The State and Strategies for Socialism

Zones of Liberation: 2nd Session

On developing and defending areas of opposition and building a broad and lasting anti-capitalist socialist movement

A panel with Paul Christopher Gray, Rafael Khachaturian and Stephen Maher

Moderated by Caroline Sykora

At this late and moribund stage of capitalist development nothing is sacred to profit-making as the capitalists deforest the Amazon and exploit the deepest marine life of the Marianas Trench. Meanwhile, the working classes the world over are engaged of necessity in an array of movements in opposition to these life-destroying practices. Nonetheless, workers deliver through their labors—which they must sell in order to survive, losing control over the use of their labor power in this act of selling—the means by which capital is digitally speeding us towards a metabolic endgame. Each decade going forward will lead to the demise of ever more species from the microbial to fully sentient beings like ourselves, all the result of the insatiable proliferation of the capitalists pursuit for ever-greater profit and continuous expanding accumulation of their money capital even if to do so requires the end of life on this planet as we know it.

In response to this, The Marxist Education Project is continuing the Zones of Liberation series this November 9th. The Socialist Project of Canada has been publishing a series on Socialist Strategy and the State over the past year. All of the published pieces are essential for those active in the anti-capitalist movement to be reading and discussing. Stephen Maher and Rafael Khachaturian’s essay Socialist Strategy and the Democratic Capitalist State examines the the state in its liberal-democratic form, arguing that we should move beyond both vanguardist and social democratic models toward a view of the state as a contradictory site of class and social struggles.  Paul Christoher Gray’s article on Socialist Project is taken from his recently published From the Streets to the State: Changing the World by Taking Power, where he takes on the limitations of dual power and extra-parliamentarism and the flaws inherent in the electoralist approaches and where there can be some reconciliation of the best aspects of these tendencies.

Paul Christopher Gray is a professor in Brock University’s Department of Labor Studies in St. Catharines, Ontario. The link to Paul’s work is here: https://socialistproject.ca/2019/06/transforming-capitalist-power-from-streets-to-state/

Rafael Khachaturian is a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.

Stephen Maher is a social critic, PhD candidate at York University in Toronto and Socialist Register Assistant Editor.

The link to Rafael and Stephen’s work is here: https://socialistproject.ca/2019/05/socialist-strategy-and-capitalist-democratic-state/

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We Make Our Own History: On Marxism and Social Movements

We Make Our Own History: On Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism
Talk and Discussion with Alf Gunvald Nilsen

We live in the twilight of neoliberalism: the ruling classes can no longer rule as before, and ordinary people are no longer willing to be ruled in the old way. Pursued by global elites since the 1970s, neoliberalism is defined by dispossession and ever-increasing inequality. The refusal to continue to be ruled like this — “ya basta!” — appears in an arc of resistance stretching from rural India to the cities of the global North.

We Make Our Own History — a book co-written by Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen — investigates this scenario through an exploration of how social movements are forging new visions of a future beyond neoliberalism and by reclaiming Marxism as a theory born from activist experience and practice. In this talk, Alf Gunvald Nilsen will discuss some of the main arguments and ideas put forward in the book with reference to changing movement landscapes in different parts of the world-system.

Alf Gunvald Nilsen is associate professor of sociology at the University of Bergen (Norway) and Visiting Senior Researcher at the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa). He is the author of Dispossession and Resistance in India: The River and the Rage (Routledge, 2010) and the co-editor of numerous books on social movement theory and research, including Marxism and Social Movements (Brill/Haymarket, 2013) and New Subaltern Politics: Reconceptualizing Hegemony and Resistance in Contemporary India (Oxford University Press, 2015).

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Day 3, Session 4—Logistics, Capitalist Circulation, Chokepoints with Charmaine Chua

Since the 1970s, capital’s encounters with the crisis of profitability has led it to seek out new strategies of accumulation, notably, in shifting its focus from sites of production to the conduits of circulation. No longer able to generate substantial profit from the mechanized and labor-saving technologies of factory manufacturing, firms began to experiment with increasing the speed and efficiency through which commodities could circulate across the globe. Thus the rise of business logistics: the management of complex networks that coordinate the stocking, distribution, and transportation of services and commodities in international space. In the process, logistics has led to a profound reorganization of the global working class, fragmenting sites of production far from their sites of consumption, and stretching the industrial working class far across the globe. Yet, in anti-capitalist and anti-colonial struggle across the deindustrialized North, activists and organizers have repeatedly found ways to interrupt these intensifying circuits of distribution, responding to the rapid spatial expansion of logistics with their own strategic seizures of the chokepoints of capital flow. Chokepoints – the concentration of the circulation of commodities at certain key sites along the supply chain – might thus present the possibility for resistance to be waged not only symbolically but also materially, by literally grounding capitalist circulation to a halt. Can we understand the highway takeover, the port blockade, and the storefront die-in as connected instances of disruption, revealing an arena of struggle that capital’s turn to accumulation through logistical circulation has made available? What do they teach us about the possibilities of disrupting capital’s circuits as a whole? In short, why occupy chokepoints, and why now?

Charmaine Chua is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Minnesota and visiting instructor at Macalester College. She works on the rise of logistics capitalism in the context of labor along the U.S.-China supply chain, and is part of the Empire Logistics collective.

To read: https://thedisorderofthings.com/2014/09/09/logistics-capitalist-circulation-chokepoints/

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It’s Not Over: Lessons from the Socialist Experiment

A special six session class taught by Pete Dolack from his recent book.

Pete Dolack is presenting this class over six weeks, one week to each section of his book that has been ten years in the making. Some reduced-price copies may be available here: http://www.zero-books.net/books/its-not-over

Thinking about the basic contours of a better world is a prerequisite to becoming effective in bringing about this improved world. The march forward of human history is not a gift from gods above nor presents handed us from benevolent rulers, governments, institutions or markets — it is the product of collective human struggle on the ground. It’s Not Over: Learning From the Socialist Experiment analyzes attempts to supplant capitalism in the past in order to draw lessons for emerging and future movements that seek to overcome the political and economic crises of today. It’s Not Over’s historical focus is on the Russian Revolution, the failed German Revolution, the early years of the Soviet Union, the Prague Spring, the Sandinista Revolution and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The concluding chapter analyzes why capitalism is a failed system for working people and offers ideas for discussion in what the contours of a better world might look like.

This history lives through the words and actions of the men and women who made these revolutions, and the everyday experiences of the millions of people who put new revolutionary ideas into practice under the pressures of enormous internal and external forces.

“As Cold War taboos on honest discussions of capitalism and socialism lose their force, important books like this are emerging. They ask why capitalism keeps provoking movements to go beyond it, why they have not yet achieved that goal, and what we must learn from them so the next efforts prove more effective. Dolack here contributes to the vital emerging answers.”
—Rick Wolff, author of Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism and host of the Economic Update radio program

Pete Dolack is an activist, writer and photographer who has worked with several organizations focusing on human rights, social justice, environmental and trade issues. He writes about the economic crisis and the political and environmental issues connected to it on the Systemic Disorder blog. His articles have appeared in popular publications including CounterPunch, ZNet, The Ecologist and Green Social Thought.

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Beyond Capitalism: Art, Performance & Politics

A presentation by Jim Costanzo (a/k/a the Aaron Burr Society)

In 2008 artist and activist Jim Costanzo began appearing on Wall Street as the Aaron Burr Society, drawing upon a little-known figure from America’s past as a way of critiquing and offering alternatives to the current dysfunctional capitalist system. In this talk illustrated with slides and video, Costanzo will analyze some of the artistic and political interventions he has undertaken, highlighting the Free Money Movement, launched on April Fool’s Day 2009.

The ABS distributed 100 one-dollar bills on Wall Street stamped with “Free Money” on one side and “Slave of New York” on the other. The Federal Reserve Bank was authorized to bail out Wall Street Banks with tax dollars from the 99% that was given as Free Money after the 2008 crash. Government deregulation and the subsequent corporate fraud caused the crash and resulted in people losing their jobs and homes.

In 2013 the Society added another stamp: “Common Good/Commonwealth”. According to the ABS, there are now two choices: either we have Free Money for the Common Good of the 99% paid for by the nation’s Commonwealth, or we can continue to be Slaves of Wall Street with unending bailouts for the 1%. Today the Common Good would include environmental sustainability based on economic and social justice.

Jim Costanzo continues to work with Occupy Wall Street working groups Strike Debt and Making Worlds based on the Commons. He has participated on panels organized by the Union for Radical Political Economics and the Eastern Sociology Society, and was a presenter at the Public Banking Institute conference “Funding the New Economy.” He recently helped organize and participated in panels for Free University’s “Decolonize Climate Justice” initiative.

Suggested donation: $6 / $10 / $15
No one turned away for inability to pay

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