Solidarity Summer School 2015: Program

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Black Lives Matter! The Police State and Mass Incarceration
Organizers from the movement(s) against police brutality and mass incarceration will speak about the state and future of the movement and the relationship of racial state violence to capitalism and class struggle, the labor movement, and the oppression of LGBTQ people. Featuring:

Neoliberal Assault and Popular Resistance
A panel will discuss the nature of neoliberalism and what is different about both ruling class strategy and working class resistance in the neoliberal era. Speakers will address more specific aspects of attacks and resistance including ecological struggles, Black Lives Matter and anti-racist struggle, and more. Featuring:


The Politics of Trans Liberation
Organizers from around the country will discuss various areas of trans activism and politics, including basic terms and ideas around trans politics, efforts in the labor movement and workplace organizing, intersectionality and the work of trans people of color, and anti-violence organizing. Suggested readings. Featuring:

Teachers’ Unions and Education Reform
Speakers will cover big picture questions around education reform and privatization as part of the neoliberal agenda, as well as particular organizing projects such as union reform caucuses. Featuring:

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Grassroots Organizing and Non-Profits
In their 2007 book, The Revolution Will Not be Funded, INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence presented a collection of essays that raised an alarm about the “non-profit industrial complex” which, they argued, posed clear and present dangers to grass-roots organizing projects. Yet, community-based non-profit organizations, from workers’ centers to immigrant rights and environmental justice groups, are organizing some of the most exciting struggles and taking on the most pressing issues facing working-class people. This workshop will be an opportunity for participants to confront the challenges that INCITE has posed and to identify the organizational and strategic elements of transformative organizing work. Featuring:

Socialist Perspectives on the Bernie Sanders Campaign and Independent Political Action
Presenters will give two different socialist perspectives on the Bernie Sanders and his primary campaign, followed by a longer period of participatory discussion. This workshop is designed to give attendees the space for an in depth collective discussion of the campaign and its meaning for the left and the future of independent politics. Featuring:

Women’s Activism and Contemporary Feminist Politics
Socialist-feminist activist and author Johanna Brenner will speak on the state of women’s activism today to introduce a workshop focused on collective participation and dialogue about relevant issues in feminism. Featuring:

  • Johanna Brenner (author of Women and the Politics of Class – Portland, OR)

Building the Next Left
Steve Williams, a veteran community organizer and co-founder of Left Roots, and Lucia Lin, Left Roots member, will speak about the Left Roots project in order to kick off a discussion concerning strategies for building a movement for 21st century socialism in the U.S. Participants will be invited to respond based on their own ideas and experiences. Featuring:

  • Steve Williams (Left Roots – San Francisco Bay Area)
  • Lucia Lin (Left Roots – San Francisco Bay Area)

Gendered Violence
This workshop will focus on education and discussion about gendered violence. Background, reference, and case study material will be provided, and some time will be allotted for participants to review the material in order to inform the discussions. Small groups will discuss individual, community, and organizational responses to gendered violence, as well as strategies for building cultures of resistance to gendered violence. Featuring:

  • Amy Good (Solidarity – Detroit, MI)
  • Debby Pope (Solidarity – Chicago, IL)
  • Susan Dirr (Solidarity – Chicago, IL)
  • Giselle Gerolami (Solidarity – Bollingbrook, IL)

Neoliberalism, Colonialism, and the Puerto Rican Debt Crisis
Rafael Bernabe, who ran as the Working People’s Party of Puerto Rico’s candidate for governor, will address U.S. colonialism and the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, as well as anti-austerity efforts on the island. Suggested readings. Featuring:

Converging Storms Part 1: The Crises of Energy, Capitalism, and the Environment
Part 1 first briefly reviews the approach of the eight-week “Converging Storms” class series given in Los Angeles on the converging crises of energy, capitalism, and environment. It then presents a compressed version of the class, focusing on critical building blocks comprising its substance, as well as its unique, cutting-edge analytic framework. We start with the centrality of energy and biosphere for all life on earth, consider pivotal ways in which fossil-fueled energy use has generated climate change and other dangerous disruptions of our environmental and social systems, analyze the role of capitalism in precipitating such developments, and explore current efforts and possibilities for progressive change. We also will bring home the implications of our approach, suggesting why the earth’s ecological crises should be centrally positioned in our overall assessment of capitalism today, and in the development and application of our strategies for progressive social change. The workshop will employ a Socratic method, engaging class participants with the presenters throughout the session, and also end with time for full discussion. Featuring:

Converging Storms Part 2: If “This Changes Everything,” does that include socialists and socialism?
Part 2 will begin with a short synopsis of material covered in Part 1, highlighting what we think are the most important implications of the Converging Storms “big-picture” analysis of the intersecting ecological and social systems for society today. We will then explore some of the more critical issues this analysis raises for “system-changers” today and their efforts to build a movement (e.g. the significance of capitalism’s imperative for growth, the ways ecological conscerns reposition our labor strategies, and how these converging crises of energy, capitalism, and environment situate issues of “otherness”–including race, gender, and class–at a central faultline in our struggle for life’s future on earth). We then will use the majority of the session for an extensive, interactive discussion with workshop participants on what we all think needs to be done, given the analysis–and ecological and social considerations–raised in our session. Featuring:

Caucus and Allies Meetings

Queer Caucus and Straight Allies Meetings
The caucus and allies groups will meet simultaneously but separately. These meetings will have planned educational content, likely focusing on trans identities and politics, as well as space for open discussion of other issues. All attendees are encouraged to participate.

People of Color Caucus and White Allies Meetings
These meetings will be organized as part of the extended Saturday evening plenary, Black Lives Matter! The Police State and Mass Incarceration. The caucus and allies groups will meet separately and the content will relate to the topic of the plenary, but also include space for other issues to be raised.

Women’s Caucus and Men’s Allies Meetings
The caucus and allies groups will meet simultaneously but separately. These meetings will have planned educational content, likely focusing on gendered violence, as well as space for open discussion of other issues. All attendees are encouraged to participate.