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Magda Hassan
06-12-2013, 12:31 AM
Platypus Affiliated Society






http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Platypus_newlogo.gif (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Platypus_newlogo.gif)
Platypus logo


The Left is dead! -- Long live the Left!


2006


platypus1917.org (http://platypus1917.org/)



The Platypus Affiliated Society is a Marxist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist) Leftist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leftist) political organization that organizes reading groups, public fora, research and journalism. Platypus's stated mission is to focus 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." Platypus operates under the mottos "What has the Left been, and what can it yet become?" and (more polemically) "The Left is Dead! -- Long Live the Left!"[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-1)


History

Platypus was established in December, 2006, and has published The Platypus Review, an open-submission monthly broadsheet paper, since November, 2007.[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-2)
Platypus was started by Chris Cutrone and several other graduate students of Moishe Postone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moishe_Postone) at the University of Chicago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Chicago), and included students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_the_Art_Institute_of_Chicago), where Cutrone teaches.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-3)
Platypus has chapters in Chicago (University of Chicago, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyola_University_Chicago), University of Illinois at Chicago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Illinois_at_Chicago)), New York (New School for Social Research (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_School_for_Social_Research), New York University (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_University)), Boston (Harvard University (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_University), Massachusetts College of Art and Design (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_College_of_Art_and_Design)), Philadelphia (Temple University (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_University)), Canada (Dalhousie University (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalhousie_University), University of Toronto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Toronto)), Germany (Goethe University Frankfurt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goethe_University_Frankfurt)), and Greece.
The "Platypus synthesis"

Platypus describes its own approach to Marxism as a "synthesis" of Trotskyism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trotskyism) and Frankfurt School (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_School) Critical Theory, via the two more recent approaches of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Communist_League_(Fourth_Internation alist)) and the reinterpretation of Marx (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx)'s critical theory by Moishe Postone. However, Platypus sees its role not in formulating positive practical political positions or offering analysis, but rather "hosting the critical conversation on the Left that is presently lacking." This includes inviting speakers with extremely varied and opposed views as panelists debating issues in public forums, and publishing writings from widely differing viewpoints on the Left in The Platypus Review. The degree to which members of Platypus have offered definite statements as public speakers or writers, they have been restricted to critiques of the existing Left.[4] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-4)
Activities
Platypus has hosted public talks or published articles by: Ervand Abrahamian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ervand_Abrahamian), Manan Ahmed, Michael Albert (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Albert), Tariq Ali (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tariq_Ali), Kevin Anderson, Siyaves Azeri, Jairus Banaji, Maziar Behrooz, Paul Berman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Berman), J. M. Bernstein, Bruno Bosteels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Bosteels), Nicholas Brown, Noam Chomsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky), T. J. Clark (as part of the Retort collective (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retort_collective)), Hamid Dabashi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamid_Dabashi), Carl Davidson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Davidson), Barbara DeGenevieve, Stephen Duncombe, Kaveh Ehsani, Stephen Eisenman, James Elkins (art critic) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Elkins_(art_critic)), Mike Ely, Andrew Feenberg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Feenberg), Hal Foster (art critic) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Foster_(art_critic)), Coco Fusco (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coco_Fusco), Terry Glavin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Glavin), Lydia Goehr, David Graeber (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Graeber), Raja Halwani, David Harvey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Harvey_(geographer)), James Heartfield (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Heartfield), Rohini Hensman, Doug Henwood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Henwood), Brian Holmes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Holmes), Gregg Horowitz, Dick Howard, Peter Hudis, Hussein Ibish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussein_Ibish), Naomi Klein (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Klein), Andrew Kliman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Kliman), Joel Kovel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Kovel), Ernesto Laclau (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernesto_Laclau), Paul LeBlanc, Lars Lih, Domenico Losurdo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domenico_Losurdo), Michael Löwy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Löwy), Staughton Lynd (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staughton_Lynd), Mike Macnair, James Miller, Osha Neumann (of Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_Against_the_Wall_Motherfuckers)), Bryan Palmer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Palmer), Leo Panitch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Panitch), Claire Pentecost, Robert Pippin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Pippin), Danny Postel, Moishe Postone, Mel Rothenberg, Mark Rudd (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rudd), George Scialabba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Scialabba), Issam Shukri, Ayesha Siddiqa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayesha_Siddiqa), Tim Wohlforth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Wohlforth), Sherry Wolf (activist) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherry_Wolf_(activist)), Richard D. Wolff (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_D._Wolff), and Slavoj Zizek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavoj_Zizek), among others.
Leftist organizations that have participated in Platypus public fora include: the Communist Party of Great Britain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Great_Britain), the Democratic Socialists of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Socialists_of_America), the International Bolshevik Tendency, the International Socialist Organization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Socialist_Organization), Kasama Project, News and Letters Committees (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_and_Letters_Committees) (as wells as various U.S., Canadian and British tendencies of Marxist humanism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist_humanism) that have split from News and Letters), NEFAC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEFAC), Progressive Labor Party (United States) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Labor_Party_(United_States)), the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolutionary_Communist_Party,_USA), Solidarity (U.S.) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidarity_(U.S.)), the newStudents for a Democratic Society (2006 organization) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Students_for_a_Democratic_Society_(2006_organizati on)), the Worker-communist Party of Iran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker-communist_Party_of_Iran), the Left Worker-communist Party of Iraq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Worker-communist_Party_of_Iraq), and The World Can't Wait (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_Can't_Wait), among others. Labor organizations that have participated in Platypus public fora include: UNITE HERE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNITE_HERE), andUnited Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Electrical,_Radio_and_Machine_Workers_of_Am erica), among others.
Platypus has participated in the Rethinking Marxism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rethinking_Marxism) conference in Amherst, Massachusetts in 2006 and 2009,[5] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-5) the Left Forum in New York City in 2009, 2010,[6] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-6) 2011 and 2012, the 8th and 9th annual Cultural Studies Association (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Studies_Association) conferences in Berkeley (2010) and Chicago (2011), the Historical Materialism (journal) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Materialism_(journal))'s conference in Toronto in 2010[7] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-7) and London in 2011, the United States Social Forum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Social_Forum) in Detroit in 2010,[8] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-8) and the Marxist Literary Group (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist_Literary_Group) summer 2011 Institute on Culture and Society.
Haseeb Ahmed and Ian Morrison represented Platypus at the Hyde Park Art Center (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Park_Art_Center)'s forum Pedagogical Factory: How We Learn, Building an Educated City, in July 2007.[9] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-9)[10] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-10)
Members of Platypus have produced and hosted the weekly radio show Radical Minds, interviewing prominent intellectuals and activists on the international Left, on WHPK-FM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHPK-FM) in Chicago.
Spencer Leonard and Chris Cutrone presented on behalf of Platypus at the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Great_Britain_(Provisional_Cent ral_Committee))'s Communist University 2011 at Goldsmiths, University of London, August 13–20, 2011.[11] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-11)[12] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-12) Cutrone presented "Capital in history" on August 16.[13] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-13)
Platypus has held an international convention in Chicago annually since 2009.
Criticisms

The anarchist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchist) Mayday magazine (U.K.) took special note of Platypus in their inaugural (November 2007) and 2nd (May 2008) issues.[14] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-14)
The Trotskyist International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) published a critique of Platypus, "Platypus Group: Pseudo-Marxist, Pro-Imperialist, Academic Claptrap," in February 2008.[15] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-15)
The British remnant Situationist International (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situationist_International) journal influenced by the German Krisis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krisis) group, Principia Dialectica, has published several "anti-Leninist" critiques of Platypus, "I Don't Wanna Go to Rehab, No, No, No!" in June[16] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-16) and "Dr. Frankenstein of Chicago, We Presume?" in December 2008,[17] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-17) and 2 further critiques, "No Excuse for Lenin in 2010," and "Curtains for Cutronics" in February 2010.[18] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-18)[19] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-19)
Mitchel Cohen interviewed Chris Mansour and Ian Morrison of Platypus for NYTalkRadio.net's Steal This Radio show (#106) in March 2010,[20] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-20) triggering contentious discussion on Doug Henwood's LBO-talk list.[21] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-21)
Louis Proyect published a critique, "Q: What is a Platypus? A: An American Eustonite," comparing Platypus to the signatories of the 2006 Euston Manifesto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euston_Manifesto), on his blog The Unrepentant Marxist, in April 2010.[22] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-22)
Slavoj Žižek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavoj_Žižek)'s critical engagement with Moishe Postone's work cites the interview with Postone by Platypus members Benjamin Blumberg and Pamela C. Nogales C.[23] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-23)
The Kasama Project republished and critiqued the interview with Jairus Banaji conducted by Spencer A. Leonard and Sunit Singh for the Platypus Review #26 (August 2010), triggering a contentious and lengthy discussion thread.[24] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-24) Louis Proyect followed up on comments on the Kasama site with a critique, "Thoughts provoked by the Platypus."[25] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-25)
The October 2010 publication of an English translation of the article "Communism and Israel" (2002), written by the anti-german (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Germans_(political_current)) group Initiative Sozialistisches Forum of Freiburg, prompted Louis Proyect to announce on The Unrepentant Marxist that the "Platypus Reviewpublishes racists,"[26] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-26) reposting a message by "Angelus Novus" from the Marxism email list Proyect moderates.[27] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-27) A number of other blogs noted the controversy over the Platypus publication.[28] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-28)[29] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-29)[30] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-30)[31] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-31)
In May and June 2011, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee)'s Weekly Worker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weekly_Worker) published a series of articles, written by Mike Macnair after his participation in the 3rd annual Platypus convention in Chicago, criticizing Platypus for falling into the trap of the anti-"anti-imperialist" Left that leads to tacit support for imperialism, and being stuck in the borderlands between the "academic" and "activist" Left, but failing to be adequate to either, and, as "academic," doing "sloppy" work on the history of the Left and manifesting a "theoretical dead end."[32] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-32)[33] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-33) Chris Cutrone responded, defending Platypus in letters to The Weekly Worker on May 19 and 26, 2011.[34] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-34)[35] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-35) In an article of June 2, 2011, Macnair critiqued Platypus on the philosophy of history.[36] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-36) The Weekly Workerpublished Cutrone's response to Macnair on the philosophy of history as an article in the June 9, 2011 edition.[37] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-37) Macnair rejoined discussion of the philosophy of history in an article in the June 30, 2011 edition,[38] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-38) to which Cutrone responded in a letter in the July 7, 2011 edition.[39] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-39) Andrew Coates followed up on this exchange on July 12, 2011, with a discussion of "Negative Dialectics."[40] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-40) The August 11, 2011 edition of The Weekly Worker featured a critique by Cutrone of Macnair's approach to "Marxist Hegelianism."[41] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-41)
The publication in The Platypus Review of an article by Stephan Grigat, "To know the worst: Anti-Semitism and the failure of the Left on Iran" (September 2012)[42] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-42) elicited the response critical of Platypus by Maciej Zurowski, "Anti-Germans: Not part of the Left" in The Weekly Worker 932 (October 4, 2012).[43] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-43) Chris Cutrone wrote a letter in response defending The Platypus Review editorial policy published in Weekly Worker 933 (October 11, 2012).[44] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-44) This was followed by further criticisms from Zurowski in Weekly Worker 934 (October 18, 2012)[45] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-45) and another reply from Cutrone in Weekly Worker 935 (October 25, 2012).[46] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-46) In the same month, five of six sponsoring organisations voted to remove Platypus' co-sponsorship of the London conference, 'Up the Anti: Reclaim the Future', prompting Cutrone to write another letter to the Weekly Worker.[47] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-47) In December 2012, The Platypus Review published a refutation of Grigat's article by Yassamine Mather of Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI).[48] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-48)
In April 2013 former member Ben Campbell released Platypus internal statements relating to the organization's strategy and positions.[49] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-49) In the Weekly Worker 964 (May 30, 2013) Campbell criticized Platypus for its "unprincipled" "anti-leftism" and "Chris Cutrone’s 'closeted position' in defence of the Israeli 'settler colonial state' and the 'rational kernel of such racism'." Campbell encouraged leftists to "decline from participating in the activities of the Platypus Affiliated Society." [50] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-50) This letter was in response to an article by former member Corey Ansel in Weekly Worker 963 (May 23, 2013) critical of both Platypus and Campbell.[51] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-51) Cutrone replied to his "disingenuous 'critics'" by stating that his statements had been "deliberately distorted."[52] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-52) In Weekly Worker 964 (May 30, 2013) Cutrone reiterated that it was "untrue" that Platypus held "pro-imperialist" positions.[53] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_note-53)
Notes


^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-1) "About : Platypus" (http://platypus1917.org/about/). Platypus1917.org. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-2) "Newcity: Street Smart Chicago" (http://www.newcitychicago.com/chicago/7164.html). Newcitychicago.com. 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-3) [1] (http://www.areachicago.org/p/issues/solidarities/introducing-platypus/)[dead link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Link_rot)]
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-4) "The Platypus Synthesis : Platypus" (http://platypus1917.org/the-platypus-synthesis/). Platypus1917.org. 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-5) [2] (http://rethinkingmarxism.org/conf/index.php/gala/NewMarxianTimes/schedConf/program)[dead link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Link_rot)]
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-6) Left Forum. "Utopia, Psychoanalysis and the Marxist Theory of Human Nature: The conceptualization of solidarity as species being"." (http://leftforum.org/node/400). Left Forum. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-7) "Historical Materialism | May 11-13, 2012 | York University | Toronto, Canada" (http://www.yorku.ca/hmyork/themes/index.html#race). Yorku.ca. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-8) "Platypus Affiliated Society" (http://organize.ussf2010.org/org/platypus-affiliated-society). organize.ussf2010.org. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-9) [3] (http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=12638)[dead link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Link_rot)]
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-10) [4] (http://www.areachicago.org/p/issues/how-we-learn/how-we-learn-building-an-educated-city/)[dead link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Link_rot)]
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-11) "Communist University 2011" (http://cpgb.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/cu-2011-timetable-5.pdf). Cpgb.files.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-12) [5] (http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004522)[dead link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Link_rot)]
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-13) "Communist Party of Great Britain » CU 2011: Capital in history" (http://cpgb.podbean.com/2011/08/22/cu-2011-capital-in-history/). Cpgb.podbean.com. 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-14) "Mayday politics and books - About Us" (http://mayday-magazine.vpweb.co.uk/About-Us.html). Mayday-magazine.vpweb.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-15) "Platypus Group: Pseudo-Marxist, Pro-Imperialist, Academic Claptrap" (http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/908/ysp-platypus.html). Icl-fi.org. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-16) "‘I don’t wanna go to rehab, no, no, no’" (http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/?p=147). Principia Dialectica. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-17) "Dr. Frankenstein of Chicago We Presume?" (http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/?p=218). Principia Dialectica. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-18) "No excuse for Lenin in 2010" (http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/?p=687). Principia Dialectica. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-19) "Curtains for Cutronics" (http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/?p=727). Principia Dialectica. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-20) "#106 « NYTalkRadio Podcasts" (http://nytalkradio.net/wordpress/podcasts/stealthisradio/106/). Nytalkradio.net. 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-21) "273 Results for [Platypus]" (http://search.lbo-talk.org/search/swish.cgi?query=Platypus&submit=Search!&metaname=swishdefault&sort=unixdate). Search.lbo-talk.org. 2012-02-09. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-22) "Q: What is a Platypus? A: an American Eustonite « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist" (http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/q-what-is-a-platypus-a-an-american-eustonite/). Louisproyect.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-23) "Marx after Marxism: An interview with Moishe Postone : Platypus" (http://platypus1917.org/2008/03/01/marx-after-marxism-an-interview-with-moishe-postone/). Platypus1917.org. 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-24) "Slamming the Peoples War in India: Complaints of a Left Opponent « Kasama" (http://kasamaproject.org/2010/08/25/arguments-against-the-maoist-peoples-war-in-india/). Kasamaproject.org. 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus_Affiliated_Society#cite_ref-25) "Thoughts provoked by the Platypus « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist" (http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/thoughts-provoked-by-the-platypus/). Louisproyect.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
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References


"About Platypus" [18] (http://platypus1917.org/about/)
Cutrone, Chris. "Introducing Platypus." AREA Chicago magazine #3 (2006). [19] (http://www.areachicago.org/p/issues/solidarities/introducing-platypus/)
Foumberg, Jason. "Eye Exam: Autonomy, Inc.: profile of the inaugural issue of The Platypus Review." NewCity, Chicago (November 19, 2007). [20] (http://www.newcitychicago.com/chicago/7164.html)
MacFarquhar, Larissa. "Outside Agitator: Profile of Naomi Klein." The New Yorker (December 8, 2008). MacFarquar cites Platypus's role in hosting Klein's speaking tour at the University of Chicago. [21] (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/08/081208fa_fact_macfarquhar?currentPage=all)
Morrison, Ian, Richard Rubin and Chris Cutrone. "The Platypus Synthesis: History, theory, and practice." [22] (http://platypus1917.org/the-platypus-synthesis/)
Rojas, Laurie. Letter to the Editor. The New Yorker (January 12, 2009). Rojas corrects MacFarquar's article of 8 December 2008 on Klein. [23] (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/letters/2009/01/12/090112mama_mail3)
Žižek, Slavoj. Living in the End Times (London: Verso, 2010). (See Zizek's reference to the Platypus interview with Moishe Postone on page 205, note 38.)
External links


Official website (http://platypus1917.org/)

Magda Hassan
06-12-2013, 12:37 AM
Open letter about the Platypus Affiliated Society (http://www.leninology.com/2013/06/open-letter-about-platypus-affiliated.html) posted by lenin (http://www.leninology.com/2013/06/open-letter-about-platypus-affiliated.html)
May 29, 2013


Dear friends and comrades,


We are writing to you about the Platypus Affiliated Society, in the hope you will be dissuaded from future participation in this organization's activities. Platypus presents itself as a student group organizing public fora (including its publication, the Platypus Review) for the purpose of "interrogating and clarifying positions" on the Left towards the "practical reconstitution of a Marxian Left." However, in reality the group is defined not by its identification or solidarity with the Left, but by its strategy of, in the words of founder and president Chris Cutrone, “making war on the existing 'Left'.” Thus, Platypus public fora are not intended for productive dialogue, but rather serve as opportunities for Platypus to discredit the scholars and activists on the Left whom they have, in bad faith, invited to participate.


The strategy underlying Platypus' activities is detailed in the attached statements by Cutrone. Here, Cutrone outlines Platypus' identity as a “combat organization” fighting to “hasten the disintegration and dissolution of the ‘Left’." Platypus, Cutrone writes, seeks to “degrade our interlocutors into ever more untenable positions, until, finally, we hope, they abandon any self-conscious commitment to the Left....This will leave the field to us alone.”


Thus, Platypus conceives of itself as in direct antagonism with the Left they hope to demoralize and disorient, and the activist movements they hope to erode. Importantly, however, this is not on the basis of any explicit positions, which Platypus, disingenuously, claims not to take. Rather, the organization's opposition to the Left is a foundational antagonism, in which Platypus posits the Left as the fundamental obstacle to a renewed Marxist politics and defines itself against that Left in its entirety — regardless of what leftists say or do.


Cutrone's introduction to the Left came as a member of the Spartacist League, and his project inherits the Spartacist tactic of undermining and caricaturing other leftists. Crucially, though, Platypus' unique brand of anti-leftism is distinguished from even the most sectarian tendencies on the Left by its unprincipled character, making it categorically different from the ultra-leftism of tendencies that criticize the Left on the basis of program, positions, or concrete analysis.


This unprincipled character of Platypus' anti-leftism in turn leads it to import reactionary ideologies into its “hosted conversation” to use in attacking the Left.


For instance, in combating left anti-imperialism Platypus highlights the arguments of right-wing pro-imperial tendencies that claim to be on the Left (e.g. the anti-Germans). In this sense, Platypus sees nothing problematic about incorporating liberalism and imperialism into its political project in order to attack the Left — from the right.


As one important example, Platypus' opposition to left solidarity with Palestine leads Cutrone to the following, decidedly non-leftist, conclusions:



Now I am going to say something for internal consumption only (this is perhaps a "closeted" position): At this point, the only hope that the Palestinians have is in and through Israel, precisely as a "settler colonial state," not independent of, let alone opposed to it. Just as the only hope for Native Americans has been through integration into the U.S.



Of course the degree to which the U.S. was racist it failed as bourgeois society -- as is true of Israel today. Now, precisely the problem is that Israel doesn't "want" the Palestinians. So the Palestinians are indeed quite vulnerable. But the rational kernel of such racism is that "they are not like us," i.e., the recognition and rejection of non-bourgeois forms of life. We must defend this rational kernel of bourgeois subjectivity obscure to itself, rather than the Ben Lewis et al.'s perspective of assuming everyone is always already bourgeois, anthropologically. They're not.


Bourgeois society is a fragile achievement, not natural. It is a society, not an individual matter.


And it is the only possible basis for progress in freedom.


As an organization Platypus conceives of itself as possessing an understanding of history that positions it — and it alone — at the center of a world-historic revival of the Left. This historical consciousness resides above all in Cutrone, who serves as a guru figure for Platypus as the organization's “chief pedagogue.” Platypus seeks to capitalize on widespread dissatisfaction with the Left to direct recently politicized young people, especially undergraduates, away from the Left, and to progressively instill in them an extreme hostility towards it, based on loyalty to Cutrone's historical narrative alone.


Since Platypus defines itself in opposition to the Left, it cannot be considered a part of the Left. While at present the organization’s size and influence are relatively unsubstantial, the group is likely to continue to grow and engage in increasingly destructive behavior — so long as leftists continue to participate in its “conversation.” As the project depends on the good faith of the very same Left that they "make war" upon, we encourage you to consider a policy of disengagement, by declining to participate in their public fora, including the Platypus Review. We invite those who agree with this sentiment to contact us to have their name added to this letter.


Sincerely,


Ben Campbell, editor of The North Star; former member of the Platypus Affiliated Society (*)


In solidarity,
Bruno Bosteels, Professor of Romance Studies, Cornell University; author of The Actuality of Communism, and Marx and Freud in Latin America
Sebastian Budgen, editor, Historical Materialism (*)
George Ciccariello-Maher, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Drexel University; author of We Created Chávez: A People's History of the Venezuelan Revolution; former member of Bring the Ruckus
Jodi Dean, Professor of Political Science, Hobert and William Smith Colleges; author of The Communist Horizon and Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies
Andrej Grubacic, Associate Professor of Anthropology, California Institute of Integral studies; author of Don't Mourn, Balkanize: Essays After Yugoslavia (PM Press)
Doug Henwood, editor, Left Business Observer; author of Wall Street and After the New Economy
Deepa Kumar, Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers University; author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and Outside the Box
Alexander Locascio, DIE LINKE Berlin (*)
Andrew Loewen, editor/publisher, Briarpatch Magazine (*)
Scott McLemee, New Politics editorial board (*)
Charlie Post, Professor of Sociology, Borough of Manhattan Community College; author of The American Road to Capitalism; member of Solidarity (*)
Nina Power, senior lecturer in philosophy, Roehampton University; author of One-Dimensional Woman
Louis Proyect, The Unrepentant Marxist
Jason Read, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern Maine; author of The Micro-Politics of Capital: Marx and the Prehistory of the Present
Richard Seymour, author of American Insurgents, The Liberal Defence of Murder, and Unhitched
Sherry Wolf, author of Sexuality and Socialism; member of the International Socialist Organization (*)
Carlos Rivera, Maosoleum
Brian Holmes, art and cultural critic, author of Escape the Overcode: Activist Art in the Control of Society
* organizational affiliations are intended for identification purposes, and do not imply organizational endorsements




Chris Cutrone's 2010 Presidential Report, excerpt (emphasis added):


Especially for those new members of the organization, i.e., those who have joined since last year's 1st annual convention, but also for long-standing members, it is important to lay out (and reiterate) the purpose and structure of our organization.


Platypus is a combat organization. It exists to make war on the existing ("dead," fake/pseudo-) "Left" and to overcome it. In this we are no different from any political organization, whose goal to exert power over the course of human events. How we do so and why we do so the ways we do, i.e., how we justify our activity to ourselves, is an integral part of how we understand our own project.


First, it is necessary to dispel any illusions about Platypus as an organization. It is not a group of people, but an activity in which people participate. Platypus is a project, and like any project, it is defined by its on-going activity. The transformations of Platypus as a project are to be found in the transformations of its activity. Platypus is only Platypus the degree to which it is doing Platypus activity or Platypus work. Because Platypus exists in a changing (set of) historical circumstance(s), to do what it will and must do it must necessarily change its activities over time, both as a function of changing situation, and the development of itself as a set of activities.


So, we are not defined by the people in the organization, but rather by what these people are doing. When people (especially the most active members) change what they are doing, the project necessarily changes. The issue is how is our project going to control and guide rather than fall victim to such inevitable changes in members' activity in and around Platypus?


I emphasize that we are a combat organization waging war on the "Left" because it is helpful and instructive to regard Platypus not as an entity or fixed structure but rather a campaign. The issue is not maintaining structure so much as maintaining mission. We are on a mission. Members' individual activities and personal orientation towards this mission can and should change, but the mission needs to be preserved. This is a matter of organization. We are not a group of people who need to be structured as a community, but an activity that needs to be organized in order to achieve its goals.


What are our goals? The destruction of the existing "Left." How are we trying to do this? By attacking the "Left" at its weak point, which also happens to comprise its defining point, its historical consciousness.


As I pointed out in my talk on the legacy of the 1970s Left today, existing organizations and tendencies on the "Left" are not distinguished in properly political terms, i.e., they do not separate and oppose people (in their activity) at the level of different goals and differences over how to achieve them, but rather at the level of how they understand their activity in social-historical context, how they differ regarding how they imagine the world, and how they imagine the ways the world has come to be how it is, and thus how and why it might (be) change(d).


We orient our activity around the refounding of what we call a "Marxian" Left, because we think that key aspects of Marx's own insights (shared by his best followers) into the course of human history, how "capital" is situated in this history, and how it might be changed in an emancipatory direction, have been lost. This means that "Marxism" has in fact become the most virulent species of anti-Marx-ism. But we don't think (as, e.g., the Spartacists, or even Moishe Postone, the Marxist-Humanists, et al., do) that this is primarily because of or has taken shape in the ways that people may have come to take different "positions" than Marx and the best Marxists had, which could be easily (naively) chalked up to necessary historical changes and hence innovations, but rather more obscurely, in the ways that self-understandings and the very meanings of categories, and what we may call the "social imagination" and "historical consciousness" have changed, subtly -- and regressively -- to the detriment of consciousness and agency.


So we wage our war in a very peculiar way, and necessarily quite differently than any of our ostensible predecessors/precursors may have done so. We wage it, not deceptively or stealthily, but rather indirectly. We try to hasten the disintegration and dissolution of the "Left," by constantly raising the question of the (Marxian) Left (i.e., emancipatory politics within and beyond capital), and thus provoking reactions that inevitably throw off-kilter and degrade our interlocutors into ever more untenable positions, until, finally, we hope, they abandon any selfconscious commitment to the Left. We try to hasten the abandonment of Leftist and Marxist politics in favor of something else. This will leave the field to us alone. That is how we will win.


But we need to carry on this fight in a myriad of various ways and in different fields/on different fronts. For this we need an ever-wider diversification of activities. For this we need new members, and new opportunities for participation from existing members, drawing upon the (changing) interests and resources among our membership.


We also need to carry on this fight in a variety and increasing scope of domains, hence we need geographic diffusion, and thus more members/participants.


These are the "only" reasons why we need to grow as an organization in terms of membership. We need to permeate, in terms of locations and existing conversations, the global "Left" as much as possible, with the radical interrogation of the question of the "Left" for our time -- and from the most radical
possible, hence from a specifically Marxian perspective on capital.


Our ability to do this is conditioned by the historical moment in which we emerged as a project, i.e., as an organized activity. We need to recruit people not to an intellectual community so much as to a project -- a war on the existing "Left," in which we will build the theoretical and practical resources to refound a Marxist politics.


Because we think that the existing "Left" as an *activity* is "dead," this means we must intersect it rather than replace it. We don't want to be doing what they are doing, at all. We want to be doing not something better, but rather something different. What this will look like down the road of our project in terms of actual practical politics we cannot say for certain. But we can say what it will not be: what the existing "Left" does. So we only need experience on/with the existing "Left" to learn negative lessons, of what not to do.


We do, in fact, want existing "activists" to stop doing what they are doing. But how can we achieve this? Not directly, but rather indirectly. (And perhaps, therefore, not to "stop" them so much as transform their activity.) We want to affect people at various levels of remove. Some activists we want to stop being activists and join our project directly as members of our organization. Other we merely want to affect, however slightly, in their existing activity. This is less a matter of principle regarding species of activism (i.e., we don't want to stop ant-war protesters, but only modify the activities of labor organizers), and is really more case-by-case, with individuals. We don't need everyone to join Platypus, but we need as many as possible to pay attention to our project.




Chris Cutrone's 2011 Presidential Report (emphasis added):


I am writing with a report on the "how" and "when" of Platypus as a project.


[B]Platypus is a declaration of war on the existing "Left." We must recognize what it is that we are doing in order to do it properly and to best possible effect.


Our goal is to effect the maximum degree of transformation of the "Left" today: "The Left is dead! -- Long live the Left!" This is a statement of intent as well as an observation of fact. The present "Left" must "die" in order that a real Left might live. We want to perform an indispensable role in bringing this about.


The primary and to date only political action Platypus has taken is forming itself as a collective membership and organization. The essence of "politics" is the formation of social groups for the purpose of exercising power over events and thus the course of humanity. Platypus is a way and medium for relating to the world that we seek to change. We must recognize the politics of Platypus.


Platypus is an army on a campaign and its members are soldiers. The tools we develop are weapons in the hands of the membership.


There are many ways of conducting warfare, that is, of exercising political power. Our chosen campaign involves certain forms of combat. For instance, the Platypus Review is a key weapon in our arsenal. Members' neglecting to use this weapon we place in their hands is tantamount to deserting the army in the midst of combat. Your comrades are counting on you to fire your weapon, otherwise you're leaving them in the lurch. We are a combat organization, but our discipline is specific to the kind of warfare we are conducting. Our campaign is concerned with affecting the world in certain ways, for which we are crafting methods -- that is, weapons.


Our war involves peculiar forms of combat, specific to our historical moment, but is nonetheless war. "The pen is mightier than the sword" is a classic phrase of bourgeois society to which our forebears such as Lenin, who, when asked in a Soviet survey, described his profession as "journalist," certainly subscribed.


But we are not in a position to intervene as prior Marxist political projects have done. We are closer to the Frankfurt School than the Bolshevik party but there are important differences we have with the former as well as the latter. Moreover, we aim to do more than the Frankfurt Institute -- in fact more than the Bolsheviks were able to do. We are indeed in a position to embark upon trying to do so, if we leverage our particular historical situation properly.


"Hosting the conversation" is our form of political intervention and combat. Hosting the conversation is a political act, based on who we invite to our conversations as well as how we craft the topics. It is a subtle but nonetheless real form of warfare. As Foucault would have us recognize, discourse is power. For we seek not merely to destroy but to conquer -- to lead. We want to break the bad "Left," and this means breaking -- interrupting, hopefully permanently -- the bad "Leftism" of individuals, not leaving individuals broken.


This means saving people from themselves as much as this is possible. The "Left" today amounts to the inmates running the insane asylum.

This is what it means to say that we aim to "provoke and organize the pathology of the 'Left'," or to perform psychoanalysis on the "Left," to render it as coherently objectifiable symptomology as possible, so that it might be "cured." Our at times severe treatment of the "Left" is borne of compassion not inhumanity. -- One difference from psychoanalysis perhaps is that we largely perform "group therapy."


Regarding our convention this weekend with the sectarians roaming our halls, this should be apparent. Like Freudian psychoanalysis, this is an art not a "science" (in the colloquial sense of a sure practice) -- the art of war. It requires experiential as well as experimental knowledge. It calls for exercise of flexible and case-by-case -- instance-by-instance -- judgment, in the Kantian sense, meaning proceeding without sure concepts of our objects. As Adorno would be the first point out, however, the historical regression that renders our project necessary is first and foremost characterized by the erosion of the faculty of judgment. We are not immune to and are indeed the product and part of the barbarism we seek to combat and overcome. Judgment requires education -- experience.


This means that our essentially "pedagogical" project is at least as much about learning as teaching. We "host the conversation" in order to educate ourselves as well as our target audience and milieus. We thus engage in an activity of indirect effects, for ourselves as well as others. We seek to concretize the problems of ideas (ideology) on the "Left." But we do so in the hopes that this will dispel the bad and raise to greater self-consciousness and thus improve the good ideas.


We emphasize the problem of the "Left" at the level of ideas (hence the importance for us of Kolakowski's "Concept of the Left") because we have deliberately taken on the work of intellectuals and the role of theory in the death of the Left and its potential rebirth. We think bad ideas inhibit and defeat practice.


But this raises certain difficulties of our project that are unavoidable. It means that our campaign is particularly daunting and thus inhibiting for our members. Our project -- our form of combat -- requires long and hard training. And training requires discipline.


We are self-disciplined through our organization. No one enjoys, exactly, being disciplined. But it is nonetheless necessary. Leadership in our organization is about exercising the discipline of training. And this training itself requires experience -- it can only take place the degree to which the organization as a whole and its individual members are active. We can only facilitate and not make our members become more active. We can only provide opportunities and not ourselves as an organization initiate the activity of our members. We can only invite opportunities for our members to be trained.


Their training is up to them. If members choose to resist training, they wash out, as in any disciplined program. Of course it is tempting and natural to blame the trainer or suspect the regimen -- the resent the coach and the discipline -- while undergoing the process of training. Trainers must be patient, but their patience can only last so long as it is not necessary to move on to other trainees who are waiting.


Trainees must volunteer and offer themselves up for training.


This goes for not only our own membership but our target milieus and those with whom we are trying to engage in the conversation we are hosting. We can only invite their participation and thus make them available for our leadership, which we can only perform with their assent, and only the degree to which they are willing and able to participate. Our leadership will be manifest only at the end of a process, but an openness to learning is a precondition for the process to begin. Training is an engagement, meaning it has two sides. No one could possibly teach themselves a martial art without making a fool of themselves when it came to actual combat.


If members drop the regimen of training that has been established through our prior organizational experience, they drop their own process of learning and abandon the project, as surely as if they decided they no longer agreed with the ideas we are trying to promulgate. By dropping the regimen of training one drops membership in the project.


Platypus is not only if primarily about learning ideas. It is about being trained in political practice, a peculiar form of political practice but one nevertheless that will open onto other forms of politics.


Hosting the conversation is in fact a way of conducting our own training, and doing so publicly, and inviting others to participate in a self-learning process that is nonetheless guided and disciplined.

Such discipline in our project is leadership. The leadership is composed of those who are most disciplined in our project. Our leaders are those who have excelled in this discipline and therefore can instruct others in it and take part in actively transforming (meaning, modifying, not altering) the discipline as needed. The goal of leadership is to bring our project to the point at which further transformation is possible and necessary. Eventually, our aim is to be able to raise the question of the desirability of changing the project, the question of what it would mean for our project to qualitatively develop and transcend itself. This will be the next political moment in our project, after our founding moment. We are nowhere near there yet. Premature change would mean abandoning not transforming our project. So, how we do things is in fact what we are as a project.


We have developed methodologies and protocols for our activity -- a training regimen for our members, to which all are subject in our project. Our project is experimental, but it is precisely experimentation that requires strict protocol to be effective.


-- Chris Cutrone, President, the Platypus Affiliated Society




Chris Cutrone on Imperialism and Palestine 11/22/12


Now I am going to say something for internal consumption only (this is perhaps a "closeted" position):


At this point, the only hope that the Palestinians have is in and through Israel, precisely as a "settler colonial state," not independent of, let alone opposed to it. Just as the only hope for Native Americans has been through integration into the U.S. Of course the degree to which the U.S. was racist it failed as bourgeois society -- as is true of Israel today. Now, precisely the problem is that Israel doesn't "want" the Palestinians. So the Palestinians are indeed quite vulnerable.


But the rational kernel of such racism is that "they are not like us," i.e., the recognition and rejection of non-bourgeois forms of life. We must defend this rational kernel of bourgeois subjectivity obscure to itself, rather than the Ben Lewis et al.'s perspective of assuming everyone is always already bourgeois, anthropologically. They're not.


Bourgeois society is a fragile achievement, not natural. It is a society, not an individual matter. And it is the only possible basis for progress in freedom. It is necessary to think (but not necessarily to come out and say) such things now in ways not necessary for Marx, Lenin or Trotsky. But we must emphasize the necessary basis for bourgeois emancipation, even as it disappears from under our feet. This is what the "Left" cannot abide, and hence why it is "dead."


The 20th century, the century of struggles for "national self-determination," failed miserably, and utterly, and produced a world much worse than before: Israel-Palestine is a prime example of this ongoing failure.


-- Chris
http://www.leninology.com/2013/06/open-letter-about-platypus-affiliated.html

Magda Hassan
06-12-2013, 12:42 AM
Q: What is a Platypus? A: an American EustoniteFiled under: Academia (http://louisproyect.org/category/academia/),cruise missile left (http://louisproyect.org/category/cruise-missile-left/) — louisproyect @ 6:44 pm


http://home.speedsite.com/ccutrone/chris_weddingparty.jpg (http://home.speedsite.com/ccutrone/chris_weddingparty.jpg)Chris Cutrone: Platypus éminence griseOriginally I had no idea that Platypus was some kind of organized group on the left. I regarded it as an electronic magazine after the fashion of Metamute, another oddly named left outlet that favored heterodox Marxist analysis written by young professors and graduate students. I suppose that if I paid closer attention to their url (platypus1917.org (http://platypus1917.org/)) I might have figured out that their ambitions were somewhat larger. Ah, 1917, the year that amounts to the birth of Christ for a rival sect.
It was only after I began following a dust-up between Platypus editor Chris Cutrone and just about every other subscriber on Doug Henwood’s Left Business Observer mailing list that I figured out that Platypus was a tendency on the left trying to save us from ourselves through “education” rather than by example through action. The debate was prompted by an interview (http://nytalkradio.net/wordpress/podcasts/stealthisradio/106/) conducted with Platypusers Chris Mansour and Ian Morrison by WBAI board member Mitchell Cohen, a bearded 60s conspiracy-mongering radical who could not be more unlike than these brash Young Turks. The two young men have cultivated the art of sounding outrageous, so necessary in raising one’s profile on a left filled with ambitious attempts at carving out a market niche. They say, for example, that Naomi Klein has mounted a “rightwing critique of Milton Friedman”. I have my own problems with Klein, but this analysis is frankly stupid.
The discussion about the Platypus interview began appropriately enough on April Fool’s Day, but Chris Cutrone did not enter the fray until 5 days later when he offered up an introduction to Platypus (http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/pipermail/lbo-talk/Week-of-Mon-20100405/005140.html)that includes the following account of its origins:
We started as a reading group in Chicago in 2006 and formally constituted ourselves as an organization, starting to hold our fora and publish our paper in 2007. We’ve had the following panelists or published writings by: Ernesto Laclau, Moishe Postone, T. J. Clark, Hal Foster, David Harvey, Stephen Duncombe, Danny Postel, Michael Lowy, Peter Hudis, Kevin Anderson, Andrew Kliman, James Heartfield, David Black, Michael Albert, Paul Street, Ervand Abrahamian, Hamid Dabashi, Leo Panitch, members of the ISO, Solidarity and the RCP, and worked closely with the new SDS, the (various) Marxist-Humanists, the immigration rights movement, and others. We have included various student activists on our public forum panels, and have the plurality of our published writings have been by undergraduate students.
With respect to “theory”, Cutrone supplied the following:
A few of us are current or former students of Moishe Postone; a couple of us have also been mentored by Adolph Reed. These are our two single most influential living figures for our thinking, but a couple of us are also former members of the Spartacist Youth Club when we were in college almost 20 years ago. My personal academic specialization is Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Adorno and Benjamin in particular. The group started with several of my students asking for an extra-curricular reading group on the contemporary relevance of F.S. critical theory for politics. One of our very first readings was Featherstone/Henwood/Parenti’s “Action Will Be Taken” critique of the “anti-war” movement (2002).
Having never read Moishe Postone, I can’t comment on his value but I have to wonder whether Adolph Reed’s reputation is well served by this. Reed, an African-American political science professor, was a member of the Trotskyist movement around the same time as me and has evolved a workerism hostile to “Black identity” politics with some affinities to Walter Benn Michaels, as well as to the batty Spartacist League but with considerably more intelligence. With respect to “Action will be taken”, this is a very useful article, but I doubt that the authors would be happy with the placing of scare quotes around anti-war movement. More about this anon.
Finally, they claim responsibility for developing a new brand of Marxism that will differentiate them from other groups on the left, namely a synthesis of Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky with the Frankfurt School, a rather unlikely combination:
We’ve offered, for our own self-understanding, what we call a “synthesis” of the “2nd International radicals” Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky with F.S. critical theory, especially by Benjamin and Adorno, but also by the early Lukacs and Korsch, considering all of these to be the most interesting developments of Marx’s work in theory and practice. We think that what Korsch termed the “crisis of Marxism” 1914-23, was never adequately resolved but rather Marxism disintegrated and degenerated, with negative consequences for the Left, “Marxist” or otherwise.
When I read this, I could not help but think of Perry Anderson’s reflections on Karl Korsch in his 1976 “Considerations of Western Marxism”. Korsch and other Marxist academics were appalled by the failure of socialist revolutions to triumph after 1917 and retreated into the ivory tower in order to mount philosophical investigations largely disconnected from the class struggle. It was an ideological current that reflected disappointment and pessimism, understandable given the horrors of Stalinism and fascism. Since the Platypus group is following very much in the footsteps of Western Marxism (but without its intellectual prowess), one can only surmise that something traumatic must have occurred in their lifetime. What could be their version of Stalin’s rise and the failure of Communist Parties to resist Hitler?
Apparently, the anti-globalization protests up to and including Seattle left a very bad taste in their mouth (http://platypus1917.org/2009/11/18/the-decline-of-the-left-in-the-20th-century-2001/):
Reenacting not only the defeat but the defeatism of the 1960s Left, the Seattle protesters no longer even bother with the old talk about students or youth as a new “revolutionary force.” Nor do these new would-be radicals require elaborate rationalizations of their failure. Theirs is a disarmingly frank acting-out of a discontented middle-class youth, for whom the schedule of international trade meetings takes the place of rock concert tours as the site for a peripatetic anti-authoritarian subculture.
And speaking of the 1960s left, the Platypus people take a dim view of the SDS protests that radicalized so many college students and shook American society to its foundations. In a chastened and rueful mood, they find much to support (http://platypus1917.org/2009/11/18/the-decline-of-the-left-in-the-20th-century-1968/) in the elderly Adorno’s disgust with Columbia University’s protestors:
Borrowing from Freudian psychoanalysis, Adorno and his colleagues (Marcuse and Reich) interpreted the constitution of the “authoritarian personality,” characterized by “narcissism” and sadomasochism, as evincing a regressive “fear of freedom.” Thus, faced with “political hysteria” Adorno observed, “Those who protest most vehemently are similar to authoritarian personalities in their aversion to introspection.”
Having lived through this period, I can state that many journalists shared Adorno’s critique but without his anti-capitalist cachet. A week did not go by without some pundit blaming the Oedipal Complex for SDS misbehavior. Silly me always blamed street protests and “trashing” on outrage over napalming peasant villages rather than a desire to have intercourse with one’s mother.
If you’re starting to get the picture that these Platypus people are a bunch of stuffed shirts with a kind of visceral distrust of anything too militant, you haven’t seen the worst of it. Unfortunately, their journal is filled with musings on foreign policy that reek of the Euston Manifesto (http://eustonmanifesto.org/). After a leisurely walk through all 17 issues, I am appalled by what I found there.
Ian Morrison, one of Mitchell Cohen’s interviewees, wrote an article dated March 1, 2008 titledBa’athism and the history of the Left in Iraq: Violence and politics (http://platypus1917.org/2008/03/01/ba%E2%80%99athism-and-the-history-of-the-left-in-iraq-violence-and-politics/) that chided Ramsey Clark for acting as Saddam Hussein’s lawyer. Hadn’t Clark read Kenan Makiya, the ex-Trotskyist whose Republic of Fear had the last word on how dastardly Saddam was? Implicitly someone as wicked as Saddam did not warrant Clark’s services, a view widely held by liberals at the time. Platypus somehow feels the need to remind us of Saddam’s wickedness as if we were all members of the Workers World Party:
Kanan Makiya’s groundbreaking study of Iraqi Ba’athism, Republic of Fear, documents instances of institutionalized violence used to terrorize Iraqi society. In the 1998 introduction, Makiya recounts a law passed in the chaotic aftermath of the first Gulf War mandating that the state brand the mark of an X on the forehead of repeat offenders of crimes such as theft and desertion; the first offense of such crimes was punished by amputation of the hand.
The article does not mention that Makiya was one of the major “left” voices urging war on Iraq in 2003 and it is surprising that given all the opprobrium Makiya has earned in the past 7 years that Platypus still takes him seriously. Edward Said, among others, had his number in 2002 (http://www.counterpunch.org/said1203.html):
In and of himself, Makiya is a passing phenomenon. He is, however, a symptom of several things at once. He represents the intellectual who serves power unquestioningly; the greater the power, the fewer doubts he has. He is a man of vanity who has no compassion, no demonstrable awareness of human suffering. With no stable principles or values, he is typical of the cynical anti-Arab hawks (like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld) who dot the Bush administration like flies on a cake. British imperialism, Israel’s brutal occupation policies, or American arrogance do not detain him for a moment. Worst of all, he is a man of pretension and superficiality, flattering himself on his reasonableness even as he condemns his own people to more travail and more dislocation. Woe to Iraq!
Written somewhat ostentatiously in the name of the Platypus Historians Group (as if they could be seen in the same light as the storied Communist Historians Group that included Hobsbawm et al), there is an article titled Catastrophe, historical memory and the Left: 60 years of Israel-Palestine (https://outlook.cuit.columbia.edu/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://platypus1917.org/2008/05/01/catastrophe-historical-memory-and-the-left-60-years-of-israel-palestine/)that unconscionably puts Palestinan and Israeli violence on the same plane:
Neither the endless “peace process” nor Katyusha rockets shot by Islamic fundamentalists at working-class Israeli towns point towards an emancipatory politics.
It should me mentioned at this point that the call for “emancipatory politics” serves as a kind of mantra on the Platypus website although I have never been able to figure out what it means. In Marxist terms, emancipation means ending class rule and producing for human need rather than private profit. For these upstarts, it strikes me as having much more of the libertarian esprit that typified Frank Furedi’s group in Britain. It should therefore come as no surprise that James Heartfield, the last Furedite claiming allegiance to Marxism, contributed once to Platypus. Despite my overall hostility to Spiked online politics, I’d have to say that Heartfield took a step down when he became associated with these characters. Even if he agrees with Cutrone and company that the “left is dead”, Heartfield would never offer up their kind of Eustonite droppings.
As mentioned above, Cutrone employs scare quotes when it comes to the antiwar movement. Once again, in 2008, he had recourse to this device in an article titled Iraq and the election: The fog of “anti-war” politics. In it he finds it useful to put scare quotes around the word imperialism as well. In the world of the Platypus, all attempts to describe Bush’s war as imperialist are wrong. Indeed, the cause of the war was not a grab at resources and any other geopolitical assets but Saddam’s recklessness:
At base, the U.S. did not invade and occupy Iraq to steal its oil, or for any other venal or nefarious reason, but rather because the U.N.’s 12-year-old sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government, which meant the compromise and undermining of effective Iraqi sovereignty (for instance in the carving of an autonomous Kurdish zone under U.N. and NATO military protection) was unraveling in the oil-for-food scandal etc., and Saddam, after the first grave mistake of invading Kuwait, made the further fateful errors of spiting the U.N. arms inspectors and counting on being able to balance the interests of the European and other powers in the U.N. against the U.S. threat of invasion and occupation.
Let’s not beat around the bush, dear reader. The notion that Saddam’s “spited” the U.N. arms inspectors belongs on Fox News rather than a self-described Marxist website professing “emancipatory politics”. Quite frankly, I have to wonder if some of the good people who have taken part in panel discussions with Platypus people have an idea that such raw sewage is floating in their canals.
Finally, it has to be mentioned that Platypus interviewed two people who symbolize Eustonite politics to a tee. The first is an interview with the Canadian blogger Terry Glavin (http://platypus1917.org/2009/02/01/afghanistan-internationalism-and-the-left-an-interview-with-terry-glavin/)who is described as “an outspoken critic of the anti-war movement’s call to withdrawal [sic] foreign troops from Afghanistan”.I would have described Glavin as a toxic Islamophobe but that’s just me.
Here’s one of the questions that Platypusite Andony Melathopoulos asks Glavin:
In your Democratiya [a Eustonite publication now absorbed by the awful Dissent Magazine] piece you describe the forthcoming Obama presidency as articulating the words that Afghans want to hear most: “We will not leave you. We will not betray you. We will not abandon you”. What is it about Obama’s approach that makes you think that the U.S. will finally make a serious sustained effort to rebuild Afghanistan?
When I read the business about a “serious sustained effort to rebuild Afghanistan”, I felt that I had wandered into the Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS.
And even more outrageously, they still find it useful to regard Christopher Hitchens as part of the left in a 2009 article (Going it Alone: Christopher Hitchens and the death of the Left (http://platypus1917.org/2009/03/15/going-it-alone-christopher-hitchens-and-the-death-of-the-left/)) long after anybody–including Hitchens—would have put him in such company. It flatters Hitchens in practically every paragraph:
With the familiarity he possessed of its prevailing intellectual habits and dispositions and also of the actual composition of the various popular front organizations that sprung up to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hitchens possessed unique resources to undertake a thoroughgoing critique of the contemporary Left.
In the weeks and months following 9/11, Hitchens’s criticism of what passes for the Left resounded loudly on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether in left-leaning organs such as The Nationand the Guardian or in more mainstream outlets like the Los Angeles Times and The Independent, in article after article Hitchens drove the point home that the issue of “imperialism,” as understood for decades on the Left, had ceased to be relevant.
Once again we see scare quotes around imperialism. In my view, this kind of denialism says much more about these latter day Mensheviks than anything. What we are dealing with is a section of the academic left that has become profoundly disoriented and succumbed to the pressure of living inside the U.S., the world’s largest and most dangerous hegemon in history. The purpose of this article is to put a skull-and-bones sign next to the poisoned well they drink from so as to warn any young graduate student to not drink the water at the risk of political death.
http://louisproyect.org/2010/04/25/q-what-is-a-platypus-a-an-american-eustonite/

Magda Hassan
06-12-2013, 01:23 AM
Comment by Chris Cutrone on 25 January 2009 (http://platypus1917.org/2009/01/12/screening-finally-got-the-news-1970/#comment-71):
I think the Spartacist position in defense of NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) and calling for abolishing age of consent laws is very good, and is in fact one of their better positions. The reason this is a Marxist position is that it recognizes the historical transformability of sexual morality and looks forwards to emancipation. Most of the fake “Left” are utter reactionaries by comparison.
If you’d like to read Adorno’s argument along similar lines, please see his essay on “Sexual Taboos and the Law Today” (1963), which was discussed recently in the Platypus reading groups:
http://home.comcast.net/~chriscutrone/adorno_sexualtaboostoday.pdf
http://platypus1917.org/2009/01/12/screening-finally-got-the-news-1970/#comment-71 (http://home.comcast.net/~chriscutrone/adorno_sexualtaboostoday.pdf)

Margaret Turner
01-04-2014, 01:59 PM
Plat pope Cutrone on drone striking Badou translator Bruno Bosteels:


"If Bruno Bosteels ought to be subject to a drone strike, this is not out of personal antipathy but rather political necessity. It's a matter of hygiene and public health."

The tux picture of Cutrone posted by Magda is funny. Another one of their leaders is Pam Nogales aka FATYPUS (pictured below)

5628

5628

David Guyatt
01-04-2014, 03:17 PM
Comment by Chris Cutrone on 25 January 2009 (http://platypus1917.org/2009/01/12/screening-finally-got-the-news-1970/#comment-71):
I think the Spartacist position in defense of NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) and calling for abolishing age of consent laws is very good, and is in fact one of their better positions. The reason this is a Marxist position is that it recognizes the historical transformability of sexual morality and looks forwards to emancipation.

I can think of an old fashioned position that would suit this guy's intellect a lot better.

But it has nothing to do with Marxism, Spartacism or other isms and contrived tosh. The position I'm thinking of is legs spread wide, arms held behind his head and a pair of handcuffs manacling him. Toddler fiddling deserves prison as does propagating the idea.

But that's just me.

Kara Dellacioppa
01-05-2014, 12:51 AM
Scary if they are. I went to the Rethinking Marxism conference in 09. I dont remember seeing any panels or anything or maybe I wasnt looking for it. Are they trying to create a new Larouche phenonomenon or something? Im extremely wary of so called "left" orgs that attempt to completely tear down "conventional morality" and/ or state. They do that in service of the enemy.

Magda Hassan
01-05-2014, 01:05 AM
I don't think so Kara. Judging from both Louis Proyect and Richard Seymour's response anyway. They seem very fringe and some thing of a joke from my take. However, such groups are often used by others to discredit the left in general and as a wedge to cause divisions and push other agendas. Definitely in the service of the class enemy.Wittingly or unwittingly.

Kara Dellacioppa
01-05-2014, 02:56 AM
I don't think so Kara. Judging from both Louis Proyect and Richard Seymour's response anyway. They seem very fringe and some thing of a joke from my take. However, such groups are often used by others to discredit the left in general and as a wedge to cause divisions and push other agendas. Definitely in the service of the class enemy.Wittingly or unwittingly.

that makes sense.. its always weird you when you have these left groups that have money to promote themselves and put on conferences and journals. and nowadays websites.... a big factor in the information war..

Magda Hassan
01-05-2014, 04:31 AM
Yes. So much easier these days too with the internet. A honey pot to bring the true believers in and keep them distracted. Even Hitler used the word 'socialism' in his party's name because of its great appeal in the day. Of course there was nothing remotely socialist about the party. The right have a long history of appropriating such. The co-opting of traditional Labor by the Blair's Nulabor by Old Tory. The co-opting of left and anarchist libertarian type groups by the right and US Third Position Party A3P.

Some more you might find interesting here:

https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?1172-Marxist-Leninist-Party-of-the-Netherlands
https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?10946-Youth-for-Human-Rights-%28Y4HR%29
https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?1561-%EF%BF%BDCo-opting-the-Counter-Culture-Troy-Southgate-and-the-National-Revolutionary-Faction
https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?11102-Casa-Pound

Magda Hassan
01-05-2014, 04:34 AM
Comment by Chris Cutrone on 25 January 2009 (http://platypus1917.org/2009/01/12/screening-finally-got-the-news-1970/#comment-71):
I think the Spartacist position in defense of NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) and calling for abolishing age of consent laws is very good, and is in fact one of their better positions. The reason this is a Marxist position is that it recognizes the historical transformability of sexual morality and looks forwards to emancipation.

I can think of an old fashioned position that would suit this guy's intellect a lot better.

But it has nothing to do with Marxism, Spartacism or other isms and contrived tosh. The position I'm thinking of is legs spread wide, arms held behind his head and a pair of handcuffs manacling him. Toddler fiddling deserves prison as does propagating the idea.

But that's just me.
If only we could just call Chris a wanker. But he is so much more than that unfortunately.

Kara Dellacioppa
01-05-2014, 05:05 AM
Yes. So much easier these days too with the internet. A honey pot to bring the true believers in and keep them distracted. Even Hitler used the word 'socialism' in his party's name because of its great appeal in the day. Of course there was nothing remotely socialist about the party. The right have a long history of appropriating such. The co-opting of traditional Labor by the Blair's Nulabor by Old Tory. The co-opting of left and anarchist libertarian type groups by the right and US Third Position Party A3P.

Some more you might find interesting here:

https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?1172-Marxist-Leninist-Party-of-the-Netherlands
https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?10946-Youth-for-Human-Rights-%28Y4HR%29
https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?1561-%EF%BF%BDCo-opting-the-Counter-Culture-Troy-Southgate-and-the-National-Revolutionary-Faction
https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?11102-Casa-Pound

will be looking through these!