The Center for Economic Research and Social Change at the Left Forum
The Center for Economic Research and Social Change is proud to present the Left Forum panels below:
Education and Capitalism
Session 3, Room E316, Sat 03:00pm - 04:50pm
Megan Behrent, Brian Jones, Lois Weiner, Rebecca Tarlanu, chaired by Marissa Torres
Ten years after No Child Left Behind turned our schools into test factories and ensured that the vast majority of our schools would be left behind, the neoliberal assault on our schools continues undiminished. The conservative, bipartisan consensus is that the solution to all problems in education is to scapegoat teachers, vilify our unions, and promise more private control and market mentality as the answer. In each case, students lose—especially students of color and the children of the working class and the poor. Drawing on Marxist analysis and historical research, this panel will provide a space to examine the relationship between capitalism and education and the inherent inequalities within the system. It will also focus on the legacy of radical educators such as Paolo Freire and the history of radical struggles for educational rights – from the Civil Rights Movement to the student struggles in France in May 1968 to the Brazilian Landless Workers’ movement attempts to implement an alternative education pedagogy in rural public schools. Panelists will discuss what demands radical educators can make (and have succeeded in making) as well as how to push back against teaching's deprofessionalization and fight for space in schools for teaching as liberation. They will examine the lessons we can learn from previous struggles and the relationship between pedagogy and activism in the current fight for quality public education for all.
Capitalism, Imperial Geopolitics and the Climate Crisis: Where Next for the Climate Justice Movement?
Session 3, Room E303, Sat 03:00pm - 04:50pm
Fred Magdoff, Brian Tokar, Marcela olivera, and Chris Williams
The Copenhagen climate negotiations two years ago were described by government representatives as the "last chance" to take urgent international action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Three years ago then-presidential nominee Barack Obama described taking action to curb US emissions and tackle climate change as his most urgent and important priority when in office. Yet, Obama promotes "clean" coal, nuclear power, biofuels and more off-shore drilling to "reduce our dependence on foreign oil. During the recent Durban climate negotiations, the US continued to play an obstructive role, and international action was put off for another 8 years. Still, environmentalists often overlook the operation of capitalism on the world stage and the relationships between accelerating resource exploitation, imperial competition, and open warfare. This panel will analyze the continuing failure of almost two decades of international climate negotiations, investigate the United States' unique role, and scrutinize the need for a deeper environmental analysis of capitalism and its geopolitical intrigues, as we build a movement for climate justice.
Can the Labor Movement and Occupy Wall Street March Down the Same Road? A Roundtable Discussion
Session 4, Room W521, Sat 05:00pm - 06:40pm
Steve Fraser, John Samuelson, Tammy Kim, Mario Dartayet-Rodriguez, and Amy Muldoon, chaired by Lee Sustar
Occupy Wall Street’s singular achievement has been to inject issues of concentrated wealth, inequality, and the threat to democracy into the heart of national debate, something the labor movement has tried but largely failed to do for many years. Occupy Wall Street continues to generate attention across the country. While unions were one of its earliest supporters, and share some of its ideals, the two movements are also markedly different. Unlike unions, Occupy Wall Street has an anti-capitalist dimension. It has also made a point of not having a set of demands or a defined leadership, while trade unions are highly structured representative bodies that pay meticulous attention to formulating specific programs and demands. How do the two movements view each other? What has been their working relationship so far? How do OWS and unions see organizing? Are their strategies and tactics compatible? What can OWS gain from the involvement of organized labor, and vice versa?
Slavery and the Origins of American Capitalism
Session 4, Room W523, Sat 05:00pm - 06:40pm
Charles Post, Ashley Smith, and Gopal Balakrishan, chaired by David McNally
Recently short listed for the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize, Charles Post's "The American Road to Capitalism" takes up long standing historical debates about the transition from feudalism to capitalism, and applies them to the origins of the free market economy in the U.S. This panel will feature that volume's author, David McNally, and others, all of whom will offer up different perspectives on the role of social labor in antebellum society, the mounting tensions between the slave south and capitalist north, and the political significance of the American Civil War. Far from a dated, merely historical question, the role of Slavery in the early American economy, its part in shaping the Civil War, and the nature of the resistance it engendered continues to offer fecund lessons for today's activists. Charles Post is Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College. David McNally is Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto. He is the author of five previous books, including Political Economy and the Rise of Capitalism and Global Slump. Barbara J. Fields is Professor of History at Columbia University, New York. She is the author of several books on Slavery and the Civil War.
Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959
Session 4, Room E325, Sat 05:00pm - 06:40pm
Samuel Farber, Lisandro Pérez, Michelle Chase, Peter Roman, chaired by Suzi Weissman
Uncritically lauded by many on the left, and impulsively denounced by the right, the Cuban revolution is almost universally viewed in one-dimensional terms. Samuel Farber, one of its most informed left-wing critics, provides a much-needed critical assessment of the revolution’s impact and legacy in his new book Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment. Here he debates some of his critics and we present a range of perspectives on this challenging topic.
The Communist Manifesto Today
Session 6, Room W609, Sun 12:00pm - 01:50pm
Phil Gasper, Domenico Losurdo, Alberto Toscano, and Dao X. Tran
The Communist Manifesto is reputed to be the most widely read book in the world after the Bible. According to Marshall Berman, “When people dream of resistance--even if they're not Communists, even if they distrust Communists--it provides music for their dreams.” Last fall, as resistance reemerged in the US and around the world, teach-ins on the Manifesto were held at several of the Occupy movement sites. This panel will ask what lessons a book written over 160 years ago still has for the left today. What themes in the Manifesto still resonate? What now seems outmoded or mistaken? What gaps need to be filled? Above all, do we need to move beyond Marx and Engels’ legacy or does it remain an essential starting point for those who want to understand and change the world in the 21st century?
Racism, Real Estate and Rebellion: Black Struggles for Housing Justice
Session 6, Room E306, Sun 12:00pm - 01:50pm
Beryl Satter, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Alfredo Carrasquillo, Michael Premo, chaired by Mark Naison
This meeting will examine historical struggles for housing in African American communities as a guide to how we fight the current crisis of foreclosures and evictions. While most histories on housing discrimination have focused on various campaigns for "open" and "fair" housing, little attention has been paid to the battles within Black communities to fight the conditions of substandard housing. In both the 1930s and again in the 1960s the formation of tenant unions and rent strikes were crucial to giving voice to the grievances of the people who lived deteriorating properties. In the 1960s a new dimension to the struggle of housing rights was added when Black homeowners, primarily in Chicago, mobilized to demand an end to redlining and predatory lending practices. This panel looks to connect that history with current housing struggles.
Pinkwashing: Israel's Queer Propaganda War
Session 6, Room E324, Sun 12:00pm - 01:50pm
Sa'ed Adel Atshan, Maya Mikdashi, Sarah Schulman, Sherry Wolf, chaired by Hadas Thier
In recent years, the state of Israel has launched a propaganda campaign to divert attention away from its ongoing colonization of historic Palestine by projecting Israel as a socially progressive and "gay-friendly" nation in the midst of a region of purportedly reactionary intolerance and homophobia. By cynically deploying a discourse of gay rights, Israel claims to be a safe haven for Palestinian queers who are victimized by their Arab-Islamic culture, but not, it seems, by Israeli settler colonialism. In this workshop, activists and scholars will explore the myths and realities of life in Palestine and Israel, explain how pinkwashing relies on a practice and politics of international "homonationalism," and gauge the effectiveness of and global response to this well-financed propaganda war.
Attica is All of Us
Session 7, Room W522, Sun 03:00pm - 04:40pm
Jazz Hayden, Carlos Roche, Liz Fink, chaired by Sarah Kunstler
On September 13, 1971, an uprising by prison inmates of the Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison located in western New York, ended in the bloodiest prison confrontation in United States history. Five days earlier, thirteen hundred prisoners had rebelled, taken over the prison, and held forty guards hostage, calling for improvements in living conditions and medical care, religious freedom, and educational and training opportunities. The negotiations failed and state police and corrections officers seized the prison; in the course of taking it over they slaughtered thirty-nine individuals, including ten hostages. The rebellion may have brought awareness to prison conditions, but how far have we really come in four decades? Our prison population has grown from about 300,000 in 1970 to more than 2.4 million today. The majority of young black men in major U.S. cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Join us in remembering the Attica Rebellion, honoring those who died during the retaking of the facility, and fighting back against mass incarceration and the racial caste system that our legal system causes.
Roundtable: Occupy Wall Street: Where Did It Come From? Where Can It Go?
Session 1, Room LHN, Sat 10:00am - 11:50am
Yotam Marom, Michael Premo, Leia Petty, Arun Gupta, Iz Mercado, chaired by Jennifer Roesch
In September 2011, Occupy Wall Street captured the imagination of people around the world and transformed the landscape of American politics. Almost overnight the political debate was seized from the Tea Party and the right and re-focused on issues of economic and political injustice. The occupy movement reached incredible heights very quickly. Following the clearing of the encampment at Zuccotti Park, the movement has continued to organize and reach out into new areas, including fights against foreclosures, school closures and more. But it also faces questions of where to go and how to organize. This roundtable of occupy activists will, in the broadest terms, take up two central questions: what made the movement so successful when it did? where does it need to go from here.
NATO and the G8: Architects of War and Austerity
Session 1, Room E308, Sat 10:00am - 11:50am
Eric Ruder, Derrick o'keefe, Lamis Deek, chaired by Joe Lombardo
NATO and the G8 will be meeting together in Chicago this May. The US has used these two organizations to secure its imperial and economic domination of the world. It will convene this summit amidst economic crisis, imperial failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a new global resistance from the Egyptian Revolution to Occupy. This panel will analyze how the US aims to use the NATO/G8 Summit and discuss activist plans for a People’s Summit and counter-demonstrations.
Obama’s New Imperial Strategy
Session 3, Room E306, Sat 03:00pm - 04:50pm
Michael Schwartz, Saadia Toor, Ashley Smith, chaired by Eric Ruder
Over the last decade, the US used the cover of the so-called “War on Terror” to justify its imperial expansion into South Asia and the Middle East. Now, forced to retreat in Iraq and faced with a crisis-ridden occupation in Afghanistan, the Obama Administration is re-orienting US imperialism. This panel will map out Obama’s new strategy for the Middle East and Asia, especially China, its rising adversary.
President Obama's Profit Protection and Unaffordable Care Act & The Social Determinants of Health
Session 4, Room W612, Sat 05:00pm - 06:40pm
Vanessa Beck, Helen Redmond, and Marilena Marchetti
This panel will critically examine the health care law passed by the Obama administration, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and connect human health to capitalism. Health care is a commodity not a human right in the United States and over 84,000 people die every year because they lack access to health care. Helen Redmond, an activist and writer on health care, will explain the major provisions of the legislation. The ACA was designed to enrich the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, the very cause of the health care crisis that leaves 50 million uninsured. Billions in tax-payer money will be transferred to these super-wealthy corporate parasites to sell subsidized under-insurance to millions of Americans. Vanessa Beck, the Director of Organizing for Healthcare-NOW!, will address how race, class, gender, ethnicity, poverty, and the environment influence and negatively affect human health. She’ll discuss why a militant, grassroots struggle to abolish the private insurance industry is vital to the creation of a single payer, national health care system that covers the 99 percent.
State and Revolution in the 21st Century: Is Lenin Still Relevant?
Session 5, Room W511, Sun 10:00am - 11:50am
Todd Chretie, Radhika Desai, Samuel Farber, Salar Mohandesi, chaired by Sherry Wolf
Revolutions of the 'Arab Spring' toppled governments but remain far from taking state power. Meanwhile, many activists in the Occupy movements are not certain that ought to be our goal to begin with. Lenin wrote State and Revolution towards the beginning of the greatest social crisis capitalism had yet witnessed, the 'thirty years' crisis' of 1914-1945, which resumed Marx and Engels' conceptions of the state as part of a larger argument about how revolutions must deal with state power as part of a broader international strategy to end war, colonialism and capitalist exploitation and oppression. In this panel we revisit it to revive the classic three-sided debate between anarchist, marxist and social democratic visions of social revolution and state power and draw some strategic and tactical lessons for the emerging world order of the 21st century.
Egypt's Unfinished Revolution
Session 5, Room W608, Sun 10:00am - 11:50am
Anand Gopal, Ahmed Shawki, Suzanne Adely, omar el-shafei, chaired by Jennifer Roesch
The revolution in Egypt inspired millions of people around the world with its heroism, its mass character and stunning victories in a relatively short period of time. Tahrir Square became a symbol of resistance and helped give rise to occupations from Madrid to Wall Street. However, Egypt has been (and is) going through a protracted revolutionary process of advances and retreat. This panel will feature journalists who have closely followed this process as well as participants from the revolutionary struggle in Egypt. It will examine the dynamics of the revolution over the last year, its prospects and the challenges that it must confront.
Islamophobia, the NDAA, and the Attack on Civil Liberties
Session 6, Room W504, Sun 12:00pm - 01:50pm
Deepa Kumar, Lamis Deek, Steve Downs, Dr. Shaik Ubaid
Over the last decade of the so-called “War on Terror,” the Bush and Obama Administrations have used Islamophobia to run roughshod over our civil rights and civil liberties, especially those of Arabs and Muslims. Obama capped this assault that began with the Patriot Act by signing the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the government the right to indefinitely detain without a trial American citizens charged with terrorism. This panel will expose and analyze this bipartisan assault on our civil liberties and their devastating impact on Arabs and Muslims.
Labor, Occupy and social movements: The decline of labor and the potential for a revival
Session 7, Room W604, Sun 03:00pm - 04:40pm
Tim Schermerorn, Amy Muldoon, and Lee Sustar, Chaired by Megan Behrent
This panel will offer an analysis of the reasons for labor's defeats and retreats since the 1980s and assess the potential for Occupy to help spur a new workers' movement.
Capitalist Crisis and the Global Fight Against Austerity
Session 7, Room E330, Sun 03:00pm - 04:40pm
Cinzia Arruzza, Joel Geier, Greg Albo, chaired by Ahmed Shawki
Starting in 2008, the global financial system entered a period of protracted crisis. While this crisis initially provoked a questioning of the neoliberal economic model, the international ruling-class has since been unanimous in its pursuit of austerity measures as the only solution. However, these measures have also produced recurrent waves of struggle and resistance. This panel will examine the contours of the economic crisis, the balance of class forces internationally and prospects for resistance.