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HORKHEIMER’S REMARKABLE ESSAY “On the sociology of class relations” (1943) is continuous with Adorno’s contemporaneous “Reflections on class theory” (1942) as well as his own “The authoritarian state” (1940/42), which similarly mark the transformation of Marx and Engels’s famous injunction in the Communist Manifesto that “history is the history of class struggles.”

Platypus President's report by Chris Cutrone at the third annual Platypus Affiliated Society international convention, Chicago, May 1, 2011.

The usual ways of categorizing various trends on the "Left" today have become less useful for distinguishing politically and indicating potential future developments. Trends have defied historical or expected trajectories -- if these in fact ever applied properly -- and so call for a new and different approach to sort out what we're dealing with today and are likely to encounter going forward. Platypus has been rightly recognized (if only occasionally and intermittently) for traversing if not transcending these categories in the approach of our project. Other sets of categories that can be usefully problematized by the "anti-fascist" vs. "anti-imperialist" division are: 1.) socialist vs. liberal; 2.) libertarian vs. authoritarian; and 3.) anti-Stalinist vs. Stalinist.

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?

An interview with Dr. Leo Panitch conducted on February 19th, 2010, at the University of Toronto.

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.

Transcript in Platypus Review #23: