Theory

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!

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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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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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Recent years have provided no shortage of opportunities to become outraged at the powers that dominate our world. From spiraling social inequalities within and between countries, to the rise of white nationalist xenophobia and open misogyny in the Trump White House (magnified by the rise of social media), the basis for popular rage and Left organizing is widespread. The ruling order is rapidly losing legitimacy in many places. And yet, existing Left organizations often struggle and fall short of seizing the opportunities that our times present, caught up in their own contradictions, routinized habits, and knee-jerk reactions. While there has certainly been substantial growth in some Left groups (particularly those riding the Bernie Sanders wave), others falter, remain marginalized, mired by sectarian in-fighting, or have split apart suddenly and altogether--leaving members and onlookers in shock. What is going on? Why does it so often seem that Left organizations are prone to self-destructive tendencies? What ideas, attitudes, and methods currently in practice seem to be holding back the potential of our radical movement? Our panel will seek to draw from history and from personal experience, sharing reflections on practice that might contribute to building sustainable radical culture and organization. While examining some of the problematic aspects of Left organizing and discourse, this panel will also explore how we might shed oppressive habits of thought and practice that have been inherited from the dominant society, as we work to create a world of true justice, solidarity, equality, and human flourishing.

A. Shahid Stover, "Bad Faith, Leftist Defeatism and the Imperial Mainstream"

Linda A. Liu, "Victim Cultures and the Left"

David Keil, "Problems on the Left: the need for due process and non-violent language"

Location: 
NYC
Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Race, Class, Gender, and the University: Struggles within
and beyond the Campus Walls

The university under capitalism is a site of political unevenness and contradiction. While academia promotes an image of impartiality and liberality in terms of viewpoints, scholarship, and diversity, those who don’t adhere to the restricted parameters of institutionalized “neutrality” are often marginalized, slandered, and sometimes dismissed. Indeed, as Steven Salaita argues, “disinterest and objectivity” are more often aligned with ruling powers both within and outside the walls of the academy. While identitarian positioning is often encouraged, solidarity that challenges systems of racial and gendered oppression or that exposes the symbiotic relationships between academic knowledge-production and imperialism are systematically repressed. At this same time, the university--perhaps especially our austerity-prone public universities, which often serve 'majority minority' and working-class students-- still can provide fertile ground for radical thinking and new social connections with the potential to resist hegemonic capitalist regimes of 'divide and rule.' Accordingly, this panel seeks to discuss the intersections of race, class, and gender struggles that challenge the status-quo politics within the university, or that use the base of the university to challenge capitalism and imperialism beyond the campus walls. While we intend to address some of the limits of critique offered by institutionalized identity politics, primarily this panel will offer first-hand accounts and theorization of alternative models for radical social justice organizing within the university space, with a view towards building resistance beyond the confines of campus-oriented politics.

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Today, many on the left salute Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others seeking to revitalize and rebrand U.S. imperialism’s Democratic Party. Against this, those seeking to end capitalism’s many-sided oppression must reject the blind alley of tailing capitalist politicians. Only by fighting for the political independence of the working class can we chart a way forward. This International Women’s Day, three groups came together in a fusion that represents a step forging a nationwide revolutionary Trotskyist youth group for the first time in three decades. The Spokane (Washington) Marxist Group and the leadership of the Marxist Student Union at Central Connecticut State University fused with the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth, youth section of the Internationalist Group/ League for the Fourth International. This panel will focus on the role of Trotskyist youth and students in the fight for a revolutionary workers party to lead socialist revolution here and around the world, and reflect our work building support for union organizing drives by immigrant workers, solidarity with Ayotzinapa and the Mexican teachers strike, struggles against racist repression and fascist provocations, opposing the militarization of the universities, and on many other fronts.

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TBD

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

This panel will discuss the renewed Jewish Left, especially its focus on Diasporic Jewish renewal, action and materialism.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

The co-operative movement was built by people who took on the responsibility for their collective wellbeing in the face of government neglect, economic exclusion and cultural discrimination. As the modern economy increasingly denies vast sectors of the population basic amenities for decent life, this co-operative spirit is as critical as ever. However, over the years the co-op sector has become insular and poorly understood. A Silent Transformation sets out to explore the innovative self-help efforts of diverse communities across the Province of Ontario, which by addressing their needs collectively are helping to regain the radical vision of co-operation. In these communities are the seeds of economic democracy, global solidarity, and a new popular movement to transform society!

Location: 
NYC
Description/Abstract of your Event: 

There are many definitions of "surplus value" on the left, perhaps too many. This debate/panel discussion will take a look at two approaches to the surplus created under capitalism. One version of surplus value comes to us from Marx and his law of value, while the other emerged from Jacques Lacan's return to Freud.

What is the relationship between Lacan and his followers psychoanalytic reinterpretation of Marx and Marx's original theory? Can one hold with both Marx and Lacan?