Red leaves of red books (1935)

Richard Wright
The New Masses
(April 30, 1935)
.

Turn
….Red leaves of red books

Turn
….In white palms and black palms

Turn
….Slowly in the mute hours of the night

Turn
….In the fingers of women and the fingers of men
….In the fingers of the old and the fingers of the young

Turn
….Under the nervous flickering of candles
….Under yellow gas sputterings
….Under dim incandescent globes

Turn
….In the North and in the South
….…In the East and in the West

Turn
….…Ceaselessly and reveal your printed hope

Turn
….Until your crispness leaves you
….Until you are dog-eared
….…Until the calloused hands that grip you

Are hardened to the steel of unretractable purpose!

.

Note: Credit goes to Clara Everbeck for tracking down this poem and bringing it to my attention. She suggested that I publish it on my blog along with a short bio or introduction to Wright and the issues he was looking to address. My familiarity with his work is unfortunately limited to the recollections featured in The God that Failed, alongside contributions by Arthur Koestler, André Gide, and Ignazio Silone.

Continue reading

Isaak Rubin

Marx and “Wertkritik”

A video and panel description 

Untitled.
Image: Photograph of Isaak
Rubin with his wife

untitled2.

A panel held on April 6, 2013, at the 2013 Platypus International Convention at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Originally posted on Platypus’ media website.

Video

Description

Perhaps one of the most influential developments in Marxist thought coming from Germany in the last decades has been the emergence of value critique. Building on Marx’s later economical works, value critics stress the importance of abolishing value (the abstract side of the commodity), pointing out problems in traditional Marxism’s emphasis on the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The German value critical journal Krisis has famously attacked what they believed was a social democratic fetishization of labor in their 1999 Manifesto Against Labor. Such notions have drawn criticism from more “orthodox” Marxists who miss the role of the political in value critique and the possibility of immanent transformation through engaging the realities of capitalist societies. Did the later Marx abandon his political convictions that he expressed in the “Manifesto”? What about his later political writings, such as his “Critique of the Gotha Program” in which he outlines the different phases of early communism? Is Marxism a scientific project as claims from value critics indicate? Was Marx trying to develop of a “science of value” in his later works? What can value critique teach us after the defeat of the Left in 20th century? Did traditional Marxism necessarily have to lead to the defeat of the Left?

PLEASE NOTE: Due to technical errors, the last fifteen minutes of the video are cut off. The audio version is complete, however.

Speakers

  • Elmar Flatschart (EXIT)
  • Jamie Merchant (Permanent Crisis)
  • Alan Milchman (Internationalist Perspective)

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

#Occupy movement roundtable discussion: An invitation to a political dialogue hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society

El Lissitzky's "Beat the White Circle with the Red Wedge" (1920)

FIRST ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION

Friday 7pm | October 28, 2011

Kimmel, Room 406.  NYU

60 Washington Square S., NYC

What is the #Occupy movement? (PDF version)

The recent #Occupy protests are driven by discontent with the present state of affairs: glaring economic inequality, dead-end Democratic Party politics, and, for some, the suspicion that capitalism could never produce an equitable society.  These concerns are coupled with aspirations for social transformation at an international level.  For many, the protests at Wall St. and elsewhere provide an avenue to raise questions the Left has long fallen silent on:

  • What would it mean to challenge capitalism on a global scale?
  • How could we begin to overcome social conditions that adversely affect every part of life?
  • And, how could a new international radical movement address these concerns in practice?

Although participants at Occupy Wall St. have managed thus far to organize resources for their own daily needs, legal services, health services, sleeping arrangements, food supplies, defense against police brutality, and a consistent media presence, these pragmatic concerns have taken precedent over long-term goals of the movement.  Where can participants of this protest engage in formulating, debating, and questioning the ends of this movement? How can it affect the greater society beyond the occupied spaces?

We in the Platypus Affiliated Society ask participants, organizers, and interested observers of the #Occupy movement to consider the possibility that political disagreement could lead to clarification, further development and direction.  Only when we are able to create an active culture of thinking and debating on the Left without it proving prematurely divisive can we begin to imagine a Leftist politics adequate to the historical possibilities of our moment.  We may not know what these possibilities for transformation are.  This is why we think it is imperative to create avenues of engagement that will support these efforts.

Towards this goal, Platypus will be hosting a series of roundtable discussions with organizers and participants of the #Occupy movement.  These will start at campuses in New York and Chicago but will be moving to other North American cities, and to London, Germany, and Greece in the months to come.   We welcome any and all who would like to be a part of this project of self-education and potential rebuilding of the Left to join us in advancing this critical moment.

(The above is a general release intended for activists, organizers, and participants in the recent #Occupy movement who are interested in further exploring its political dimension.  We are open to any number of political orientations or affiliations within the broader spectrum of the Left, whether they be Marxist, anarchist, or more moderate.  Please contact me at rosslaurencewolfe@gmail.com if you would like to contribute or learn more.)

The Platypus Affiliated Society

October 2011

Platypus logo