Theoretical dead end

The US Platypus group is in the borderlands of two types of left, argues Mike Macnair in the second of two articles

In last week’s paper I reported on the third Platypus International Convention in Chicago, April 29-May 1.[1] The concluding plenary discussed the ‘Platypus critique’, where speakers from the group denied that it had “a line”. This, and the convention as a whole, pose another question: the critique of the Platypus.

If it was really the case that the Platypus Affiliated Society had no political line or agenda, but merely aimed to ‘host the conversation’, then to critique it would be like offering a critique of large, vague academic ‘learned societies’ like the classicists’ American Philological Association or the English Lit crowd’s Modern Language Association.

Such a critique would only be worthwhile to the extent that the learned society in question already dominated the ‘conversation’ in question, and in doing so maintained an implicit line - like the idea of ‘western civilisation’, which had the effect of excluding work which did not comply from academic recognition. This situation certainly exists in the economists’ learned societies (exclusionary dominance of neoclassical microeconomics), and de facto exists in several Eng Lit societies (exclusionary dominance of postmodernism).

For a small group like Platypus such a critique would be pointless. In reality, however, Platypus both does not, and does, have a political line and agenda.

It does not have a political line and agenda in the sense that it does not call for votes for anyone, or vote on a platform or political positions which it is to defend in common. The comrades claim that because of the death of the left this is impossible without the prior theoretical critique which might, at some unspecified date in the future, make political action possible.

It does, however, have a political line and agenda - even if this was only the statement on its website: “Hence, to free ourselves, we declare that the left is dead. Or, more precisely, that we are all that is left of it.” This involves identification with “the left” or at least with its history; and a negative critique of the existing left. Other things apart, it would also be the classic claim of a sect.


In fact, there is more, and it centres on the issue of imperialism. Platypus’s claim that “the left is dead” is a claim motivated at the end of the day partly by the perception that the left has become so small as to be politically irrelevant, but also by the perception that the left has abandoned the project of general human emancipation.

The basis of this perception is expressed in a wide variety of articles on Platypus’s website - some by Platypus members, others expressed by their choices about who to interview or review. Here the idea of ‘Spartacism plus Adorno’, considered as critiques rather than as positive policy, has explanatory value.

From Spartacism come hostility to ‘statist feminism’, which allies with the right on sexual purity issues, and to other reactionary-utopian politics like ‘green’ arguments for ‘small is beautiful’, anti-technology, anti-globalisation, ideas of the peasantry or indigenous peoples as ‘showing the way’, and Maoism. From the political culture of Spartacism come the ‘in your face’ provocations like “the left is dead ... we are all that is left of it”. With much, though not all, of the political substance of this critique of the contemporary left CPGB comrades would agree, though we do not draw the sect conclusion.

From Adorno, and not from Spartacism, come defence of capitalist ‘high culture’ and hostility to riots for the sake of ‘resistance’ - and hostility to the ‘anti-imperialism’ which demands that the left side with whoever is the current target of US military operations, even if they are obvious tyrants like the Ba’athists or Libyan Jamahiriya or clericalist reactionaries like the Iranian regime.

This last, of course, has led to the interpretation that Platypus is presently Eustonite: people who favour the victory of the US imperialism’s military operations over the alternative on the basis of the unattractive character of the targets. The case was sharply made by Louis Proyect in 2010. His conclusion is:

“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 US, 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.”[2]

There are two issues involved: one of politics and one of theory. The theory issue means specifically the theory of the problem Richard Rubin asked us to address in the Trotsky plenary at the convention: the problem of the defeat of the German revolution of 1918-19 at the hands of the SPD leadership, or, more exactly, the limitation of the German revolution to the creation of a capitalist state and the actual participation of this state in counterrevolutionary military operations against the Russian Revolution.


The issue of politics is simple. Suppose a movement which seeks general human emancipation. In fact today as in 1900, albeit in different juridical forms, there is a hierarchy of countries. Countries higher up the global pecking order feel free to assist ‘their’ corporations to bribe officials in countries lower down the pecking order. If ‘unacceptable’ actions are taken by the governments of countries lower down, they feel free to intervene with covert support to minority and terrorist groups, and so on. And, when push comes to shove, they intervene with direct military force.

It should be clear that general human emancipation is inconsistent with the hierarchy of countries, and that a movement which claims to seek general human emancipation but gives political support to this hierarchy is engaged in political doublethink.

At the same time, only Lenin’s theory of imperialism - that it represents the final stage of capitalism and World War I the opening of a terminal crisis or Zusammenbruch - gives support to the conclusion drawn by the Comintern and maintained by Trotsky, that communists in imperialist countries must not only oppose the imperialist actions of their own countries, but also seek the victory of the nationalist movement of the subordinated country, even if it is authoritarian or clerical-reactionary in character. Not even Bukharin’s or Luxemburg’s theories, which are closest to Lenin’s, support this conclusion.

And, in fact, the evidence of 20th century history is unambiguously clear that both the theory of terminal crisis (Trotsky’s ‘death agony of capitalism’) and the political conclusion drawn from it of alliance of the workers’ movement with petty bourgeois nationalists in the ‘anti-imperialist united front’ are false - as false and as disproved as the theory of phlogiston.

These circumstances require advocates of general human emancipation in countries high up the pecking order to pursue a two-sided policy in relation to their own countries’ coercive operations against countries lower down. On the one hand, it is necessary to oppose these operations clearly, unambiguously and as far as possible practically. On the other, it is also necessary to give political solidarity and what practical support can be given to emancipatory movements in the countries targeted - and therefore to avoid stupidly prettifying tyrants, local Bonapartes, clerical reactionaries, etc, merely because they may from time to time talk ‘anti-imperialist’ talk.

To err on either side of this line once or twice or even several times is merely to err. To develop a consistent position one side or another of this line is to become a political agent of the system of global hierarchy: ie, to oppose general human emancipation.

The ‘anti-imperialist’ left gives political support to people who are the US’s enemies now but have been their allies in the past and may well be again in the future; in doing so it makes itself an enemy of the local workers’ movement in the country in question, and more concretely aids the regimes against the exiles of the workers’ movements.

Groups like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and the Eustonites, by focusing their fire only on ‘third world’ tyrants without simultaneously up-front and explicitly opposing imperialist operations, become ‘useful idiots’ for the imperialist states - whose operations in the subordinated countries are as tyrannical as their opponents.

Richard Rubin in the Trotsky plenary said that defeatism is a moral obligation, but not one which could be expected to lead to revolution. What I have said so far is broadly consistent with this. This is because I have taken as the starting point only the Platypus claim that the left has died because it has abandoned the aim of general human emancipation, and supposed only that the movement is to fight for general human emancipation. It still follows that the movement cannot be true to itself as a movement for general human emancipation without its sections in the countries higher up the global hierarchy displaying explicit, upfront and active opposition to this hierarchy, and therefore to the blockade and war operations of their own countries.

Chris Cutrone is Platypus’s (presumably elected) president. He writes, not infrequently, on Middle Eastern affairs in its journal, Platypus Review. His language in these articles is at best Delphic - obscure and capable of multiple interpretations. Cutrone is (as an academic) a pupil of Moishe Postone, and says openly that his politics are influenced by Postone. Postone unambiguously is a Eustonite or a left Zionist of a variety not dissimilar to the AWL. Some of Cutrone’s analysis of Middle East politics shows signs, like the AWL’s analysis, of being taken from the overseas outlets of Tel Aviv. Louis Proyect argues that Cutrone’s language (and that of other Platypus writers) is, rather than Delphic, Aesopian: obscure, and contains code which actually signals private (here Eustonite or AWLish) commitments.

A number of Platypus supporters responded to Proyect’s posting. They took the opportunity to assert their critique of the left. They insisted that Platypus Review is an open magazine and - as Spencer Leonard said in the closing plenary at the convention - that Platypus does not have a line. They said that they do not support ‘humanitarian interventions’ - which is the code also used by the AWL. But they did not take the opportunity to say upfront that they as a group or as individuals oppose these ‘sanctions’ and military actions - still less that they would campaign to stop them, even at the level of publishing anti-war or anti-sanctions material in Platypus Review.

Cutrone’s address to the convention - on ‘The anti-fascist v anti-imperialist “left”: some genealogies and prospects’ - may have signalled a change in direction. I do not know because I missed the speech and he has not (yet) put it up on his blog.

In the absence of a shift, the problem is that the balance of the Platypus Review’s coverage is AWLish. It is not strictly Eustonite, since it does not openly support ‘wars for democracy’. But it uses the same sort of ‘how can we condemn’ evasions as AWL leader Sean Matgamna. If anything, it is to the right of the Matgamnaites, who do have practical commitments in the British workers’ movement and a willingness to attempt to project a (defective) line for concrete support for independent working class politics in the Middle East.

Remember that I have not said anything more than that the absence of opposition to the global hierarchy of countries is as much an abandonment of the project of general human emancipation as is the ‘anti-imperialism of idiots’ that gives political support to local reaction and authoritarianism as offering in some way an alternative to the global hierarchy. I have not asserted Lenin’s or any other theory of imperialism. It is merely that both Platypus’s claim not to have a political line and its claim to represent a reassertion of the emancipatory project of Marxism are belied by the one-sided character of Platypus Review’s coverage of these issues.

It would, of course, be possible to maintain a pro-imperialist or neutral line if Platypus were willing to abandon the critique of the existing left as anti-emancipatory. All that would be needed would be to assert that the immediate general emancipation of humanity is impossible and that it is first necessary to pass through capitalism via imperialism. Platypus is a third of the way to this position, since it asserts that emancipation has to be built on the basis of the conquests of capitalism. Step two is to assert that the material or ‘objective’ conditions for socialist revolution had not matured as of 1917 (or 1938). This point has been clearly argued by Moshé Machover in 1999,[3] and, from within the ‘Lukácsian’ tradition to which Platypus adheres, by István Mészáros, in Beyond capital (1995). Platypus seems (from what Richard Rubin said in the Trotsky plenary) to reject it.

Step three would be to argue that objective conditions have not yet matured; that their maturing involves the complete global displacement of pre-capitalist social relations; and that this can only be accomplished through the agency of imperialism. This would then be substantially the theory of Bill Warren’s Imperialism, pioneer of capitalism (1980). It would also be the theory of Bernstein in the Bernstein-Bax debate of 1896-97 and of the ‘social-imperialists’ in the 1900s.[4]

Whatever its merits (I should emphasise that I think that beyond the second step the merits are negligible: see my 2004 series on imperialism[5]), this approach would involve abandoning Platypus’s critique of the existing left as ‘dead’ because it has abandoned the emancipatory project of Marxism. The reason would be that such a theory would also deny the possibility of immediate general emancipation: it would say that the next step is full global capitalism and global liberalism, to make a future general emancipation possible.

The ‘anti-imperialist’ line which supports the targets of US attacks does not deny that future general emancipation is desirable: rather, it says that the next step on this road is general global Stalinism and Stalinoid nationalism, to make a future general emancipation possible. The difference between two such approaches can be no more than one of theoretical, empirical and practical plausibility, not one of moral repudiation of one’s own moral premises.


In the Trotsky plenary at the Platypus convention, as I reported in last week’s article, Richard Rubin of Platypus argued that both fascism and Stalinism resulted from the defeat of the German revolution; and that this ‘German question’ posed the question of how the strongest Marxist party in the world, the SPD, could betray its own revolution. Since the objective conditions for socialism had matured, the explanation had to be the power of bourgeois ideology, and both Trotsky and the Frankfurt school had grappled with this problem.

This outline narrative has two huge gaps. The first is the basis of the ‘crisis of Marxism’. The second is the explanation of the problem of the 1914 betrayal actually offered by Lenin, the Comintern and Trotsky, which is not the power of ideology, but the effects of imperialism.

Marxism is distinct from pre-Marxist socialisms and communisms in a very simple way: that it asserts that communism is not a simple act of moral will, but reflects the objective interests of the proletariat in the class conflict inherent in capitalism, so that the proletariat as a class can be expected at the end of the day to become (in broad terms) communist. It is thus the role of the proletariat which produces the result that for Marxists capitalism is the necessary precursor of communism.

Mass working class support for forms of reformism and gradualism, or - as in England before 1900 or the USA today - for capitalist parties, is generally taken to be the basis of the ‘crisis of Marxism’. This is because it calls into question the claim that the class struggle between capital and proletariat forms a material basis for communism. Communism then reverts to being an ethical imperative, to be approached through moral persuasion on a cross-class basis or through one or another form of voluntarist minority action - or rejected.

In 1917-19 and again in 1943-48 this ‘crisis of Marxism’ argument was utterly implausible.[6] But in the period of stability and prosperity in the 1890s-1900s, and the returned stability and prosperity of the 1950s-60s - and also in a sense especially since the fall of the USSR - it has again become attractive.[7]

I have argued in Revolutionary strategy (chapter 2) that there are both positive and negative empirical grounds for defending the Marxist conception today in spite of the overall negative evolution since the 1970s. Marc Mulholland in two articles published in Critique in 2009 and 2010 has offered much more elaborated theoretical reasons for supposing a proletarian will to collectivism.[8]

The actual explanation of the betrayal of August 1914 offered at the time independently by Lenin and Zinoviev, and by Trotsky, was the effects of imperialism on the working class of the imperialist countries and its organisations: that is, that a section of the class was ‘bought off’ by the spoils of imperialism.[9] Trotsky continued to defend this view down to his death.[10] Bukharin’s Imperialism and world economy took a slightly different angle, seeing the working class movement as tied to the capitalists through concessions organised by the imperialist state.[11] Herman Gorter’s Imperialism, the World War and social democracy (1914) had aspects of both the Bukharin view and Luxemburg’s arguments (below).[12]

Now this view may be right or it may be wrong, but it is not just Maoism or ‘New Left’-ism. It is the product precisely of some of the ‘classical Marxists’ or ‘second International lefts’, whose legacy Platypus says it is concerned to redeem in order to enable a 21st century left to be reborn. It demands a precise and serious critique, which cannot be undertaken just on the basis of the modern Maoist caricature of it and the Trotskyist imitators of Maoism.

I have argued elsewhere that the Lenin-Zinoviev and Trotsky version of this analysis in terms of imperialism buying off top sections of the working class is false, but the Bukharin version is broadly correct, and can be extended to understand the existence of reformism and dominance of nationalism in the modern ‘third world’.[13]

One of the ‘second International lefts’, of course, did not adopt this line. It is Luxemburg, not Trotsky, who offered a really ‘accidental’ explanation of the political collapse of the SPD - and hence of the epoch - in terms of Kautsky’s (alleged) theoretical gradualism and did not attempt to ground this characterisation in any material process of change.[14] In this Luxemburg, as against Lenin and Trotsky, is followed by Korsch in Marxism and philosophy.[15]

This line genuinely does imply that - as Richard Rubin argued - the failure of the German revolution has to be explained by the power of bourgeois ideology, or of alienation, reification and commodity fetishism. This sort of argument and not Lenin (except in an extremely dematerialised form) or Trotsky is the context of Lukács’s History and class consciousness. The next step is that taken by the Frankfurt school people: to attempt to integrate alienation, reification and commodity fetishism with Freudian psychoanalysis. In other words, we arrive at the salience of the Frankfurt school for theory by rejecting the salience of imperialism in the explanation of the political collapse of the Second International.

But there is a theoretical as well as a political price to be paid for this choice. I have written on the political price or prices before: the explanation of reformism by the self-reproduction of capitalist order provides a theory which demands both an ‘actionism’, which is either ultra-left or opportunist or both, and the epistemological commitments that support the form of the small bureaucratic-centralist sect.[16] In the specific case of the Frankfurt school the upshot is just a politics of despair. But Platypus in a sense embraces both the politics of despair and the need for critique (il faut cultiver son jardin théoretique), so these points are secondary.

The theoretical price is the expulsion of history from theory. This may seem a paradoxical statement, since all the variants derived under Lukácsian and similar interpretations - including, for example, Postone - insist that theory must be historicised and that transhistorical claims about human nature, etc must be expelled from Marx (or foisted on Engels) to achieve a properly historicised theory. That means one which focuses purely on the critique of capitalist modernity.

To take this turn, however, is to prohibit actual comprehension. It is like asking for drug therapy or surgery to remove your long-term memory in the hope that it will get rid of ‘distractions’ from the present. In reality, no such focus on capitalist modernity is possible: ‘the pre-modern’ remains as a silent other, albeit in a mutilated form, against which ‘capitalist modernity’ is identified. In reality, our ability to identify change depends on recognising also continuities. So the expulsion of the longer-term history of which capitalism is part results in a loss of vision of change within capitalism.[17]

It turns out, indeed, that to defend this scheme of ‘historicised’ theory, it is necessary to falsify the very local history of the enlightenment, Marxism and the workers’ movement (examples in last week’s article). Even if the students who form Platypus’s base do not have political but only theoretical aims, they will find that this scheme is a theoretical trap. What will be driven to fill the ‘absence’ of the ‘transhistorical’ is either some form of liberalism - or, as in Alasdair MacIntyre, Thomas Aquinas.[18]

Classifying the Platypus

Platypus takes its name from an anecdote about Engels:

“A story is told about Karl Marx’s collaborator and friend, Friedrich Engels, who, in his youth, as a good Hegelian idealist, sure about the purposeful, rational evolution of nature and of the place of human reason in it, became indignant when reading about a platypus, which he supposed to be a fraud perpetrated by English taxidermists. For Engels, the platypus made no sense in natural history.

“Later, Engels saw a living platypus at a British zoo and was chagrined. Like Marx a good materialist, and a thinker receptive to Darwin’s theory of evolution, which dethroned a human-centred view of nature, Engels came to respect that ‘reason’ in history, natural or otherwise, must not necessarily accord with present standards of human reason.

“This is a parable we find salutary to understanding the condition of the left today.”[19]

The Engels story is an embroidered version of one Engels told about himself in a letter to Conrad Schmidt in 1895, for a purpose rather different to that which the group Platypus uses it. Schmidt had (as can be seen from Engels’ letter) raised empirical objections to the idea of the general rate of profit in volume 3 of Marx’s Capital, and therefore wished to “degrade the law of value to a fiction”.

Engels’ response is that direct empirical confirmation or disconfirmation of individual concepts is not to be expected. After other examples, Engels comes to that of concepts in biology and the platypus:

“From the moment we accept the theory of evolution all our concepts of organic life correspond only approximately to reality. Otherwise there would be no change: on the day when concepts and reality completely coincide in the organic world development comes to an end ... How, without bringing one or both concepts into conflict with reality are you going to get from the egg-laying reptile to the mammal, which gives birth to living young? And in reality we have in the monotremata a whole sub-class of egg-laying mammals: in 1843, I saw the eggs of the duck-bill in Manchester and with arrogant narrow-mindedness mocked at such stupidity - as if a mammal could lay eggs - and now it has been proved! So do not behave to the conceptions of value in the way I had later to beg the duck-bill’s pardon for!”[20]

The merits or otherwise of Engels’ arguments as a matter of philosophy are violently debatable.[21] But it should be clear that Engels’ point is not, contrary to Platypus, “that ‘reason’ in history, natural or otherwise, must not necessarily accord with present standards of human reason”, but a considerably narrower philosophical point: that concepts are necessarily in imperfect agreement with the perceptible world.

The ‘conceptual difficulty’ with the platypus, of course, is that it and other monotremes are animals somewhere in the borderlands between, or overlapping, the taxonomical classes of birds or reptiles, which lay eggs, and mammals, which give birth and suckle their young. It is, however, in modern times regarded, for reasons of evolutionary-history analysis, as a type of mammal.

In this sense, if not in the sense of an existent impossibility, the Platypus Affiliated Society is rightly named. It is a group somewhere in the borderlands between, or overlapping, two sorts of left.

The first is the political-activist left: groups from Labour leftwards in this country, from the left wing of the Democrats leftwards in the US. This left consists primarily of organised parties and groups, secondarily of ‘independents’ (or sects of one member) who participate in left, broad-front campaigns and other initiatives. It is linked, even if imperfectly, to the broader workers’ movement (trade unions, cooperatives, mass workers’ parties), and attempts to intervene in public politics in pursuit of definite short-term and long-term goals, usually expressed through a public press.

The second is the academic left: academics who would regard themselves as ‘being of the left’ in relation to their academic work. (This is not the same thing as working in a university, while being either a militant and political trade unionist or, outside of work, involved in the political-activist left.) This left consists primarily of individual academics, linked together by leftish academic journals, annual conferences and similar events. To the extent that it intervenes in public politics it does so by individual attempts to act as ‘public intellectuals’ through contributions to the capitalist media.

The Platypus Affiliated Society looks from one angle like an organisation of the political activist left; from another angle like a part of the academic left. At present, judging from its convention, it should probably be located, in spite of the ambiguities, on the academic side of the divide. Apart from the Saturday morning workshops on left groups, the format was that of an academic conference (papers, ‘respondents’, short Q&A sessions), not that of a political conference. The Frankfurt school commitments, the denial of the possibility of political action as such and the obscurely AWLish line on the ‘war on terror’ all give Platypus some degree of academic credibility.

It is therefore to be judged as a theoretical project, more than as a political project. My judgement is that, though the group is right that the ‘anti-imperialist front’ and the rest of the orthodoxy of the left is a dead end, Platypus’s theoretical project is also a dead end as theory.


  1. ‘No need for party?’, May 12.
  2. louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/q-what-is-a-platypus-a-an-american-eustonite
  3. M Machover, ‘The 20th century in retrospect’ Workers’ Liberty No59, 1999; www.matzpen.org/index.asp?u=101&p=20th; Machover’s email exchange with Dov Schoss, linked at the end of that page, is also useful on the issues involved.
  4. Bernstein-Bax debate in H Tudor and JM Tudor (eds) Marxism and social democracy: the revisionist debate 1896-98 (Cambridge 1998) chapter 2. Later social-imperialists: the targets of Kautsky’s polemics in Socialism and colonial policy (1907): www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1907/colonial/index.htm
  5. The original series with critiques and a response: Weekly Worker July 29-September 23 2004.
  6. 1919: A Read The world on fire: 1919 and the battle with Bolshevism London 2008, albeit from a rightwing perspective. Any general history will indicate the sheer extent of working class collectivism in 1943-48.
  7. Postone’s argument in Time, labour and social domination (Cambridge 1993) is at the end of the day a variant of it: “the working class is integral to capitalism rather than the embodiment of its negation” (emphasis added, p17). For Marx, as opposed to Postone, the working class was both integral to capitalism and the embodiment of its negation.
  8. ‘Marx, the proletariat and the “will to socialism”’ (2009) 37 Critique pp319-43; ‘“Its patrimony, its unique wealth!” Labour-power, working class consciousness and crises’ (2010) 38 Critique pp375-417. Comrade Mulholland is not a CPGB supporter and is, obviously, not responsible for any use I may make of his argument.
  9. VI Lenin Socialism and war (1915) chapter 1: www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1915/s+w/ch01.htm#v21fl70h-299 Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, having been written with a view to the tsarist censorship, is less explicit. L Trotsky War and the International (1914) chapter 10: www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1914/war/part3.htm#ch10
  10. Where is Britain going? (1925) chapter 5: www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/britain/wibg/ch05.htm; Their morals and ours (1938): www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/morals/morals.htm
  11. www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1917/imperial/14.htm
  12. www.marxists.org/archive/gorter/1914/imperialism.htm
  13. Revolutionary strategy pp87-89; ‘Labour Party blues’ Weekly Worker July 23 2009.
  14. Visible in the Junius pamphlet (1915): www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1915/junius/index.htm
  15. www.marxists.org/archive/korsch/1923/marxism-philosophy.htm So too Pannekoek in ‘Marxism as action’ (1915): www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1915/marxism-action.htm, though his ‘The third international’ (1917, www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1917/thirdinter.htm) is closer to the Lenin and Zinoviev-Trotsky-Bukharin line.
  16. Weekly Worker articles, ‘Hegelian pitfalls’, July 21 2003; ‘Classical Marxism and grasping the dialectic’, September 4 2003; ‘Spontaneity and Marxist theory’, September 6 2007; ‘Against philosopher-kings’, December 11 2008.
  17. This is, incidentally, my reason for believing that the theory of sexuality Jamie Gough and I defended in outline in 1985 has more explanatory power than Pablo Ben’s ‘Frankfurt’ version. Because our account begins with matters prior to capitalism and their persistence within capitalism, it also grasps more fully the transformations of sexualities within capitalist development over the last three centuries.
  18. Cf my ‘Sects and “new left” disillusionment’ Weekly Worker April 15 2010.
  19. platypus1917.org/about/what-is-a-platypus
  20. www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1895/letters/95_03_12.htm
  21. Eg, Louis Althusser in Reading ‘Capital’ (online at readingcapital.blogspot.com/2007/02/marx-and-his-discoveries.html) gives the letter to Schmidt as an example of Engels’ “empiricism” and departure from Marx; contra J Rees, ‘Engels’ Marxism’ International Socialism 1994, No65:  pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj65/rees.htm; cf also H Putnam Mind, language and reality (Cambridge 1979) chapter 11.