U.S. Politics

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: 

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.

Panel Image: 
Location: 
NYC
Description/Abstract of your Event: 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is regarded as the most prominent civil rights organization in the United States. Yet its actions—both throughout history and in the present—belie a commitment to civil rights and human rights. Instead the ADL has collaborated with police and the FBI in attacks against suspected communists, civil rights activists, human rights activists, environmentalists, animal-rights activists, antifa, and those it denounces as "Jewish radicals." The ADL has also sided with the US establishment against revolutionary forces in Latin America and apartheid-era South Africa. More recently it has supported the Trump administration's actions against Iran and against Palestinians. From its attacks against the Black Panthers to its support for the PATRIOT Act, from spying on anti-apartheid activists to helping the FBI spy on Arab Americans, to its denunciation of the Movement for Black Lives, the ADL has engaged in a concerted effort to divide communities of color. Now a movement is growing to resist the ADL's tactics and to reclaim the true pursuit for civil rights from the organization that seeks to co-op it.

Location: 
NYC
Description/Abstract of your Event: 

In recent years, states and cities across the U.S. have pursued a range of creative -- and increasingly assertive -- efforts to strengthen workers' rights. New standards-setting legislation has been enacted that establishes sharply higher minimum wages, guarantees various forms of paid leave, prohibits abusive scheduling practices, and provides access to public retirement savings programs, among other measures. However, legislation that would directly strengthen worker organizing has been pursued more tentatively and with less success. Notable initiatives in this vein include legislation to allow app-based drivers to unionize in Seattle and a law in New York City that would allow fast food workers to form a novel form of organization and fund it through payroll deductions.

In this panel, a diverse set of speakers will take stock of the new wave of policies concerning workers’ rights, assess strengths and limitations, and discuss strategies for furthering a pro-worker agenda at the state and city level.

Janice Fine, Professor of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, will provide an overview and analysis of the recent wave of state and local activity on workers’ rights.

Mansoor Khan, Organizing Coordinator at SEIU, will discuss the history of unionization among publicly-financed home care and child care providers. Driven by state and local policy innovations, home care and child care workers’ successes over the past two decades, followed by recent setbacks, hold important lessons for current strategy.

Sam Krinsky, Research Director at the New York City Office of Labor Policy and Standards, will review recent proposals for using wage boards and benefit programs to strengthen worker organizing and discuss how these can be implemented by states and cities despite constraints posed by federal law.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

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.

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: 

Censorship of writers is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian regime. In the United States, we're seeing unprecedented attacks against journalists by this presidency. Writing in all its forms (nonfiction, fiction and poetry) are more important than ever. How can we continue to write during this time of crisis? Five writers, ranging from novelists to professionals in health and education, offer a variety of tools to resist and persevere, using words to clarify, heal, and amplify our voices and bring people together in solidarity for progressive change. This workshop will be dynamic with group exercises and resources that will give the audience a way forward in writing what matters to them and to our global community that is at risk.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

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"

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Book launch: Presentation followed by discussion.

The book being presented is Occult Features of Anarchism - With Attention to the Conspiracy of Kings and the Conspiracy of the Peoples:

In the nineteenth century anarchists were accused of conspiracy by governments afraid of revolution, but in the current century various “conspiracy theories” suggest that anarchists are controlled by government itself. The Illuminati were a network of intellectuals who argued for self-government and against private property, yet the public is now often told that they were (and are) the very group that controls governments and defends private property around the world. Intervening in such misinformation, Lagalisse works with primary and secondary sources in multiple languages to set straight the history of the Left and illustrate the actual relationship between revolutionism, pantheistic occult philosophy, and the clandestine fraternity.

Exploring hidden correspondences between anarchism, Renaissance magic, and New Age movements, Lagalisse also advances critical scholarship regarding leftist attachments to secular politics. Inspired by anthropological fieldwork within today’s anarchist movements, her essay challenges anarchist atheism insofar as it poses practical challenges for coalition politics in today’s world.

Studying anarchism as a historical object, Occult Features of Anarchism also shows how the development of leftist theory and practice within clandestine masculine public spheres continues to inform contemporary anarchist understandings of the “political,” in which men’s oppression by the state becomes the prototype for power in general. Readers behold how gender and religion become privatized in radical counterculture, a historical process intimately linked to the privatization of gender and religion by the modern nation-state.