Themes: Workshops, Plenaries and Events
Confirmed speakers and extended descriptions coming soon!
- Opening Plenary: Crisis, Austerity, and Resistance
The economic crisis that began four years ago continues around the world with banks on the
verge of collapse in Europe, factories operating at less than capacity in most of the world, and
millions of unemployed. The human suffering caused by the Great Recession is immeasurable.
Meanwhile governments demand austerity, cutting budgets, reducing public health, education,
and social welfare programs. The crisis has also led to resistance on a massive scale from the
Arab Spring, to the Spanish indignados, and the Greek strikes, to the Wisconsin protests and the
Occupy movement here.
In this session we ask: What caused this economic crisis? Why did it begin? When will it end? How
is it affecting us here in the United States? And in Europe? What are people doing to resist?
What forms of struggle, strategies, and political alternatives have the movement and the left
Three Solidarity members will look different aspects of the crisis, the drive for austerity and
Bob Brenner, the historian and theoretician whose book The Boom and the Bubble has been
translated into half a dozen languages, will talk about the origins and the impact of the economic
Marc Aaron, a long time rank-and-file labor activist, will discuss the impact of the current crisis
on working people in the United States.
Cinzia Arruzza, an Italian activist and socialist, will talk about the resistance in Europe focusing
on Southern Europe.
Marc Aaron, a labor activist, researcher and writer is co-author of The Politics of Austerity,
Occupy & the 2012 Elections.
Cinzia Arruzza was a leading member of Italy’s Sinistra Critica. She is an Assistant Professor of
Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
Bob Brenner is the author of The Boom & the Bubble (2002), The Economics of Global
Turbulence (2006), Property & Progress (2009), and an editor of Against the Current. He is also
the director of the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History at UCLA.
- Workshop: A Marxist View of the Crisis
Bob Brenner will analyze the crisis and the role that
derivatives have played.
- Workshop: Austerity and Resistance in Europe
Cinzia Arruzza will discuss the discussions about
how to fight against austerity and outline the forms of resistance.
- Workshop: How Austerity Impacts Oppressed Groups: African-Americans, Women, LGBT
Featuring: Johanna Brenner, the author of Women and the Politics of Class (2000). She has written for New Left Review, Gender & Society and Against the Current and is a longtime
activist. Tessa Echeverria is an editor of the Solidarity webzine and the local Madison paper Works In Progress. Anthony Monteiro is an associate professor at Temple University and a scholar of W.E.B. Du Bois.
- Workshop: Austerity, Immigration, and Latino Communities
This workshop will explore three issues within the Latino community: How austerity has impacted the Latino working class, documented and undocumented, union members and non-unionized workers; how the victory of the DREAMers impels them to continue their quest for a just immigration policy for the entire undocumented community; how the politics of the Latino community plays itself out.
Eduardo Soriano-Castillo is a labor organizer and journalist.
Sheila Quintana, who was brought to the United States from Mexico at the age of 10, is a Dream activist in Pennsylvania.
Paola Rivera is a labor activist who grew up in Puerto Rico.
- Workshop: SNCC: From Civil Rights to Black Liberation
On February 1, 1960, a group of Black students from North Carolina A&T University refused to leave a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC after they were denied service. Although this was certainly not the first protest against Jim Crow laws, it sparked a wave of other sit-ins in college towns across the South. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was created at a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh two months later. Its purpose was to coordinate and publicize the sit-ins. Although the organization lasted only six years, SNCC succeeded in energizing the movement and forging a layer of Black leaders still active today. Over the next decades civil rights activism took many forms as it challenged institutionalized discrimination North and South.
Featured speakers: Colia Clark is running for U.S. Senate from New York on the Green Party. In the 1960s she was special assistant to Medgar W. Evers, field Secretary for the NAACP, and did voter registration worker with SNCC. As a women’s rights and workers’ rights veteran, she identifies with the Pan Africanist tradition.
Martin Oppenheimer is professor emeritus of sociology, Rutgers University. He is the author of The Sit-In Movement of 1960 (Brooklyn, NY, 1989) and most recently The Hate Handbook (Latham, MD, 2005)
- Workshop: The School to Prison Pipeline
In recent decades, we have witnessed the emergence of a sharply racialized prison-industrial complex. Through the passage of countless acts of draconian legislation and the disproportional impact of austerity on black , a “school to prison pipeline” threatens to swallow an entire generation of black youth. Drawing on both her own research and activist experience, Heather Ann Thompson will analyze of this process and what can be done to dismantle it.
Featured speaker: Dr. Heather Ann Thompson is a professor of African-American Studies at Temple University and the author of a forthcoming book on the history and legacy of the Attica Prison rebellion of 1971.
- Workshop: Contemporary Developments on the Black Left
A new generation of black leftists have been launching a number of important organizing initiatives over the past several years. In Jackson, Mississippi, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement has been spearheading several groundbreaking electoral campaigns. Presenters will also be examining other debates the black left is engaging with, as well as the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality within anti-racist struggles in the U.S.
Featured speakers: Kazembe B is a New York City based activist. He works with the Brecht Forum and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
Malik Miah is an editor of Against the Current. He is long-time activist in trade unions and campaigner for black civil rights issues, currently based in San Francisco.
- Plenary: Ecosocialist Visions
This plenary session will explore the crucial questions: What are the current active fronts of struggle in the world today around ecology? Why is there no solution to the ecological crisis possible through a reform of capitalism and the ways in which it functions? How do we envision an ecosocialism that can begin to tackle this crisis?
Featured speakers: Quincy Saul is a founding member of Ecosocialist Horizons (http://ecosocialisthorizons.com/) and based in New York City.
Nick Davenport is a member of Solidarity and an activist in various struggles in Baltimore. He has written on revolutionary approaches to ecological struggles for Against the Current.
- Workshop: Marxism and Ecology
How does the traditional revolutionary socialist vision relate to the concept of ecosocialism? Is there some fundamental weakness or flaw in previous Marxist ideologies that must be overcome? Or do we merely have to refresh and renew our vision, using essentially the same theoretical tools we have traditionally applied?
Featured speakers: Dianne Feeley is an editor of Against the Current, active in Occupy Detroit’s anti-eviction committee & with Autoworker Caravan, a rank-and-file organization that advocates retooling plants for mass transit and development of non-fossil energy sources.
Steve Bloom is a NY based revolutionary activist and poet, member of Solidarity and of Scientific Soul Sessions. He has written widely on revolutionary theory and current events for journals such as Against the Current, International Viewpoint, and others.
The Occupy Movement
- Plenary: Occupy, Resistance, and the Left
Ruling class austerity policies have been met by growing resistance in the US – beginning in Wisconsin and followed by the eruption of the Occupy movement which did much to shift consciousness in this country about the war of the 1% against the 99%. This panel will explore the tasks of the Left in building an independent movement rooted in the working-class and the oppressed.
- Workshop: Occupy and Labor
The emergence of Occupy challenged the official labor movement to think and act differently, with varying results. This panel will explore the opportunities, problems, and lessons of those interactions.
- Workshop: How Were Mass Socialist Parties Built? The Rise of the Second and Third Internationals
Looking at both social and political history and arguments from a few key texts about party-building, this workshop will explore how socialist parties made gains inside the pre-war working class through key political and social struggles (e.g. in the anti-war and labor movement), watershed radicalizations where council rule posed a threat to the international ruling class, and ideological interventions in the international and national political space. While taking care to put key debates that led to divergences inside the Second International and the birth and decline of the Third in their political and social context — and guide newcomers to essential readings, figures, and concepts for further investigation — this workshop will look at what we as socialist activists can learn from the questions our predecessors faced in building socialist organization. In many cases, as we must today, building parties from the ground-up. Featured speaker: Charlie Post teaches at Borough of Manhattan Community College and is a member of the AFT/PSC. He is the author of the recently-published The American Road to Capitalism, short-listed for the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize in 2011.
- Workshop: The Persisting Relevance of the Russian Revoluton: Myths, Realities, and Legacies
The political coordinates for socialist organization around the world continue to be centered on the Russian Revolution. And in the last several years, Lenin has been “rediscovered” and “reloaded” by today’s Marxist’s theorists, attempting to gain a sense of what use we can find for Lenin and Leninism in today’s political world. This workshop will not only deal with the events of the revolution, what led up to it, and what followed, but will also provide an overview of how the different interpretations of the “lessons of October” defined today’s socialist organizations and their understanding of the revolutionary process, class struggle, and party organization. Featured speaker: Suzi Weissman is Prof of Politics at Saint Mary’s College of California, longtime radio host of a weekly program on Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles, sits on the editorial boards of Against the Current and Critique and is the author of Victor Serge: The Course is Set on Hope (Verso); and edited Victor Serge: Russia Twenty Years After (Humanities), and The Ideas of Victor Serge (Merlin), as well as many articles on Russia and the former Soviet Union.
Special Workshop: Student Struggles in Quebec
The protracted student strike in the Canadian province of Quebec has been the most important social upsurge in North America in recent years. Thousands of students have taken to the streets to defend education and the broader public sector from the provincial government’s budgetary assault. They have since forged alliances with labor and other social movements. Taken together, this tidal wave of resistance against austerity is an inspiring fightback and one activists in the U.S. would do well to learn from.
Speakers: Ira Landry and Pierre-Luc Junet are students in Montreal and active members of CLASSE, the Quebec student union.