Commune, Council, Party: Marxism and Direct Democracy

Instructor: Mason Herson-Hord

December 14 – February 22, 7:30-9:00 pm Eastern
10-week online course exploring Marxism, direct democracy, and political strategy

Throughout his life, Karl Marx plunged himself into popular struggles for democracy. He was a participant in the revolutions of 1848 and for the rest of his life championed the sweeping democratization of society. Even so, he rarely saw the particulars of democratic political structure as worthwhile to discuss in any detail, and his disciples in subsequent generations of revolutionaries had to bridge the ambiguities of Marx’s political theory with the practical necessity of determining how power is to be organized in real movements seeking to change the world. How and to what extent should the ideas, goals, and desires of ordinary working people be translated into political action? And through what institutional means? These questions are inescapable and occupy center stage in the politics of social ecology, yet Marxists in particular have struggled to answer them. Indeed, the British Marxist Ralph Milliband observed that “the exercise of socialist power remains the Achilles’ heel of Marxism.”

Course Format

Each week we will read the texts and meet for a seminar discussion following an input by the instructor. There are also online forums where the conversation can be continued between sessions. The texts are downloadable from the course portal. The course will involve a significant reading commitment (40-50 pages per week) including advanced material. Having taken the introductory ISE course Ecology, Democracy, Utopia or attended an ISE intensive course is recommended but not required. This is not an introduction to Marxism, though additional materials for necessary background knowledge on the subject can be provided to any who would like them. There are no written assignments or grades.

The course costs $100, please register here via Eventbrite.

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