socialism

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

In the United States and elsewhere, socialist candidates have seen more electoral success when running outside of the simple plurality, winner-take-all voting system that corrals voters and movements into "lesser of two evils" thinking. Ranked Choice Voting and Proportional Representation are key election reforms that will help pry open the duopolistic control of the Democratic and Republican parties' cartel and facilitate more representation from under-represented communities. This panel will make the argument that, no matter what party socialists choose to run in now, fighting for and winning these reforms will grant The Left more room to maneuver and greater electoral success -- making it an essential project for those serious about political revolution. Recent fights and victories around RCV and voting reform will be analyzed, along with how to apply their lessons in local organizing.

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The New Deal is widely associated with socialism. This association holds true not only within the popular imagination shared across many sections of American society, but also within the historical imagination of the contemporary Left. This panel will consider the New Deal as it appeared to organized political tendencies that struggled for socialism during and after the 1930s. It will ask whether and how the New Deal -- its life, its legacy, its crisis, its memory, and its potential revival -- has advanced the struggle for socialism in America and beyond. We ask the panelists to consider the following questions: How did socialists of various tendencies-- the Communist Party USA, the Socialist Party of America, Trotskyists, and anarchists-- relate to the New Deal during the 1930s? How, in their respective views, did the New Deal (considered both as policy and as politics) present obstacles to and/or opportunities for advancing the struggle for socialism? The liberal political coalition forged in part through New Deal policies subsequently prosecuted first the anti-fascist Second World War and then the anti-Communist Cold War; it also administered the American-led reconstitution of global capitalism beginning in 1945 that oversaw the creation of the European welfare state. Considering how the New Deal helped usher in a new era of global capitalism: What is the New Deal's relationship to socialism? What is its relationship to capitalism?

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In his 1973 essay, "Anatomy of the Micro-Sect," Hal Draper gives a definition of a party as opposed to a ‘movement’ or the ‘sects’ that seemed to dominate the Left of his time: “A sect presents itself as the embodiment of the socialist movement, though it is a membership organization whose boundary is set more or less rigidly by the points in its political program rather than by its relation to the social struggle. In contrast, a working-class party is not simply an electoral organization but rather, whether electorally engaged or not, an organization which really is the political arm of decisive sectors of the working class, which politically reflects (or refracts) the working class in motion as it is. A “socialist movement” sums up the mass manifestations of a socialist working class in various fields, not only the political, usually around a mass socialist party.” Against both the “sect” and merely building a “movement,” Draper argues for the formation of a “political center,” which would be different from a unification of sects, as a first step towards the goal of building a socialist party. How is our present moment similar to or different from that of Draper? What is a socialist party and what are the greatest obstacles today to its realization and how can those obstacles be met? Hal Draper was deeply influenced by his study of Marx and Marxism when he wrote this essay. What can we learn from Hal Draper’s Marxism today?

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Since the end of slavery in the United States in the 19th century the question of reparation to slaves and their descendants has been a topic of conversation. The unfinished process of Reconstruction of the South left unfilled the promise of 40 Acres and a mule to Black Americans. More recently, in the 2016 presidential campaign and currently in the run up to the nomination of the Democratic Party presidential campaign the topic of reparations has surfaced yet again. While most candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination easily gave lip service to the idea of reparations and to support for H.R. 40. which promises to study reparations, Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders was initially skeptical.This panel aims to put reparations and socialism in a historical framework which clarifies current debate by exploring three discussion questions: 1) What do meaningful reparations to descendants of slavery look like? 2) How do can reparations be won and can they be achieved under capitalism? 3) Is there is socialist case for reparations for slavery?

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The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung New York Office welcomes Victor Grossman for a discussion of his new memoir A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee. The circumstances that impelled Victor Grossman, a U.S. Army draftee stationed in Europe, to flee a military prison sentence were the icy pressures of the McCarthy Era. Grossman—a.k.a. Steve Wechsler, a committed leftist since his years at Harvard and, briefly, as a factory worker—left his barracks in Bavaria one August day in 1952, and, in a panic, swam across the Danube River from the Austrian U.S. Zone to the Soviet Zone. Fate—i.e., the Soviets—landed him in East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic. There he remained, observer and participant, husband and father, as he watched the rise and successes, the travails, and the eventual demise of the GDR socialist experiment. A Socialist Defector is the story, told in rare, personal detail, of an activist and writer who grew up in the U.S. free-market economy; spent thirty-eight years in the GDR’s nationally owned, centrally administered economy; and continues to survive, given whatever the market can bear in today’s united Germany. Having been a freelance journalist and traveling lecturer—and the only person in the world to hold diplomas from both Harvard and the Karl Marx University—Grossman is able to offer insightful, often ironic, reflections and reminiscences, comparing the good and bad sides of life in all three of the societies he has known. His account focuses especially on the socialism he saw and lived—the GDR’s goals and achievements, its repressive measures and stupidities—which, he argues, offers lessons now in our search for solutions to the grave problems facing our world. This is a fascinating and unique historical narrative; political analysis told with jokes, personal anecdotes, and without bombast.

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This roundtable explores the relationships between religion and socialisms in the past two hundred years, around the world, from the perspectives of history, theology and activist practice. In the 19th century Socialists and marxists across the United States and Europe were utopian Christians, Jews and pagans, who saw their socialism and religious beliefs as united. Later, in the twentieth century, socialism continued to inform the radical politics of Muslims, Buddhists and other traditions across Asia, Latin America and Africa. Across the world, socialism and religions have transformed one another. Most scholarly attention has been lavished upon secular socialist traditions. Yet, the historically significantly more popular and influential religiously inclined socialisms have not received a proportionate level of interest. Our panel remedies this gap, by exploring the multiplicities of religions and socialisms, asking: are religious socialisms really socialism? Are they really religion? Our panel suggests that while important, secular socialism has been the exception, not the rule. Historically, religious socialisms were the norm. Our panel recovers religious socialism as a living tradition that can and should inform our politics and ways of life.

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W.A.R Stories: Walter Anthony Rodney is a 2010 documentary film by Clairmont Chung which is a political and personal biography of the Guyanese revolutionary Walter Rodney who was assassinated in 1980. Cornell University's Africana studies dept gives this apt summary of the film: "It’s a story of a man who dedicated his life, and ultimately, gave his life in the struggle for equal rights and justice. He did so through his considerable intellectual gifts and actual grassroots involvement everywhere he went. The people who knew him weave a tale of how they related to him and him them. In the process we see the growth of their friend, brother, father, husband, his ideology and how that changed over the years from his coming of age in racially divided Guyana through the cold war, the Black Power Movement, Pan-Africanism, Caribbean independence, and the idea of self emancipation. " After the screening (1hr 27 mins), a brief discussion will be held on the implications of the film for contemporary Guyana and the wider Caribbean with the director Clairmont Chung, Robert Cuffy of the Socialist Workers Alliance of Guyana and Twinkle Paul of Guyana Trans United.