SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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In London Street: The Dewey - Trotsky Encounter in Politics and Praxis

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Kevin S Decker
Eastern Washington University
United States

Abstract:
Seventy-five years after the Dewey Commission inquiry into the political activity of Leon Trotsky, there is still interest in comparisons between these two thinkers, radical in their own ways. A thread common to Dewey's pragmatism and Trotskyist though is the idea of social critique as an immanent enterprise. This comparative paper frames its inquiry in terms of sociologist David Sciulli’s views about the limitations on the design of the original restraints on arbitrary government codified in Western constitutional tradition and how they no longer operate.If we are genuinely interested in seizing upon Dewey’s injunction that “philosophy is or ought to become the criticism of criticisms directed toward fostering enlightened change and social reconstruction,” then there are a number of Trotky's reflections on revolution and civil society prior to 1917 that can be useful for "permanent reconstruction" in a Deweyan vein.

 

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