Platypus Affiliated Society Primary Marxist Reading Group

I. What is the "Left?" -- What is "Marxism?"
The historical roots of the Left and Marxism in the bourgeois revolution of the 17th-18th centuries and its 19th century crisis in capitalism are addressed through readings from Karl Marx and the background in radical bourgeois philosophy of Rousseau, Kant, and Hegel. 20th century attempts to recover Marx and Marxism's political consciousness by the Frankfurt School and in the 1960s-70s "New Left" frame the problem of consciousness of the Left in the mid-late 20th century leading to the present, through writings by Karl Marx, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Georg Lukacs, Karl Korsch, and Leszek Kolakowski.


Week 1. What is the Left? I. Capital in history | Oct. 2, 2019
• Max Horkheimer, "The little man and the philosophy of freedom" (1926–31)
• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by James Miller (on Jean-Jacques Rousseau), Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson), Karl Marx, on "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58), and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche)
+ Rainer Maria Rilke, "Archaic Torso of Apollo" (1908)
+ Robert Pippin, "On Critical Theory" (2004)
+ Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) chart of terms
• Chris Cutrone, "Capital in history" (2008)
• Cutrone, "The Marxist hypothesis" (2010)
• Cutrone, “Class consciousness (from a Marxist perspective) today”
+ G.M. Tamas, "Telling the truth about class" [HTML] (2007)

Week 2. Radical bourgeois philosophy V. Kant and Constant: Bourgeois society | Oct. 9, 2019
• Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view" and "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)
• Benjamin Constant, "The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns" (1819)

Week 3. What is the Left? II. Utopia and critique | Oct. 16, 2019
• Max Horkheimer, selections from Dämmerung (1926–31)
• Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)
• Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)
• Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
• Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15

Week 4. What is Marxism? I. Socialism | Oct. 23, 2019
• Marx, selections from Economic and philosophic manuscripts (1844), pp. 70–101
• Marx and Friedrich Engels, selections from the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), pp. 469-500
• Marx, Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League (1850), pp. 501–511

Week 5. What is Marxism? II. Revolution in 1848 | Oct. 30, 2019
• Marx, The coming upheaval (from The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847) and Class struggle and mode of production (letter to Weydemeyer, 1852), pp. 218-220
• Engels, The tactics of social democracy (Engels's 1895 introduction to Marx, The Class Struggles in France), pp. 556–573
• Marx, selections from The Class Struggles in France 1848–50 (1850), pp. 586–593
• Marx, selections from The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), pp. 594–617

Week 6. What is Marxism? III. Bonapartism | Nov. 6, 2019
+ Karl Korsch, "The Marxism of the First International" (1924)
• Marx, Inaugural address to the First International (1864), pp. 512–519
• Marx, selections from The Civil War in France (1871, including Engels's 1891 Introduction), pp. 618–652
+ Korsch, Introduction to Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1922)
• Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 525–541
• Marx, Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880)

Week 7. What is Marxism? IV. Critique of political economy | Nov. 13, 2019
• Marx, selections from the Grundrisse (1857–61), pp. 222–226, 236–244, 247–250, 276–293 ME Reader pp. 276-281
• Marx, Capital Vol. I, Ch. 1 Sec. 4 "The fetishism of commodities" (1867), pp. 319–329

Week 8. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Nov. 20, 2019
• Georg Lukács, “The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)

Week 9. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Nov. 27, 2019
• Lukács, “Class Consciousness” (1920), Original Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), History and Class Consciousness (1923)
+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302

Week 10. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Dec. 4, 2019
• Korsch, “Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15
+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145

Winter break readings
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)
+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)

Winter–Spring 2020
II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Kresge Study Center, 348

Invited Audience

Students, General Public






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