Parent Organization: University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Platypus is a project for the self-criticism, self-education, and, ultimately, the practical reconstitution of a Marxian Left.

At present the Marxist Left appears as a historical ruin. The received wisdom of today dictates that past, failed attempts at emancipation stand not as moments full of potential yet to be redeemed, but rather as “what was” — utopianism that was bound to end in tragedy. As critical inheritors of a vanquished tradition, Platypus contends that — after the failure of the 1960s New Left, and the dismantlement of the welfare state and the destruction of the Soviet Union in the 1980s-90s — the present disorientation of the Left means we can hardly claim to know the tasks and goals of social emancipation better than the “utopians” of the past did. 

Our task is critique and education towards the reconstitution of a Marxian Left. Platypus contends that the ruin of the Marxist Left as it stands today is of a tradition whose defeat was largely self-inflicted, hence at present the Marxist Left is historical, and in such a grave state of decomposition that it has become exceedingly difficult to draft coherently programmatic social-political demands. In the face of the catastrophic past and present, the first task for the reconstitution of a Marxian Left as an emancipatory force is to recognize the reasons for the historical failure of Marxism and to clarify the necessity of a Marxian Left for the present and future. — If the Left is to change the world, it must first transform itself! 

The improbable — but not impossible — reconstitution of an emancipatory Left is an urgent task; we believe that the future of humanity depends on it. While the devastating forces unleashed by modern society — capitalism — remain, the unfulfilled promise of social emancipation still calls for redemption. To abdicate this or to obscure the gravity of past defeats and failures by looking to “resistance” from “outside” the dynamics of modern society is to affirm its present and guarantee its future destructive reality.

Platypus asks the questions: How is the thought of critical theorists of modern society such as Marx, Lukács, Benjamin and Adorno relevant for the struggle for social emancipation today? How can we make sense of the long history of impoverished politics on the Left leading to the present — after the international Marxist Left of Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, to the barrenness of today — without being terrorized or discouraged by this history? — How might the answers to such questions help the urgent task of reconstituting the Left at its most fundamental levels of theory and practice? How might we help effect escape from the dead-end the Left has become?

We hope to re-invigorate a conversation on the Left that has long since fallen into senility or silence, in order to help found anew an emancipatory political practice that is presently absent.

What has the Left been, and what can it yet become? — Platypus exists because the answer to such a question, even its basic formulation, has long ceased to be self-evident.

April, 2007


1. Membership must be open to all students, and faculty/staff members where appropriate, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or covered veteran status. This statement must be presented verbatim in the constitution. 
2. A statement of how funds will be handled must be stated, including the following: process for receipting, timeframe for depositing money, and procedures to approve expenditures. 
3. A provision for the disposition of funds remaining in the event of the dissolution of the group must be stated. Organizations must select a specific group if donating any remaining funds. Example: Any remaining funds will be donated to the University of Tennessee. 

Primary Organization Advisor Name

Allen Dunn

Advisor email address


When do the organization's elections / leadership transition take place each year?

No Response

When does the organization meet?

Every Thursday, 7 pm

Where does the organization normally meet?

Hodges Library, Room 220D (Commons North)

Annual programs and events of the organization is known for:

Third Parties and the Left: Problems and Prospects Black Politics and State Violence Radical Ideology Today: Marxism and Anarchism Aging in the Afterlife: The Many Deaths of Art

When does the organization tradItionally recruit new members?


Name and email for who those interested in joining the organization should contact?

Matt Cavagrotti (mcavagro@vols.utk.edu) Grady Lowery (glowery1@vols.utk.edu)



Phone Number P:(865) 321-0864