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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for tag August Nimtz

Der Lesekreis findet ab dem 14. August 2023 immer montags 19 Uhr im Liebknecht-Haus, Braustraße 15, 04107 Leipzig statt.

Die Texte werden im Voraus gelesen und dann zusammen diskutiert. Neueinsteiger:innen sind jederzeit herzlich willkommen! Es werden keine Vorkenntnisse benötigt.

• vorausgesetzte Texte
+ zusätzliche, empfohlene Texte

Empfohlene Hintergrundlektüre:

+ Benjamin Constant: „Von der Freiheit des Altertums, verglichen mit der Freiheit der Gegenwart“ (1819)
+ J.P. Nettl: „The German Social Democratic Party 1890-1914 as a Political Model“ (1965)

Empfohlene Zusatzliteratur:

+ Chris Cutrone: „The end of the Gilded Age“ (2017) und „Gilded Age socialism – historical past?“ (2023)
+ Cutrone: „Lenin’s liberalism“ und „Lenin’s politics“ (2011)
+ Cutrone: „What is political party for Marxism?“ (2014)
+ Cutrone, “Proletarian dictatorship and state capitalism” (2015)
+ Cutrone, “What was social democracy” (2016)
+ Cutrone: „Back to Herbert Spencer! Industrial vs. militant society“ (2016) [audio]
+ Cutrone: „Horkheimer in 1943 on party and class“ (2016)
+ Max Horkheimer: „Zur Soziologie der Klassenverhältnisse“ (1943)
+ Cutrone, "Lenin today" (2020)
+ Cutrone: „Die Diktatur des Proletariats und der Tod der Linken“ (2021/22)
+ August Nimtz, Andrew Arato, Chris Cutrone: „Socialism, liberalism and Marxism“ (6. Januar 2021)

1. Woche (14.08.)

• August Nimtz: Marxism versus Liberalism (2019) – Einleitung sowie Kapitel 2 und 3 über Marx und Engels versus Tocqueville und John Stuart Mill

2. Woche (21.08.)

• August Nimtz: Marxism versus Liberalism (2019) – Kapitel 4 und 5 über Lenin versus Weber und Woodrow Wilson sowie Kapitel 6

3. Woche (28.08.)

• Robert Michels: Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie (1911) – insbesondere Vorwort, Kapitel 1 und 2, Teil 1, Teil 3, Teil 4

4. Woche (04.09.)

• Max Weber: „Der Sozialismus“ (1918); „Politik als Beruf“ und „Wissenschaft als Beruf“ (1919)
+ Weber: „Structures of power“, „Class, status, party“, „Bureaucracy“

5. Woche (11.09.)

• Otto Kirchheimer: „Changes in the structure of political compromise“ (1941)
• Herbert Marcuse: „Der Kampf gegen den Liberalismus in der totalitären Staatsauffassung“ (1943)
+ Franz Neumann: „The change in the function of law in modern society“ (1937) [deutsche Version: “Der Funktionswandel des Gesetzes im Recht der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft” (1937)]
• Sigmund Neumann: „The party of democratic integration“ (1956); und Kirchheimer: „The catch-all party“ (1966)

6. Woche (18.09.)

• Nicos Poulantzas und Ralph Miliband: Debatte über Kapitalismus und Staat (1972)
+ Michael Harrington: „Marxism and Democracy“ (1981)
• Mike Macnair: Revolutionary Strategy (2008)
+ Cutrone, "Lenin today" (2020)

7. Woche (25.09.)

• Benjamin Studebaker: The Chronic Crisis of American Democracy: The Way is Shut (2023)
+ Studebaker: „The Heart of Isonomia: Equality of Political Participation versus Equality of Political Capabilities: A Fundamental Dilemma at the Heart of Democratic Theory“ (2023)

The fourth installment of a panel series, held at the University of Chicago on November 23rd, 2013.  The first three panels were held in Halifax, Frankfurt, and Thessaloniki.

A moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A with thinkers, activists and political figures focused on contemporary problems faced by the Left in its struggles to construct a politics that adequately address issues of democracy. Hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society at the University of Chicago.


MICHAEL GOLDFIELD (Wayne State University)

AUGUST NIMTZ (University of Minnesota)

PETER STAUDENMAIER (Marquette University)

From the financial crisis and the bank bail-outs to the question of "sovereign debt"; from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street; from the struggle for a unified European-wide policy to the elections in Greece and Egypt that seem to have threatened so much and promised so little—the need to go beyond mere "protest" has asserted itself: political revolution is in the air, again.

At the same time, the elections in US and recently in Germany, by comparison, to be a non-event, despite potentially having far-reaching consequences for teeming issues world-wide. Today, the people—the demos—seem resigned to their political powerlessness, even as they rage against the corruption of politics. Hence, while contemporary demands for democracy to politicize the demos, they are also indicative of social and political regression that asks urgently for recognition and reflection. Demands for democracy "from below" end up being expressed "from above": The 99%, in its already obscure and unorganized character, didn't express itself as such in the various recent elections, but was split in various tendencies, many of them very reactionary.

Democracy retains an enigmatic character, since it always slips any fixed form and content, since people under the dynamic of capital keep demanding at time "more" democracy and "real" democracy. But democracy can be like Janus: it often expresses both the progressive social and emancipatory demands, but also their defeat, their hijacking by an elected "Bonaparte."

What is the history informing the demands for greater democracy today, and how does the Left adequately promote—or not—the cause of popular empowerment? What are the potential futures for "democratic" revolution, especially as understood by the Left?


1. What would you consider as "real" democracy, as this has been a primary demand of recent spontaneous forms of discontent (e.g. Arab Spring, Occupy, anti-austerity protests, student strikes)?
2. What is the relationship between democracy and the working class today? Do you consider historical struggles for democracy by workers as the medium by which they got "assimilated" to the system, or the only path to emancipation that they couldn't avoid trying to take?
3. Do you consider it as necessary to eschew establishment forms of mass politics in favor of new forms in order to build a democratic movement? Or are current mass form of politics adequate for a democratic society?
4. Why has democracy emerged as the primary demand of spontaneous forms of discontent? Do you also consider it necessary, or adequate, to deal with the pathologies of our era?
5. Engels wrote that "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian things there is." Do you agree? Can this conception be compatible with the struggle for democracy?
6. How is democracy related with the issue of possibly overcoming capital?
7. Is there a difference between the ancient and the modern notion of democracy and, if so, what is the source of that difference? Does "real" democracy share more with the direct democracy of ancient polis?
8. Is democracy oppressive, or can it be such? How do you judge Lenin's formulation that: "democracy is also a state and that, consequently, democracy will also disappear with the state disappears."