A Political Orgy for the Left

Where can radicals sit and have a beer with Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald, get advice from the man behind the 1968 Olympics Black Power fist, John Carlos, and share breakfast with criminal justice writer/activist Liliana Segura or Anand Gopal, whose unembedded reporting from Afghanistan is supreme?

Where do you go to discuss the meaning of revolutions in process and revolutions deferred with the participants in those struggles from Egypt and around the Middle East?

Socialism 2011: Revolution in the Air will highlight these folks and others, but more than 1,200 workers and students will be attending this largest gathering of the far left in the United States, taking place in Chicago, July 1–4, 2011.

Some of the participants and speakers giving the 100 talks will be familiar to progressives. Dave Zirin, the hilarious and insightful Nation sports columnist who snags regular appearances on Rachel Maddow, Morning Joe and ESPN will be there, as always.

Most are lesser-known figures. But once you hear Nicole Colson give one of her smashing culture talks—this year’s is called “A riot of my own: The Clash”—you’ll be a convert to this annual orgy of left politics, debate and entertainment.

This is no snoozy, academic affair, though academics will be well represented. They shed whatever pedantic leanings are preferred in academe in order to lead interactive discussions on everything from the history of Black Reconstruction to Marxism and morality.

Whether you’re looking to delve into questions about historical figures like Rosa Luxemburg, Crazy Horse and Malcolm X or sort through what it actually means to be a Trotskyist, this is the place to be.

If you’re tearing your hair out about economic questions—and really, who isn’t?—Joel Geier will crack you up as he takes you down a labyrinthian path to grasping the mutating crisis of global capitalism. Joel evokes a sort of Woody Allen meets Alan Greenspan persona, reborn as a flaming Bronx-raised Marxist. Trust me, you’ve never  laughed so hard while learning economics.

Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions leader Omar Barghouti will be speaking on that rising movement and yours truly will be taking on the myths of Zionism—AIPAC, watch out!

We’ll hear from the new generation of Latino, Black, women and LGBT leaders speaking on raunch culture, the legacy of colonialism, transgender struggles and capitalism and sexuality.

Veterans from labor struggles past like Dan Lane and new labor militants like Brian Jones and Megan Behrent fighting to revive Madison-like tactics—including many of that struggle’s leaders—will be there participating in discussions and giving talks themselves.

Sal Rosselli, head of the National Union of Health Care Workers and Steve Early, whose new book Civil Wars in U.S. Labor is out, will be among the hundreds of workers there trying to carve out a new direction for labor today. With Socialistworker.org‘s labor columnist, Lee Sustar, whose encyclopedic knowledge of labor history is truly stunning—you will get years’ worth of learning in one weekend.

I’ll be blunt, most Americans have never heard powerful public oratory from the mouths of ordinary activists and are blown away by the the insight and wit of Socialism speakers. Pull up a chair and listen to Sharon Smith, who was a child sweatshop worker from Rhode Island and is now a socialist activist and author. Or check out talks by Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor, Ahmed Shawki, Alan Maass or Paul D’Amato and you’ll ask yourself why the hell you’re stuck listening to uninspiring blowhards on TV when these folks can tear it up so effectively. (We do know the answer, of course, but all the same, they deserve their own shows.)

I cannot say or write enough magnificent things about this annual event because for me it has truly been life-affirming and transforming.

And lest you think that reds are a bunch of teetotaling chatterboxes—though sober yammerers are more than welcome and embraced—the parties are frankly a blast and often go on till morning with music, dancing, drinks and 3 am debates about modern art and dialectics.

I watched Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman practically sink to her knees in prayer when she first laid eyes on Haymarket Books’ thousands of titles and display of red lit. It is a sight our Barnes & Nobleized nation rarely ever glimpses.

There’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to public speakers and the range of talks at Socialism 2011. Do not miss this once-a-year opportunity to hang out, meet, learn and feel thoroughly human and accepted with a crowd of socialists.

Besides, there are revolutions taking place, where better to be than with a bunch of revolutionaries? It’s our time, revolution’s in the air!

Here’s a promo video, enjoy!


10 responses to “A Political Orgy for the Left

  1. Last year I attended your conference in Oakland and enjoyed it. I respect the ISO for your spirit of inclusion, rare among left organizations. However – and of course there always is one – your mention of “what it means to be a trotskyist” begs comment.

    Perhaps what Trotsky himself had to say has relevance on that. The last political battle of his life was with and against your tendency, and that could not be more relevant today. I know the remnants of the fourth international – which I have characterized as its corpse – have joined you in support of “humanitarian intervention” by NATO forces in Libya. As the inevitable unfolds, both of you have hedged your positions to something that might be described as “NATO bombing for good reasons, yes! NATO bombing for bad reasons, no!”

    If anything should differentiate trotskyists from other tendencies, it is our ability to learn from history. The second international (whose recent representative in France just left Riker’s Island) collapsed over the question of support of imperialist war. You mention Rosa Luxemburg in your promotion, but no one stood more steadfast against support of one’s own country in imperialist war than she did.

    Lenin wrote of imperialism being the last stage of capitalism. Why would anyone ascribe humanitarian motives to imperialism to bomb a neocolonialist country? Enough of the nuanced language over this! War, like revolution, leaves compromise in the dust. If you can’t take a clear stand on war you have no claim to revolutionary leadership. Step up and take a stand against it. To do so is not to support Ghadaffi – it is to oppose imperialism and its nefarious motives in the mideast and everywhere.

  2. The ISO nor Sherry have ever advocated for so-called humanitarian intervention.

  3. Bullshit. I don’t know about Sherry, but the ISO has.

  4. Peter, when and where has the ISO advocated for ‘humanitarian intervention’?

  5. Sherry… As a direct result of your work, and the work of others… (WeAreMany.Org comes to mind)

    I have woken up. Like Neo in the opening scenes of “The Matrix”, I turned my TV off and began to scour the Internet for the truth.

    And as Morpheous did for Neo, the truth has set me free!

    Keep your chin up, kid… 3 years ago, I was a “Good Party Democrat”. If it weren’t for you, I’d probably be sitting around making Palin and Trump jokes… Dutifully ignoring the madness of this world.

    A heart felt thanks.

    – Joe

  6. The ISO has never in its 34 years of existence supported or defended U.S. intervention, and certainly never in Libya. Anyone who argues otherwise is either mistaken or lying. Period. -SW

  7. I’m especially baffled how one gets our position so muddled up when this month’s International Socialist Review is titled ‘The Myth of Humanitarian Intervention’ and contains four separate denunciations of it.

    http://isreview.org/index.shtml

    To the actual question, I don’t find statements such as “[W]e demand an end to NATO military operations. We demand the cutting off of aid to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Bahrain, and we support the deepening of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia” and “we also oppose the imposition of the no-fly zone and other forms of Western intervention because, in strengthening the role of imperial intervention in the Libyan revolution, they undermine the prospect of genuine freedom and independence” to be particularly ambiguous in that regard.

  8. IBT-WW-SWP-CPUSA-IST-ICL(FI)

    The ISO may not have supported the US/Nato intervention in Libya but it did support the al qaeda/cia backed “rebels” for a period of time.

    • Oh lord, I’ve only ever encountered this particular lie from members of the insignificant sect known as the Spartacist League. It hasn’t gathered any truth in the 20+ years they’ve repeated it, but congrats if you’re not from that groupuscule and managed to bump into that inanity. If nothing else, you’re intrepid.

  9. IBT-WW-SWP-CPUSA-IST-ICL(FI)

    Definately not a Spart nice try to paint a critic as a wacko.
    Here is an article that says the “rebels” have “broad popular support” : http://socialistworker.org/2011/03/04/no-intervention-in-libya
    Thats funny becuase Jeremy Scahill a speaker at previous Socialism conferences says the rebels number in the hundreds.

    And here is an article that compares the uprising in Tunisia & Egypt to the events in Libya:http://socialistworker.org/2011/03/09/no-friend-to-libyan-uprising. A laughable comparison at best.

    Yes you didn’t support US intervention and yes you were calling for the removal of Gaddafi but supporting the “rebels” is a bridge too far.

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