 19th, 2009.   7pm
Hart House, South Dining Room
7 Hart House Crescent,
University of Toronto

The economic crisis, as many commentators and critics are quick to point out, has rekindled interest in—and anxieties over—Marxism. Although many on the Left hope this renewed curiosity marks the beginning of a radical turn, similar revivals of anti-capitalist politics in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1990s failed to achieve the revolutionary transformations they sought.

Has Marxism returned as a significant political force? How might this translate into the possibility for a revitalized Left? Will the resurgence of Marxist theory provide opportunities for social change—or merely the opportunity to fail again?

Dr. Leo Panitch is Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto, and coeditor of the annual Socialist Register.