Les Temps Modernes: The Early Decades

2 sessions with Mitch Abidor

Les Temps Modernes, founded by Sartre and Beauvoir in 1945, ceased publication in December 2018. It had been one of the most prestigious intellectual, political, and cultural journals in the world, in its heyday between 1945-1975 setting the terms of intellectual debate all over the world.

This class will examine the first decades of its existence, when such important works as Sartre’s What is Literature appeared in it, as well as the first installments of Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. It will focus on its political positions, as Sartre first attempted to set up a third-way party, became a fellow-traveler of the PCF (publishing The Communists and Peace), then rejected working with the Communists (publishing The Ghost of Stalin). It will trace the journal and its editors’ commitment to anti-colonialism, particularity its courageous work in support of the Algerian FLN. Its role during May 68 and its aftermath will be examined, as Les Temps Modernes espoused the cause of the Maoists and the far left all over the world. Finally, it will look at its position on the conflict in the Middle East, about which Les Temps Modernes published a 1000 page issue.

Mitch Abidor has published over a dozen volumes of translation, including a collection of Victor Serge’s anarchist writings, Anarchists Never Surrender. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, and Cineaste. Mitch has been translated into German and Turkish. He is currently writing a history of the Bisbee Deportation of 1917.

 

This is a two week course. Fees below are suggested and are sliding scale. No one is turned away for inability to pay.

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Existentialism and the Anti-Psychiatry Movement

Existentialism and the Anti-Psychiatry Movement:
Considerations on Laing, Cooper, Schizoid-analysis and Radio Alice

A two-week presentation by Michael Pelias
Tuesday, May 9 and 16, 7:30 to 9:30 pm

Behind the anti-psychiatry movement that blossomed during the 1970s was the fundamental post-Freudian work of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential psychoanalysis. This highly creative approach by Sartre was named “existential psychoanalysis” and was first articulated at the end of the classic, Being and Nothingness (1943). We will read a selection of this new approach to psychic individuation alongside the Laing/Cooper nexus that sprung the anti-psychiatry movement and resulted in open psychiatric institutions, mental health liberation activity, and an on-going critique of “bourgeois” psychiatry and contemporary behaviorism, cognitive and psycho-pharmacological approaches to the question of what is mental health. We will also look at Laing’s famous proposition that schizophrenia is the sanest reaction to capitalism and engage the schizoid analysis of Deleuze and Guattari alongside the anti-psychiatry moment of Basaglia and Radio Alice in Italy.

At minimum, please read this section from Laing’s Politics of Experience at Marxists.org: https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/laing.htm

Michael Pelias teaches both ancient and modern Philosophy at Long Island University, Brooklyn and is one of the co-founders of the Institute for the Radical Imagination and co-managing editor of the journal Situations.

Those who are participating in the New Left course on Tuesday evenings are already enrolled for these two sessions.

Fees listed below are sliding scale. No one is turned away for inability to pay.

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60s New Left: National and International

A New Left Begins
2nd sessions
Beginning Tuesday, May 2 — sessions continue through July
with Mitch Abidor, Jenny Brown, Michael Pelias and others

May 2, a reading and discussion of Marat/Sade. Watch the film if you have the opportunity
May 9 and 16, RD Laing, counter-psychiatric / anti-psychiatry. The Politics of Experience and more. Presentations and discussion with Michael Pelias on May 9 and May 16.
May 23 and 30. Paris. May, 1968. These talks will investigate the events May 68 in France through an analysis of the writings of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, one of the most important and interesting of its leaders, as well as the experiences of rank and file militants interviewed by Mitch Abidor for his forthcoming oral history, May Made Me.
Mitchell Abidor is the principal French translator for the Marxists Internet Archive and has published several collections of his translations, among them Jean Jaurès’ Socialist History of the French Revolution and A Raskolnikoff by Emmanuel Bove, and previously untranslated works by Victor Serge and Daniel Guerin, as well as writings from the French Revolution, are forthcoming. His May Made Me will appear in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the May events in France.
June 6 and 13. The music didn’t die. A look at the many cultural influences of the first generation born with the bomb and mutually assured destruction from day one. An overview and music and a reading and discussion of Jeff Nuttal’s Bomb Culture.
The growth of Women’s liberation and the experience of the growth of this mass movement in the 1960s and what this meant for the new left. Jenny Brown from National Women’s Liberation will select and help focus these our discussion at dates to be determined.
Jenny Brown is an organizer with National Women’s Liberation and has been involved in feminist theory and organizing since 1988, first with Gainesville Women’s Liberation in Gainesville, Florida and then with the Redstockings Women’s Liberation Archives for Action, a movement think-tank and archive based in New York. She co-authored the Redstockings book, Women’s Liberation and National Healthcare: Confronting the Myth of America and the Labor Notes book How to Jump Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers along with numerous essays and articles. She was also a co-chair of a Labor Party Local Organizing Committee in Gainesville, Florida and is a former editor of Labor Notes.

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Sartre’s Search For A Method

Five More Sessions with Dan Karan
April 25-May23
A series within the Emergence of A New Left Programming

John Paul Sartre was one of the most important radical intellectuals of the 20th century yet he is largely forgotten or ignored by most Marxists and others on “the left.” This, despite the fact that as a philosopher, playwright, novelist, essayist and political activist Sartre’s primary concerns surrounded questions of individual freedom, choice and action (in his early career) and the relationship between individual freedom and collective good (in his later career) and developing a method for understanding history, the structure of class struggle and the fate of mass movements and popular revolt. Ronald Hayman, one of Sartre’s biographers, summarizes Sartre’s intellectual project as follows:

“As a Marxist he wanted to believe that dialectical materialism offered a complete interpretation of history – that all the contradictions, conflicts, heterogeneities, anomalies could be subsumed in a single totalization. Sartre is simultaneously concerned to provide Marxism with an adequate theory of knowledge, both Marx and Lenin had worked without one – and to combat the Heideggarian existentialism which consistently makes Being its point of departure. Sartre insists that history is the history of human initiatives. What emerges as the crucial problem is how to map the jungle of obscure connections between historical movements and individual actions.”

This class will focus on Sartre’s 1957 text, Search For A Method, which reflects his growth from existentialist philosopher concerned with individual freedom to an anti-authoritarian existential Marxist who believed that individual freedom can only come about via one’s commitment to the collective good. Search for a Method consists of three major parts: The first part discusses Marxist and existentialist views of the world; the second, how the individual relates to structures; and, the third develops a methodology for understanding the individual, history and structures.

Dan Karan has been studying Marxism for 40 years and was a student of John Gerassi, Sartre’s official biographer.

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