Political Economy and the Current Crisis

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My Mis-Education in 3 Graphics documents the filmmaker’s darkly humorous journey through the mind-boggling constructs of mainstream economics. Critics offer some clear-sighted alternatives to the dominating economists' beliefs and models. The film is a visually fun satire deconstructing the current orthodox version of "the dismal science". Filmed introductory economics course lectures and interviews with economists reveal the enormous rift between the economic textbook models and the filmmaker’s and other critics’ understandings of economic reality. The first part of the film explores how mainstream economics (mis)represents markets, the next is a presentation of their befuddling model of the firm, and the final section, on macroeconomics, points to some of the major issues hidden by the models: financial debt’s contribution to inequality, and the unaccounted for destruction of the natural world. Mainstream economists such as N.Gregory Mankiw, George Borts, Timothy Taylor, and Lawrence Summers are critiqued by Herman Daly, Michael Hudson, Randall Wray, Richard McIntyre, Richard and Max Wolff, Robert Pollin, Nancy Holmstrom, Richard Smith, Costas Panayotakis, Doug Henwood, John Foster, Susan Feiner, and Stephen Marglin.

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This panel will explore the crises that have transformed the daily lives of Americans both economically and personally. Existence is now precarious on every level. We will use New Marxian analyses to explore where the crises originated, how they function and how they can be a force in transforming America.

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The solidarity economy is an alternative to capitalism that is growing up within and alongside of it, and within and outside of markets. In contrast to capitalism, centered in individualism, greed, competition, and domination, it is based on values of solidarity and cooperation, equity in all dimensions, sustainability, economic and political democracy, and pluralism. This roundtable will discuss the growth and development of the solidarity economy both conceptually and concretely within two cities, Boston and New York, and on a national scale. What forms is it taking? What are the forces encouraging its growth, and some of the problems and limitations being encountered? What can we learn from one another’s best practices? Julie will speak as an academic, providing historical and theoretical context for the emergence and growth of the solidarity economy. Micky will speak from her experience as a worker-owner in Agaric, with the platform cooperativism movement, and with UjimaBoston, which is building solidarity economy as a means of empowerment and economic development in an under-resourced community of color in Boston. Sarah works alongside Micky and 450+ members with the Boston Ujima Project as Ujima's Communications Organizer. She will discuss her work building connections and shared strategy with Ujima and with Resource Generation, a national organization focused on shifting wealth and power to POC-led movements, among young people access to wealth and class privilege. Emilie will speak as a board member and peer educator at CEANYC, involved in their leadership development work, including their Cooperative Leadership Intensive and Food Co-op Anti-Racism training, and as well as plans to build an Advocacy Council of grassroots solidarity economy practitioners.

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The legendary Black Panther & National Welfare Rights Activist Rev Annie (Rogers) Chambers sits down with Diane Pagen of Basic Income Action and Basic Income NYC to discuss how a Universal Basic Income Guarantee would affect the Welfare Recipient Community and change the broader landscape of what it means to have welfare in the USA. Now 77 years old and a Public Housing HUD RAB Delegate, Annie Chambers is working to revitalize National Welfare Rights across the country as it seeks to empower the poor & working class while working with organizations such as the Poor People's Campaign. Diane Pagen is nationally known for her research into waste and abuse in the welfare system as well as being a practicing social worker. Ian Schlakman, a co-founder of Basic Income Action and organizer with the newly revived National Welfare Rights will moderate the conversation as we identify the historic conflicts between the Basic Income community and the Welfare Advocates and how the two communities can move forward to advance the agenda of the poor and working class. Topics will include historical accounts about the organizing style of National Welfare Rights including protests in welfare offices and direct confrontation with anti-poor elitist politicians, the Johnnie Tillmon Method of Organizing and then move to the modern struggle of National Welfare Rights advocating for a Basic Income within their important role in the Poor People's march on Washington last year. Visuals of historic National Welfare Rights moments will be presented along with infographics about our current welfare programs. Q&A with the audience will follow the main discussion.

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This panel will examine the political economy of the weak recovery since the 2008 financial crisis. The panel will examine the weakness of this recovery in connection with the failure of the recession of 2008-9 to destroy or devalue sufficient unprofitable capital, or deleverage enough debt, to ensure a strong rebound in profitability. The fragility came, above all, from the bloated financial system, which threatened to generalise any new sign of crisis. The uncertainty was a product of state interventions that helped put a floor under the crisis without resolving the fundamental problems that caused it.

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At the panel speakers will argue that the decline of neo-liberalism and the growth of a new conservative wave are objectively conditioned. The prevailing model of late capitalism that has led to the domination of the market of simulacra, financialization and stagnation, called the ‘new normality’, cannot ensure the progress of the productive forces that are on the verge of not just another technological revolution, but a qualitative change – the genesis of the economy in which a decisive role will be played not by reproductive, but by creative work. Not just re-industrialization – the coming creative revolution – necessitates at least a deep reform of the currently dominant social and economic system. The non-realization of these changes is fraught with conservative regress of both the economy and society. The main directions of reforming the system of economic relations that respond to the challenges of the progress of the productive forces will be discussed at the panel.

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Within the panel, speakers from Russia and the United States - famous scientists and public figures will show that the basis of the ongoing 5-year conflict between Russia and the US is the contradiction of the corporate capitals of these countries, which are closely aligned with the top of their state apparatus.

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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.

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When the yellow vests movement began in November 2018 following the Macron government’s decision to raise the tax on diesel, it was characterized by many, including those on the far left, as being a movement of the extreme right - anti-immigrant and anti-ecological. It was a movement that existed outside the major urban centers. And it was outside the unions and political parties that would usually be associated with any significant mobilization. But far from being a minority movement, it is made up of a significant portion of the French population: the poorer sections of the working class, retirees and women. The movement gained widespread support as it demonstrated on the exclusive Champs de Elysees in Paris and battled the police for the right to put forward its grievances. It was made up of hundreds of local “headquarters” with people meeting on the “roundabouts.” Recently General Assemblies, grouping members or representatives into broader regional bodies have been formed to discuss the direction of their movement. This panel will discuss the political developments within this movement and how the extreme left can engage this new movement that has the possibility to challenge the mechanisms of power.

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What defines the capitalism system? How can we explain the dynamics of this global system and its enormous destructiveness - both of people's lives and the very ecology upon which we depend? Are workers still the potential gravediggers of the capitalist system? These are burning questions for our age. No wonder, then, that Marx's Capital, which takes up these issues, continues to excite debate and controversy 150 years after its publication. Joseph Choonara's guide, which aims to make Capital accessible to a new audience interested in socialist ideas, was first published to in the UK in 2017. Now, Haymarket books have made this work available to a US audience through a new edition of the book published this year. Join the author for a discussion of the contemporary relevance of Marx's greatest work.