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A discussion on the Politics of Critical Theory, held on February 17, 2017 at the University of Vienna, as part of the 3rd annual Platypus European Conference.

Speakers (in order):

- Chris Cutrone, Platypus Affiliated Society, Chicago

- Martin Suchanek, Workers Power, Berlin

- Haziran Zeller, Berlin

Recently, the New Left Review published a translated conversation between the critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer causing more than a few murmurs and gasps. In the course of their conversation, Adorno comments that he had always wanted to develop a theory that remains faithful to Marx, Engels and Lenin, while keeping up with culture at its most advanced.’ Adorno, it seems, was a Leninist. As surprising as this evidence might have been to some, is it not more shocking that Adorno’s politics, and the politics of Critical Theory, have remained taboo for so long? Was it really necessary to wait until Adorno and Horkheimer admitted their politics in print to understand that their primary preoccupation was with maintaining Marxism’s relation to bourgeois critical philosophy such as Kant and Hegel? This panel proposes to state the question as directly as possible and to simply ask: How did the practice and theory of Marxism, from Marx to Lenin, make possible and necessary the politics of Critical Theory?

Donnerstag, 17.11.2017, 19:30 Uhr
Gußhausstraße 14/3, 1040 Wien


Audio recording of the event

Trump and the American Left

The accusations against Donald Trump of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and even fascism have been front and center for Republicans, liberals and leftists alike, while at the same time it is recognized that it was millions of former Obama voters who put him over the edge.

Many of the policies Trump called for already existed. For instance, surveillance and increased scrutiny of Muslim immigrants in the “War on Terror,” the war against ISIS, the wall on the border with Mexico, the mass deportations of “illegal” immigrants, and proposals for a super-exploitative guest-worker immigration program. Since the election, many of his strongly worded rhetoric has been removed from his platform entirely. Leaders of the Democratic Party such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have conceded support for Trump on his policies meant to help American workers and to "drain the swamp" by getting finance out of politics. Meanwhile, many on the Left call for the dismantling of the Democratic Party, as a corporate fundraising machine that doesn’t speak to the needs of working people, to start anew. However what this means for them is the reinvigoration of the Democratic Party, which, based on the statements of Warren and Sanders, will now be led by President Trump.

During the campaign season itself the far left was divided between a strong anti-Trump, lesser evil endorsement of the Democrat establishment candidate and those who, too aware of what that neoliberal, imperialist establishment politics meant for people in America and around the world, could only stand helpless before the absence of anything outside the reality of Trump versus Clinton.

What is clear is that there is now no opposition to the status quo from the Left in America with power independent of the Democrat Party. In light of this fact, any future Left must keep firmly in view that its diagnosis of the Trump phenomenon--whether it is whitelash, proto-fascism, or neoliberal discontent--is at once its answer to what it represents. What sort of answers could the Left offer to oppose the establishment from the Left?"

The event will be led by Platypus members Clint Montgomery and Nunzia Faes. There will be a co-presentation followed by an open discussion. All are welcome.

The Platypus Affiliated Society, established in December 2006, organizes reading groups, public fora, research and journalism focused on problems and tasks inherited from the “Old” (1920s-30s), “New” (1960s-70s) and post-political (1980s-90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today.

Freitag, 13:30 - 15:00 im Café Gagarin, Garnisongasse 24, 1090 Wien,, gegenüber vom Campus.

Freitag, 27.5 19:00. NIG, Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien, Hörsaal 3

Sommersemester 16: Donnerstags, 18.00-21.00 Uhr, Uni Wien.