Political Economy and the Current Crisis

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Abstract:
“For about 200 years something called socialism has been the positive culmination of anti-capitalism.
When people are driven to fight exploitation, when people rebel against racist and religious
oppression, when a global corporate economy drives their wages down and takes away their jobs,
they learn that socialism is the alternative.”

Charles Andrews, ‘Author of The Hollow Colossus’ in ‘There Is No Socialism Without a Communist Party’1
2016 saw the nationwide revival of the word Socialism in Bernie sanders’ campaign for presidency. Sanders qualified it; calling it “Democratic Socialism”, by which he meant that democratic control on capitalism will allow workers to live a life somewhat like a human being with enough income, educational opportunities for their children, affordable medical care and social security. Although he was used and then discarded by the Democratic Party, many of his supporters take socialism more seriously than ever before.

The working class in the US has started to rise up after the neoliberal turn enforced by capital manifest in Thatcher-Reagan era and continued by Bush, Clinton and Obama in their own ways. The mass following of Sanders on the left and Trump on the populist right in the follow up of Occupy movement testifies to the fact that the working class is in the mood of claiming it’s place in the political space so constrained by electoral politics. The recent upsurge of activism around Black Lives Matter and #MeToo points toward a desire to overthrow the yoke of oppression associated with racism and patriarchy in the society. In this talk, panelists would argue that the potential of this great working class can only be fulfilled if we build our social and political movements with revolutionary outlook of the socialist revolutions of 20th century, not by rejecting them. The panelists will highlight the achievements of 20th century revolutions and make a case for the need of socialist revolution in the US so that the working class can solve the problems created by capitalism and lead the world’s working and oppressed peoples towards ecologically sustainable life with social justice for all.
The panelists will also argue that socialism is not a reform of a capitalism but its replacement. Socialism today must be the answer to contemporary forms of capitalist exploitations while it draws on the success, not only on the reversal of the socialist projects in the U.S.S.R. and China.

Panelists:
1. Raj Sahai is an engineer and a socialist, who started his activism during the Anti-Vietnam War struggles in Chicago, IL in 1968- continuing in Berkeley, CA from 1971 onwards. He has published article in India and US, has been member of the Institute for Critical Study of Society at the Niebyl Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland California. He has assisted in translation of the book ‘Khrushchev Lied’ by Grover Furr. His recently published article titled ‘Stalin’s Ghost Haunts Capitalism’ can be viewed thru the following Link: http://www.idcommunism.com/2018/02/stalins-ghost-haunts-capitalism.html

2. Amit Singh is an adjunct faculty and research associate at Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Tech. He has been involved with labor movements in India. He has also worked with several socialist and anarchist organizations in Minneapolis. Among his several published articles is one below:
“The ownership of Sarovar: A saga of benefitting from sexism, workers’ exploitation, fascism
and economic crises”, published by IIT Kanpur Citizens Forum (2017)
Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/14Q7sTYAEd9xFY23-hhqIWSDz0IM-3uX1/view
3. Dipjyoti Das is a post-doctoral associate at Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University. He has been involved with various socialist groups in India, and primarily associated with a communist vernacular news-paper, 'jabar-dakhal' (meaning 'forced possession') in Kolkata, India (link: http://jabardakhal.in/english/).

1. Link: https://mltoday.com/communication-no-socialism-without-communist-party/

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

The essential feature of CAPITALISM is macro-usury – the misuse of the money system. The U.S. monetary system is the mysteriously-public-private Federal Reserve, but what is not taught in our schools and media is the fact that our money is created by private commercial banks, not by our government. Paper currency and coin account for only about 3 percent of the U.S. money in circulation; the other 97 percent is created by private banks when they make loans to individuals, businesses, and governments. Banks create money simply by entering the loan amount into the borrower’s account. In effect, they create money out of thin air, then charge interest to the borrower. That interest is their profit – in other words they don’t have to work for their pay but, like parasites, they feed off all the rest of us working people. This is capitalism’s most essential feature and completely missing from the study and definition of capitalism.

Come hear from a group of monetary reformers who reside here in New York City. The panel will explain how the system works and how it creates wealth inequality, debt, poverty, ecological destruction, and corruption of our democracy by Big Money. This knowledge will strengthen the Left as a force for change.

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The panel will address how "Russiagate" is used to make the case for war and silence voices of left opposition. The Black left are particularly vulnerable as internet censorship has reduced access to an important means of communication. Panelists will present concrete actions needed to fight against these threats.

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Recent years have seen the persistent rise of fascist, semi-fascist, and other extreme right movements and figures on a world scale, from the National Front in France to Forza Nuova in Italy and the RSS in India. In many countries, far right forces have taken executive power, weakening the parliamentary political form of the bourgeois state. The proper names associated with the extreme right capture of government include Modi, Duterte, Erdoğan, Trump, Putin, Assad, and Orbán.

This panel aims to address a series of questions concerning this phenomenon: How does one distinguish fascism from other forms of extreme-right populism? In what ways does the ‘classical fascism’ of the 1930s relate to the fascism and right populism of the current political conjuncture? Can a country with a parliament, elections, and a relatively free press be characterized as ‘fascist’? What is the mass base of the extreme right? What social conditions have led to the political and ideological crisis of the bourgeoisie today? How does extreme right forces relate to the weakness of the worker movement and proletarian forces worldwide? What are we to make of the parallel rise of welfarism (Sanders) and social-democracy (Corbyn, Podemos, Syriza)?

The panel will examine these and related questions with particular reference to concrete examinations of Modi in India and Trump in the US.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

We've now reached a point where global capital, legitimated by neo-liberalism, has created a r world in which a handful of men have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world and if the present trend continues, there will be an even greater concentration of wealth. While the numbers of billionaires grow, billions of people face going hardships in finding food, water, and the necessities of life. Dialectically understood, economic domination/injustice creates the conditions for its own negation and as has been evident in a number of cases, there is an alternative – economic democracy. This panel, will note the : work of Piketty showing growing inequality but will also show, but his analysis of political economy, shows no understanding of what Marx meant by capital, and thus his analysis cannot offer a solution. Evidence from a number of sites from Porto Alegre to Bologna to the Mondragon organization and Spain show that another economic system is possible: economic democracy!

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

The continuing crisis that haunts the global capitalist system has made the intimations of a post-capitalist society that are implicit in Marx’s critique of political economy newly relevant. This panel will explore new developments in Marxist value theory that shed new illumination on the social forms and relations needed to surmount existing society.

Presenters: Stephan Hammel, "A Matter of Communal Design: Overcoming the Value Form"; Sam, Salour, "Marx's Critique of the Bourgeois World"; David Norman Smith, "For A World Without Commodities: Sharing vs. System Entropy"; Peter Hudis, "Envisioning the Abolition of Value Production"

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Annual statistical values are found for the four branches of capital identified by Karl Marx. These are fixed asset devaluation, constant capital, variable capital, and surplus-value. The data source is the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis. The industries are agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and mining. The range of years is 1948 through 2014 inclusive. The rate of exploitation is given; the Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall is given official statistical measure.

The accumulation of excess capital as defined by Marx is given statistical measure. The dynamics of the mortgage, student debt, auto loan, and credit card bubbles are explained, as is the growth of the military budget and federal debt. Financial crisis comparable to 2008 will occur at any time. The uncontrollable growth of excess capital presages the end of capitalism in the United States.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Seymour Melman would have been 100 years old in 2017. We will examine his legacy in terms of his writing and activism, and discuss how to use his insights about political economy, manufacturing, the military economy and other topics in the light of the right-wing turn exemplified by Donald Trump. We will discuss the possibility of industrial policy from a working class perspective, including a large-scale infrastructure reconstruction program focusing on the needs of working people.

By “infrastructure” we mean more than simply physical construction of bridges but infrastructure in the sense of the backbones of our society- manufacturing, transportation, energy and information. These needs can be expressed as “design criteria”. Our vision means that the systems we support produce an environment that will replenish, not destroy our planet, and a manufacturing system that enhances skills and innovation, not one which degrades them. We are thinking about how to organize such a discussion and we thought that you might be interested in joining us in a discussion of the various aspects of a program of economic reconstruction - for example, an information system open and available to all; an energy system that is renewable not destructive; manufacturing that is productive and environmentally benign, designed for safety and skill; and a transportation system that serves to build a society, not destroy it.

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Henry George is very clear on his preference that money be the responsibility of government, but since the days of Hamilton and despite President Jackson's efforts, private interests remain powerful forces in the control of money in the U.S. What would a money system designed to serve public interests look like? What is sovereign money? What role might local currencies and mutual credit exchange systems play? How should cryptocurrencies mesh with national currencies, or should they not?

Description/Abstract of your Event: 

Henry George transformed America’s understanding of economics so much it took Neoclassical Economics (an intentional project of elites) to counter and sideline it; yet, as economists talk and calculate over the course of 140 years, the solution to poverty still stands as close as the noses on their faces. At each economic crisis, the Henry George moment appears, then fades as adherents to his philosophy fail to advance. We see that changing in 2019-2020. We will wrap up the discussion with a story about a vacant plot of land (idle for decades) in New Jersey in a highly urbanized/valued location.