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Platypus International Convention 2020

2020 Chicago Convention Program

Due to COVID-19 we are moving the event online. Please see the links below. All times are given in Central Time

Details are also available on Facebook:


(5-7pm CST) Politics of Environmentalism as Utopia

With climate protestors echoing the antiglobalization Battle of Seattle and democratic socialists calling for a new New Deal, the environment is now widely cited on the left as the central pressure-point for imagining the radical transformation of society. With which actors, toward what sort of society, and on the basis of what sort of historical problem is the environment to serve as the object of leftist politics? How should we understand the current politicization of the environment in relation to previous moments of environmentalist politics on the Left? What sort of utopia informs the politics of environmentalism in the 21st century?

  • Christian Parenti
  • Earl Silbar
  • Sunrise Chicago
  • Max Wilbert


(6-8pm CST) The American Revolution and the Left

How was the American Revolution revolutionary? Does the Left today inherit any of the revolutionary tasks of 1776? Should the Left break with or build on the legacy of the American Revolution?

  • August Nimtz
  • Alex Gourevitch
  • Pam Nogales
  • Jamal Abed-Rabbo


(2-4pm CST) Bonapartism: How is the State Revolutionary?

“The empire, with the coup d’etat for its birth certificate, universal suffrage for its sanction, and the sword for its sceptre, professed to rest upon the peasantry, the large mass of producers not directly involved in the struggle of capital and labor. It professed to save the working class by breaking down parliamentarism, and, with it, the undisguised subserviency of government to the propertied classes. It professed to save the propertied classes by upholding their economic supremacy over the working class; and, finally, it professed to unite all classes by reviving for all the chimera of national glory.” Civil War in France

Although it has largely fallen out of use today, ‘Bonapartism’ was a term that Marx coined to link the bourgeois revolution, industrial society and mass democracy directly with the politics of state-power. Later Marxists applied the concept to twentieth century political phenomena ranging from fascism to Stalinism to progressive liberalism. What is the revolutionary character of the modern state, if there is one? What should the left do about (or with) the state?

  • Helena Rosenblatt
  • Wayne Price
  • Spencer Leonard

(6-8pm CST) Socialism in the 21st Century?

In the early 21st Century, socialism has been invoked as a defense against neoliberalism by phenomena such as SYRIZA, Podemos, Jeremy Corbyn, and Bernie Sanders. Moreover, the recent polarisation of politics--manifested around Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit in the UK, and Bernie Sanders and Trump in the US--has been welcomed variously as a potential opening for emancipatory politics, political engagement and a renewed imagination of socialism. If socialism has become the goal of the Left in the 21st Century, what, then, would be necessary to achieve it? If it has not, what, then, is the Left’s goal and how does it relate to the struggle for socialism?

  • John Beacham
  • Jamal Abed-Rabbo
  • Chris Cutrone
  • Patrick Quinn