A Message from Cornel West

February 2011

Brothers and Sisters!

We meet this year at a time of great uncertainty and foreboding, not only for Americans, but for peoples around the world. There are signs that neoliberalism is imploding, and the U.S. hegemon is unstable. But so far, instead of the Left it is the Right that is on the march—for free market fundamentalism, an aggressive militarism, and escalating authoritarianism. It is a triumphant Right that attacks the social democratic policies that are the achievements of the Left.

Being a leftist is a calling, not a career; it’s a vocation not a profession. It means you are concerned about structural violence, you are concerned about exploitation at the work place, you are concerned about institutionalized contempt against gay brothers and lesbian sisters, hatred against peoples of color, and the subordination of women. It means that you are willing to fight against, and to try to understand the sources of social misery at the structural and institutional levels, as well as at the existential and personal levels. That’s what it means to be a leftist; that’s why we choose to be certain kinds of human beings. And that’s why we come to the Left Forum year after year—because we are convinced that we do not want to live in a world where we can’t exercise our intellectual, political, social and cultural capacities to leave this place a little better than it was before we entered it.

This year’s Left Forum theme is “Toward a Politics of Solidarity,” a prophetic message in these frightening times. Make no mistake about it, this is a moment in which we need solidarity with our brothers and sisters in struggle around the world. We need a strong and militant Left that embraces the rich diversity of our movement history. We need an energized Left that defends people against the brutality of a globally expansive and predatory capitalism.

The Left Forum—which will take place from March 18-20—is one of the places where we can seek and build the solidarity we need to take on the corporate greed that is destroying the planet. The yearly conference has a long and proud tradition as a space where diverse, politically engaged people come together to debate, critique, and share ideas and strategies for building a better world. It brings together the broad non-sectarian Left of scholars, labor activists, anarchists, students, and movement organizers from around the world.

I write to you today at a time when the continuation of this venerable tradition is under threat. We keep conference fees as low as possible to encourage the widest possible participation. But the cost of producing the event continues to escalate. The Left Forum needs your help.

I will be at this year’s Left Forum. I hope you will, too. But now, please give as generously as you can. Please make a donation (tax deductible), and do your part.

In solidarity,

Cornel West

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