Political and Social Movement

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Scores of political commentators have been recently suggesting, humorously but also earnestly, that we are currently living through a second "Gilded Age," an era in U.S. history when, as now, public concerns included rampant technological shifts, "massive wealth inequalities, hyperpartisanship, virulent anti-immigrant sentiment and growing concern about money in politics." (Edward T. O'Donnell, "Are We Living in the Gilded Age 2.0?" www.history.com/news/second-gilded-age-income-inequality )  The pushback against the first Gilded Age, of course, included what we now sometimes call the Progressive Era. Taking this idea as a starting point, our Roundtable will ask: What can current grassroots activists learn from 20th century organizing experiences about building a viable Left Alliance? Panelists will foment a broad-ranging discussion on subjects that may include the imbalance of wealth and power, migration and immigration law, environmental justice, reparations for slavery, interference in Latin American countries by U.S. moneyed elites, and current fights for gender and class equity of all kinds.

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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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Within the panel, speakers from Russia and the United States - famous scientists and public figures will show that the basis of the ongoing 5-year conflict between Russia and the US is the contradiction of the corporate capitals of these countries, which are closely aligned with the top of their state apparatus.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Despite moments of strong and broad solidarity since the 2008 crisis -- including the Occupy movement and the 2016 Sanders campaign that demonstrate wide-spread public support for leftist goals -- the Left has been increasingly portrayed in popular podcasts as a hypocritical, remote, humorless, arrogant mire of divisions. Generation Z, distrustful both of mainstream media propaganda and of political correctness and the call-out culture, looks to the Intellectual Dark Web for unfiltered political discussion, where the Left is scarcely represented and where the extreme right has full play along with distractive conspiracy theories. How should the Left educate the public in its goals and ideas, appeal to the college-age generation in the face of the seductions of IDW anti-Left web media, and organize that broad public into a strong, lasting and successful movement?

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"

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What ever happened to Pan-Africanism? What has become of this once powerful current in black thought? During its heyday in the 1950s and 60s, in the vanguard of the anti-colonial struggle, it seriously vied for state power and for a minute, it exerted influence in those corridors. Is Pan-Africanism still relevant today?

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This panel will explore the notion of feminism nowadays and will approach current efforts to advocate for feminist theory and women rights from an interdisciplinary perspective, dealing with vibrant issues such as the role education plays in shaping a more equal society; gender, gender roles and stereotypes; the voices of women poets, their vision and ideals; and finally casting light on global activism and social movements by examining the International Women´ Strike March 8.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

In this session we will explore the rising movement to dismantle “Francafrique,” a particularly destructive form of neocolonialism that affects 14 countries in Africa, and influences many more. Propelled into popular awareness by French activist and economist François-Xavier Verschave in his 1999 bestseller La Françafrique: le plus long scandale de la République, the critique of Francafrique has been popularized within the French left through various efforts including La France Insoumise movement and Jean Luc Melenchon’s 2017 presidential campaign. With leading strategists and organizers from throughout some of the most misunderstood parts of the continent, the panel puts modern-day resistance and decolonization struggles into historic contexts which gives hope for the future. With discussion of best-practice tactics, unity across borders, and collective visions of and end to all forms of colonialism — direct, economic, cultural, gendered, and otherwise we will explore new ways forward for solidarity and Pan-Africanism.

This panel will feature African diaspora activists from Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, DRC, Chad and Ambazonia who are working in close relationship with grassroots home-front movements against French neocolonialism. Questions we will seek to unpack include: What is happening on the ground in these countries? What is the historical context of these struggles? What is the role of Francafrique in the issues people are mobilizing around? What are the limits of the critique of Francafrique? How does the critique of Francafrique relate to critiques of other colonial and neocolonial influences, and other forms of oppression within the fabric of these societies? What coalitional work is going on to bring these voices together internationally? What forms of international solidarity are needed?

We are honored to dedicate this panel to the late Bill Sutherland, unofficial ambassador between Kwame Nkrumah’s pan-African movement and the African American civil rights movement, in this the year of his centenary. The panel will feature Matt Meyer, co-author with Sutherland of Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan-African Insights on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation, one of the few texts which has sounded the alarm about Francafrique to the English-speaking world.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

With inequality surpassing Gilded Age levels, health care and student debt skyrocketing, climate change roiling the planet, and 80 percent of Americans surviving paycheck-to-paycheck, the majority of Americans are now calling for a major new political party, including an even greater number of young and working people. In 2015, a Princeton and Northwestern University study found that under the Democratic and Republican parties, public preferences have a "near-zero, statistically non-significant" impact on policy. As a result, the U.S. is no longer considered a democracy. Working people are responding by leaving the establishment parties by the millions. Gallup polls show that a record number of Americans have become independents, almost half the country. A majority of Americans now want a major new party, including an even greater number of young and working people — 57 percent of Americans and 71 percent of millennials. This February, the New York Times wrote that “Long-established political parties across the democratic world are blowing up. Could America’s parties be next?” From Mexico to France and Chile to Spain, a political revolution is sweeping the world. The breakthrough is coming in a series of fresh, new people-powered parties. They sweep in to government by challenging the corruption of the establishment parties and offering a stirring new vision and social contract. These parties begin as movements, launched by activists who learned through personal experience that the corporate-funded parties cannot be salvaged and belong in the past. They use social media and digital organizing to circumvent the corporate press and reach millions. Come join the Movement for a People’s Party in an open discussion and planning session on how we can bring the revolution to America with a party of our own. Donuts, bagels and coffee for all!

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

The political crisis of the capitalist world embodied by the rise of authoritarianism and populism around the world has been met with resistance internationally. Women have played a disproportionate role in these struggles from Sudan to the West Virginia teachers strikes. The Caribbean has been no exception and the rise of the #LifeinLeggings movement throughout the Caribbean as well as the prominence of feminist groups like the Tambourine Army in Jamaica is testament to this. Many Caribbean countries have a hostile atmosphere towards LGBTQ people, these states tend to still have colonial era anti-cross dressing and buggery laws on the books. There has been resistance to this in recent times evinced by the striking down of the anti-cross dressing law in Guyana and the buggery law in Trinidad as well as the rise in visibility of the LGBTQ population through daring Pride parades, some held for the first time in the last few years. These struggles have had important cultural reflections such as legendary Trinidad & Tobago singer Calypso Rose’s “Leave me Alone” song which stood as an anthem against sexual harassment. The emergence of the “Lost Tribe” carnival band with openly gay Indo-Trini director Valmiki Maharaj was yet another such incursion of previously excluded oppressed people into the popular culture of the Caribbean. This panel aims to explore the historical antecedents which gave rise to the oppression of women and the LGBTQ population in the Caribbean. The panel will also look at the contemporary situation while giving details of the recent struggles and how they intersect with each other and the broader anti-colonial and anti-imperialist radical tradition in the Caribbean.