Capitalism: Causes, Conditions, Consequences … and Beyond

Capitalism: Causes, Conditions, Consequences … and Beyond

The Ecosocialism Group convened with Fred Murphy and Steve Knight

8 Sessions

The Marxist Education Project’s Ecosocialism Study Group — now completing its third year — devotes the winter 2019 term to Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi’s Capitalism: A Conversation in Critical Theory. Join us for a close reading of this new work, which shows how different historical regimes of capitalism have relied on institutional separations between economy and polity, production and social reproduction, and human and non-human nature. Interaction between these domains is periodically readjusted in response to crises and upheavals. Such “boundary struggles” can help us better grasp capitalism’s contradictions and elaborate strategies for moving beyond it. Supplementary readings will be drawn from related work by David Harvey, Silvia Federici, and others.


FRED MURPHY and STEVE KNIGHT have co-led the Ecosocialism Study Group since 2016. Both are active in DSA’s climate justice work. Fred studied and taught historical sociology at The New School for Social Research. Steve reviews books for Marx & Philosophy and is active in faith-centered environmental groups.

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Fighting for Space

How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction
With author Travis Lupick
Published by Arsenal Pulp Press / Distributed by AK Press
Books will be available at the event

All are encouraged to attend. No one turned away for inability to pay.
Donations of $6, $10 or $15 accepted

North America is in the grips of a drug epidemic; with the introduction of fentanyl, the chances of a fatal overdose are greater than ever, prompting many to rethink the war on drugs. There were more than 60,000 opiod overdose deaths in the United States in 2016—this annual death toll increases yearly. This is mass murder. While deaths across the continent continue to climb, Fighting for Space (published by Arsenal Pulp Press / Distributed by AK Press) explains the concept of harm reduction as a crucial component of a city’s response to the drug crisis.

It tells the story of a grassroots group of drug users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who waged a political street fight for two decades to transform how the city treats its most marginalized citizens. Over the past twenty-five years, this group of residents from Canada’s poorest neighborhood organized themselves in response to the growing number of overdose deaths and demanded that drug users be given the same rights as any other citizen; against all odds, they eventually won.

But just as their battle came to an end, fentanyl arrived and opioid deaths across North America reached an all-time high. The “genocide” in Vancouver finally sparked government action. Twenty years later, as the same pattern plays out in other cities, there is much that advocates for reform can learn from Vancouver’s experience. Fighting for Space tells that story—including case studies in Ohio, Florida, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Washington state—with the same passionate fervor as the activists whose tireless work gave dignity to drug users and saved countless lives.

“The story of the Downtown Eastside is one of the most inspiring, moving, and enraging stories of our time. This beautiful and haunting book finally does it justice. This is essential history―and it isn’t over.” ―Johann Hari, author, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War On Drugs

Fighting for Space is a colourful, fast-paced, well-researched account of the unique circumstances, tragic and inspiring events, and the courageously maverick characters that established Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as North America’s harm-reduction capital. Also ranging across the continent, from Ohio to California to Florida, Travis Lupick’s fascinating book should help inform a more rational understanding of addictions treatment and drug policies everywhere.” ―Gabor Maté M.D., author, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

Travis Lupick is an award-winning journalist based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction. He works as a staff reporter for the Georgia Straight newspaper and has also written about drug addiction, harm reduction, and mental health for the Toronto Star and Al Jazeera English, among other outlets. For Fighting for Space, he received the 2018 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Travis has also worked as a journalist in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Honduras. Follow him on Twitter: @tlupick.

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Whose Cities? Our Cities!

10 sessions
Organized with the Urban Class Struggles group by Thomas Wensing
October 3 to December 12—no session November 21

In New York City, the self-proclaimed ‘real estate capital of the world’, working class housing has become either unaffordable or as cramped as 19th century conditions. The class that built, and continues to build New York and metropolises around the globe can no longer afford to live near where they work, while an international bourgeoisie of hyper-capital accumulation perch themselves in luxurious, multi-roomed occasional real estate. Whether it be New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, Rome or Lagos, the pattern repeats itself worldwide. Interconnectedness of global markets, deregulation of capital and mortgage markets, increased financialization of society, have all led to real estate in the metro centers serving as a prime instrument in the accumulation of global capital. Joining the mobile elite of hedge fund investors, Russian and Chinese oligarchs, oil sheiks, and billionaires are their criminal partners engaged in laundering, smuggling and multiple other illicit activities, all united hiding their identities and the source of their wealth through shell companies. These market forces that push the working classes out of the city and some into the ultimate austerity of homelessness are being met with growing resistance.

Our group will read Friedrich Engels’ “The Housing Question”, David Harvey’s Rebel Cities, David Madden and Peter Marcuse’s In Defense of Housing, Fear City by Kim Phillips-Fein and conclude with Zoned Out, edited by Tom Angotti and Sylvia Morse.

Our aim is to gain the historical and theoretical understanding that can inform our fight to wrest control of our cities from the capitalist class, and to discuss how cities can be reorganized to meet our human needs with a sustainable urban ecology.

Thomas Wensing works on residential and commercial projects at Morris Adjmi Architects. He holds licenses as an architect in both the UK and the Netherlands. He grew up in Den Helder, The Netherlands, and graduated from Delft University and Columbia University. His teaching experience includes the AA in London, Eindhoven University, and the University of Kent, in Canterbury. Thomas is a regular contributor to Blueprint Magazine and other publications.

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Women’s Liberation Movement: The Power of History

The Power of History: This class will analyze what made the 1960s Women’s Liberation Movement spread fast and win victories, and also what made it vulnerable to watering down and liberal takeover. We will read analyses from Women’s Liberation Movement organizers written after the height of the movement’s power.

Jenny Brown is an organizer with National Women’s Liberation and has been involved in feminist theory and organizing since 1988, first with Gainesville Women’s Liberation in Gainesville, Florida and then with the Redstockings Women’s Liberation Archives for Action, a movement think-tank and archive based in New York. She co-authored the Redstockings book, Women’s Liberation and National Healthcare: Confronting the Myth of America and the Labor Notes book How to Jump Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers along with numerous essays and articles. She was also a co-chair of a Labor Party Local Organizing Committee in Gainesville, Florida and is a former editor of Labor Notes.

Readings provided by Jenny for this series:

Those who have enrolled in the ongoing New Left series are already registered for this event.

Prices below are sliding scale. No one is turned away for inability to pay.

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Day 3, Session 2—Beyond Bernie: The Crisis of Labor & The Left in the United States

A presentation and discussion with Mark Dudzic

The rise of neoliberalism has weakened and demoralized labor and left movements throughout the advanced capitalist world but its impact has been particularly devastating in the U.S. We will discuss the reasons for that as well as the various dysfunctional responses from the U.S. left to this crisis as it became increasingly marginalized and powerless. We will review the 1990’s effort to launch a Labor Party in the U.S. based primarily in the institutional labor movement and the reasons for its demise. We will explore the prospects and possibilities for independent working class politics in the wake of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

Mark Dudzic is the National Coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer and is a former local union and district council president of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers (now part of the United Steelworkers). He served as National Organizer of the Labor Party after the death of party founder Tony Mazzocchi.

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