Political and Social Movements

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Theater of the Oppressed (TO) is a methodology and set of techniques that has its origins in the political and cultural liberation struggles that developed in Brazil during the 1950s and 1960s. It was founded by the late Augusto Boal (1931-2009) in the early 1970s, and since then has been used around the world by activists and organizers fighting against oppression in all its forms as a tool to help mobilize communities in struggle. Conceived and practiced as a martial art, TO is rooted in a popular education model of theater; its original objective is to transfer the “means of production of the theater” to people fighting to change power relations at all levels of society. In the United States context, TO has been successfully applied in immigrant rights organizing, in anti-racism education, in community leadership training, and in many other projects and endeavors that are striving for social justice and radical anti-capitalist change. Founded in 1990 with the support of the Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School, the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) is the oldest group in the US offering TO facilitation training. In this workshop, the presenters—all long-time TO practitioners—will teach some of the basic TO games and exercises, in which participants will explore how they and the communities and constituencies with whom they work can apply TO techniques to build solidarity, a sense of community, and a greater level of engagement with people who are actively working for social transformation. TOPLAB has offered annual workshops at the Socialist Scholars Conference and the Left Forum since the early 1990s. Request: Two 110-minute back-to-back sessions. This has been TOPLAB's workshop format for many years. The same workshop will be offered twice.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Wondering why we're experiencing abortion bans and attacks on birth control? The birth rate is plunging in the U.S.: It's a spontaneous birth strike! In other countries, panic over low birth rates has led governments to underwrite childbearing and childrearing with generous universal programs, but in the U.S., women have not yet realized the potential of our bargaining position. When we do, it will lead to new strategies for improving the difficult working conditions U.S. parents now face when raising children. Join Jenny Brown, in discussion with Laura Tanenbaum, on her new book, Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight over Women’s Work (PM Press, 2019).

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

We are now in the midst of an epoch of death and mass extinction. Conventional approaches are failing. Social and ecological regeneration must be rooted in communities of liberation and solidarity. The new book, Between Earth and Empire: From the Necrocene to the Beloved Community, by celebrated philosopher and educator John P. Clark explores significant recent progress in this direction, including indigenous movements of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Democratic Autonomy Movement in Rojava, in West Papua, and many more. Longtime human rights activist, educator, organizer Matt Meyer joins this conversation with his own work on international and intersectional organizing. This is a call to arms for the rebirth of a libertarian and communitarian social imaginary, and the flourishing of a free cooperative community globally. Join us!

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

From white nationalists to male tribalists, and from Christian theocrats to Patriot movement activists, the U.S. far right has made dangerous gains in recent years. These “insurgent supremacists” bolster established systems of oppression but also challenge the existing political order in real ways. Antifascist researcher Matthew N. Lyons will outline the major far right currents, their ideologies and goals, their interconnections and tensions with the Trump administration, and some key lessons for antifascist work.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Theater of the Oppressed (TO) is a methodology and set of techniques that has its origins in the political and cultural liberation struggles that developed in Brazil during the 1950s and 1960s. It was founded by the late Augusto Boal (1931-2009) in the early 1970s, and since then has been used around the world by activists and organizers fighting against oppression in all its forms as a tool to help mobilize communities in struggle. Conceived and practiced as a martial art, TO is rooted in a popular education model of theater; its original objective is to transfer the “means of production of the theater” to people fighting to change power relations at all levels of society. In the United States context, TO has been successfully applied in immigrant rights organizing, in anti-racism education, in community leadership training, and in many other projects and endeavors that are striving for social justice and radical anti-capitalist change. Founded in 1990 with the support of the Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School, the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) is the oldest group in the US offering TO facilitation training. In this workshop, the presenters—all long-time TO practitioners—will teach some of the basic TO games and exercises, in which participants will explore how they and the communities and constituencies with whom they work can apply TO techniques to build solidarity, a sense of community, and a greater level of engagement with people who are actively working for social transformation. TOPLAB has offered annual workshops at the Socialist Scholars Conference and the Left Forum since the early 1990s. Request: Two 110-minute back-to-back sessions. This has been TOPLAB's workshop format for many years. The same workshop will be offered twice.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

A proper material analysis of the world requires constant engagement with developments in science and philosophy. This panel hopes to explore the ideas how complexity science, evolution, computation, sync, and similar scientific and philosophical insights might inform today's left politics. The presentation will start with a discussion of basic principles of complexity theory such as linear vs non-linear systems, replication, feedback, emergent behavior, and sync. Within this framework we will look at some example phenomena in today's political discourse such as individual and systemic racism, third party politics, comparative revolutionary processes, and how complex systems inform debt unionization.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Over a span of three-quarters of a century, Pete Seeger, as musician, performer, social and political activist, and revolutionary thinker, had a profound effect in all these areas on many people. Our panel, (four) people who knew and performed with him, will discuss Pete’s influence by presenting his songs, both famous and lesser known, some personal anecdotes, and his influence on the social and political movements and activism of today. In a brief workshop period, the panelists will encourage the attendees to relate any of their own memories and stories of first-hand encounters and how they were influenced by Pete.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

The midterm elections and the Mueller report have not (yet) succeeding in removing Donald Trump from the White House, much less in quashing the racist, xenophobic, misogynist, and authoritarian phenomenon known as Trumpism. Much of the organized “left,” busy pushing its own agenda, sits by as he destroys people and planet. What do we have to do now? In this session, panelists will provide Marxist-Humanist perspectives on the threats coming from Trumpism and from “leftists” who accommodate to it. Adam Plante, a young education activist, will argue that vigorous defense of liberal democracy, as well as a perspective to transcend it, are necessary preconditions for a freer and more just society. Brendan Cooney of Kapitalism101 (http://kapitalism101.wordpress.com) will challenge the view that economic populism is worthy of the title “Left,”as well as the claim that this populism can defeat Trumpism. Anne Jaclard, feminist and Marxist-Humanist, will contrast Karl Marx’s advocacy of social-economic revolution, brought about by rank-and-file workers and grassroots movements, to the “Left First” perspective of those who desire power for themselves and their organizations. By stifling the Resistance and other progressive movements they cannot control, the latter turn socialism into an unattainable abstraction. Andrew Kliman, a Pace University economist, will draw on Marx’s writings and activity around Irish independence and the US Civil War to argue that our first task is to crush Trumpism. Its humiliating defeat will help his “base” to free itself from the grip of reaction and to turn to independent, emancipatory self-activity. The speakers represent a diversity of age and gender. There will be ample time for dialogue among speakers and with the audience.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Trumpism and other far-right forces are now powerful and growing worldwide, and Stalinist totalitarianism is being enthusiastically embraced by youth. In this session, panelists will address various aspects of this resurgent authoritarianism, discussing their nature and causes, and what to do in response. The speakers represent a diversity of color and gender. There will be ample time for dialogue among speakers and with the audience. Jason Stanley, Yale University philosopher, will present on themes from his bestselling book How Fascism Works (Random House, 2018). Journalist Bill Weinberg of CounterVortex (https://countervortex.org) will discuss the continuing “red-brown” convergence. Andrew Kliman, a Pace University economist, will present evidence on Obama-Trump voters’ right-wing authoritarianism. Anne Jaclard, Organizational Secretary of Marxist-Humanist Initiative, will discuss the turn to neo-Stalinist (“tankie”) politics among some youth. Eric Andrian, a Black, London-based, activist and writer for With Sober Senses, participating via Skype, will explore what Marxist-Humanism brings to the fight against authoritarianism.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Anti-capitalist and radical-left lawyers and advocates can play an important role in social movements. We know that our legal system institutionalizes injustice and enforces class rule. It’s a site of power and oppression that we cannot leave uncontested because of the immediate damage it does, but we know that solely fighting within the parameters of capitalist law will never lead to the radical social change we need.That’s why lawyers and advocates need to use their legal skills to support grassroots organizing and movements struggling for social transformation. This session will bring together radical lawyers and advocates to explore how we can better support movement building, and how can we do more to strategically disrupt and challenge the legal system, while working under the leadership of those it harms the most.