Summer School 2014 – Program

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The information below is tentative and subject to change. More details will be included here as they become available. Only confirmed speakers are listed; more will be added later.


Breaking Left from the Parties of the 1% (Friday evening)

Following a handful of significant electoral victories, the U.S. left has been swept with a renewed energy around electoral struggles. This plenary will feature a roundtable discussion with socialist and independent leftist electoral candidates, examining their own campaigns as well as the broader moment and how leftists might unite to take advantage of new openings. Co-sponsored with Chicago Socialist Campaign.

  • Jorge Mujica (Chicago Socialist Campaign candidate for Alderman, 25th Ward)
  • Angela Walker (socialist candidate for Milwaukee County Sheriff)
  • Howie Hawkins (socialist and Green Party candidate for New York Governor)
  • Tim Meegan (independent candidate for Alderman, Chicago 33rd Ward)

Migrant Justice Across Borders (Saturday morning)

Speakers will discuss immigrant-led movements in North America, examine the root causes of migration, and analyze the role of migration and migrant labor as part of neoliberalism’s globalized exploitation of the working class.

  • David Bacon (author of Illegal People and The Right to Stay Home)
  • Eric Rodriguez (Executive Director of Latino Union
  • Jorge Mujica (activist and socialist Aldermanic candidate)

Movements Against Gendered Violence (Sunday afternoon)

This plenary will explore how women and LGBTQ people understand and respond to gendered violence in their lives. Panelists will discuss the successes and challenges of contemporary movements against gendered violence and how these efforts relate to broader struggles for social transformation.

  • Nadine Naber (INCITE!, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at University of Illinois – Chicago)
  • Olivia Ortiz (student activist at University of Chicago)
  • TBA: representative from Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence


International Solidarity in a Globalized World

Organized solidarity with oppressed groups, struggling to break free of US empire, has been a constant feature of politics since the Vietnam era. Campaigns of this type present the left with both unique opportunities and strategic challenges as globalization spurs the internationalization of capital and demands cross border responses. This panel will feature US solidarity activists discussing singular features of their particular campaigns and offering an assessment of solidarity politics as a whole. Panelists will discuss movements in solidarity with El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Palestine, and more.

  • Dave Grosser (Coalition in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador)
  • Miguel Alvelo Rivera (MST Chicago)
  • Jeff Uehlinger (United Students Against Sweatshops)

Ecosocialist Politics in the Struggle

How do we relate ecosocialist politics to mass movement demonstrations? How can we integrate labor, anti-racism, and movements of oppressed peoples in the Global North and South into the climate movement? How can we help build a stronger environmental movement while moving it to the left? Can the UN bring us adequate restrictions on fossil fuel production and consumption, and if it can’t, who or what can? With the UN’s special Climate Summit in New York planned for September and a variety of mainstream and radical environmental actions around it, this workshop will discuss these questions in the context of mobilizing for what promises to be one of the most significant environmental movement events in recent history.

  • Carlos Enriquez (System Change Not Climate Change, International Socialist Organization)
  • Michael Gasser (Solidarity)

Getting from Here to There: Can Ecosocialists Support Radical Reform Measures?
The “fee-and-dividend” proposal by former NASA scientist James Hansen and other environmental activists is intended to be a radical alternative to a carbon tax. Both John Bellamy Foster and Anders Ekeland have written positively about the proposal. This session will discuss “fee-and-dividend” proposal as a transitional demand that the left can raise. David Finkel, Against The Current editor, will discuss what socialists call “transitional demands” and how the “fee-and-dividend” proposal can be raised in this way. Responders will ask questions and suggest other strategies for ecosocialists in order to stimulate discussion and facilitate a provocative session. For a fuller description of this workshop and suggested readings, see here.

  • David Finkel (Editor of Against the Current)
  • Jan Cox (Solidarity)
  • Nick Davenport (System Change Not Climate Change, Solidarity)

Indigenous Struggles in North America

This panel will discuss modern struggles of indigenous peoples in the Americas, such as resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline through sovereign First Nations territory, the Violence Against Women Act, and struggles for tribal recognition.

  • Jodi Voice
  • TBA: representative from Mexico Solidarity Network

Class Struggle Without Illusions: New Perspectives on Left Work in the Labor Movement

This panel will take up key questions raised in the Solidarity Labor Commission’s new discussion document on socialist work in the labor movement: Why have unions and the working class lost so much ground to austerity since the outbreak of the financial crisis? How can the Left root itself in the militant, activist layer of the working class? How can we build a radical movement against austerity that connects rank and file movements inside unions with the majority of workers who are not in unions and do not look to unions for solutions to their daily problems? This discussion will not require attendees to have read the document in question to follow the discussion, although we will have copies of the document available at our registration table for anyone interested.

Movements Against Eviction and Gentrification

Speakers will discuss patterns of gentrification and housing discrimination in U.S. cities, and highlight movements opposing evictions and gentrification, including campaigns that have developed in the wake of the Occupy movement.

  • Dianne Feeley (Detroit Eviction Defense)
  • TBA: anti-eviction activist in Chicago

Women’s Writing Workshop

This workshop is a space to encourage more women and genderqueer activists/organizers to make their voices heard in left politics and movements through writing (online and print). Participants will discuss the problem of male-dominated political discourse, barriers to writing, and concrete strategies for developing their own writing. This workshop is open to all women (cisgender and transgender) and genderqueer comrades who feel that they would benefit from this space. Facilitated by Maya Schenwar, editor-in-chief of Truthout and author of Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better, and Jessica Stites, managing editor of In These Times.

Intergenerational Fishbowl on Revolutionary Organization

Revolutionaries of varying ages and backgrounds will discuss their experiences of radicalization and their thoughts on socialist organization in a free-flowing discussion format. Six participants will kick off the discussion based on questions they’ve been given in advance, but the chair will incorporate other attendees into the discussion as well.

Film Screening: The Killing Floor

We will screen the film The Killing Floor, a narrative film based on a true story about race and labor organizing in a Chicago packing house in 1919. There will be time after the film for discussion.

Neighborhood Walking Tour

A socialist activist and resident of Albany Park, the neighborhood where the summer school will take place, will lead a walking tour highlighting the political and cultural history of the neighborhood and of Chicago.

Teachers’ Unions Bargaining for the Common Good

Members and organizers from teachers’ unions in LA, Chicago, and elsewhere will discuss organizing and bargaining around the common social good, as opposed to purely shop floor or economistic issues.

  • Joel Jordan (United Teachers Los Angeles)
  • Rebecca Martinez (Chicago Teachers Union)
  • Kristine Mayle (Chicago Teachers Union)

European Elections and the Left
Søren Søndergaard, a former member of both Danish and European parliaments and a founding member of the Danish Red-Green Alliance, will be speak about the EU, European elections, and the European left. The rest of the session will be an open conversation with Søren. This session will take place during lunch on Saturday.