Ongoing Trotsky lecture series and reading group discussion at the New School in New York

Symptomatic residues

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Image: Trotsky in Mexico
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Summer 2012: Trotsky and Trotskyism

Cubo-Suprematist depiction of Trotsky as Red Army general, 1924

Saturdays 2-5pm

New School for Social Research Building, 6 E 16th St. (just west of Union Square)
Room: 10-01
Please be there promptly as we will begin at 2pm sharp in order to broadcast the lectures in a timely manner.

Or join us via Live Stream! We’ll be broadcasting live every Saturday at 2pm EST.

Early Sketch of Leon Trotsky

Recommended preliminary readings:

+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ Nicolas Krassó, “Trotsky’s Marxism” (1967)
• Platypus Historians Group“The dead Left: Trotskyism” (2008)
• Richard Rubin“The decline of the Left in the 20th century: 1933″ (2009)
• Ian Morrison“Trotsky’s Marxism” (2011)
• Mike Macnair, Bryan Palmer, Richard Rubin, and Jason Wright“The legacy of Trotskyism” (2011)
• Grover Furr“Learning from the Communist Movement of the 20th century: A response to Richard Rubin”(2012)
+ Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1978)
+ Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet: Trotsky biography (three volumes: 1954, 1959, 1963)


Week 1. Jun. 16, 2012

1879–1905
Lecture: (VIDEO) (AUDIO)

• Tariq Ali and Phil EvansIntroducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
• Leon TrotskyResults and Prospects (1906)


Week 2. Jun. 23, 2012

1905–17
Lecture: (VIDEO) (AUDIO)
Apologies for the technical glitches in the video recording – participants are strongly encouraged to listen to the audio file for a clean recording.

+ Trotsky, 1905 (1907)


Week 3. Jun. 30, 2012

1917–23
Lecture: (VIDEO) (AUDIO)

• TrotskyTerrorism and Communism (1920)
• TrotskyThe Lessons of October (1924) [PDF]
+ Trotsky, Literature and Revolution (1924)
+ Bret Schneider, “Trotsky’s theory of art” (2011)


Week 4. Jul. 7, 2012

1923–33
Lecture: (VIDEO) (AUDIO) 

+ Trotsky, Where is Britain Going? (1925)
+ Trotsky, Problems of the Chinese Revolution 1927–31 (1932)
+ Trotsky, writings on the rise of Hitler and the destruction of the German Left (1930–40), especially “To build communist parties and an international anew” (1933)


Week 5. Jul. 14, 2012

1933–40

• Trotsky“Stalinism and Bolshevism” (1937)
• TrotskyThe Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)
+ Trotsky, “Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay” (1940)
+ Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed (1936)
+ Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism (1939/40), especially “Letter to James Cannon” (September 12, 1939)
+ Trotsky, “Art and politics on our epoch” (1938)
+ Mary McCarthy, “My Confession” (1954)


Week 6. Jul. 21, 2012

1940–53

+ James Cannon, “The coming American revolution” (1946)
+ C.L.R. James, Raya Dunayevskaya, et al., “Program of the minority tendency of the Workers Party/U.S.” (1946)
+ C.L.R. James, “Dialectical materialism and the fate of humanity” (1947)
+ Herbert Marcuse, “33 Theses” (1947)
+ Earl Browder and Max Shachtman with C. Wright Mills, “Is Russia a socialist community?” (1950)
+ Ernest Mandel, “The theory of ‘state capitalism’” (1951)
+ Michel Pablo, “On the duration and the nature of the period of transition from capitalism to socialism” (1951)
+ Pablo, “Where are we going?” (1953)


Week 7. Jul. 28, 2012

1953–63

+ Cornelius Castoriadis, “The workers and organization” (1959)
• Cliff Slaughter“What is revolutionary leadership?” (1960)
• Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Workers Party/U.S.“In defense of a revolutionary perspective”(1962)
+ Tony Cliff, “The coming Russian revolution” (final chapter of Russia: A Marxist Analysis, 1964)
+ Hal Draper, “The two souls of socialism” (1966)
+ Isaac Deutscher, “Marxism in our time” (1965)
+ Murray Bookchin, “Listen, Marxist!” (1969)
• Spartacist League“Genesis of Pabloism” (1972)

Vladimir Maiakovskii’s “The Flying Proletarian”

This is what I’m planning to read at the Platypus Affiliated Society’s Prometheus in Drift: A Night of Modernist Readings event: Maiakovskii’s 1925 sci-fi piece, “The Flying Proletarian.” Here’s the description that Viktor Terras provided of it:

…set in the year 2125 and features a giant air battle, with death rays and such, between the Soviet proletarian and the American bourgeois air forces. The latter prevails until an uprising of New York workers against their government turns the tide. Maiakovskii’s communist future is all comfort and electric ease: electric razors, electric toothbrushes, everybody with his own private airplane (Moscow no longer has any streets, just airports). Labor is wholly mechanized, so that a worker merely operates a keyboard. Altogether, Maiakovskii’s utopia is written from the viewpoint of a laborer who is tired of backbreaking, dirty work…There are no kitchens, no housework. People eat in aerocafeterias and amuse themselves with cosmic cinemas, cosmic dances, and such — all nonalcoholic (alcohol is served by prescription only). The sport of the future is avio-polo — football has long since been abandoned as crude and boring.

The cartoon itself is a degenerate Khrushchev-era attempt to retrieve the contributions of the avant-garde movement that Stalinism crushed. Notice the space-age imagery, the cosmonauts. But something of the original futurism survives even still here. It’s something that’s been lost.

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So anyway, to plug the event taking place tomorrow, here’s the info:

Prometheus in Drift

G o e t h e   |   H ö l d e r l i n   |   R e n a r d   |   K l e i s t   |   W a l s e r   |   V a l e r y   |   B e c k e t t

|   K a f k a   |   S t e v e n s   |   E s e n i n   |   B a u d e l a i r e   |   M a i a k o v s k i i   |   C e l a n

friday, 03.02.12, 7pm | nyu kimmel, rm 909, 60 washington sq s

if you would like to volunteer to read one of the selections or have any questions about the event, please contact nyu@platypus1917.org.