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.
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 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: 
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: 
While the feminist movement began in 1848, never before in American history, have women splayed such a critical role in the political, especially the large numbers of young women, that now embrace socialism. This is been especially evident in the midterm elections and we would go so far as to say the extent to which women, especially younger women mobilize politically will be the deciding factor in the Democratic nominee and perhaps the election. As Marxists, how do we understand the role of women thaat was frist examing by Marx and Engels and how feminisim has changed over tiime to where it has become a significant factor impelling the progress toward a postcapitalist society. This panel will explore Marxist, and neo-Marxist perspectives on feminism from a variety of perspectives, such as political economy, intersectionality and female subjectivity
Description/Abstract of your Event: 
This roundtable explores the relationships between religion and socialisms in the past two hundred years, around the world, from the perspectives of history, theology and activist practice. In the 19th century Socialists and marxists across the United States and Europe were utopian Christians, Jews and pagans, who saw their socialism and religious beliefs as united. Later, in the twentieth century, socialism continued to inform the radical politics of Muslims, Buddhists and other traditions across Asia, Latin America and Africa. Across the world, socialism and religions have transformed one another. Most scholarly attention has been lavished upon secular socialist traditions. Yet, the historically significantly more popular and influential religiously inclined socialisms have not received a proportionate level of interest. Our panel remedies this gap, by exploring the multiplicities of religions and socialisms, asking: are religious socialisms really socialism? Are they really religion? Our panel suggests that while important, secular socialism has been the exception, not the rule. Historically, religious socialisms were the norm. Our panel recovers religious socialism as a living tradition that can and should inform our politics and ways of life.
Location: 
NYC
Description/Abstract of your Event: 
Has America always been capitalist? Today, the US sees itself as the heartland of the international capitalist system, its society and politics intertwined deeply with its economic system. This book panel and discussion looks at the history of North America from the founding of the colonies to debunk the myth that America is 'naturally' capitalist. From the first white-settler colonies, capitalist economic elements were apparent, but far from dominant, and did not drive the early colonial advance into the West. Society, too, was far from homogeneous - as the role of the state fluctuated. Racial identities took time to imprint, and slavery, whilst at the heart of American imperialism, took both capitalist and less-capitalist forms. Additionally, gender categories and relations were highly complex, as standards of ‘manhood’ and ‘womanhood’ shifted over time to accommodate capitalism, and as there were always some people challenging this binary. In this context, this panel will discuss these themes in the context of the publication of the recent book: How America Became Capitalist: Imperial Expansion and the Conquest of the West.
Description/Abstract of your Event: 
Thomas Jefferson called the U.S. an “Empire of Liberty.” Barack Obama called the U.S. an “Indispensable nation.” These manifestations of American exceptionalism and American innocence provide the doctrine of U.S. empire building at home and abroad. Danny Haiphong and Roberto Sirvent’s new book American Exceptionalism and American Innocence a People’s History of the United States from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror not only exposes this doctrine as myth but also analyzes its impact on the class struggle to develop a world free of U.S. capitalism, war, and white supremacy. Join anti-imperialist activists and journalists in a discussion about the book and its relevance as a tool toward dismantling the actually-existing fake news of U.S. Empire.
Location: 
NYC
Description/Abstract of your Event: 
The Black Agenda Report team will discuss "late stage" capitalism, the shrinking U.S. empire, and the dangers of a desperate ruling class on the wane.