A panel discussion held at University of King's College on 1 February, 2014.
Sponsored by the King's Student Union and Dalhousie Student Union
Eva Curry - Stand
Christoph Lichtenberg - International Bolshevik Tendency
Chris Parsons - student activist
Alex Khasnabish - The Radical Imagination Project, Mount Saint Vincent University
It seems that there are still only two radical ideologies: Anarchism and Marxism. They emerged out of the same crucible - the Industrial Revolution, the unsuccessful revolutions of 1848 and 1871, a weak liberalism, the centralization of state power, the rise of the workers movement, and the promise of socialism. They are the revolutionary heritage, and all significant radical upsurges of the last 150 years have returned to mine their meaning for the current situation. In this respect, our moment seems no different.
There are a few different ways these ideologies have been taken up. Recent worldwide square occupations reflect one pattern: a version of Marxist theory — understood as a political-economic critique of capitalism — is used to comprehend the world, while ananarchist practice — understood as an anti-hierarchical principle that insists revolution must begin now — is used to organize, in order to change it. Some resist this combination, claiming that Marxism rejects anti-statist adventurism, and call for a strategic reorganization of the working class to resist austerity, and perhaps push forward a “New New Deal”. This view remains wedded to a supposedly practical welfarist social democracy, which strengthens the state and manages capital. There is a good deal of hand waving in both these orientations with regard to politics, tactics, and the end goal. Finally, there have been attempts to leave the grounds of these theories entirely — but these often seem either to land right back in one of the camps or to remain marginal.
To act today we seek to draw up the balance sheet of the 20th century. The historical experience concentrated in these ideas must be unfurled if they are to serve as compass points. To see in what ways the return of these ideologies represent an authentic engagement and in what ways the return of a ghost. Where have the battles left us? What forms do we have for meeting, theoretically and practically, the problems of our present?
A panel event held on 30 Jan 7, 2014 at Dalhousie University.
Part of the ESS Lecture Series, Dalhousie University College of Sustainability
- Dave Bedford
Political Science, UNB, author of The Tragedy of Progress: Marxism, Modernity and the Aboriginal Question
- Andrew Biro
CRC in Political Ecology, Acadia University author of Denaturalizing Ecological Politics: ‘Alienation from Nature’ from Rousseau to the Frankfurt School and Beyond
- James Hutt
Activist, Solidarity Halifax, Divest Dalhousie and the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
- Timothy Luke
Political Science, Virginia Technical University author of Capitalism, Democracy, and Ecology: Departing from Marx
The Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen recently characterized the period marked by the start of the industrial revolution in the 18th Century to the present as a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This periodization is meant to capture a change in the history of the planet, namely that for the first time in history its course will be determined by the question of what humanity will become.
This panel will focus on different interpretations of why the Left has failed to deal with the deepening crisis of the Anthropocene through the 19th and 20th Centuries and how and if this problem is interrelated with the growing problems associated with ecological systems across the earth. While Karl Marx would note that the problem of freedom shifted with the industrial revolution and the emergence of the working class - the crisis of bourgeois society that Marx would term capital - the idea of freedom seemed not to survive the collapse of Marxist politics in the 20th Century. We seem to live in a world in which the fate of ecological seem foreclosed, where attempts at eco-modernization seem to emerge many steps behind the rate of ecological degradation. For many, degradation of the environment appears a permanent feature of modern society, something which can only be resisted but never transformed.
Panelists will consider the relationship between the history of capital and the Left—and thus the issue of history and freedom - and how it may be linked to our present inability to render environmental threats and degradation visible and comprehensible, and by extension, subject to its conscious and free overcoming by society.
A panel event on held on Tuesday, 28 January, at Hart House, University of Toronto
Sponsored by the Hart House Social Justice Committee
L. Susan Brown - Author of Does Work Really Work
Dave Bush - Rankandfile.ca
Neil Fischer - Internationalist Perspective
Sam Gindin - Greater Toronto Worker’s Assembly, coauthor of The Making of Global Capitalism
It is generally assumed that Marxists and other Leftists have the political responsibility to support reforms for the improvement of the welfare of workers. Yet, leading figures from the Marxist tradition-- such as Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky-- also understood that such reforms would broaden the crisis of capitalism and potentially intensify contradictions that could adversely impact the immediate conditions of workers. For instance, full employment, while being a natural demand from the standpoint of all workers’ interests, also threatens the conditions of capitalist production (which rely on a surplus of available labor), thereby potentially jeopardizing the system of employment altogether. In light of such apparent paradoxes, this panel seeks to investigate the politics of work from Leftist perspectives. It will attempt to provoke reflection on and discussion of the ambiguities and dilemmas of the politics of work by including speakers from divergent perspectives, some of whom seek after the immediate abolition of labor and others of whom seek to increase the availability of employment opportunities. It is hoped that this conversation will deepen the understanding of the contemporary problems faced by the Left in its struggles to construct a politics adequate to the self-emancipation of the working class.
Platypus Frankfurt am Main präsentiert in Kooperation mit der Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung die Podiumsdiskussion
"Radikale linke Strömungen im 21. Jahrhundert: Zum Verhältnis von Anarchismus und Marxismus"
Dienstag, 28. Januar 2014, 20:00 Uhr
Campus Bockenheim / Festsaal
Es scheint als gäbe es gegenwärtig nur noch zwei radikale Strömungen: Anarchismus und Marxismus. Beide entstammen demselben historischen Schmelztiegel – der industriellen Revolution, den gescheiterten Erhebungen von 1848 und 1871, einem schwachen Liberalismus, der Zentralisierung der Staatsgewalt, dem Aufstieg der Arbeiterbewegung und dem Versprechen des Sozialismus. Sie sind unser revolutionäres Erbe. Alle maßgeblichen radikalen Bewegungen der letzten 150 Jahren waren darum bemüht die Bedeutung des Anarchismus und des Marxismus für die jeweilige Situation nutzbar zu machen. Davon scheint sich unser historischer Moment nicht zu unterscheiden.
Um als Linke in der aktuellen historischen Situation zu handeln, wollen wir Bilanz ziehen aus den Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Anarchismus und Marxismus während der letzten 150 Jahre. Die historischen Erfahrungen, welche die Ideen des Marxismus und des Anarchismus maßgeblich geprägt haben, müssen aufgearbeitet und entfaltet werden, sollen sie uns heute als Orientierungspunkte dienen. Inwiefern repräsentiert der Rückbezug auf Anarchismus und Marxismus ein authentisches Engagement – und inwiefern die Wiederkehr eines Gespenstes? Wo stehen wir heute nach den vergangenen Kämpfen? Welche Formen stehen uns – theoretisch wie praktisch – zur Verfügung, um den gegenwärtigen Problemen zu begegnen?