add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );A Platypus at Boston College? - The Platypus Affiliated Society at BC - BANG.
Colin McLean / Gavel Media

A Platypus at Boston College? - The Platypus Affiliated Society at BC

When I was first introduced to the idea that there was a Platypus at Boston College, I was confronted with many emotions ranging from intrigue to straight-up confusion. What could a semiaquatic, egg-laying mammal endemic to Australia be doing in Chestnut Hill? Things just weren't adding up to me. It wasn't until I stumbled upon the Platypus BC flier hanging in the hallway of Stokes North, proclaiming, "What is the Left, an Introduction to Revolutionary Marxism," complete with a picture of a rather charming platypus, that everything fell into place for me. Unfortunately, there wasn't a living, breathing Australian quadruped on The Heights waiting for me to find it; instead, there was a society of communists on the campus, which sounded just as novel, if not more intriguing, than a real live platypus on the quad. 

The Platypus Affiliated Society is a national organization with chapters at many schools. The organization believes the left has been dead since the end of the 20th century. It is up to the members of Platypus to talk about it, sift the wreckage, and figure out what new direction they wish to take with their ideology. The Platypus meets in Stokes South 394 on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., a standard conference room that subverts expectations for a site that holds communist meetings, in which one might expect to observe flags of various communist states plastered on the walls.

It is best to attend with an open mind to get to the bottom of this mysterious Platypus and be open to the possibility of a proletarian revolution. As I reached the third floor of Stokes South, the building was silent, almost as if the noise usually found within the building had been redistributed elsewhere across the campus. 

After a few minutes, two more members appeared: undergraduates, and finally, Will Stratford, a history Ph.D. student and the de facto leader of Platypus BC, arrived. Will introduced himself as a Ph.D. student, provided a warm welcome then, and stated that he was one of the club's organizers and the man in the room upon entering. Following this short introduction, the club members got right into their meeting. 

First, Will told the group that they would follow the syllabus for that week and discuss Rosa Luxemburg, a prominent Marxist theorist and political activist known for her advocacy of radical socialism. Then, he handed it over to one of the other members who would be doing a presentation on the weekly reading. He had prepared a paper with his critiques and exciting talking points for the group. He would first read a particular quote of interest from his laptop and provide his opinion. Following that, he would pose a question for discussion to the group, stimulating a very intellectual debate about the points he had raised. 

It is crucial to have a loose understanding of the reading or of greater Marxist theory to best enjoy the club and be thoroughly enthralled by the discussion that was going on. Their discussion continued for a while as many unique and insightful topics were discussed; eventually, around 8:30 p.m.. The group decided to have a tea break to give themselves an intellectual pause. At this point, all this Marxist discussion that I was struggling to follow as a newly minted comrade had really tired me out, so I figured it would be best for me to try and gather as much information about Platypus BC as possible before leaving. 

The Platypus Affiliated Society has held meetings at BC for at least four years. It is, in fact, certified by OSI as an official club of the university. The process for chartering Platypus wasn't all that difficult despite the club's progressive ideology, which clashes with BC's more conservative views. Furthermore, usually, there are about five people at their meetings, and members are not exclusive to Boston College students as the club has seen older members from the local community attend as well. 

Finally, I asked the most pressing question everyone had on their minds when they read the flier for the club: why is it called Platypus? Was the plan to lure people with the idea of possibly seeing a rare creature indigenous to Oceania and then lure them into seizing the means of production? According to the official Platypus website, the Platypus represents a metaphor for the unexpected, the challenging, and the unconventional within history and ideology. Initially disregarded by Fredrich Engels as a fraud, the Platypus symbolized his inability to align the natural world with his philosophical ideas. Still, once he encountered a living platypus, he was forced to reconsider his beliefs, mirroring the idea that the left needs to reassess its principles and adapt to the changing world. Thus, the Platypus symbolizes the need for intellectual flexibility, humility, and openness to new ideas in the left's ideological framework. So armed with this new knowledge, my curiosity was satisfied, and I went home blissfully that I had solved the biggest mystery of the week and now knew why there was a platypus at BC. 

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