Platypus International Convention, Chicago 2012 (March 30th-April 1st @SAIC)

2012 Platypus International Convention banner

Plenary 1: The 1990s Left today (Friday, March 30th, 2012)

Description: After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and collapse of the Soviet Union soon after, a new political era opened, in which Marxism was discredited and anarchism became predominant on the radical Left. The most pressing challenges of post-Cold War neo-liberal globalization came amid an era of prosperity at the supposed “end of history.” Postmodernist disenchantment with “grand narratives” of emancipation meant a turn against “ideology.” Social “justice” rather than freedom became the watchword for a better world. “Resistance” and “horizontal” or “rhizomatic” politics provided a model for “changing the world without taking power” (as John Holloway, inspired by the Zapatistas, put it). Information technology — the rise of the internet — matched the new cosmopolitanism. The global order of “empire” confronted by the “multitude” demanded access to the “commonwealth” (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri). The “death of communism” challenged the Left’s imagination of an emancipated future. “Black bloc” protest and “communization” theory replaced traditional socialism, as the 20th century came to an uncertain close.

Plenary 2: The 2000s Left today (Saturday, March 31st, 2012)

Description: As a result of the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terror rekindled anti-imperialist protest, even while it seemed to deliver a grave blow to the newly emergent World Social Forum, “alterglobalization” movement. Neo-conservatism in the U.S. presented the specter of growing divisions in the global order, to which the world’s most vulnerable might fall victim. Religious fundamentalism appeared to surge. Disenchantment with capitalist development accompanied the social imagination of ecological crisis and economic downturn: the desire for a “green economy” and apparent need for decreased consumption. At the same time, new intensification of global migration of workers presented challenges for political integration. The U.S. and allied wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond, were met by an anti-war movement and a new generation of radicalization. But the wars were eclipsed by financial crisis and Obama’s election, bringing anti-austerity protests (setting the stage later for #Occupy), as the first decade of the 21st century ended with the economic crisis lingering and even deepening, scotching hopes for a reversal of neoliberalism and return to “Keynesian” social investment policies. Neoliberalism and neoconservatism both stood in disrepute, but without presenting a clear alternative for the future.

PROGRAM

Friday:

2:00pm: Registration opens

2:30pm-2:35pm: Introductory address

Workshops:

2:40pm-3:30pm:

1. Phase II

2. League of Revolutionaries for a New America

3:40pm-4:30pm:

1. CPGB

2. #Occupy Chicago

4:40pm-5:30pm:

1. News and Letters

2. Inclusive Democracy Collective

5:30pm-6:45pm: Dinner Break

Opening Plenary:

7:00pm-9:00pm: The ’90s Left Today (SAIC Ballroom)

Saturday:

9:30am-10:00am: Breakfast

Workshops:

10:00am-10:50am:

1. RCP-PRC

2. M1

3. IBT

11:00am-11:50am:

1. U.S. Marxist Humanists

2. Kasama

3. Crimethinc

12:00pm-12:45pm: Lunch

Panels:

1:00pm-2:30pm

Panel #1: Defining Democracy: The Labor Movement and #Occupy (Room 707)

Panel #2: Changes in Art and Society: A view from the Present (Room 1307)

2:45pm-4:15pm

Panel #3: Politicizing G8 and NATO: Rulers, Domination, and Emancipation (Room 707)

Panel #4: Lenin and the Marxist Left after #Occupy (Room 1307)

4:30pm-5:45pm

Panel #5: Whence Anarchism? The historical conjuncture of #Occupy (Room 1307)

6:00pm-7:15pm: Dinner

Closing Plenary:

7:30pm-9:30pm: The ’00s Left Today (SAIC Ballroom)

Sunday:

Platypus Plenary

11:00am-12:30pm: Why I joined Platypus

12:30pm-1:00pm: Lunch

Platypus President’s Report

1:00pm-1:30pm: 1873-1973: The Century of Marxism

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