Electoral Reform

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.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

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?

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

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?

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Outdated Democracy: A 21st Century Civics Lesson is a documentary film project that examines and evaluates our 19th century electoral system, explains why our democracy is failing, and offers solutions for updating our antiquated electoral system so that it works for everyone. This presentation combines chapters from the film project with a lively audience discussion led by filmmaker, writer and former high school civics teacher Lisa Elaine Scott.