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Thursday, July 6
 

1:00pm

Marx's Understanding of History
“History does nothing,” Marx and Engels wrote in The Holy Family. “It ‘possesses no immense wealth,’ it ‘wages no battles.’ It is man, real, living man who does all that, who possesses and fights; ‘History’ is not, as it were, a person apart, using man as a means to achieve its own aims; History is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims.” For Marx, history was neither the blind result of accident or a purely predictable law-governed process. This talk will examine a Marxist understanding of history, including the idea that, as Marx said, people make history, but not in conditions that they choose. The structure of any given society is determined by, to quote Engels, “what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men's brains, not in man's better insight into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange.”

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Burnham A/B/C

1:00pm

The Impact of the Russian Revolution on the Black Left in the U.S.
Black radicals across the U.S. followed events in 1917 Russia with rapturous attentiveness, convinced that the victory of Lenin's Bolsheviks in the October Revolution held vital lessons for their own struggle for liberation. African-American activists from all backgrounds debated the meaning of the revolution, from nationalists like Marcus Garvey to the NAACP's W.E.B. Du Bois. Of all these groups, one of the most radical (and least-known) was the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), founded in 1919 by Cyril Briggs. Members of the ABB would go on to become the key early Black cadre of the Communist Party, enabling it to recruit a base of thousands of Black members in the 1930s and 1940s, and to lead a militant struggle for Black liberation in those decades. This presentation will explore this important but neglected part of U.S. radical history.

Speakers
avatar for Paul Heideman

Paul Heideman

Paul Heideman is a graduate student in Sociology at New York University, whose work has appeared in Jacobin, International Socialist Review, and Historical Materialism. He is a member of the ISO in New York City.


Thursday July 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Grant Park C/D

1:00pm

The 1919 Seattle General Strike
The Seattle general strike was set off by a 35,000-strong strike of shipyard workers for higher pay on January 21, 1919. Within two weeks, 110 union locals granted authorization for a general strike, and formed a 300-person strike committee to run the strike. Thousands of unorganized workers, members of the IWW, and Japanese workers, who were previously denied entrance into formal trade unions, also joined the strike. Directly influenced by the formation of soviets in Russia, many workers in Seattle were determined to not just withhold their labor power, but to demonstrate workers’ ability to run industry in the interests of ordinary people. Under threats and pressure from government and conservative labor officials, however, the strike ended after five days. But it remains an important, rarely told story of workers’ power in the United States.

Speakers
avatar for Elizabeth Dean

Elizabeth Dean

Elizabeth is a socialist organizer, currently between Texas and Illinois.


Thursday July 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:30pm
DuSable C

1:00pm

Manifest Destiny and the Conquest of North America
The United States’ national myth assuages its conscience by pretending that it has always waged wars for “freedom,” not conquest. But another national myth, “manifest destiny,” held that the U.S. held a special right to spread over the whole of the North American continent. This process of the creation of the thirteen colonies, the formation of the U.S., and the spread of that nation across the entire continent, however, was no democratic or benevolent process. It involved the systematic physical and cultural genocide of the indigenous inhabitants of the continent. This talk will tell the true history of this conquest, as well as the heroic resistance of the Native Americans who fought back, and who continue to fight back to this day.


Thursday July 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Clark A/B/C

1:00pm

The Good War? Imperialism, Genocide, and Resistance During the Second World War
Many people think of the Second World War as “the good war”—a war against fascism and for democracy. This idea has been reinforced many times over through books, movies, and TV shows. Our rulers surround almost all of their new military adventures with its glowing halo. But if you look seriously behind the myth at what really happened in the Second World War, it becomes clear that the U.S. and its allies fought to defend or build their own empires, not fight fascism or prevent mass murder. The truth is that the U.S. abandoned the Jews, ran roughshod over democracy, whipped up a race war against Japan, and rehabilitated Nazi war criminals to use as American spies after the war. This talk will examine that history.

Speakers
avatar for Jon Van Camp

Jon Van Camp

Jon Van Camp is an activist in the Washington, DC area and is a longtime member of the ISO. He is a high school teacher in Maryland and active in his union, the Prince George's Educators' Association in which he serves as building rep.


Thursday July 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Field A/B

1:00pm

How Capitalism Works and How It Doesn't
Capitalism, as Marx and Engels noted in the Communist Manifesto when the system was still quite young, is a dynamic system that “has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together.” It is a system based on incessant accumulation based upon the exploitation of wage labor. But that very dynamism also contains within it the seeds of its own demise. This talk will introduce people to the workings of capitalism, and explain how those workings lead both to phenomenal growth and to disastrous crashes that threaten the very foundations of this growth.

Speakers
avatar for Laura Bartkowiak

Laura Bartkowiak

Laura Bartkowiak is an activist based in Brooklyn, New York.


Thursday July 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Grant Park A/B

1:00pm

The Theory of the United Front
The united front strategy was developed in the era immediately after the Russian Revolution as a tool for revolutionaries to win over in and through struggle the majority of the working class, which still held reformist views, to a revolutionary perspective. The strategy entailed revolutionaries proposing joint struggles with reformist working-class organizations for purposes of immediate demands beneficial to the class as a whole. In a united struggle, revolutionaries could prove in practice the superiority of a their perspective and the limitations of the reformists. There are obviously huge differences between that time, when socialist revolution was a real, near-term possibility, and today, but the method at the heart of the united front is still relevant.

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:30pm
DuSable A/B

1:00pm

Their Science and Ours: STEM Workers' Resistance and the Fight Against Trump’s War on Science
“Hey, Trump, have you heard? You can't silence every nerd." In cities across the country this past April, thousands of scientists and those who care about things like the air we breath, the water we drink, and the potential for catastrophic climate change, turned out to mark their opposition to the Trump administration’s pro-business, anti-science agenda and to stand against an administration that has declared open war on the environment. This talk will examine the roots and ramifications of Trump’s war on science and scientific agencies, and what it will take to fight for an alternative.

Speakers
avatar for Chris Dols

Chris Dols

Chris is an activist and engineer based in Brooklyn, NY.
avatar for Bekah Ward

Bekah Ward

Rebekah Ward is a microbiology professor and activist. Her areas of research include symbiosis and environmental metagenomics. She has been involved in the antiwar and immigrant rights movements as well as Black Lives Matter. She has written on science and society for publicat... Read More →


Thursday July 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Hyde Park A/B

3:00pm

A User's Guide to Marxism: Stalinism
The Bolshevik Revolution saw itself as the opening act of an international revolution without which it could not survive. But the workers’ state was immediately undermined by civil war and blockade, and the Revolution’s failure to spread. Stalin, a minor figure during the Revolution, became, after Lenin’s death and Trotsky’s exile, the leading bureaucrat atop an increasingly powerful state bureaucracy that, under the slogan “socialism in one country,” embarked on a brutal process of industrialization, forced collectivization, and mass imprisonment. Stalinism, which claimed to be continuing the legacy of Marx and Lenin, was actually the negation of socialism. Stalinism not only buried the Russian Revolution; with tragic results, it became a model for socialists internationally. The rebuilding of a genuine socialist current worldwide has, and continues to be dependent on, reviving the real Marxist tradition out of the ruins of Stalinism.

Speakers
avatar for Anthony Cappetta

Anthony Cappetta

Anthony is a public school teacher in Chicago, an activist in the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO).


Thursday July 6, 2017 3:00pm - 4:30pm
DuSable A/B

3:00pm

Not Just Your Pay Grade: How Do Marxists Understand Class?
Class in the U.S. is usually defined in terms of income and status. The “middle class” denotes the majority who are neither poor nor rich. This descriptive way of looking at class obscures more than explains—for example, how someone gets rich who doesn’t work at all while someone else who works hard is poor. Marxism defines classes by their relationship to the control, and generation, of wealth production. Someone who makes money from the labor of others is part of the capitalist class; a worker whose wage labor enriches others is part of the working class; and someone with an intermediate position such as small owners, managers, and highly-paid professionals are part of the middle-class. This talk will examine the Marxist conception of those class dynamics.

Speakers
avatar for David Whitehouse

David Whitehouse

Oakland activist David Whitehouse has contributed to Socialist Worker and the International Socialist review on history and politics in Asia and Africa. He's currently working on a book about the origins of the police in the US and Britain. Some of his talks and articles are a... Read More →


Thursday July 6, 2017 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Clark A/B/C

3:00pm

Is It Too Late to Save the Environment?
The claims of bought-and-paid-for climate change deniers notwithstanding, the Earth is reaching a tipping point in which the qualitative shift toward drastic and unpredictable disasters is approaching faster than many hitherto thought possible. Problems of severe weather extremes, soil erosion, coastal destruction, water shortages, mass extinction of species essential to the web of life upon which our own lives depend—we seem to be headed toward inevitable disaster. Are these problems reversible? Or are we just fated to bail water out of this leaky boat that is planet Earth? If we were able to establish a new kind of society in which sensible ideas, backed by science and substantial resources, could be deployed, we could set things on the right course—but the question is: Will it be enough? Phil Gasper will take a hard look at these difficult questions.

Speakers
avatar for Phil Gasper

Phil Gasper

Phil Gasper teaches philosophy in Madison, WI. He is the editor of The Communist Manifesto: A Road Map to History's Most Important Political Document (Haymarket Books, 2005) and on the editorial board of the International Socialist Review.


Thursday July 6, 2017 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Grant Park C/D

3:00pm

Oil, Empire, and Capitalism
In 1943 a U.S. geologist called Saudi Arabian oil “the single greatest prize in all history.” Since the early 1900s, oil has been the lifeblood of capitalism. Essential to transport and production, oil is the world’s most important strategic commodity, crucial to the systems’ expansion, and therefore also to its potential decline in the form of our current climate crisis. Oil is what makes the Middle East a stomping ground for competing world and regional powers. “If Kuwait grew carrots,” Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb remarked after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1990, “we wouldn’t give a damn.” This talk will explore the history of the relationship between oil, empire, and capitalism.

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Field A/B

3:00pm

Eugene Debs and the 1894 Pullman Strike
The Pullman Strike was a nationwide railroad strike that pitted the newly formed American Railway Union (ARU), led by Eugene Debs, against the Pullman Company, (maker of the famous sleeping car, located on the South Side of Chicago), as well as the main railroad bosses and the federal government. Pullman had created a company town where he housed his underpaid workers at unaffordable rents. Running a hysterical press campaign that painted the strikers as a violent mob, the railroad bosses were able to get federal troops sent in to end the strike. Many enraged workers resisted and some were killed, and the strike went down to defeat. Debs, while in jail at Woodstock after the strike, became a socialist for life, while George Pullman became such a hated figure he had his tomb lined with concrete to protect against looting. This talk will examine the historic significance of the Pullman strike.

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 3:00pm - 4:30pm
DuSable C

3:00pm

A Tale of Three Cities: Slum, Dispossession, and Class Struggle in the Global South
By looking at three cities (Lagos, Nigeria; El Alto, Bolivia; and, by way of historical comparison, Victorian London) this talk will examine the impact of neoliberalism on the working classes of the two contemporary cities and how that has affected the development of class struggle, comparing it to the historical development of class struggle in Victorian London and the New Unionism movement. Building on the work Leo Zelig and Claire Ceruti have done on Johannesburg, this session will attempt to  better understand the balance of class forces in the Global South and the role a working-class minority can play within a larger movement of the oppressed and exploited.

Speakers
avatar for Geoff Bailey

Geoff Bailey

Geoff is a socialist activist based in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of "Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War," "The Rise and Fall of SDS," "Accumulation by Dispossession: A Critical Assessment," and "Visualizing Revolution: Marxism and Film".


Thursday July 6, 2017 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Grant Park A/B

3:00pm

Mapping the Enemy: What Is the "Alt-Right"?
The 2016 election brought the so-called “alt-right”—the loose collection of individuals and groups with aggressive right-wing and far-right political identities who reject the bounds of mainstream conservatism—to the forefront of American politics. From conspiracy-minded media pundits to sexist Internet trolls and white supremacists, this toxic crew has been emboldened by Trump’s presidency. Who are they, what are the roots of their politics, and how can we demolish their noxious ideas? Katie Feyh investigates.

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Hyde Park A/B

6:30pm

Marxism and Cultural Appropriation
A University of Texas fraternity holds “border” themed party where attendees wear construction gear, ponchos, and sombreros. Czech composer Antonin Dvorak utilizes a well-known Black spiritual as the basis of his most famous symphony. GM names one of its most iconic brands after a famous Ottawa chief, Pontiac, who led a resistance against European conquest. A white songwriter writes one of the most famous and searing songs about racism--Billie Holliday’s "Strange Fruit." The mixing of peoples, languages and cultures internationally has created great art, literature, and music. But it is also the case that the culture and language of oppressed people have been suppressed, their culture often ridiculed and misappropriated in offensive ways. It’s often easy to see when culture is being mis-appropriated. But is all cultural borrowing, or “appropriation,” bad? This talk will explore these questions.

Speakers
avatar for Nicole Colson

Nicole Colson

Nicole Colson is a reporter for Socialist Worker and a contributor to the International Socialist Review, writing frequently on topics of Islamophobia, civil liberties, and women’s rights. Her work has appeared at Jacobin, International Viewpoint and CounterPunch. She is a long-s... Read More →


Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Grant Park C/D

6:30pm

Assata Taught Me: The Black Panther Party and Popular Mobilization in the Trump Era
What can we learn from the experiences and struggles of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the most revolutionary organization to emerge from the civil rights and Black power movements? Donna Murch, author of the award-winning book Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, will discuss the rise of the Panthers, and what their history can teach us about our current struggles.

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Grant Park A/B

6:30pm

Sexuality and Socialism
How does capitalism shape sexual identity? Is a society free of sexual oppression and repression possible? This talk will examine the origins of LGBT oppression from a Marxist perspective, delving into such questions as the way class society, and particularly capitalism, shapes human sexuality and the family, and how the fight for sexual liberation can, and should, be closely connected with the fight against capitalism.

Speakers
avatar for Amanda Achin

Amanda Achin

Amanda is a member of the International Socialist Organization in Boston.
avatar for Claire Douglas

Claire Douglas

Claire Douglas is a teacher in San Diego, and a member of the International Socialist Organization.


Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Field A/B

6:30pm

Do Workers Still Have Power?
It is common to argue that neoliberal restructuring has either dissolved anything resembling the working class of yesterday or rendered the working class so fragmented, precarious, and permanently disorganized that it no longer is able to possess the power that it once had. The irony is that the world working class, in industry and in services, is the largest it has ever been. The global wage-earning, non-agricultural workforce grew from 1.5 billion in 1999 to 2.1 billion in 2013, now composing half of the world’s workforce. Labor remains the lifeblood of capitalism. This talk will argue that though the working class in the U.S. and in many other parts of the world is relatively disorganized and weak, its power to transform itself, and society, remains a great untapped potential that is the only basis on which capitalism can be successfully challenged and replaced.

Speakers
avatar for Michael Brown

Michael Brown

Michael Brown is a member of the Los Angeles branch of the International Socialist Organization, and also a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Long Beach. Brown has organized for several years in the fight-back against police terrorism in southern California.


Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
DuSable C

6:30pm

Socialist Worker-Sponsored Meeting: Socialism 101
In 2016, more than half of young people polled said they rejected capitalism and more than a third said that they held a favorable view of socialism. Since the election of Donald Trump, those numbers have only increased and people in mass numbers have been taking to the streets in protest. But what is socialism? Is Bernie Sanders a socialist? Can we win socialism without a revolution? This presentation will discuss the basic idea of socialism from below and give examples of the kind of political movement that we need to fundamentally change the world.

Speakers
avatar for Dana Blanchard

Dana Blanchard

Dana currently works at Haymarket Books and is based in Chicago. Previously she has been an elementary school teacher and union organizer in California.
avatar for Eric Ruder

Eric Ruder

Eric Ruder is a journalist for SocialistWorker.org.


Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Hyde Park A/B

6:30pm

Venezuela: the Impasse of Chavismo
The government of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chávez, is undergoing a severe crisis--with weeks of protests by forced on the right and left. Moving to shore up power, Maduro has called for a constitutional convention that critics are calling anti-democratic. This talk will examine the legacy of Chavismo and where Venezuela is headed today.

Speakers
avatar for Eva María

Eva María

Eva is a Venezuelan-born socialist organizing in Portland, OR. She is a Spanish professor at Portland State University and has a MA in Spanish Language and Literature. She has been writing about Venezuela and the governments of the Pink Tide for the last 5 years providing a cr... Read More →


Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Clark A/B/C

6:30pm

Syria and the Left
The Syrian Revolution tested the left internationally by posing a blunt question: Which side are you on—do you support the popular struggle against dictatorship or are you with Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime? Tragically, many on the left turned their backs on the Syrian revolution and became apologists for, if not outright supporters of, Assad on the grounds of his alleged “anti-imperialism.” This is wrong not only because Assad has collaborated with imperialism, including Washington’s “war on terror,” but also because it is based on the dubious position that whomever comes under U.S. criticism or attack the left must support. This session will examine why, as Assad appears to be reconsolidating his power on the virtual ruins of Syria, the left must be able to express its opposition to all U.S. intervention in the region without falling into apologia for Assad.

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Burnham A/B/C

6:30pm

The Rise and Fall of the Socialist Party
At its peak in 1912, the Socialist Party had 150,000 members. When Leon Trotsky described it as a party of “successful dentists,” he had a point. It was a party some accused of promoting “sewer socialism,” and some of its more conservative leaders, like Milwaukee’s Victor Berger, held positions antithetical to socialism, including opposing Asian immigration and considering Blacks a “lower race.” But the party also had a left wing that included radicals like Big Bill Haywood, Eugene Debs, Louis Fraina and John Reed—the latter two becoming founding members of the U.S. communist movement. This presentation will trace the party’s history to show both the hidden vitality of U.S. socialism, as well as its problems and limitations.

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Field C

6:30pm

Trump, Economic Nationalism, and Imperialism Today
Trump famously broke with Republican orthodoxy by criticizing free trade deals and promising to champion manufacturing workers. He also denounced surviving Cold-War era institutions like NATO—causing some pundits to worry that he would undermine the post-war agreement that placed the U.S. at the center of a “liberal” imperial order. But the core of his economic policy—cutting taxes and reviving domestic industry—is designed to benefit the billionaires and former generals who dominate his cabinet. Questions remain as to how far Trump will go with the protectionist measures that undo free-trade policies his base supports (he’s already backed off on some); or to what extent his sabre-rattling posture will translate into new wars or deeper escalations of existing ones. This talk will discuss the degree of continuity—and discontinuity—of Trump's domestic and international economic and military policies, and what that means for the world.

Speakers

Thursday July 6, 2017 6:30pm - 8:00pm
DuSable A/B

8:30pm

Opening Plenary: Fighting Racism in Trump's America
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a professor at Princeton’s Center for African American Studies and author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, was forced to cancel two speaking engagements following her May 30 commencement speech at Hampshire College, where she called President Trump a “racist, sexist megalomaniac.” After Fox News covered the speech, she received more than fifty emails, some containing threats of violence, including “lynching and having the bullet from a .44 magnum put in my head.” These types of threats are part of a pattern of far right intimidation and violence—including the murder of two people in Portland for standing up to an anti-Muslim racist, and the murder by an “alt-reich” white supremacist of a Black university graduate in Maryland—that has been given a boost by Trump’s election. “The threat of violence, whether it is implied or acted on, is intended to intimidate and to silence,” wrote Taylor in a statement about the threats against her. She added: “The true strength of our side has not yet been expressed in its size and breadth, and so they believe they are winning. We have to change this dynamic and begin to build a massive movement against racism, sexism, and bigotry in this country. I remain undaunted in my commitment to that project.”

Taylor will join the Socialism 2017 Conference to deliver the speech she had been forced to cancel.

Moderators
Speakers
avatar for Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation and a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.


Thursday July 6, 2017 8:30pm - 9:30pm
Regency Ballroom A/B/C/D/E
 
Friday, July 7
 

9:30am

Jacobin-Sponsored Meeting: Building Our Party

In last year's presidential primary, Bernie Sanders's campaign revealed millions of people willing to vote for a socialist, working-class platform. In the general election, a choice between neoliberal Hillary Clinton and right-wing Donald Trump, it was confirmed that U.S. workers still have no party that will genuinely represent them. What will it take to form a democratic organization rooted in the working class? Posing this question forces us to ask—and answer—several others. Can a party of the working class be built without a larger, more powerful left? What is the relationship between electoral campaigns and left advance? How should the left relate to the Democratic party? A discussion between Jacobin's founding editor Bhaskar Sunkara and Jacobin contributor Paul Heideman.


Speakers
avatar for Paul Heideman

Paul Heideman

Paul Heideman is a graduate student in Sociology at New York University, whose work has appeared in Jacobin, International Socialist Review, and Historical Materialism. He is a member of the ISO in New York City.


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Ballroom A

9:30am

Fighting the Neoliberal Attack on Higher Education
The college campus does not stand aloof from the decades-long neoliberal assault on the working class. While universities and their administrators pull in six- and seven-figure salaries and erect multi-million dollar edifices, campus workers, proletarianized faculty, and debt-saddled students have paid for it. Take the U.S.: While 75 percent of U.S. college and university faculty at the start of the 1970s had the security of long-term tenure-track employment, today more than 75 percent of instructional faculty are classified “contingent,” teaching on contracts as short as a semester, typically without health care, disability, and retirement benefits. Nevertheless, the ivory-tower idea of the university continues to mask the full extent to which the neoliberal offensive has unleashed itself against a university’s terms and conditions for both learning and work. This panel will examine the dimension of the today’s neoliberal university, from Puerto Rico to Mexico, and from Quebec to the U.S., and what we can do to organize to resist and transform it.

Speakers
avatar for Alain Savard

Alain Savard

Alain Savard is a PhD student in Political Science at York University, Toronto. He was active in the Quebec student movement and participated in the organization of many student strikes. During the 2012 student strike, he was an officer for the CLASSE, a radical provincial stu... Read More →
avatar for Nancy Welch

Nancy Welch

Nancy Welch is Professor of English at the University of Vermont and a member of UVM United Academics, the union of UVM's full- and part-time faculty. She is author of Living Room: Teaching Public Writing in a Privatized World and co-editor of Composition in the Age of Austeri... Read More →


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Clark A/B

9:30am

Rehabilitating Imperialism: From Vietnam to the War on Terror
The U.S. emerged after the Second World War as the world’s greatest superpower, with only one less powerful rival, the Soviet Union. But the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, where a national liberation movement and the near-collapse of its own fighting units forced it to withdraw, created what became known as the “Vietnam Syndrome”—a reticence by the U.S. government to use direct military force abroad. From Reagan’s war on Grenada and Panama to Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, each U.S. president has attempted to find ways to overcome this “syndrome.” With the fall of the Soviet Union, Washington saw an opportunity to assert a position as the world’s unchallenged superpower, capable of intervening and molding regions at will. This talk will discuss the degree to which this strategy has been successful—and to what extent it has created new crises—and the future it holds for U..S imperialism.

Speakers
avatar for Jeremy Tully

Jeremy Tully

Jeremy is a member of the ISO with a long background of organizing against the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in solidarity with Palestine. He has written for SocialistWorker.org.


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Burnham C

9:30am

The Lessons of Standing Rock
The fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota, drew the support of millions and galvanized the fight for Indigenous rights and against climate change--and its brave stand briefly succeeded in forcing the Obama administration to halt the pipeline's construction. With Trump in office, the pipeline has gotten the greenlight once again. But can the struggle be renewed? What are the lessons that activists can take going forward in fighting not only to stop DAPL, but in organizing the fight against climate change and environmental racism?

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Hyde Park A

9:30am

Building Emergency Response Networks
Trump's first months in office has involved a kind of “shock and awe” politics designed to go after vulnerable sections of our society—Mexican and other immigrants, Muslims and migrants, LBGTQ people and women, African Americans and unions. In his first days in office, his attempt to impose a Muslim ban prompted immediate emergency response demonstrations at the airports, and there have been some emergency protests against the arrest, detention, and deportation of immigrants. This is an important start, but we’ve yet to build a fully effective web of emergency response networks capable of challenging Trump at every step. This workshop will talk about the experience so far, the ways to build and sustain such networks, and why they continue to be crucial to fighting the right-wing attacks.


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Grant Park C/D

9:30am

Strikes, Protests, and Revolutionaries: The First May Day
On May 1, 1886, at least 190,000 workers went on strike for the eight-hour workday across the country. In Chicago, police attacked striking workers, leading to the death of several workers. When a bomb was thrown killing dozens of police at a demonstration on May 4—no one knows for sure whether it was thrown by an angry demonstrator or a police provocateur—the city government initiated a reign of terror against workers. Eight anarchist and socialist leaders, among them Albert Parsons and August Spies, were put on trial and convicted of “conspiracy to commit murder,” though they had no connection to the bombing. On November 11, 1887, four of the Haymarket defendants were hanged. In his final speech to the court, August Spies declared, “If you think that by hanging us, you can stamp out the labor movement...then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.” This talk will examine the history of May Day most of us never get to hear.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
DuSable C

9:30am

Luxemburg's Reform or Revolution
In the late 1800s, Eduard Bernstein, representing a developing trend in the German Social Democratic Party, wrote a series of articles “revising” Marxism to contend that capitalism could be gradually and peacefully transformed into socialism. Bernstein became famous for his statement that “the movement is everything and the final goal nothing.” The young Polish-born revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg wrote the most important reply to his attack on the essence of Marxism, defending the necessity of revolution (and the fight for reforms as a means of preparing the working class for revolution), and showing that the “revisionists” (what we today would call reformists) were seeking not a more “peaceful” road to socialism, but merely the surface modification of capitalism.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Field C

9:30am

How Do Workers' Ideas Change?
Marx argued that through collective struggle workers become conscious of their own class interests. But they also wrote that the “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.” How is the working class able to begin this process of collective struggle—a precondition for developing class consciousness—if it is subject to these ruling ideas? Is it utopian to believe that the masses, manipulated and exposed to the ruling ideas, can ever develop the capacity to resist capitalism? Working-class people are not blank slates or automatons. They carry with them a variety of different, often contradictory ideas, some of which reflect the ruling ideas, and some which challenge them. This session will explore how such ruling ideas can be challenged.

Speakers
avatar for Tim Goulet

Tim Goulet

Tim Goulet is a member of the International Socialist Organization, and a shop steward with Teamsters Local 810, both in NYC.


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
DuSable A/B

9:30am

Socialist Worker-Sponsored Meeting: What Would Socialism Look Like?
Marx didn’t spend a lot of time talking about what socialism would be like. His precursors, the utopian socialists, did. But these were speculative blueprints. Marx stressed that a new society would emerge from the struggles of ordinary workers and oppressed peoples themselves. That doesn't mean socialists have had nothing to say on the topic. As Marx once noted, between the overthrow of capitalism and the classless society lies a period of transition under workers’ power. We do not as yet have experience of full socialism. But we do have the experience of a few years of socialist revolution in Russia, and of numerous near misses—the workers’ revolutions that failed like those in Spain 1936 or Hungary 1956—which contained the seeds of socialism. From these we can draw rich lessons as to what a future socialist society might look like.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Grant Park A/B

9:30am

The Factory Occupations and the Rise of Mussolini
In September 1920, over half a million workers seized factories throughout Italy. A revolutionary situation was unfolding. But the Italian Socialist Party, and the main trade union federation under its influence, struck a deal with the employers. Italian working people, who had hoped and expected that the end of capitalist rule were near, abandoned the factories in dejection and demoralization. Soon, fascist gangs under Mussolini stepped up recruitment, carrying out an escalating wave of attacks against the labor movement, receiving growing financial support from leading capitalists and sectors of the Italian state. Several thousands workers and peasants were murdered in fascist “punitive expeditions” leading up to Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922. This presentation will present the way in which the question of socialism or barbarism was concretely posed in Italy in this period.

Speakers
avatar for Doniella Maher

Doniella Maher

Doniella Maher is an English professor and activist in the Bay Area.


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Clark C

9:30am

A History of the Russian Revolution for the Twenty-First Century
100 years ago, Russian workers and peasants rose up and shook off one of the world’s most repressive dictatorships, attempting to build a society based up the direct democracy of the exploited and oppressed. It has often been portrayed as a coup led by a tiny cabal of elitist revolutionaries, but it was in fact, as Trotsky wrote in his masterful History of the Russian Revolution, the “forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.” This talk will take us from the mass strikes and protests that brought down the Tsar in February 1917, to the October insurrection that handed “all power to the soviets,” making the case that this event remains—in what it can teach socialists today about organization, politics, and the potential that lies within ordinary people to remake society—a watershed event.

Speakers
avatar for Todd Chretien

Todd Chretien

Todd Chretien is a long-time member of the ISO and a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker newspaper. He is the editor of a forthcoming anthology about 1917 titled "Eye Witnesses to Revolution."


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Ballroom B

9:30am

Islamophobia and the Ideology of the "War on Terror"
Like the “war on drugs,” the “war on terror” is not so much a single war as an ideological framework under which the United States wages war and justifies its foreign and domestic policies. If in the 19th and early 20th century the European colonial powers and the United States presented their struggle for global dominance as a “civilizing mission,” or after the Second World War as a global war of the “free world” against Soviet Communist aggression, since the 1990s the United States has waged war under the pretext that it is defending freedom against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. But logically, terrorism is a tactic and so one cannot wage “war” against it. Moreover, if terrorism is defined as systematic political violence designed to intimidate populations, it's applied with greater devastation by states like the U.S. than by non-state actors. For Washington, the usefulness of the “war on terror” trope is that it is self-perpetuating; through its brutal military attacks in the Middle East, it allows the U.S. to generate a perpetual cast of “enemies” against which the “war” can be waged indefinitely, providing a continuous justification for imperial interventions.


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Burnham A/B

9:30am

Misogynist in Chief: What's at Stake for Women's Rights in the Trump Era?
For anyone who cares about women’s rights, the election of Trump was almost unfathomable. How could a man who systematically demeaned women—not just on the campaign trail, but throughout his life—and who was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault, be elected to the highest office in the land? And what will a Trump presidency hold in store for millions of American women? From attacks on Title IX and a rollback of laws protecting women from discrimination, to the ever-increasing assault on reproductive freedom, Socialist Worker reporter Elizabeth Schulte looks at what the Trump administration has in store for women, what set the stage for these latest attacks on women’s rights, and how we can organize to fight back.


Friday July 7, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Hyde Park B

11:30am

A User's Guide to Marxism: Anarchism
The basic premise of anarchism—notwithstanding all its different strands—is opposition to all authority, and especially the state. For most anarchists, the kind of movement we build today should completely prefigure the society we want to create. But that only goes so far. In an unequal, class-divided society, authority can't simply be "abolished." If striking workers renounced the authority of the majority over the minority, for example, then they would have to renounce the strike as a weapon. Marxists also want a stateless society. But to achieve it, authoritarian acts—such as revolutions—are necessary. But they must be the conscious act of masses of people acting collectively—not the elitist actions of the few trying to “prod” the masses into action, as Black Block anarchists insist. This session will examine what Marxists and anarchists agree—and disagree—on, and why these debates matter.

Speakers
avatar for Coco Smyth

Coco Smyth

Coco Smyth is a history student and socialist organizer at The Ohio State University.


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Grant Park C/D

11:30am

Jacobin-Sponsored Meeting: How to Lose the Fight for Reproductive Justice

For decades, radical activists and liberal Democrats have pursued starkly different—at times opposing--strategies for winning and preserving reproductive justice rights. Despite the Democrats' reputation as a "pro-choice" party, Democrats have played key roles in the dismantling of abortion rights—like when Jimmy Carter signed the Hyde amendment in 1977, denying abortions to anyone on Medicaid. As women's organizations grew closer to a Democratic Party with such limited commitments to reproductive rights, there has been increasing pressure to move away from confrontational tactics and to a more uncritical support for the Demorcrats as a "lesser evil" to Republicans. During this time we have seen the steady erosion of reproductive rights. This discussion will take up a history of conservatization of the fight for reproductive rights, provide examples of successful struggles, and propose steps forward for the movement today.


Speakers
avatar for Jenny Brown

Jenny Brown

Jenny Brown is an organizer with National Women's Liberation and co-author of this article for Jacobin.  She co-authored the Redstockings book, Women's Liberation and National Healthcare: Confronting the Myth of America, and is a former editor at Labor Notes... Read More →


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Hyde Park B

11:30am

"Good Neighbors"? U.S. Intervention in Latin America
When most people think of U.S. meddling in Latin America, they think of Roosevelt's "gunboat diplomacy," Nixon's aiding in the overthrow of Chile's Salvador Allende, or Reagan's training of the Contras. In other words, the Republicans are the bad guys. Democratic administrations, from Truman to Obama, however, have a sordid tradition of intervening in Latin America in the name of anti-Communism. In fact, the logistical support, training, and military hardware provided by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations helped erect the sophisticated regimes of surveillance, torture, and disappearance from the Southern Cone to Central America. Yankee imperialism is, was, and continues to be a bipartisan project. 

Speakers
avatar for Anderson Bean

Anderson Bean

Anderson teaches sociology at North Carolina A&T State University, is a contributor to Socialist Worker and a member of the ISO in Greensboro, NC.
avatar for Gerardo Molinari

Gerardo Molinari

Gerardo Molinari is a central american socialist activist and teacher in Cambridge, MA.


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Field C

11:30am

Socialist Worker-Sponsored Meeting: The Case for a Revolutionary Newspaper
Socialists sometimes get flak, even on the left, for selling a newspaper—as if it’s a strange activity. But it remains a crucial way to connect the different strands of the struggle together, to relate socialist and Marxist politics to the key questions of the day, and to draw in a wider audience of potential socialists among fellow workers, students, and activists. Lenin once called the revolutionary newspaper “not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organizer.” As a propagandist, the paper is able, unlike bourgeois papers, to link seemingly separate questions and separate struggles and present a total picture of the nature of capitalist society. As an agitator, it can help to move people into action around particular struggles and movements. As an organizer, Lenin likened it to “the scaffolding round a building under construction, which…facilitates communication between the builders, enabling them to distribute the work and to view the common results achieved by their organized labor.” This session will examine the role of the socialist newspaper. 

Speakers
avatar for Alex Buckingham

Alex Buckingham

Alex Buckingham is a socialist and union activist from Madison, Wisconsin.
avatar for Amanda Michelle

Amanda Michelle

Amanda is an activist and socialist in Chicago, IL. Amanda has experience serving as the Socialist Worker paper sale coordinator in both the Austin, TX branch of the ISO and currently in the DePaul branch of the Chicago district of the ISO.


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
DuSable A/B

11:30am

Where Does Profit Come From? How the Boss Rips You Off
Investors only put money down on the expectation that they will receive a larger sum in return. Profit is what drives the capitalist system. Any standard textbook will tell you that profit is total revenue minus total cost. But that is a description not an explanation. In previous class societies, like feudalism, it’s easy to see that the lord got richer because peasants had to hand over to him a portion of the fruits of the ir labor. But under capitalism, the source of surplus wealth, unpaid labor, is disguised under the rules of apparent “free exchange” that govern the market place. This talk will get beyond the bland complacency of mainstream economics and get to the root—using as its foundation the first volume of Marx’s Capital—of where capitalist profits really come from.

Speakers
avatar for Owen Hill

Owen Hill

Owen is a longtime activist and organizer. He lives in Portland, Maine with his partner and dog.
avatar for Kay Sweeney

Kay Sweeney

Kay is a longtime member of the ISO and activist against the war and all forms of oppression and exploitation. She lives near Boston Massachusetts.


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Clark C

11:30am

Perspectives for Socialists
Antonio Gramsci once wrote, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” We are in an era of economic and political uncertainty. Capitalism’s multiple crises have produced political polarization to the left and the right, raising the question of whether socialism or barbarism lie in our future. Millions worldwide are disillusioned by the ravages of capitalism. Yet there remains a large gap between the potential for rebuilding the left and its actuality. How can that gap be bridged? What are the tasks of socialists today?

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Ballroom A

11:30am

What Do Socialists Say About Nationalism and National Liberation?
We live in an economically globalized society that is divided into competing national states each attempting to increase its economic, political, and military reach. Each ruling class appeals to nationalism and patriotism to justify repression at home and/or war abroad. But nations are not equal; some are powerful and dominate other nations, whereas others are dominated and oppressed by the stronger states like the United States. As Marxists, we make a distinction between the nationalism of the oppressor and the nationalism of the oppressed, understanding that the fullest internationalism of the world working class cannot be achieved simply by calling for internationalism, but must involve supporting the right of oppressed nations to self-determination.

Speakers
avatar for Alan Maass

Alan Maass

Alan Maass is the editor of SocialistWorker.org, author of The Case for Socialism and a member of the International Socialist Organization


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
DuSable C

11:30am

Class Struggles in China: Strikes, Protest, and Workers' Resistance
China has been the fastest growing major economy in the world for three decades. It is also home to some of the largest, most incendiary, and most underreported labor struggles of our time. In spite of legal restrictions against non-state workers’ striking, workers engage in thousands of job actions every year—the China Labour Bulletin recorded 2,663 strikes in 2016, a figure significantly below the likely total number. This talk, by the author of China on Strike, will provide an intimate and revealing window into the lives of workers organizing in some of China’s most profitable factories, which supply Apple, Nike, Hewlett Packard, and other multinational companies. Drawing on dozens of interviews with Chinese workers, this talk will document the processes of migration, changing employment relations, worker culture, and other issues related to China’s explosive economic growth as well as its growing class conflict.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Burnham C

11:30am

The Cuban Revolution and the Legacy of Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro, the chief architect and leader of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, died in 2016. He, and the state he created, managed to remain in power against U.S.-sponsored blockades, multiple assassination attempts, terrorist attacks, and an attempted military invasion. For that he became a beacon of anti-imperialism. His rag-tag guerilla army—aided by Fidel’s tactical, rhetorical, and organizational skills—overthrew the hated Bautista dictatorship, and Fidel, Che, and others led a transformation of Cuba into a one-party bureaucratic model of national development closely associated with the Soviet Union, on whose aid the Cuban regime came to depend on. While Fidel encouraged popular participation, he prevented popular democratic control, retaining a great deal of personal power in the 47 years he ruled. After Fidel, what is the future of the Cuban Revolution?

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Hyde Park A

11:30am

The Mirage of Socialist Zionism
In recent years, support for Palestinian liberation has become commonplace on the U.S. left, but it wasn’t always this way. For decades, many progressives in social movements and in the U.S. labor movement considered Zionism—the political project of building a Jewish state in Palestine—part and parcel of the struggle for social justice. This talk will explore the history of the early Zionist movement to explain how radical labor activists and socialists understood their support for a settler-colonial state. What does this history tell us about the social-democratic vision of socialism that many socialist Zionists embraced? And if socialist Zionism is a mirage, what are the key elements of a liberatory socialism in support of Palestinian liberation?

Speakers
avatar for Michael Letwin

Michael Letwin

Michael Letwin is a member of Labor for Palestine and Labor for Standing Rock.
avatar for Eric Ruder

Eric Ruder

Eric Ruder is a journalist for SocialistWorker.org.


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Clark A/B

11:30am

Gentrification and the Neoliberal City
Neoliberal policies of structural adjustment, privatization, financialization, and deregulation of labor and markets have had a profound impact on cities across the world. These policies have involved dramatic cuts in social funding won in the struggles of the 1930s and 1960s, the rise in influence of bond-rating agencies, and the financialization of municipalities. It has brought the demolition and privatization of public housing, budget cuts to public schools, and the resurgence of gentrification on an unprecedented scale, reconfiguring urban spaces in a way that reinforces racial discrimination and economic exclusion. This presentation will examine these changes, as well as the possibilities for urban struggles to resist this process, such as the 2012 Chicago Teachers’ strike.

Speakers
avatar for Neil Loehlein

Neil Loehlein

Neil Loehlein is an activist in Portland, OR and a member of the Professional & Technical Employees Union (PTE) Local 17 and the International Socialist Organization.
avatar for Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan is a member of the Brooklyn Branch of the ISO and a housing rights advocate in New York City.


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Grant Park A/B

11:30am

Lenin and the Bolshevik Party
Too often, Lenin’s ideas on organization have been abstracted from his commitment to working-class emancipation and socialism, from his views on the revolutionary politics, and from the vibrant Russian socialist movement he was part of. This approach gives a cold and lifeless quality to Lenin’s organizational perspectives. Lenin’s organizational approach, contrary to the assertions of many, was not characterized by personal lust for power, pragmatic opportunism, or elitist authoritarianism. Rather, it involved a dynamic blend of practical mindedness and profound concern for political principles, and it was essentially democratic in regard both to ends and means. This presentation, by Paul Le Blanc, author of many books, including Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and Unfinished Leninism, will look at the real Lenin—who devoted his politics, heart and soul, to the liberation of the oppressed—and the political party he helped build.

Speakers
avatar for Paul Le Blanc

Paul Le Blanc

Professor of History at La Roche College and active in struggles for social and economic justice since the 1960s. Author of such books as "Lenin and the Revolutionary Party" (1990), "From Marx to Gramsci" (1996), and "A Short History of the US Working Class" (1999) – all rece... Read More →


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Ballroom B

11:30am

Trump, Business, and the "Deep" State: Who's in Charge?
The succession of leaks and scandals emerging from the Trump White House in his first days in office led some to conclude that shadowy figures in the “deep state”—the secretive U.S. military and intelligence apparatus who some believe act as the “power behind the throne” of Washington politics—were working to reign in a new president who they viewed as a threat to the legitimacy of the office and a detriment to the aims of the American state. Dave Buckingham will examine the myth and reality behind these claims, and who holds the real power in Washington.

Speakers
avatar for David B.

David B.

David is an activist and a socialist.


Friday July 7, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Burnham A/B

2:00pm

A User's Guide to Marxism: Maoism
More than a generation ago, many revolutionaries looked to the Peoples Republic of China under Chairman Mao Zedong as an example of a society that was moving towards socialism—and that offered inspiration for changing their own societies. China’s revolution in 1949 did not bring workers’ to power, however, but cemented in power a top-down party committed to using China’s state to emulate the industrialization achieved under Stalin’s Russia. Maoism invoked extreme voluntarism—that idea that to overcome China’s historical economic poverty, miracles of self-sacrifice and economic mobilization were necessary. This meant squeezing China’s workers and peasants to embark on overblown schemes like the Great Leap Forward—which produced disastrous famines and hardship, and eventually led to Mao’s downfall. But not before Maoism had its impact on the international left, producing elitist parties claiming to be “vanguards” that alienated most people on the left, and which dissolved to leave political confusion in their wake. This talk will examine the continuing legacy of Maoism.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Clark A/B

2:00pm

Art and Politics: Thinking with John Berger
John Berger—a giant of art criticism, literature, and Marxist cultural analysis who helped multiple generations grapple with, and critically think about, art, history, politics, and the act of looking—died on January 2 at the age of 90. Berger was widely regarded as one of the most influential writers on art of the last 60 years. But he was much more than this, producing plays, screenplays, poems, novels, and political and social essays. All of his work was driven by a desire to see a more just world, and central themes included the importance of the past in addressing the present; the relation between art and beauty and imagination; and the importance of looking. This talk will explore the continuing importance of Berger’s insights.


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Hyde Park B

2:00pm

A Meeting of Minds: C.L.R. James and Richard Wright

The close friendship between C.L.R. James and Richard Wright forms an intriguing chapter in the life of each. Their meeting of the minds—across significant differences in cultural and political background—was a moment of extraordinary revolutionary creativity as they discovered a shared understanding of African-American liberation struggle and the classical Marxist tradition. Recovering their insights remains a crucial task for today's socialist movement.


Speakers
avatar for Scott McLemee

Scott McLemee

Scott McLemee writes on politics and culture for a variety of publications and appears as a commentator in the documentary "Every Cook Can Govern: The Life, Impact and Works of C.L.R James."


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Clark C

2:00pm

Strategies for Anti-Capitalists
Rebuilding a U.S. left will be impossible without debating a wide variety of strategic and tactical moves. The value of these debates, however, depends on our ability to articulate the political issues and stakes at the center of them. This talk will examine some of the most basic political questions facing anti-capitalists and sketch out some ways in which different answers will produce very different ideas about what to do. In short, this talk will not only make the case for socialism, but also show the relationship between our long-term goals and how we approach politics today. In doing so, it aims to arm socialists to be able to navigate a number of pressing political questions we face.

Speakers
avatar for Jason Farbman

Jason Farbman

Jason Farbman is the Director of Outreach and Development at Jacobin.


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Hyde Park A

2:00pm

Education and Capitalism
The education system plays a contradictory role in society. On the one hand, public schools are central to reproducing the capitalist system. On the other hand, they have been one of the most contested battlegrounds in struggles against oppression and for working-class liberation. The pursuit for human freedom demands an analysis of this contradiction and a plan of action, which is what this panel of two distinguished Marxist educators, Jesse Hagopian and Wayne Au, will set out to do.

Speakers
avatar for Jesse Hagopian

Jesse Hagopian

Jesse Hagopian is a high school history teacher, an editor for Rethinking Schools magazine, the Seattle Education Fellow to The Progressive magazine, and editor of the book, More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing.


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Grant Park C/D

2:00pm

The Border Crossed Us: Economics and Politics of the U.S.-Mexico Border
The U.S.-Mexico border that exists today was outcome of an 1846 war in which the United States annexed large portions of what had been Mexico. Since then, the border, and its control, has been alternately opened and closed—a double-edged sword against migrants brought in as cheap labor and then vilified as scapegoats and deported when the economy turned sour. The militarization of the almost 2,000 mile long U.S.-Mexico border began in earnest in the mid 1990s, and increased dramatically after 9/11, particularly after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. Politicians present the border as a “war zone” where drugs, terrorism, and criminal “aliens” threaten the United States. The much-touted wall Trump promises to build in fact already exists across about 700 miles of the border. Indeed, over the past 24 years, money spent on border enforcement has increased fourteen times (to $3.8 billion in 2015) and the number of border patrol agents by five times, to almost 40,000. This talk will integrate the questions of ideology, politics, and economics to present a comprehensive picture of the border, its history, and the struggles of migrant workers.

Speakers
avatar for Justin Akers Chacón

Justin Akers Chacón

Justin Akers Chacón is an educator, activist, and writer living in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. He is co-author of No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border (with Mike Davis), and author of the forthcoming Radicals in the Barrio... Read More →


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Burnham A/B

2:00pm

Why Capitalism Goes into Crisis
Marx recognized quite early on in capitalism’s youth that the system was prone to crises, “that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly.” He noted that in such a crisis, “a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed,” producing mass unemployment and misery. We saw such a crisis in 2008. What causes these crises? Marx, and subsequent Marxists, have advanced a number of arguments over which there has been much debate—the unplanned character of the market in which investment eventually outstrips the size of the market; low wages that restrict purchases and shrink markets; high wages that cut into profits; the imbalances between different industries; and the tendency, over time, for the rate of profit to fall because labor, as the source of value, continually shrinks as investment in plant and machinery grow and productivity increases. This talk will attempt to provide a comprehensive explanation of capitalism’s periodic descent into crisis.

Speakers
avatar for Paul Fleckenstein

Paul Fleckenstein

Paul Fleckenstein is a long-time labor and anti-war organizer, a contributor to Socialist Worker, and a member of the International Socialist Organization from Burlington, Vt.


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Field C

2:00pm

Lenin's State and Revolution
In hiding after the abortive July Days in 1917, and just months before the Bolshevik victory in October, Lenin told Lev Kamenev, “Entre nous, if they do me in, please publish my notebook ‘Marxism and the State.’” In was soon published after October. Its purpose was to exhume everything Marx and Engels had said on the state that had been buried or distorted by the Second International after Marx. It was a theoretical work with a simple point: the state, a product of irreconcilable class contradictions, “a power which arose from society but places itself above it and alienates itself more and more from it,” is “special coercive force” at its core that serves the needs of the dominant class. The task of the working class is to do away with the capitalist state and replace it with democratic armed workers’ power—a power that, once classes have disappeared—will itself become unnecessary and “wither away.”

Speakers
avatar for Paul D'Amato

Paul D'Amato

Paul D'Amato is the editor of the International Socialist Review and author of The Meaning of Marxism.


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
DuSable A/B

2:00pm

Understanding Antisemitism
Anti-Semitism has a violent, ugly history dating back into the Middle Ages in Europe. It later became an integral part of Nazi and fascist ideology in Europe, and of organizations like the KKK in the United States—though less violent but pervasive forms of it acted as the ground on which more extreme versions of it could grow. In recent years, Muslims have replaced Jews as the far right’s preferred scapegoat. But anti-Semitism lurks in the shadows, and remains a potent and dangerous part of far-right ideology. In the past several years there has been a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide. Organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda have also fanned its flames, conflating hatred of Jews and opposition to Zionism. But most who oppose Zionism are not anti-Semites—but consistent opponents of all forms of oppression and discrimination.

Speakers
avatar for Stephanie Schwartz

Stephanie Schwartz

Stephanie is a teacher and socialist activist living in the Bay Area.
avatar for Rebecca Vilkomerson

Rebecca Vilkomerson

Rebecca Vilkomerson is the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jvp.org), which recently published the collection "On AntiSemitism... Read More →


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Ballroom B

2:00pm

Land Grabs to Big Oil: The New Scramble for Africa
The scramble for Africa’s wealth is in reality not new—it has a long and sordid history. From the era of the slave trade, the late 19th century colonial carve up of Africa, to neoliberalism today, where onerous debt regimes have been used to bend Africa to the dictates of powerful states and their multinational corporations, the exploitation of the continent by the West has been accompanied by economic stagnation, poverty, war and disease for millions. Today’s new scramble for Africa is unfolding in a period—once again—of heightened competition over Africa’s rich oil and mineral resources and the strategic geopolitical interests of a range of major powers, including the U.S., China, and Europe.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
DuSable C

2:00pm

Crisis and Resistance: The Struggle Continues in Greece
In January 2015, SYRIZA was swept into office in Greece. There was immense hope that the new government, led by a party that had remained uncompromising in its opposition to austerity, would stand up to the European Union and defend working-class living standards ravaged by the economic crisis and the punishing Memorandums demanded by the so-called “Troika”—the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, which together own billions in Greek debt. Yet by July of that year, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had capitulated, signing a new Memorandum. Since then, attacks on workers, the poor and immigrants have continued unabated. In the aftermath of this surrender, left-wing organizations and individuals left SYRIZA and founded a new formation, called Popular Unity. In this meeting, revolutionaries from Greece will examine the new political context in Greece, draw some lessons of the SYRIZA experience, and assess the way forward for the left.

Speakers
avatar for Sotiris Martalis

Sotiris Martalis

sotmart@gmail.com
Sotiris Martalis is an activist in Greece, where he is a member of International Workers Left. He also is a member of the political council of Popular Unity and the trade union META, and a member of the Institute of Historical, Economic, and Social Research "Commune."
avatar for Katerina Sergidou

Katerina Sergidou

Katerina Sergidou is an activist in Greece and member of International Workers Left. A researcher in communication and oral history, she is the author of the book, The Existent Sexism and the Fight for Women's Liberation and a journalist at Rproject.gr. She also is a member of... Read More →


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Burnham C

2:00pm

From Rebel Soldiers to the Red Army: Defense of the Russian Revolution, 1917-1921
The Russian Revolution transformed all sections of society, including the armed forces. The horrors of the First World War and the social crisis compelled millions of soldiers and sailors to join the revolution to overthrow the Tsar. By the end of 1917, soldiers (many of them peasants in uniform) and the working class had united to establish a workers' republic. After the revolution, as foreign invasion and counterrevolutionary White armies beset the workers’ state, the Red army was created, and over time was transformed into an effective and disciplined fighting force under the guidance of Leon Trotsky. This talk will illustrate how Russian soldiers were transformed by the revolution and how the vanguard of the class organized to defeat the counterrevolution.

Speakers
avatar for Alessandro Tinonga

Alessandro Tinonga

Alessandro Tinonga is a member of the Berkeley Branch of the ISO. He is a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker writing articles about politics in the East Bay Area and the Philippines.


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Burnham C

2:00pm

“Rust Belt Reactionaries”?: The U.S. Working Class Today
A media narrative developed after the surprising election of Donald Trump that said that workers—specifically white, working-class men—were to blame. Whole sections of the working class, as a result, have been deemed irredeemably racist and sexist in the effort to understand how Hillary Clinton could have possibly have lost to the orange menace sitting in the White House. Sharon Smith, author of Subterranean Fire and Women and Socialism, and independent journalist Sarah Jaffe, discuss the problem with this attitude—and why working-class solidarity can be the antidote to Trumpism.


Friday July 7, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Ballroom A

4:00pm

A User's Guide to Marxism: Social Democracy
The debate between reform and revolution—do we change the existing order from within, or do we destroy capitalism and build society anew—is as old as the idea of socialism itself. Should we “take over” the state by winning electoral office, or should we break up the old state and replace it with workers’ democracy? Social Democracy, especially since the First World War, evolved into a politics committed to the electoral, reformist road. But that road, instead of transforming capitalism, transformed social democracy. Everywhere, parties committed to gradualist socialism assumed the role of defenders of capitalism—committed to modifying it in order to save it and not destroy it. Today these parties are part of the mainstream status quo, and are in deep crisis. What lessons can socialists today draw from this sad trajectory?

Speakers
avatar for Alex Schmaus

Alex Schmaus

Alex Schmaus is a socialist organizer from the San Francisco Bay Area.


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Hyde Park A

4:00pm

The 40th Anniversary of the Combahee River Collective
The Combahee River Collective, a revolutionary group of radical Black feminists, was one of the most important organizations to develop out of movements of the 1960s and '70s. In 1977, the group published the Combahee River Collective Statement, which was one of the earliest explorations of the intersecting nature of multiple oppressions, including racism and sexism. Demita Frazier, Beverly Smith, and Barbara Smith were the primary authors of the Combahee River Collective Statement. Theorizing the concept of multiple oppressions, critiquing both sexual oppression in the Black community and racism within the wider feminist movement, they sought to destroy the related evils of capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. This panel will include original Combahee authors Barbara Smith and Demita Frazier as well as activists Barbara Ransby, Sharon Smith, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

Speakers
avatar for Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation and a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Ballroom A

4:00pm

Environmental Racism and the Origins of the Environmental Justice Movement
Trump's proposed budget cuts a third of funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. Among those programs targeted is the Office of Environmental Justice, which aims to address the disproportionate environmental harms suffered by communities of color, the poor, and Native American tribes. The Environmental Justice program was established in 1992 is response to a decade of militant activism by mostly Black and Indigenous people to prevent the introduction of additional environmental and health hazards into their communities. In light of the recent struggles against the Dakota Access Pipeline and for clean drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the history of struggle against environmental racism in the U.S. is particularly relevant. This talk will discuss some of the landmark battles against environmental racism, including the siting of a hazardous waste PCB landfill in a Black community in Warren County, North Carolina, in 1982, and the fight to prevent a sewage treatment facility in West Harlem by a grassroots organization called WEAct. It will assess the strategy, tactics, and overall trajectory of the movement and the response by, and partial absorption into, the federal bureaucracy.


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Hyde Park B

4:00pm

Fighting Back on Campus

The neoliberal university is a mirror of the society around it: exorbitant tuition, declining minority enrollment, precarious employment, and weakened job security for professors. University administrations are rolling back decades of hard-fought gains for free speech, threatening students for speaking out, and clamping down on their rights to assemble and organize. At key historical moments in the U.S., campuses have become focal points for struggles around larger social questions reaching far beyond campus life, such as the struggle for civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. Today, campuses are again becoming terrains of polarization and struggle, as emboldened right-wingers are also staking their claim. How can we build a strong student movement that is able to resist university attacks, connect with wider social questions, and build the kind of solidarity that enhances our success?



Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Burnham A/B

4:00pm

Abortion Without Apology
Since abortion became legal in the U.S. it has been under attack, from the 1976 Hyde Amendment that barred federal funding for abortion, to the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the appointment of anti-abortion conservative Neil Gorsich to Trump’s Supreme Court. We know that Republican conservatives and right-wing evangelicals have been at the forefront of efforts to push abortion again into the back alleys. Unfortunately, the mainstream women’s organizations, and the Democratic Party they are tied to, have not put up much of a fight to defend it. This talk will show how liberal policies have helped weaken our side by undermining any confident stand for women's right to choose, instead seeking middle ground with the right. Panelists will make the case for a confident reproductive rights movement that can win a new generation of women and men to fighting for abortion without apology.


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Burnham C

4:00pm

The Struggle for Trans Liberation: Perspectives on a Marxist Approach
Despite winning important victories in recent years, and despite marked changes in social attitudes, transgender people continue to be highly vulnerable to discrimination and violence. In 2016, according to the Human Rights Campaign, advocates tracked at least 22 deaths of transgender people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the most ever recorded. This violence, which is under-recorded, disproportionately affects trans women of color. With Donald Trump in office, the hard-fought gains that have been won are coming under increased attack at the state and national level. Transgender people have been integral to the fight for sexual liberation, but their involvement and contribution to the struggle has often been under-recognised. This talk will analyze the nature of transgender oppression, and what it will take to achieve a society without transphobia, where people are free to choose their gender expression without fear of social stigma, discrimination, or violence.

Speakers
avatar for Fainan Lakha

Fainan Lakha

Fainan Lakha is a transgender activist and student.


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Ballroom B

4:00pm

From Sensenbrenner to Trump: History and Lessons of the Immigrant Rights Movement
In March, 2006, and again on May 1 of that year, millions of people across the U.S. demonstrated to protest the Sensenbrenner Bill criminalizing undocumented immigrants. While the bill was defeated, subsequent legislation focused on very limited and drawn-out procedures for some immigrants to become legalized, while anti-immigrant “enforcement” measures were stepped up. Hoping things would be different under the Obama administration, mainstream immigrant rights organizations counseled a wait-and-see attitude while border militarization, workplace raids, detentions, and deportations increased. Obama deported 2.5 million from 2009-2015, more than any previous president. Now Trump has unleashed his “shock and awe” policy against immigrants. How can the movement regroup and rebuild the fightback in this new era of fear and uncertainty?


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
DuSable A/B

4:00pm

Building Strong Branches
Building a socialist organization in the “belly of the beast” is no easy task. It requires regularly planned, well-organized meetings, tablings, and sales of our newspaper and literature to “get the word out.” It means reading, studying, and debating the Marxist and radical theory and tradition in order to deepen our understanding of the present and develop a perspective about what we should do next. It also means working out plans to initiate and involve ourselves in the struggles of today, in order to advance those struggles and attract more people to our cause. These activities require regular reassessment so that we can learn from both our successes and mistakes. In short, it involves both a sense of strong organizational routine and political flair for taking advantage of new opportunities for struggle and growth.

Speakers
avatar for Camila Quarta

Camila Quarta

Camila Quarta is a longtime activist and socialist in NYC. She has been very involved in the campus anti-sexual violence movement.


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Clark C

4:00pm

Introduction to the International Socialist Organization
What kind of organization is the ISO? What are its basic politics, what are its activities, and what are its goals? How does it view the Democratic Party? How does it view unions, Black Lives Matter, and the fight for abortion rights? How does it figure out its perspectives? If you are new to the ISO and are looking to get involved, this is the meeting you’ll want to attend to get all your questions answered.

Speakers
avatar for Nico Judd

Nico Judd

Nico is an ISO member from Long Island who is currently based in Portland, Oregon. As a mother and mental health advocate, Nico's work centers on social reproduction in the healthcare field. Her research and activism focuses on the legacy of Imperialism in Sub-Saharan Africa... Read More →


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Clark A/B

4:00pm

SYRIZA, Podemos, and Beyond: Success and Failure of New Left Party Initiatives
There have been a number of new left parties that have arisen around the world—the products of new social struggles and expressions of opposition to the politics of austerity and the failures of the old social democratic parties. Two that stand out in recent times are SYRIZA in Greece and Podemos in Spain. There was great hope that the Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, would finally stand up to the European creditors that were bleeding the Greek working class. But in office Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras soon capitulated, signing a new debt Memorandum. In Spain, Podemos, though still seen as a radical left alternative to Spain’s traditional parties, combines strong plebeian rhetoric with moderate programmatic proposals aimed at gaining respectability. What are the lessons that the left can draw from these, and other efforts to create left electoral alternatives independent of the parties of the neoliberal consensus?

Speakers
avatar for Mick Armstrong

Mick Armstrong

Mick Armstrong is a socialist activist and author based in Melbourne, Australia, and a founding member of Socialist Alternative.
avatar for Brais Fernandez

Brais Fernandez

Brais Fernandez is a member of the leadership of Anticapitalistas and the editorial committee of Viento Sur.
avatar for Sotiris Martalis

Sotiris Martalis

sotmart@gmail.com
Sotiris Martalis is an activist in Greece, where he is a member of International Workers Left. He also is a member of the political council of Popular Unity and the trade union META, and a member of the Institute of Historical, Economic, and Social Research "Commune."
avatar for Antonello Zecca

Antonello Zecca

Antonello Zecca is a member of the leadership of Sinistra Anticapitalista in Italy.


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Grant Park C/D

4:00pm

U.S. Health Care: Your Money and Your Life
Health care profits have increased under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for insurance and drug companies, but the actual delivery of health care has not. In the age of austerity, we all continue to pay more and get less, even unions are succumbing to this trend. How have things gotten so bad? Why hasn't Obamacare helped people as it promised? And now that Trump is in office, it seems the health care system can only get worse. What can we do to fight this? Will health care for all ever be a reality in the U.S.?

Speakers
avatar for Dennis Kosuth

Dennis Kosuth

As a socialist and a registered nurse, the speaker has first hand experience with how the healthcare system in this country has utterly failed to meet the needs of people.


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
DuSable C

4:00pm

Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA
Climate change is accelerating, working-class living standards are declining, and the right wing is feeling emboldened. Meanwhile, women’s rights are under attack and the racist prison system continues to lock up millions in the U.S. But it’s not enough to condemn capitalism as the root cause of our suffering—we need to imagine what life could be like in the United States if we had economic, as well as a real political, democracy, and figure out the strategies for how to get there. Leading socialist and revolutionary thinkers and activists will debate and discuss.

Speakers
avatar for Paul Le Blanc

Paul Le Blanc

Professor of History at La Roche College and active in struggles for social and economic justice since the 1960s. Author of such books as "Lenin and the Revolutionary Party" (1990), "From Marx to Gramsci" (1996), and "A Short History of the US Working Class" (1999) – all rece... Read More →
avatar for Michael Smith

Michael Smith

Michael Steven Smith is on the board of directors of The Center for Constitutional Rights. Besides being the co-editor of Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA, he is the author or editor of five other books, including Who Killed Che?: How the CIA Got Away with Murder (with Mich... Read More →


Friday July 7, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Grant Park A/B

8:00pm

The Combahee River Collective and the Black Feminist Tradition
Though long overlooked, Black feminists have shaped the history of the fight for women's liberation in the U.S. and beyond. Among other things, the Combahee River Collective helped lay the foundation for the concept of intersectionality—arguing that sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression intersect one another. Two of the Combahee founders will discuss the ongoing relevance of the collective and Black feminist thought in the ongoing struggle for women's liberation today.


Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Ballroom C/D/E

8:00pm

Jacobin-Sponsored Meeting: Lean Production: Inside the Real War on Public Education

Since the turn of the last century, capitalists have applied scientific management methods and new technologies to make production cheaper and more efficient. Today, corporate education reformers are seeking to use the latest in "management science" and technology to reshape the classroom and teachers' labor. Through computerization, the reorganization of work through "lean production" methods adopted from industry, and an aggressive campaign against unions, schools are again being remade in the corporate image. This session will summarize the history of capital's efforts to reshape schools using the latest methods of capitalist production, and the effects of these reforms on schools and teachers, and assess their implications for schools, teachers, and their unions.


Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Hyde Park B

8:00pm

Marxism, Exploitation, and Oppression
A frequent criticism of Marxists is that we are economic reductionists who fail to take seriously the dynamics of racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. But revolutionary Marxism sees exploitation and oppression as linked, and fighting oppression as precondition for building class unity. As Lenin once wrote, a real socialist must be a “tribune of the people” capable of responding to all forms of tyranny and oppression. Since the 2016 primaries some liberals and leftists, however, have falsely counterposed economic populism to championing the rights of women and minorities—as evidenced for example by Bernie Sanders’ willingness to support anti-choice Democrats. A new generation of activists is making the connections between economic justice and justice for women, Blacks, and other oppressed people. Any movement that fails to link these issues, based on the argument that unity can be built by emphasizing “economic” questions and ignoring or setting aside issues of oppression, is stepping in the wrong direction.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Ballroom A

8:00pm

What Do Socialists Say About Unions?
Since industrial capitalism began, workers reacted to their conditions by combining to resist the bosses. As Marx wrote, “Combination always has a double aim, that of stopping competition among the workers, so that they can carry on general competition with the capitalist.” Unions are the first line of defense for workers and a means to increase their sense of solidarity, but because they fight the effects of the system rather than the system itself, unions also produce a layer of officials who, by dint of habit, become concerned more with the survival of the institution than the defense of the workers, and, in order to preserve the union, tend toward a preference for negotiation over conflict. This talk will discuss the importance, but also the limits, of unions, and what role socialists can play in them to make them better collective fighting organizations of the working class.


Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Clark C

8:00pm

A Newer World Order? Imperialism and the Rise of China
The United States remains the world’s largest economy, with far and away the world’s biggest military footprint. But despite Washington's best efforts, the United States continues to suffer relative economic decline against its competitors, particularly China. In 1980, China’s economy was 10.6 percent of the size of the U.S. economy; today, the figure has risen to 63.8 percent. U.S. policy is to ensure that it remains the unchallenged hegemon world affairs. As China’s economic power rises, and it begins to shape a regional military strategy, what impact does this have on the current power relations in the world? At what point will China’s rise as a global economic power begin to put pressure on the current configuration of world power, still dominated, albeit with less certainty, by the U.S.?

Speakers
avatar for Ashley Smith

Ashley Smith

Ashley Smith is a member of the ISO and on the Editorial Board of the International Socialist Review.


Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Clark A/B

8:00pm

Palmyra: Violence in Syria and the Ruins of Empire
The many forms of horrific violence in the war in Syria include destruction by ISIS of 2000-year-old monuments in the ancient city of Palmyra. This destruction has received considerable media attention, almost all of which laments the damage to these “cultural treasures” that are the “common inheritance of all humanity." Little is said about what has happened to the Syrians now living in Palmyra—or more generally about what it means to care about art and culture during a time of war. This talk will focus on the contradictory ways in which imperialism exploits art and culture and appropriates them in its drive for political domination.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Burnham C

8:00pm

States of Resistance: The Future of Palestinian Liberation
A paradox confronts the movement for Palestinian liberation. On the one hand, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has mobilized unprecedented support for the struggle of the Palestinians internationally, putting the rights of Palestinian refugees and Palestinian citizens of Israel back at the center of the movement's demands after two decades of the "peace process" that reduced the Palestinian struggle to a question of statehood in the West Bank and Gaza. On the other hand, conditions in Palestine are among the worst faced since 1948. The historic leadership of the Palestinian movement is now collaborating with Israel's occupation, through the mechanism of the Palestinian Authority. In Gaza, Hamas' resistance has failed to cohere in a form capable of advancing the liberation struggle. Meanwhile, settlement expansion continues in the West Bank. In this paradoxical situation, what will it take to build an effective movement capable of challenging Israel and accomplishing fundamental change for Palestinians?

Speakers
avatar for Wael Elasady

Wael Elasady

Wael Elasady is a Palestinian activist living in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-founder of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, a member of the International Socialist Organization and a frequent contributor to Socialistworker.org.


Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Hyde Park A

8:00pm

How the Russian Revolution Was Lost
Russia’s Marxists believed that Russia could begin a revolution, but that the low level of Russia’s economic development meant that socialism could not be built there unless the revolution spread elsewhere. The practical requirement for socialism is the existence of economic abundance and a working class capable of democratically transforming society. By 1920, Russia was a deeply impoverished society whose working class had been decimated by poverty and war. This session will examine the claims that the rise of a bureaucratic police state on the ruins of workers’ democracy was a process that took place because of the “original sin” of Lenin and other Russian revolutionaries—rather than because of Russia’s poverty, devastation by civil war and blockade, and the revolution’s failure to spread to more industrially developed economies.

Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Burnham A/B

8:00pm

Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America
For two decades, Democracy Now! has been a constant voice for the disenfranchised and marginalized in the U.S. and around the globe. Groundbreaking reporter Amy Goodman will share some of her experiences reporting from the frontlines of struggle and discuss why independent journalism is needed now more than ever.

Moderators
Speakers

Friday July 7, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Grant Park A/B

10:00pm

Poet Kevin Coval and Comedian Hari Kondabolu
Poet, educator and organizer Kevin Coval will introduce comedian Hari Kondabolu.

Friday July 7, 2017 10:00pm - 11:00pm
Ballroom A/B

11:00pm

DJ and Dance Party
Friday July 7, 2017 11:00pm - Saturday July 8, 2017 1:30am
Ballroom A/B
 
Saturday, July 8
 

9:30am

Why We Need a Revolutionary Party
Capitalism could not survive if it weren’t able to convince most people—through its control of education and cultural institutions—to accept it. But when that fails, they have strong institutions in the form of police, soldiers, and courts, to ensure the status quo. Changing society therefore involves both changing minds and challenging the power of the ruling class. The working class needs its own party, not only to count its own forces and educate itself, but also to gather enough strength to win. What kind of party must it be? It must be more than a party that seeks electoral office—it must be a party that participates in all the myriad partial struggles against the system, bringing into its ranks the best, most conscious fighting elements to lead a challenge against capitalism as a whole.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
DuSable A/B

9:30am

Racecraft in 2017
It is commonly assumed that racism is as old as human society itself. But racism is a historical invention, not a biological fact. Its origins are linked closely to the rise of the African slave trade and the system of plantation slavery that was developed in the “New World” more than 400 years ago. As the Trinidadian historian of slavery, Eric Williams, famously put it, “Slavery was not born of racism; rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.” Its purpose was to ideologically justify and help maintain an extremely profitable system of unfree labor. Karen Fields—coauthor, with Barbara J. Fields, of Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life—will elaborate on the relationship between the rise of slavery and the development of racial ideology in the United States, showing how the practice of racism is intimately intertwined with other forms of inequality in American history.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Grant Park A/B

9:30am

Keep the Oil in the Soil: Fighting Against the Pipelines
Oil, water, and fish do not mix. In North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux, along with supporters from all over the US and the world, took an inspiring stand against the “black snake,” the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline that Donald Trump has given the green light to be finished. But the struggle is far from over—at Standing Rock, but also elsewhere. Many other pipeline projects are slated to run across indigenous territories from Canada to the U.S. and Mexico, including the Trans-Pecos pipeline and Comanche Trail pipeline in Texas; the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana; and the Line 3 pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin. The struggle against the Keystone XL, the pipeline that would bring carbon-intensive, toxic, and corrosive crude oil from the Canadian tar sands, continues as well. Oil pipelines also impact 20 indigenous communities in Mexico. This is a fight that concerns us all. How can we stop the profiteers who will stop at nothing—including destroying the Earth—to keep the oil, and their profits, flowing?


Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Hyde Park B

9:30am

The Political Economy of Food
We live in a society that has millions that starve as well as millions that are considered overweight. We have a food system that fails to feed millions while at the same time lures millions of others to buy industrially produced food that fails to meet basic nutritional requirements. The cause of both is profit—it's not profitable to feed the hungry, but it’s quite profitable to sell cheap processed food stuffed with salt, fat, and sugar. Meanwhile, our agriculture system, though productive enough to feed us all, uses technology that undermines the very basis of soil fertility and agricultural sustainability. The talk will discuss how we can get to a society where our agricultural systems are sustainable and can feed us all—where food is plentiful, good, and accessible to all.

Speakers
avatar for Elizabeth Terzakis

Elizabeth Terzakis

Elizabeth Terzakis is a long-time member of the ISO and a contributor to Education and Capitalism, published by Haymarket Press.


Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Grant Park C/D

9:30am

How We Won Marriage Equality
In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton signed into law the reactionary “Defense of Marriage Act” legally defining marriage as being "between a man and a woman." In October 2009, 200,000 people poured into Washington, D.C., demanding the right for LGBT people to legally marry their partners. The culmination of the struggle, which had begun years before, came in 2015 with a Supreme Court Decision ruling that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. As the movement built momentum, some argued that it was wrong to fight for marriage equality because marriage is a reactionary institution. Others pointed out that the right to marry was not the same as defending marriage as an institution, and refusing to support it meant backing the discriminatory status quo. This panel will discuss the history and politics of this struggle and what lies ahead.

Speakers
avatar for Keegan O‘Brien

Keegan O‘Brien

Keegan O'Brien is a writer, teacher, and activist with the International Socialist Organization. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
avatar for Rebecca Anshell Song

Rebecca Anshell Song

Rebecca is an activist in the ISO in Seattle and has a history in movements against the war, against racism, and for gender equality.


Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Burnham A/B

9:30am

Race, Class, and Feminism
“Ain’t I a woman?,” asked Sojourner Truth, highlighting the vast gulf separating the real experience of Black women and the middle-class white ideal of “womanhood.” One cannot fully grasp the nature of women’s oppression and racial oppression without understanding their relationship to the class structure of society, and the way in which they intersect and relate to one another. A feminism that fails to integrate an understanding of racism into its analysis cannot see the stark contrast between the way capitalism oppresses different groups of women in our society. A feminism that fails to take class into account fails to get at the root of capitalism’s dependence on working-class women’s role in social reproduction and capitalist production. Drawing on Marxism and Black feminism, with its distinct political tradition based upon a systematic analysis of the interlocking oppressions of race, gender, and class, this talk will make the case for a Marxist feminist politics that integrates these factors into a coherent picture of oppression—and of future liberation.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Hyde Park A

9:30am

Continental Imperialism and the Origins of the U.S. Way of War
The U.S. military originated in the English/U.S. settlers’ genocidal wars against Native Nations along the Atlantic coast and in the South and Ohio Valley, and continued with its march across the continent in wars that ended in 1890, at which time, the U.S. military moved into the Pacific and Caribbean, then the world. Air Force officer and military historian John Grenier writes: “For the first 200 years of our military heritage, then, Americans depended on arts of war that contemporary professional soldiers supposedly abhorred: razing and destroying enemy villages and fields; killing enemy women and children; raiding settlements for captives; intimidating and brutalizing enemy noncombatants; and assassinating enemy leaders.” Activist and author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz will examine this formative period and the characteristics of the U.S. way of war.

Speakers
avatar for Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma.  As a veteran of the Sixties revolution, she has been involved in movements against the Vietnam War and imperialism, union organizing, and was one of the founders of the Women's Liberation Movement in the late 1960s. Since 1973, she has worked with Indigenous communities for sovereignty and land rights and helped build the international Indigenous movement. A historian, writer, speaker, and professor emerita at California State University East Bay, she is author of numerous scholarly Indigenous related books and articles, including Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico and The Great Sioux Nation, as well as a memoir trilogy and is author of the award-winning book, An Indigenous... Read More →


Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Burnham C

9:30am

Trotskyists and Teamsters: Socialist Strategy in the Minneapolis General Strike of 1934
In 1934, there were three key militant strikes that provided the spark that set off the greatest conflagration of labor struggle in U.S. history: the San Francisco General Strike, the Toledo Auto-lite strike, and the Minneapolis Teamsters’ strike. This talk will tell the story of the Minneapolis truck drivers, who, led by Trotskyists, organized a series of three strikes for union recognition of Teamsters Local 574. The strike was characterized by militant mass picketing, democratic decision-making, and creative tactics like the flying picket, as well as mass rallies. Battling police, hired strikebreakers, and troops enforcing martial law, the workers eventually won their demands for a closed shop, shorter hours, pay increases, and higher pay for overtime.

Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Field C

9:30am

What Do Socialists Say About Disability?
Capitalist society—which values profits above all else—segregates and marginalizes people with disabilities. It is not the existence of a physical or mental impairment itself which diminishes one’s life, but rather the unemployment, poverty, discrimination, and segregation imposed upon people with impairments by an inaccessible and unaccommodating society. As Judy Heumann, founder of the 1970s group Disabled In Action (DIA, put it, “Disability only becomes a tragedy for me when society fails to provide the things we need to lead our lives.” This talk examines the origins and development of disability as well as the history of the fight for disability rights, and will argue that Marxism not only helps provide a fuller understanding of the politics and nature of disability, but also a vision of how people with disabilities can play a part in building a better world for all.

Speakers
avatar for Keith Rosenthal

Keith Rosenthal

Keith Rosenthal lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review. http://isreview.org/person/keith-rosenthal


Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Ballroom B

9:30am

The Russian Menace? Putin's Foreign Policy
Vladimir Putin, the handpicked successor of Boris Yeltsin, has been effectively running Russia since 1999, maintaining his position on the basis of an interminable succession of states of emergency, justified on the pretext of terrorist threats and foreign wars. As one Russian socialist has noted, “External and internal threats, as well as artificially created ‘historic events,’ are connected to an increasing concentration of resources, which generates ever-new possibilities for the extraction and redistribution of rent, and the, albeit temporary, illusion of solidarity among the ruling elite.” How far he can go in this balancing act, attempting to re-establish, albeit on a weaker footing, Russia’s international standing as strategic world power, while Russia’s oil-based economy becomes increasingly vulnerable to crisis, is an open question.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Clark A/B

9:30am

From Pan-Arabism to Internationalism: Socialist Movements in the Middle East
Between 1920 and 1960, activists in the Middle East and North Africa were part of anti-colonial struggles, socialist parties and trade unions. Some of these groups were aligned with Pan-Arab tendencies, others were linked with the Soviet Union, and the remaining leaned more toward forms of internationalism. These movements experienced some success challenging imperialism, but they were also susceptible to authoritarianism and state capitalism, tying their fortunes to ruling states whose “socialism” did not include democratic control from below. This talk will look at the history of socialism in Egypt, Palestine, and Tunisia, and show how the socialist tradition in these countries related to Pan-Arabism, French imperialism, and Zionism—as well as the Arab radical tradition and "Third World" socialism more broadly.

Speakers
avatar for Edna Bonhomme

Edna Bonhomme

Edna Bonhomme is a scholar of the Middle East and North Africa who focuses on the history of epidemics, trade and imperialism. She is a socialist organizing in Brooklyn, New York.


Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Clark C

9:30am

The Comintern and the German Revolution
The fate of the German Revolution and the Communist International (Comintern) were closely intertwined. Mass protests and strikes brought down the Kaiser in November 1918, leading to a tumultuous period of revolution and counterrevolution, culminating in the missed opportunity of 1923, when it appeared to many that a socialist revolution was on the agenda. Throughout this period, the German left went through a series of splits and regroupments in an effort to build a communist party independent of the moderate German Social Democratic Party (SPD), which had backed the war in 1914 and had worked to contain the revolutionary potential of German workers. The Comintern learned from the tactical and strategic debates on Germany. It also exerted influenced on the German revolutionaries, in both positive and negative ways. This talk will examine how the failure of the German Revolution sealed the fate of the Comintern and the Russian Revolution.

Speakers
avatar for Sean Larson

Sean Larson

Sean Larson is a PhD student at New York University writing a dissertation on the German Revolution. His writing has appeared in Socialist Worker, Jacobin, and New Politics. He is a member of the International Socialist Organization.



Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
DuSable C

9:30am

Is America “Great Again”?: The First Six Months of the Trump "Insurgency"
Donald Trump took office promising to deliver on a major right-wing wish list in his first 100 days in office. While his administration has sought to do as much damage as possible to any and every even vaguely progressive law, terrorize immigrants with the threat of deportation, and push through a slash-and-burn budget attacking social spending, Trump has also suffered discord from within the ranks of the Republicans and seen some major defeats—from his failure to repeal Obamacare to the blocking of his Muslim travel ban. Charlie Post, the author of The American Road to Capitalism and a faculty member at the City University of New York, examines the Trump balance sheet so far, and the forces that can push back against the Trump agenda.

Speakers
avatar for Charlie Post

Charlie Post

Charlie Post is a long-time socialist activist and writer in NYC. He is the author of The American Road to Capitalism (Haymarket, 2012) and has published in Against the Current, International Socialist Review, New Politics, Jacobin, the Brooklyn Rail, New Left Review and the J... Read More →


Saturday July 8, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Ballroom A

11:30am

Art and the Russian Revolution
The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought with it a flowering of artistic freedom and expression hitherto unknown, bringing with it a desire to push the boundaries of both form and content in the fields of literature, theater, painting, sculpture, and film. Before the dead weight of Stalinist bureaucratism settled in and suppressed and rechanneled these impulses, competing schools of thought and of art sprang up and battled over the future of art and its place in society. This talk will explore this exciting period and draw on the deep connections between revolutionary strivings for a new society and the role played by art in this process.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Grant Park C/D

11:30am

The Year of Kaepernick
When then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest racist police violence, it pushed the boundaries of what has been a renaissance of political athletes, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1960s. But it did more than that. It has inspired sports resistance across the country and inspired Kaepernick to take his activism beyond the symbolic and towards radical community organizing. This talk will attempt to debate and discuss the impact and the limits of the year of Kaepernick.

Speakers
avatar for Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin is the sports editor of the Nation Magazine and has written nine books on the politics of sports. He hosts the podcast Edge of Sports.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Ballroom A

11:30am

“Nothing Can Be Changed Until It Is Faced”: The Life and Work of James Baldwin
“The necessity for a form of socialism is based on the observation that the world’s present economic arrangements doom most of the world to misery,” wrote James Baldwin in a discussion of the Black Panther Party in his 1972 book No Name in the Street, “that the way of life dictated by these arrangements is both sterile and immoral; and, finally, that there is no hope for peace in the world so long as these arrangements obtain.” Novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, Baldwin was closely associated with the civil rights and Black power movements, and known for his searing criticism of racism and social injustice. In her 1987 eulogy, writer Toni Morrison wrote of his “unassailable combination of mind and heart, of intellect and passion.” With prose that was “neither bloodless nor bloody, and yet alive,” she wrote, “you gave us the undecorated truth.” This presentation will explore the intersection of Baldwin’s literary and political life.

Speakers
avatar for Ronnie Flores

Ronnie Flores

Ronnie Flores is a public school teacher in NYC.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Burnham A/B

11:30am

Challenging the Myths of Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement in the Age of Black Lives Matter
The contribution of women to the struggle for Civil Rights and Black Power is often downplayed, with most of the emphasis put on great men. When mentioned, the contribution of women like Rosa Parks is reduced to a single act—she refused to move because she was “tired.” But women like Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash were fierce activists and organizers who dedicated their lives to the struggle. Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Ms. Rosa Parks, brings the stories of such women to life and places them where they belong—at the forefront of our understanding of the fight against racial injustice—in order to draw out the lessons for today's movement.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Hyde Park A

11:30am

The Civil War and Reconstruction: The Second American Revolution
The events of 1861-1877 were the pivotal years in determining the course of the United States of America. These years did more to forge the modern American state, society, and class system than scarcely any other era. The Reconstruction period of 1865-1877 inaugurated an unprecedented moment of Black self-determination and multiracial democracy. No aspect of U.S. history, full of promise and potential, is more misunderstood. This talk will chronicle the incredible heroism, sacrifice and tragedy of the newly-freed slaves and Northern radicals in trying to establish a truly just American Republic.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
DuSable C

11:30am

Labor and Environmental Justice: History, Debates, and Possibilities

One of the key features of our economic system is exploitation, not just of human labor but of many aspects of our natural world. In particular, capital's reliance on fossil fuels to create massive profits and perpetual economic expansion has created the most significant threat to human existence on the planet. The fossil fuel industry and its supporters have created a false dichotomy—the environment or jobs.  But workers have always struggled in different ways to stop corporations from poisoning their land, air, and water. In the last five years, there's been a significant growth of union involvement in the fight against climate change, alongside other unions increasing their support for the fossil fuel industry. This talk will explore the history, the debates, and the possibilities for building a labor movement that can help lead the fight for environmental and economic justice.


Speakers
avatar for Elizabeth Lalasz

Elizabeth Lalasz

Elizabeth Lalasz is a registered nurse in a public hospital in Chicago, a steward with National Nurses United, and part of NNU's Environmental and Climate Justice Working Group.
avatar for Sean Petty, RN

Sean Petty, RN

Sean Petty is a nurse in a pediatric emergency room at a public hospital in the Bronx. He is the chair of the Climate Justice Committee of the New York State Nurses Association.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
DuSable A/B

11:30am

How Did Women's Oppression Begin and How Will It End?
Some still argue that the inequality between men and women is an inevitable consequence of inbuilt biological and psychological differences between them. But this is nothing more than a crude justification for an already changing status quo. As Engels noted as early as the 1880s, women’s oppression coincided with the rise, some 10,000 years ago or so, of the state and class society—two institutions that are also not “hardwired” into human social life. If women’s oppression had a beginning—and if for most of human history women did not face systematic oppression—then clearly it can have an end. What are the conditions necessary to make that a reality? Looking at the latest anthropological, neurological, and historical evidence, this talk will show, as the title suggests, what factors led to women’s oppression, and what factors will lead to the dawning of a society free of it.

Speakers
avatar for Rachel Reiser

Rachel Reiser

Rachel is an organizer with the International Socialist Organization currently living in Columbus, OH.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Clark A/B

11:30am

Women in the U.S. Labor Movement: 1840 to the Second World War
At the IWW founding convention in 1905, Lucy Parsons called women workers the “slaves of the slaves…exploited more ruthlessly than men.” Women have always had to fight on two fronts—for equal pay, conditions, and dignity on the job, as well as confront the burden of housework and childrearing. From the very beginning of the labor movement, women have played stirring roles as leaders in the streets and on the shop floor. Women workers have had to battle vicious employers and combat sexist unions. They have had to challenge their male counterparts not only to fight alongside women for common class demands, but also to champion women’s full equality and liberation. This is the history of women workers’ conditions, struggles, defeats, and triumphs.

Speakers
avatar for Dana Blanchard

Dana Blanchard

Dana currently works at Haymarket Books and is based in Chicago. Previously she has been an elementary school teacher and union organizer in California.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Clark C

11:30am

M.N. Roy, the Comintern, and the Politics of National Liberation
Manabendra Nath Roy was an Indian revolutionary and political activist and theorist. He was a founder of the Mexican Communist Party in 1919 and the Communist Party of India in 1920. At the second congress of the Communist International in 1920, Roy wrote the Supplementary Theses on the National and Colonial Question, which took up the question of the role of communists supporting and in organizing revolutionary anti-imperialist movements in the colonies. Roy broke with the Comintern in 1929 over Stalin’s “third period” policies, and later in life became a radical humanist. This talk will explore Roy’s development from nationalist to Marxist, and his political contributions.

Speakers
avatar for Pranav Jani

Pranav Jani

Pranav Jani is a longtime member of the ISO and active in racial justice, immigrant rights, and Palestine solidarity movements in Columbus, Ohio. Pranav is a professor at Ohio State in postcolonial and ethnic studies. He is author of "Decentering Rushdie" (2010) and articles... Read More →


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Burnham C

11:30am

Italy, Spain, and France: Crisis and Struggle in Europe
Throughout the world, we have witnessed the emergence of neo-populist options of a totalitarian and xenophobic nature including Geert Wilders in Holland and Marine Le Pen in France. Drawing on reactionary nationalism, Islamophobia, an hostility to immigration—presenting themselves as “anti-establishment” alternatives to mainstream parties capable of restoring jobs to “deserving” citizens and restoring national prestige—these parties have been able to make strong inroads. But the left is also attempting to organize and push back. This panel will discuss how these politics have emerged and what it will take to build the social solidarity and left alternatives capable of challenging it.

Speakers
avatar for Eliana Como

Eliana Como

Eliana Como is an trade unionist in Italy and a member of the opposition in the CGIL, the Italian General Confederation of Labour.
avatar for Brais Fernandez

Brais Fernandez

Brais Fernandez is a member of the leadership of Anticapitalistas and the editorial committee of Viento Sur.
avatar for Camille Jouve

Camille Jouve

Camille Jouve is a member of the Executive Committee of the New Anticapitalist Party in France.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Grant Park A/B

11:30am

Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Middle East

The Syrian revolution has been besieged by counterrevolutionary forces, from local groups like ISIS to outside powers such as the United States and Russia. This talk describes the reality on the ground in Syria, from the rise of ISIS to the consequences of the current U.S. war in the region. While the Trump administration has introduced some changes in foreign policy, what’s particularly striking is the continuity of today’s U.S. policy in Syria and Iraq with what preceded it during the Obama years.


Speakers
avatar for Anand Gopal

Anand Gopal

Anand Gopal is a journalist and author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban and the War Through Afghan Eyes, which describes the travails of three Afghans caught in the war on terror. It was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, the 2014... Read More →


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Ballroom B

11:30am

Workers' Power in Revolutionary Russia
This talk will look at the way workers, particularly in Petrograd, organized for struggle and for power during the 1917 Revolution. Often caricatured as a coup, the Russian Revolution represents the pinnacle of worker self-organization. Drawing on the work of S.A. Smith, this presentation will cover the creation of factory committees and unions that facilitated the class struggle; the dynamic of spontaneity, organization, and bureaucracy; and the interplay of the economic and political struggles to better understand how the Bolsheviks rose to prominence and fulfilled the demand of “All Power to the Soviets.”

Speakers
avatar for Amy Muldoon

Amy Muldoon

Amy Muldoon is a socialist and shop steward in New York. Her two part review of Trostsky's History of Russian Revolution can be found in the International Socialist Review, and her writings on labor, art, and pop culture can be found at SocialistWorker.org.


Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Hyde Park B

11:30am

Incarceration Nation: Drugs, Detention, and Discrimination
The "world’s greatest democracy" is also the world’s largest jailer—with more than 2 million people behind bars in the U.S. Large numbers are there for non-violent drug offenses, with people of color, especially young Black men, disproportionately locked up. This vast waste of resources and money punishes offenders long after they are released—creating a permanent underclass of people whose prospects for education, jobs, access to housing, and more are severely curtailed as a result. Lily Hughes, an long-time activist with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, looks at the toll of America’s "War on Drugs" and what it will take to dismantle it.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Field C

2:00pm

A Beautiful Ghetto
On April 18, 2015, the city of Baltimore erupted in mass protests in response to the brutal murder of Freddie Gray by police. Devin Allen was there, and his iconic photos of the Baltimore uprising became a viral sensation. Each photo revealed the personality, beauty, and spirit of Baltimore and its people, as his camera complicated popular ideas about the "ghetto."  This session features Allen in conversation with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor about the role of his work in presenting a narrative about the Baltimore uprising and its root causes that runs counter to the mainsteam media's depictions of racism and poverty. 

Moderators
avatar for Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation and a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Grant Park C/D

2:00pm

Songs of Struggle: Protest Songs in American History
This session will feature a history of songs that have been part of the development of social movements in the United State from the 19th century up to the present day.  The presentation will be accompanied by listening to significant historical recordings and will include some live performance, followed by a question-and-answer session with the presenters.


Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
DuSable C

2:00pm

Jacobin-Sponsored Meeting: What Should Socialists Say About Privilege?

Under capitalism, multiple power structures shape individuals’ lived experiences. Those structures provide and withhold resources to people based on factors like class, disability status, gender, and race. On the left today "privilege" is often deployed to describe and explain these inequalities. Privilege discourse has made its way into mainstream discussions. As significant numbers move into the left under Trump, the newly-politicizing are likely to encounter—or hold—some ideas influenced by privilege politics. But “privilege” isn't a productive way for us to gain a thorough understanding of the systemic injustice imposed under capitalism. Nor does it provide a framework that helps us develop collective strategies to dismantle those systems. How should socialists talk about privilege, and what should we pose as an alternative?


Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Ballroom A

2:00pm

Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation
Sickened by the contamination of the water, the air, of the Earth itself, more and more people are coming to realize that capitalism, quite literally, is killing them along with all life on the earth. Capitalism’s imperative—to make profits at all costs and expand without end—is destabilizing the Earth’s climate, while increasing human misery and inequality on a planetary scale. The need to organize for social and environmental reforms has never been greater. But crucial as reforms are, they cannot solve our intertwined ecological and social crises. This meeting, with Fred Magdoff and Michael Ware, reveals an overwhelmingly simple truth: Fighting for reforms is vital, but revolution is essential.

Speakers
avatar for Michael Ware

Michael Ware

An unjust world and a faded flyer, wheat-pasted to a pole on the corner of Flatbush & 7th Ave, led Michael to join the Brooklyn Branch of International Socialist Organization in the mid 1990s. After moving to Vermont in 2006, he helped found System Change Not Climate Change an... Read More →


Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Hyde Park B

2:00pm

Act Up, Fight Back: The AIDS Crisis and the LGBTQ Movement
In 1981, a new disease appeared, soon to be named AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). By 1992, AIDS had become the number one cause of death among US men ages 25-44. Although it was initially perceived and presented as a disease limited to gay men, HIV threatened everyone having unprotected sex, those using unsterilized needles, hemopheliacs, medical professionals, and others. In 1987, gay rights activist Cleve Jones created the first panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Outraged by government inaction on the AIDS crisis, playwright and gay activist Larry Kramer started ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in New York City in the same year, sparking a rise in LGBT activism from 1988 to 1992, to a level not seen since the early 1970s. ACT UP used direct action and civil disobedience to demand greater action on behalf of people with AIDS, and against government and private institutions that discriminated against people with AIDS. This talk will look at the history and politics of AIDS activism.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Hyde Park A

2:00pm

Reversing the Backlash: Building a New Women's Movement
In 1991, Susan Faludi published her acclaimed book Backlash: the Undeclared War Against American Women, where she described a growing assault on women’s efforts to achieve full equality as a “pre-emptive strike” against the gains made by the women’s movement of the 1970s. The backlash subtly reintroduced sexist tropes and denied the necessity for legal measures ensuring women’s equality on the grounds that women had already “made it,” and that their new found equality was making them miserable. Today, we live with the contradictory results of that backlash. For example, where abortion was once considered a positive right, now the word “abortion” apparently cannot even be mentioned on television or in movies. Moreover, many other things that women fought for, including equal pay, are unfinished tasks of the struggle. This meeting will explore the backlash and how to build a new women’s movement that can renew the fight.

Speakers
avatar for Leia Petty

Leia Petty

Leia Petty is a socialist and activist living in Brooklyn, NY. She is a member of NYC for Abortion Rights, a new organization fighting for an unapologetic defense of abortion and full reproductive justice.


Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Clark C

2:00pm

Marxism, Imperialism, and War
What is imperialism? For Marxists, starting with Lenin and Bukharin, imperialism represents a necessary stage in the development of world capitalism, which consists of not simply competition between firms, but between states over world domination. As Bukharin wrote, when capitalist production bursts the boundaries of the national state, there inevitably develops “a conflict, which…is settled through extending the state frontiers in bloody struggles, a settlement which holds the prospect of new and more grandiose conflicts.” This talk will discuss the debates that shaped the development of a Marxist theory of imperialism, and assess their ongoing relevance to our situation today.


Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Field C

2:00pm

Socialists and Movements
You don’t need socialists for there to be mass movements, but socialists have always played an important role in them. The worst error socialists can make is to stand apart from mass movements; the second worst error is to adapt to its current political level, depriving it of potential leadership for further development. Every broad social movement as it develops becomes more radical as activists and militants begin to draw deeper conclusions from the struggle. Socialists must not just be the best fighters for the immediate goals, but must connect these goals to a wider struggle against the system as a whole. As Marx said in the Communist Manifesto, the job of socialists is to “fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.” This session will discuss the role of socialists in movements.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Burnham A/B

2:00pm

From Brexit to the 2017 General Election: Corbynism and the Return of Class to British Politics
Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last year was a watershed event that exposed the economic, political, and social contradictions of the twenty-four year old alliance. Driven largely by economic nationalism and playing upon xenophobia toward immigrants, the vote gave confidence to other far right wing forces in Europe hoping to use the same methods to gain prominence. More recently, Tory Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to call a general election in the hopes of cementing a conservative majority were dashed, by the powerful showing of Labour and, in particular, Jeremy Corbyn--and the crisis for the Tories has only deepended with the recent catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire. Whatever the future holds, the crisis in British politics and the EU--which has imposed harsh austerity on the European working class--will continue. How can the left take an independent line that challenges both the austerity of the EU and the false solutions of the far right?

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Grant Park A/B

2:00pm

Assessing the Pink Tide in Latin America
In the mid-2000s, an explosion of struggle against neoliberalism translated into the parliamentary halls and presidential palaces of many South American countries, as center-left and left parties were elected to office. These parties were able to take advantage of an enlargement of state revenue, driven by an extraordinary commodities boom, to engage in targeted distribution that lowered poverty rates without fundamentally challenging the underlying class structures of those societies. But a financial crisis that began in 2007, and the collapse of commodity prices after 2012, led these same governments to begin to implement austerity policies, imposing the costs of declines in state treasuries onto the vast majority, rather than on the rich. While capital had flourished under many of these governments, the new left had never been the first choice of private investors. Sensing blood, they'and re now going for the kill—new right politics are on the ascent in extra-parliamentary and parliamentary forms throughout the region. Under these conditions, how does a critical and independent left combat the right without becoming apologists for these governments?

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
DuSable A/B

2:00pm

Party Politics in the New Gilded Age: The Crisis of Democracy in the U.S. Today
Donald Trump is the most unpopular president since public opinion polling was invented—and millions continue to ask how it could be that Hillary Clinton could have lost to him. But polls consistently show that millions of ordinary people feel that neither party speaks to the issues that affect them—like the fight for decent jobs, affordable health care, or an end to U.S. wars. Despite the insurgent campaign of Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, the message the Democrats sent with Clinton’s nomination was a resounding embrace of the 1 Percent. As the Republicans use Trump’s victory to double down on a right-wing wish list of tax cuts, budget slashing, and military buildups, Lance Selfa, author of The Democrats: A Critical History, will discuss the “choice” presented by mainstream party politics in the U.S. and why real democracy requires an independent alternative to the two-party system.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Burnham C

2:00pm

Resisting the Rise of the Right: Lessons from the Midwest Network to Stop the Klan
In the early to late 1990s, socialists and activists formed the Midwest Network to Stop the Klan, which organized protests in several small Midwestern cities that Ku Klux Klan organizations had targeted in the attempt to recruit and build their forces. Against moderates who urged people to “ignore them and they’ll go away,” the Midwest Network focused on the necessity of building up the largest numbers to confront the Klan wherever they tried to publicly mobilize. The Network built anti-Klan protests in Dubuque, Iowa, Janesville, Wisconsin, Freeport, Illinois, Cicero, Illinois, and elsewhere. In Dubuque and Janesville, these protests contributed to local efforts that resulted in the Klan being driven from these cities. This period is rich in lessons, and this presentation will draw them out for today’s activists.

Speakers
avatar for Leonard Klein

Leonard Klein

Leonard Klein is a long-time socialist and contributor to Socialist Worker.


Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Ballroom B

2:00pm

The Left Ain't White: Multiracial Communist Organizing in the 1930s and '40s
In the United States, the socialist and communist movement has a long tradition of fighting racism. Despite this radical history of multiracial struggle fighting both racism and capitalism, the idea of a “white left” somehow divorced from the struggle for racial justice persists. But the U.S. Communist party of the 1930s and '40s focused intensely on connecting the struggle for socialism with the fight for Black liberation and, in doing so, took up the fights against lynching, for tenant farming, integration, against evictions, and against police brutality; building up in the process a sizable multiracial party. The lessons of this important history are vital for building the left today.

Speakers

Saturday July 8, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Clark A/B

4:00pm

Athletes and Activism Across Generations
The recent explosion of athlete activism is part of a lengthy tradition of political athletes standing up against racism and injustice. Olympic Gold Medalist Wyomia Tyus and NBA veteran Craig Hodges will speak in conversation with The Nation Sports Editor Dave Zirin on the role of athletes in the fight for a better world.

Due to personal commitments, we regret to announce that Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett has had to cancel his planned appearance at Socialism 2017.

 


Moderators
avatar for Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin is the sports editor of the Nation Magazine and has written nine books on the politics of sports. He hosts the podcast Edge of Sports.

Speakers
avatar for Craig Hodges

Craig Hodges

Craig Hodges played in the NBA for ten seasons and led the league in three-point shooting percentage three times. He won two championships with the Chicago Bulls. After the Bulls’ 1992 championship Hodges, dressed in a dashiki, delivered a hand-written letter addressed to then President George H. W. Bush, expressing his discontent at the... Read More →
avatar for Wyomia Tyus

Wyomia Tyus

Wyomia Tyus, a founding member of the Women’s Sports Foundation, is a four-time Olympic medalist and the first person ever to win a gold medal in the 100-meter dash in two consecutive Olympic games. In 1968, Tyus demonstrated her support for the Olympic Project for Human Rights b... Read More →


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Ballroom A

4:00pm

Night Thoughts: A Conversation with Wallace Shawn on Politics, Socialism, and Art
Famed actor and playwright Wallace Shawn is known for his iconic Hollywood roles—but in his latest book, Night Thoughts, he grapples with an attempt to find his own answers to the most essential questions about the world he lives in.

Moderators
Speakers
avatar for Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn is an actor, playwright, and author.


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Grant Park A/B

4:00pm

Making Black Lives Matter in the Trump Era
When Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, the national debate was about whether or not the U.S. was becoming a “post-racial” society. Eight years on, we could not be further from that conversation. Now, an unabashed racist, xenophobe, and sexual predator sits in the White House. In 2014, the Movement for Black Lives, beginning in Ferguson, Missouri, and spreading throughout the country, brought with it the promise of a renewed struggle against the deep racial injustices that persist in this country—but Obama and the Democrats failed to address the racial, economic, and political status quo that this movement questioned. The support and solidarity it engendered have not gone away, but the movement seems to have gone quiet under Trump. In this new era, how can we reignite this movement—and others—to push back the right and build an alternative to the twin parties of the status quo?

Speakers
avatar for Umi Selah

Umi Selah

umi selah Fka Phillip Agnew, a native of Chicago, Ill., found his voice as a community activist while a student at Florida A&M University. In 2005, he helped to organize students from FAMU, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College in the creation of the Student Coalition for Justice, which was formed in response to the murder of Martin Lee Anderson in a Florida boot camp. In 2012, he co-founded the Dream Defenders, an organization founded after the murder of Trayvon Martin and committed to ending youth arrest in Florida by 2022. He now serves the organization as... Read More →


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Ballroom B

4:00pm

Free Speech and the Socialist Movement
Socialists historically have always considered free speech and other democratic rights important. But right wingers—who happily support laws suppressing democratic freedoms—are today trying to present protests against them as denying their free speech--views that are backed, funded, and broadcast at the highest levels. Every state reserves the “right” to restrict speech that it considers detrimental to its own interests. As the U.S. socialist Eugene Debs commented in his famous 1920 antiwar speech, “It is extremely dangerous to exercise the constitutional right of free speech in a country fighting to make democracy free for the world.” Socialists fight for the fullest extension of democratic rights, including free speech, understanding that a society where such freedoms are completely fulfilled can only be established by transcending capitalist social relations. This talk will explore these issues.

Speakers
avatar for Monique Dols

Monique Dols

Monique Dols is a member of the ISO in NYC. She has a long record of student activism at Columbia University where she was involved in fights to defend pro-Palestine professors from McCarthyite witch hunts, against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in challenging military... Read More →


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Hyde Park A

4:00pm

Academic Freedom, Anti-Left Witchhunts, and the Palestine Exception
There has been an ongoing attack on the rights of professors who express left-wing or progressive views, particularly around the question of Palestine. Steven Salaita, for example, was denied a promised tenured position at the University of Illinois for issuing angry Tweets condemning Israel’s bombing of Gaza. If statements like these can be cause for dismissal, no professor is safe. And indeed, the repressive net is cast wider than professors who advocate for Palestinian rights. In fall 2015, Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) adjunct English professor Divya Nair was suspended for participating in a speak-out against police brutality and racism on the CCP campus. And recently, left-wing Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher has come under fire from the right for a satirical tweet about “white genocide.” This panel will discuss the witchunts and what can be done not only to defend professors under attack, but how to connect the fight for academic freedom to other campus-related struggles and other social issues.

Speakers
avatar for Sumaya A.

Sumaya A.

Sumaya A. is an organizer and writer based in New York, focused on the fight for Palestinian, Syrian, and refugee rights. A long time SJP activist, she is one of the founders of the Against Canary Mission project defending the freedom of speech of Palestine activists.


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
DuSable A/B

4:00pm

Struggles against Sexual Assault in the United States
From Brock Turner to Bill Cosby, headlines seem to constantly confirm that sexual assault is an entrenched part of U.S. society. Beginning with the genocide of Natives, throughout slavery and the Jim Crow era, sexual violence has reinforced and reflected oppression throughout U.S.  history—and compelled people to organize, theorize, and fight back. This panel will survey a tradition of resistance reaching from the days of slavery when Black women fought for their lives, named their abusers, and sometimes testified in court; running through international campaigns in the 1940s for justice for Black women raped at the hands of white men that laid critical foundations for the civil rights movement; and continuing into the 1970s, when activists in the women’s liberation movement worked to analyze the roots and role of sexual violence and force it into the political forefront. This talk will also ask why sexual violence remains so entrenched today and what will it take to build a world free from rape and abuse. Drawing on the history of resistance to sexual violence in the United States from an intersectional perspective, speakers will examine how the lessons of past struggles can inform current movements against assault on college campuses and beyond.

Speakers
avatar for Lauren Bianchi

Lauren Bianchi

Lauren is a member of the ISO who organizes around reproductive rights and sexual assault in Chicago.
avatar for Rachel Cohen

Rachel Cohen

Rachel organizes with the ISO in Chicago and Protect RP, a neighborhood coalition to stop ICE incursions.


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Clark C

4:00pm

No Ban, No Wall: The Fight Against Deportations
The past few decades have seen a steady increase in border militarization and crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, as well as an increase in officially stoked Islamophobia and severe restrictions on admitting refugees from countries with large Muslim populations into the US, no matter which party is in power. After the unprecedentedly massive immigrant protests of 2006 and 2007, Obama promised “comprehensive immigration reform,” but ended his two terms with the mantle of “deporter in chief.” Years before Trump called for a "deportation team" to target "bad hombres," the Obama administration had built "the most sophisticated and well-funded human-expulsion machine in the history of the country." When Trump and Sessions took office, they could hit the ground running. Trump has upped the ante, trying to push through “Muslim bans,” and is empowering ICE agents to terrorize millions of immigrants. This panel will look both at the lessons of past struggles, the current battle against Trump, and what it will take to beat back these attacks.


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Clark A/B

4:00pm

The World Refugee Crisis
The number of displaced people in the world fleeing war and economic devastation—65 million and counting—is at its highest in history, higher even than the number of refugees at the end of the Second  World War. The brutal conflict in Syria alone has driven more than 10 million from their homes. Though this crisis has produced outpourings of solidarity, more ominously it has also been used by reactionary politicians and parties to fuel a wave of xenophobia from Trump’s America to Europe and beyond. The United States, one of the countries responsible for Syria’s crisis, took in fewer than 13,000 refugees in 2016, with Trump’s policies closing the door even tighter. This panel will locate the source of the refugee crisis in imperialism and regional rivalries, counterrevolutionary violence, and neoliberal economic dislocation, and make the case for a movement based on internationalism and solidarity.

Speakers
avatar for Andrea Raboso

Andrea Raboso

Andrea Raboso is a member of the leadership of Anticapitalistas.
avatar for Katerina Sergidou

Katerina Sergidou

Katerina Sergidou is an activist in Greece and member of International Workers Left. A researcher in communication and oral history, she is the author of the book, The Existent Sexism and the Fight for Women's Liberation and a journalist at Rproject.gr. She also is a member of... Read More →
avatar for Antonello Zecca

Antonello Zecca

Antonello Zecca is a member of the leadership of Sinistra Anticapitalista in Italy.


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Hyde Park B

4:00pm

Starting an International Socialist Organization Branch
The popularity of Bernie Sanders has revealed an interest among millions of young Americans in socialism, but Bernie himself is stuck on “improving” the Democrats. The International Socialist Organization is a good place to start if you want to move beyond the Democratic Party and build a socialist movement that is truly independent of the twin parties of capitalism. But what is involved in building an ISO branch? How do you get started? This workshop is designed to help answer those questions.

Speakers
avatar for Amy Gaidis

Amy Gaidis

Amy Gaidis is an organizer with the Portland, Maine branch of the ISO


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
DuSable C

4:00pm

Fighting to Survive, Fighting to Win: Unions in Right-to-Work America
The period since the late 1970s has been one of retrenchment and retreat by the U.S. labor movement. In the words of former United Auto Workers president Doug Fraser, there has been a “one-sided class war” in the United States that has lasted now for several decades. The percentage of workers in unions has more or less steadily declined, from 20.1 percent in 1983, to 10.7 percent today. Over the past four decades (1977-1986 to 2007-2016) major work stoppages (smaller strikes are no longer recorded) declined approximately 90 percent. The period from 2007 to 2016 was the lowest decade on record. Private sector unionization is weakest and hardest hit, but public sector unions have come over the past years under increasingly strong attack, as states like Wisconsin and Indiana pass draconian anti-union laws. The result of this employers’ offensive has been a great transfer of wealth from the bottom to top, with real wages today still below their 1979 peak. The attack on unions are set to increase under Trump’s presidency. This panel will discuss the state of our unions, and what it will take to rebuild them as fighting institutions for the working class.

Speakers
avatar for Lillian Cicerchia

Lillian Cicerchia

Lillian is a Ph.D. student at Fordham University in New York.


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Burnham C

4:00pm

How Marxists Responded to the Rise of Fascism
“Worker-Communists,” wrote Trotsky in a letter to German workers on the eve of Hitler’s seizure of power in 1931, “should Fascism achieve power it will ride over your skulls and spines like a frightful tank. Your salvation lies in merciless struggle. And only unity in struggle with the social democratic workers can bring victory.” The rise of a militant populist and far right today has pushed the specter of fascism into political discourse. To come to grips with what’s happening today, we need to go back to the history of the first fascist movements. This talk will look at the the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, and how the Marxists of that period, from Clara Zetkin to Antonio Gramsci to Leon Trotsky, came to grips with the phenomenon and debated what strategies and tactics could challenge and defeat it.


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Grant Park C/D

4:00pm

The Rise of the Right—and the Left—in Europe
In France, Marine Le Pen—the leader of an openly Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, party—the National Front—made the second round of the presidential elections. Le Pen’s father once called the Holocaust a “detail” of history and has herself called for an end to dual citizenship for all countries outside of Europe, including all Muslim-majority countries and applicable to French Jews who also hold Israeli citizenship. In Hungary, the “antiglobalist” Jobbick party, a party with neo-fascist roots and a reputation for hatred of Jews, Roma, and immigrants, is the country’s third largest party. All around Europe, mass discontent with the political and economic status quo is producing polarization, one of whose products is an invigorated far right—including some parties with openly fascist roots that are now trying to rebrand themselves as “detoxified” opposition parties. These parties are attempting to fill the political vacuum with racist and nationalist appeals. The mainstream parties have in large part offered the status quo of economic inequality and insecurity. Where are these parties headed, and what can the left do to create a political alternative that can successfully challenge and defeat the right?

Speakers
avatar for Camille Jouve

Camille Jouve

Camille Jouve is a member of the Executive Committee of the New Anticapitalist Party in France.


Saturday July 8, 2017 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Burnham A/B

8:00pm

Saturday Plenary: Build the Left, Fight the Right: Why We Need a Socialist Alternative
Speakers
avatar for Wael Elasady

Wael Elasady

Wael Elasady is a Palestinian activist living in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-founder of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, a member of the International Socialist Organization and a frequent contributor to Socialistworker.org.


Saturday July 8, 2017 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Regency Ballroom A/B/C/D/E

10:00pm

Spoken Word and Musical Entertainment
Spoken word, hip hop and, more featuring Aja Monet, Remi Kanazi, Eli Smith, Ernesto Gomez, Essie Lin-Z, and Son of Nun.


Saturday July 8, 2017 10:00pm - Sunday July 9, 2017 1:30am
Ballroom C/D/E
 
Sunday, July 9
 

9:30am

Marxism, Race, and Class
Malcolm X once said, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.” Capitalism is dependent on racism as both a source of profit—beginning with slavery—but also as a means to divide and rule the working class. Under capitalism, wage slavery is the pivot around which all other inequalities and oppressions turn, but to perpetuate exploitation, racism is central. When one part of society can be pushed down and dehumanized, it is easier to keep all the oppressed and exploited down. Without a struggle against racism, the defeat of capitalism is impossible—just as without a struggle against capitalism, racism cannot be defeated. This talk will look at the Marxist approach to understanding, and fighting, capitalism and racism in the United States.

Speakers
avatar for Sarah Z. Mamo

Sarah Z. Mamo

Sarah Z. Mamo uses they/she pronouns and is a recent graduate of Ohio State, where they studied African-American & African Studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies. They began organizing in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and have been an organizer with the... Read More →


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Burnham A/B

9:30am

Shut It down? How to Fight the Right
There is no doubt that the right wing, the harder “alt” and far right included, have been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump. Openly fascist and white nationalist groups post racist fliers on campuses, and right-wing think tanks are funding provocative racist and conservative speakers on campus who, when protested, claim the mantle of “free speech.” On the streets of Berkeley, alt-right, fascist, and white nationalist groups have mobilized their forces to fight anarchist “Antifas” who think that street fighting is the only way to beat back the far right. How should the left respond to these developments? How can we build the kind of movement that has the numbers, the confidence, and the politics to push back the right? This presentation will attempt to answer these questions.

Speakers
avatar for Jon Kurinsky

Jon Kurinsky

Jon Kurinsky is a socialist activist and writer based in Chicago.


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Grant Park A/B

9:30am

The Berkeley Free Speech Movement
In September 1964, to stifle increasingly militant civil rights activism, the UC-Berkeley administration issued severe restrictions on the rights of students to solicit support and funds for political causes. Thousands of students participated in the subsequent Free Speech Movement in 1964-65, whose highlights included a standoff in which thousands of students surrounded a police car to prevent Berkeley activist Jack Weinberg from being taken away. The car became a podium for impromptu speeches, and the sit-in didn’t end for 32 hours, when the charges against Weinberg were dropped. It was at a subsequent mass occupation of Sproul Hall, demanding that charges against four students for violating the university’s restrictions be dropped, that student leader Mario Savio made his now famous speech, declaring, “You've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop.” This presentation will review the movement’s history and discuss its relevance for student struggles today.

Speakers
avatar for Mukund Rathi

Mukund Rathi

Mukund Rathi is a student at the UC Berkeley School of Law and a member of the International Socialist Organization and Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine. He has written for various student newspapers and SocialistWorker.org.


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Clark A/B

9:30am

Women, the Family, and Social Reproduction
What role does the family play under capitalism? Generations of Marxists have argued that its prime function is to raise, at no cost to the employers, the next generation of wage workers. Thinkers like Lise Vogel, drawing from Marx’s discussion of the "reproduction of labor power" in Capital, have developed this insight further, showing how “social reproduction” involves all of the factors—from childbirth and child rearing, the care and maintenance of workers and those unable to work, to education and social services—that ensure the maintenance of the capitalist system of production as a whole. This talk will discuss the role that (typically unpaid) domestic labor, primarily of women, plays in the capitalist economy.

Speakers

Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Ballroom B

9:30am

Custer Died for Your Sins: Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and the Lakota Struggle for Freedom
Crazy Horse was an Oglala Lakota Sioux who took up arms against the encroachment of U.S. settlers on Lakota lands. Sitting Bull was Hunkpapa Lakota holy man who also led his people in resistance against the United States. Both fought at the Battle of Little Big Horn, or what Lakota call the Battle of the Greasy Grass, against the murderous U.S. 7th Cavalry under George Custer, who, along with most of his troops, was killed during an attempt to massacre a large Indian encampment in July 1876. Crazy Horse was fatally stabbed by a military guard in 1877 after surrendering, and police at the Standing Rock Agency murdered Sitting Bull during an attempt to arrest him in 1890—just months before the Wounded Knee Massacre—for being a leader of the Ghost Dance movement. Both men have become great symbols of Native American resistance. This talk will tell their stories.

Speakers
avatar for Brian Ward

Brian Ward

Brian is a long-time indigenous rights and climate justice activist. His writing has appeared in Socialist Worker, The Nation, Truth-Out and the International Socialist Review. He has lived and worked with the Oglala Lakota on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and attended and r... Read More →


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Burnham C

9:30am

Labor's Giant Step: The Flint Sitdown Strike of 1936-37
The years 1936 and 1937 represented the highest point of class struggle in the U.S. to date—when a wave of sit-down strikes swept across U.S. industry. Those strikes built the Congress of Industrial Organizations and changed the face of the labor movement. The 44-day Flint sit-down strike, which was led by shop floor militants and socialists, has become legendary for its outstanding rank-and-file solidarity, which drew in thousands of workers from nearby cities; as well as its shrewd execution, which repeatedly outsmarted GM management in their attempt to force the strikers out of the plants. This presentation will tell the story of the Flint sitdown, placing it in the larger context of labor radicalism in this period.

Speakers
avatar for Julian Guerrero

Julian Guerrero

Julian Guerrero was born and raised in Queens, NYC by his Colombian immigrant parents. An active socialist and writer, Julian has been active in many social movements like the Immigrant's Rights movement, the Black Lives Matter movement as well as student activism, and work p... Read More →


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Clark C

9:30am

Trotsky's Their Morals and Ours
It’s common for Marxists to be condemned for believing that “the ends justify the means,” which, it is alleged, proves Marxism is amoral. The hypocrisy of official morality is that it permits rulers to use the utmost violence while condemning it when it is turned against their interests. Even pacifism, by preaching against all violence, disarms the masses against a system that will stop at nothing to keep them in chains. The violence of the slave against a master, Trotsky insisted, cannot be equated with the violence of the master against the slave. Trotsky shows that Marxists do have a morality: it is a morality based on the utmost hatred of all oppression and exploitation, and support for all actions that promote a society where these evils are abolished. Only those means that fully promote the ends—the “self emancipation” of workers and the oppressed—are justified.

Speakers
avatar for Laura Snedeker

Laura Snedeker

Laura is a member of the DePaul branch in Chicago.


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
DuSable C

9:30am

What Do Socialists Say About Human Nature?
There are three basic views of human nature. On says that our genetic or biological makeup endows us with immutable traits like aggression, greed, and selfishness (or, conversely, kindness sociability and altruism). Another says that, unlike other animals, human beings are so malleable that there is no such thing as human nature. A third says that evolution has endowed humans with specific traits particular to our species (upright gait, hands with opposable thumbs, large brains capable of developing language) that allow for the potential for cultural or artificial adaptation, and that in changing our social forms of existence we also change our nature. This talk will delve into the concept of human nature and what it means for those fighting for a different kind of world.

Speakers
avatar for Hayley Archer

Hayley Archer

Hayley is a socialist and a student at the University of Wisconsin.
avatar for Tyler Barton

Tyler Barton

Tyler Barton is a graduate student at Ohio University where he has been organizing in various movements for almost a decade. He has been a member of the International Socialist Organization since 2011.


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
DuSable A/B

9:30am

Managing Inequality: How Welfare Systems Regulate the Poor
Inequality and poverty are endemic to capitalism. The U.S. welfare state operates to regulate members of the working class who experience poverty, disability, and unemployment. Workfare policies and means-tested provision of aid reinforce labor discipline and perpetuate capitalist ideology about who "deserves" support. This talk will examin how child welfare agencies in particular work to reproduce capitalist social relations and promote racist and sexist ideology about the private family. It will also will put forward perspectives for socialists on these issues and imagine what systems of care might look like under workers' democratic rule.  

Speakers
avatar for Jessica Hansen-Weaver

Jessica Hansen-Weaver

Jessica Hansen-Weaver is a social worker in SF Bay Area and long time ISO member.
avatar for Don Lash

Don Lash

Don Lash is an attorney and writer in New York City. He has worked in disability rights, educational advocacy and child welfare. He has written for Socialist Worker and the International Socialist Review, and is the author of When the Welfare People Come: Race and Class in t... Read More →


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Hyde Park A

9:30am

Socialist Worker-Sponsored Meeting: Lies, Damn Lies, and Fake News
All governments lie, the independent journalist I.F. Stone once said. But not all governments lie as proudly as those led by Donald Trump. Corporate-owned media outlets generally obey the unwritten rule that the spokespeople for government sources should be treated as credible (regardless of how many times they've been caught lying), but the new president's obvious disdain for the truth—from lying about the size of the crowds attending his inauguration to his share of Electoral College votes compared to previous presidents—has pushed some to adopt a more Stone-like stance of skepticism, even as right-wing outlets like Breitbart, and the “fair and balanced” Fox News do whatever they can to fuel the right’s agenda. Activist Dana Cloud dissects the role of media in the age of “fake news” and Donald Trump—and discusses the importance of an independent voice for our side.

Speakers
avatar for Dana Cloud

Dana Cloud

Dana Cloud is a professor of communication at Syracuse University, author of the forthcoming book Reality Bites: Rhetoric and the Circulation of Truth Claims in US Political Culture from Ohio State. University Press. She is a longtime member of the ISO.


Sunday July 9, 2017 9:30am - 11:00am
Grant Park C/D

11:30am

Martin, Malcolm, and the Struggle for Black Liberation in the U.S.
The two most iconic figures of the Black struggle in the United States are Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Their viewpoints and positions are often counterposed—Martin the pacifist, Malcolm advocating freedom “by any means necessary.” Both have, to one degree or another, been sanitized by official history—though Martin more than Malcolm. Both of these figures had something to teach, but they also evolved and learned from struggle, drawing, as they both neared the end of their lives cut short, deeply radical conclusions about the nature of society, of racism, of imperialism, and of capitalism. This talk will explore their similarities, differences, contributions, and legacy.

Speakers

Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Clark A/B

11:30am

Jacobin-Sponsored Meeting: Why Should We Care About Social Democracy?

Since the 1920s the main currents of workers' movements have pursued a project of reform. Those movements were able to yield substantial accomplishments in the 1960s and '70s. At their most radical, European welfare states took essential aspects of modern life-education, health care, utilities—out of the market by making them public, free, and universal. In many countries there was near-zero unemployment over two decades. This discussion will consider social democracy's accomplishments, its limitations, and why everywhere it has seemingly gone into retreat.


Moderators
Speakers

Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Ballroom A

11:30am

Socialist Worker-Sponsored Meeting: 40 Years--History and Politics of the International Socialist Organization
The International Socialist Organization was founded in 1977. From its inception, it has been committed to a political tradition of socialism from below, as opposed to the traditions of Stalinism, Maoism, and even some variants of Trotskyism. From the start the ISO emphasized the importance of realism—not getting ahead of what is realistically possible, without at the same time losing site of our revolutionary goals in the long term. Perhaps the most critical lesson of the history of all past revolutionary efforts—successful and unsuccessful—is that the working class needs its own organization, politically independent from the parties of the ruling class, to fight for its own aims and interests. In this meeting, we will examine how the ISO, one of the sponsors of Socialism 2017, has contributed to this process.

Speakers
avatar for Paul D'Amato

Paul D'Amato

Paul D'Amato is the editor of the International Socialist Review and author of The Meaning of Marxism.


Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Grant Park A/B

11:30am

Black Power vs. Corporate America: The Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement
In the late 1960s, radical Black workers organized union caucuses in opposition to both their employers and the union bureaucracy—turning to Marxism and Black nationalist politics to guide their actions. The most significant of these caucuses was the Detroit-based Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM). DRUM was formed out of wildcat strike at Chrysler's Dodge Main plant in May 1968. The Black militants of DRUM understood that political power flowed not from “the barrel of a gun,” as the famous Maoist saying had it, but from control of production in a capitalist economy. This talk will tell their story and draw out the lessons of this movement.


Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Burnham A/B

11:30am

Labor's Rank-and-File Rebellion: 1968-74
The movements against the war and for Black Power in the 1960s led to the political radicalization of a significant layer of industrial workers. Strike levels began to climb as early as 1965—and between the years 1967 to 1971, the average number of workers involved in strikes doubled. In 1970 alone, there were 5,716 work stoppages, involving more than 3 million workers. But even more important than the number of strikes was the level of militancy. Many workers found themselves battling not only speedup and automation imposed by management, but also the inertia and misleadership of their own union leaders. The Chrysler Corporation, for example, reported 15 unauthorized strikes in 1960. That figure jumped to 49 in 1967, and then peaked at 91 in 1968. And the number of wildcats in the manufacturing sector as a whole went from about 1,000 in 1960 to 2,000 in 1969. This talk will explore this hidden history of working-class radicalism.

Speakers
avatar for Larry Bradshaw

Larry Bradshaw

Larry Bradshaw is a retired San Francisco Paramedic, union activist and long time ISO member. He is currently working as a Strategic Advisor to the Executive Board of SEIU Local 1021and serving as the Local's Ethics Liaison


Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Field C

11:30am

Marxism and Alienation
For Marx, the root of alienation was our loss of control over our labor. We seem to stand helpless before the colossal achievements of our own labor—from skyscrapers to nuclear weapons. Alienation more generally describes a condition in which human beings are dominated by forces of their own creation, which confront them as alien powers. Under capitalism the products of human labor become not a means to enrich the producers, but a power that rules over and against them. The concept was first expressed by the young Marx in the 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, and was later developed in his book Capital, where, in a chapter called “The Fetishism of Commodities,” he explains that in a commodity producing society, “the relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labor is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labor.”


Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Hyde Park B

11:30am

Lenin's Left Wing Communism
Left-Wing” Communism was written in April 1920, toward the end of the Russian Civil War and the very beginnings of the formation of an international communist movement inspired by the revolution. It was addressed to the tens of thousands of young “left” revolutionaries who filled with impatience and lacking experience, gravitated to the putchist notion that a revolutionary minority of workers could, by insurrectionary actions, somehow “galvanize” the masses into victory. Lenin takes on the argument made at the time by Italian and German “Lefts” that compromises were impermissible, and that socialists must leave trade unions and refuse to participate in parliamentary elections on the grounds that these institutions were now “obsolete.” The little book is, as a result, an excellent manual of of strategy and tactics, and how in practice revolutionaries can navigate the troubled and difficult waters between the fight for reforms and the conquest of power to win over the majority of the working class.

Speakers
avatar for Kyle Brown

Kyle Brown

Kyle Brown is a socialist that lives in Brooklyn.


Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
DuSable C

11:30am

Exhuming Thomas Sankara: Anti-Imperialism and the Legacy of Afro-Stalinism
In the wake of the 2014 Burkinabe uprising that witnessed the overthrow of Burkina Faso's long-time ruler, Blaise Compaore, the people of Burkina Faso are revisiting the brief and tumultuous rule of Thomas Sankara, the Marxist Army officer who governed the country from 1983 to 1987. This talk will argue that despite Sankara's Stalinist and Maoist tendencies, his anti-imperialism, directed against France and its West African client Cote D'Ivoire, as well as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, remains a source of inspiration for people of the underdeveloped world, and a useful example of resistance to Western imperialism. While critiquing the shortcomings of Sankara's ideology, the talk will also link Sankara's stance against the economic exploitation of underdeveloped countries with the upsurge in recent years of working class radicalism across the African continent.


Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Clark C

11:30am

Crisis and Resistance in Mexico
Since coming to power in 2012, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has become one of the most unpopular presidents in Mexico's history. He has faced protest against the stonewalling coverup of the 43 disappeared student teachers in Ayotzinapa in 2014, and then protests last year of Mexican teachers against his education reforms. Since the start of this year, Mexico has been rocked by protests, marches and blockades in response to a sharp increase in fuel prices brought on by the privatization of the oil industry. A country of deep poverty where more than 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, Mexico has been ravaged by the impact of Nafta and the rise of criminal drug gangs closely linked to the state. As protests continue to mount, one of the biggest questions for the left is how to link together the fragments of local organizations and struggles into a movement capable of mounting a credible challenge to politics as usual.

Speakers
avatar for Luis Rangel

Luis Rangel

Luis Rangel is an economist and student activist in Mexico. He is a member of the leadership of the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT), the Mexican section of the Fourth International.


Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Burnham C

11:30am

What's the Matter with the Israeli Working Class?
Socialists have long debated why it is that the Israeli working class has never been able to break with Zionism and ally itself with Palestinians in the struggle for democracy and equality. In fact, the Israeli working class has consistently subordinated the class struggle to its own nationalism. An important Marxist analysis of this was written by two members of the Israeli Socialist Organization (Matzpen), Akiva Orr and Moshe Machover, in the late 1960s, which made a distinction between the imperialist role Israel performs and the unique attributes of the Israeli working class. This talk will revisit the analysis of Orr and Machover and use it as a lens to understand the nature of the Israeli working class in subsequent decades up to today.

Speakers
avatar for Daphna Thier

Daphna Thier

Daphna is an Israeli anti-Zionist, socialist and activist based in New York City.


Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Hyde Park A

11:30am

The Revolutionary Approach to Fighting Oppression
The Russian Revolution represents the highest stage of liberation the working class has achieved. Some of the most oppressed sectors of society—women, Jews, and oppressed national minorities—played a key role in the revolution. There had been debates about national liberation, women’s oppression, and the Jewish question prior to the revolution. These issues all came to the fore in the democratic tumult of the revolution. It reinvigorated old debates and forced examination of old positions in light of new developments and struggles by the oppressed themselves. In following years, the Communist International attempted to develop an international communist movement committed to fighting national, racial, and other forms of oppression. This talk will go through some of the key debates and historical turning points, to examine the theoretical and practical contributions to the fight against oppression made in and by the Russian Revolution.

Speakers

Sunday July 9, 2017 11:30am - 1:00pm
Grant Park C/D

1:00pm

Things That Can And Cannot Be Said: A Book Signing with John Cusack
In late 2014, Indian author Arundhati Roy; writer, filmmaker, and activist John Cusack; and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg travelled to Moscow to meet with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The result was a series of essays and dialogues—Things That Can and Cannot Be Said. Cusack will join Socialism 2017 for a special book signing in the Haymarket Books room.

Speakers

Sunday July 9, 2017 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Haymarket Books (Prairie B)

2:00pm

Final Rally: 100 Years of Revolution
Speakers
avatar for Todd Chretien

Todd Chretien

Todd Chretien is a long-time member of the ISO and a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker newspaper. He is the editor of a forthcoming anthology about 1917 titled "Eye Witnesses to Revolution."
avatar for Elizabeth Terzakis

Elizabeth Terzakis

Elizabeth Terzakis is a long-time member of the ISO and a contributor to Education and Capitalism, published by Haymarket Press.


Sunday July 9, 2017 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Regency Ballroom A/B/C/D/E