'Democracy and the Left'

June 2024 Forums Events and announcements 'Democracy and the Left'

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    Thursday, 28 March @ 7pm

    Venue:  Goldsmiths College, University of London, SE14 6NW

    Platypus discussion panel

    Contributors include:

    Adam Buick (SPGB)

    James Heartfield (Spiked, independent author)

    Benjamin Studebaker (Graduate researcher at Cambridge University)

    Further information to follow

    ‘Democracy and the Left’ (South East London – 7pm)

    Join Platypus Goldsmiths for an open and wide-ranging discussion of an age-old question, which is certainly pertinent to our present moment:

    ‘Democracy and the Left’ – Followed by Q&A. Thursday, 28 March 2019 – 7pm Goldsmiths College,  University of London, SE14 6NW
    (Richard Hoggart Building Room 256)

    Speakers: Benjamin Studebaker (Cambridge University, What’s Left podcast); Marjorie Mayo (Emeritus Professor, Goldsmiths University); James Heartfield (Independent author, Spiked!); Adam Buick (Socialist Party of Great Britain).

    Corbyn, Sanders, Trump, Brexit, and the gilet jaunes among others have all claimed the mantle of democracy, but what does it mean for the Left? Our panel will be held on the eve of the planned (at the moment!) date for the UK to leave the EU.
    This panel will be part of an international series put on by Platypus on the same theme, addressing the democratic movements which have been taken up by both the left and right in recent years.

    Questions for panelists:

    ‘Democracy and the Left’

    1. What is the relationship between democracy and the working class today? Do you consider historical struggles for democracy by workers as the medium by which they got “assimilated” to the system, or the only path to emancipation that they couldn’t avoid trying to take?
    2. Do you consider it as necessary to eschew established forms of mass politics in favour of new forms in order to build a democratic movement? Or are current mass form of politics adequate for a democratic society?
    3. Why has democracy emerged as the primary demand of spontaneous forms of discontent? Do you also consider it necessary, or adequate, to deal with the pathologies of our era?
    4. Engels wrote that “A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is”. Do you agree? Can this conception be compatible with the struggle for democracy?
    5. Is democracy oppressive, or can it be such? How would you judge Lenin’s formulation that: “…democracy is also a state and that, consequently, democracy will also disappear when the state disappears.”  


    J Surman

    Thanks Dave, really good to see the questions up for the panellists. Plenty of scope for discussion. I do hope there will be an opportunity to hear it on line some time in the future?

    Power to Adam’s elbow, no doubt he’ll get the socialist case across powerfully.


    I managed to get this link fom the Platypus people for better audio recordings.



    No problem listening to this, very commendable of you!

    J Surman

    Thanks Matt, that worked fine. Some interesting points on what democracy is and/or isn’t. And plenty of food for thought.


    The audio for this event is now on our website at

    Platypus Discussion Panel – Democracy and the Left

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