Political Economy and the Current Crisis

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Continuing from “Towards an Organized Tech Industry—Part One”, this panel will focus on the vision of what could be accomplished with more worker power in the industry, in terms of what tech workers should be organizing towards. We’ll sketch out alternatives to the current situation of how technological development is funded and organised, and outline how current struggles can tie into that larger vision.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Underfunded and deep in debt, New York City’s subway system is falling apart. Derailments, fires, electrical failures and equipment malfunctions have become everyday events, multiplying the perennial problems of overcrowding, delays and cancellations. The worst effects fall disproportionately on the working class and especially poor people of color. Meanwhile the public transit system has become a source of steady profits for Wall Street bankers and real estate barons.

The system’s workforce is also under severe stress. Their union, TWU Local 100, has a rich tradition of militancy, and with a membership that now consists largely of people of color it has the potential to play a leading role in mobilizing working-class and oppressed people in resistance.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

This panel brings together two undergraduate students and two faculty members to discuss and explore the possibilities of student-faculty collaborative research projects as sites for social justice work and campus organizing. The project at the center of this panel investigates the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a nationwide “nonprofit” composed of state legislators and private corporations. Founded in the 1970s, ALEC works to create bills that are disguised to seem unbiased, yet are designed to benefit corporations at the expense of America’s middle and working classes. After ALEC, along with its legislative and corporate members, creates a “model bill,” legislators introduce it in state and federal governing bodies, allowing the organization to quietly coordinate and direct the nation’s political agenda. ALEC is responsible for some of the most egregious attacks on minority, immigrant, and working-class groups in recent years. It has promoted its pro-business, anti-immigrant, and anti-environment platform by crafting model policies for voter ID laws, mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines and bail bonds reforms that benefit the private prison industry, and accountability policies that aim to exploit America’s education system for profit.

As a student-faculty collaborative team, three of our panelists will describe the work they are doing at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to expose ALEC’s impacts on America’s working and middle classes by analyzing already-existing sources of information about ALEC, investigating Millennials’ information literacy capacities and rhetorical preferences for political information, and creating a multimodal campaign of social media messaging and on-campus organizing. Their goal is to mobilize college students to learn about and take action to stop ALEC’s campaign against equitable, inclusive policymaking.

Our first two speakers, undergraduates Wendy Santamaria and Sudeep Dhanoa, will begin the panel by describing ALEC and explaining how it works as a core part of right wing political activity in state and federal government. Then they will discuss findings from their comparative study of the effectiveness, reliability, and persuasive power of different rhetorical strategies for raising awareness about political issues on social media and websites. In today’s noisy media landscape, how can young people learn about complex political entities like ALEC? Santamaria and Dhanoa will present examples of the existing online information about ALEC, the infographics and info-videos their team has been developing, and the types of multimedia texts college students describe as most reliable, effective, and persuasive for learning about political issues on Facebook, Instagram, and other sites.

The third speaker will be Heather Steffen, a postdoctoral scholar and lecturer who collaborates with Santamaria and Dhanoa. Steffen will introduce key points from the literature on student-faculty collaboration in research and on the ways college faculty and staff can support student activists. She will reflect on the challenges and possibilities of such collaborative and supportive relationships, using examples from the ALEC project to demonstrate the enhanced learning, strong cross-generational bonds, and creative thinking about organizing that can take place in sites where students and faculty work together.

The panel and Q&A will be moderated by John Maerhofer, an adjunct assistant professor with experience in global and postcolonial studies. We will reserve at least 40 minutes of the panel’s time for open discussion among attendees, and we hope to spark a lively debate about the possibilities of activist research at institutions of higher education, as well as to prompt consideration of the potential that lies in cross-generational and student-teacher collaboration.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

In this panel we would like to discuss the history and relevance of heterodox economics within the context of the development of the John Jay Economics Department. Presentations will focus on 1) the history of radical political economy in the U.S., 2) the history of the economics department at John Jay College, 3) the development of an alternative heterodox curriculum, 4) how to teach heterodox economics.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

The Divest from the War Machine campaign is working to divest ourselves and our communities from weapons and war. There should be no profit in war and violence. The campaign combines organizing around cities & towns, universities & colleges, demanding Congressional representatives commit to stop taking money from weapons manufacturers, and corporate campaigns against huge investment firms that are making a killing on killing. Please join us to discuss the mechanisms of the campaign and how to start your own campaign, as well as other actions to rid our communities of ties to war. www.divestfromwarmachine.org

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

As our demands grow bolder—true full employment, the rebuilding of the social safety net starting with Medicare for All, an overdue green and just transition—so will the naysayers’ inevitable refrain: “How will you pay for it?”

Developments in our understanding of monetary theory and the money system has, thankfully, illuminated a path forward out of the trap of austerity: when we understand how money actually works, we know that the obstacles to bold action at a national scale on jobs, healthcare, and climate are political, not economic. So what does a post-austerity left politics look like? How does an understanding of both public and private money creation inform our national visions and our local struggles? How do we shut down liberals who insist on talking about deficits? How do we exit from financialization and crushing levels of private debt? And, ultimately, what are the strategies needed to take on the over-mighty financial sector and turn the power of money creation to democratic social ends?

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Even as the last fifteen months have been described by various commentators as a unique phase of neo-fascism in the United States, there is little to suggest that the reigning manifestations and practices of white supremacy, imperial domination, and relentless capital accumulation are a sharp departure from the preceding few decades of the exercise of US state power. Yet, as good materialist thinkers, we must acknowledge that the current conjuncture marks specific iterations of authoritarian rule, resurgent forms of white nationalism, and particular modes of capital accumulation. Consequently, this panel will attempt to address the distinctive political contradictions of this moment. More importantly, at a time when protest movements, ranging from Black Lives Matter, the teachers’ strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma, and the March for Lives against gun violence are center stage on the political landscape, it is vital that we take stock of the limitations and possibilities of these movements. Our panel will explore some of the following questions: Are there ways in which these movements can combine the promise of reform with the potential for revolution? What are the possibilities for student/worker alliances around the issues of gun violence and structural inequalities in the education system? How might the existing hopes of transnational solidarities be renewed and extended at a time when ongoing global conflicts are displacing millions across the world? How might our own forms of activism within our local communities address the urgent needs of this moment?

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

This workshop will start with the history and origins of the US Empire from the second world war, until present. It will study all aspects of the world capitalist empire: economics, military, etc. and the ways to resist it.

Also it will discuss the features and characteristics of the contemporary state of the empire by examining the world system of capitalism that imposes its hegemony by waging overt and covert wars in the five continents. Review the history and function and damages that the US Imperialism has caused around the world.

Alternative models to counter capitalism will be discussed: Socialism, Libertarian Socialism, Anarchism, etc.
The study will also predict the future of the empire and its decline.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Panelists will examine the contested meanings and common abuse of the phrase "the Left" in the United States (U.S.). They will discuss steps required to create a genuinely revolutionary movement for social justice, peace, people's power (popular sovereignty), and the salvation and preservation of livable ecology. Is there a significant and real "Left" in the U.S today? What would qualify as an authentic and serious Left appropriate for the 21st century United States? How might such a Left be created and/or expanded? What will the task of creating an authentic,relevant,and powerful 21st Century U.S. Left require of activists and intellectuals going forward? Why does this task matter?

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

A reading of selected satires on the general subject of totalitarianism, and the Trump regime, in particular. Included will be a proposal to exile all elderly residents of the U.S.; a satire on the regime’s abuses of language; and an advisor’s plan for Trump to run for Pope after his (failed) presidency.