Can the Working Class Change the World?

5 Sessions

Can the Working Class Change the World?
By Michael D. Yates
A new book from Monthly Review Press

Session 1
Thursday, February 7, 5:30 to 7:15
A discussion with author Michael D. Yates

Sessions 2-5
Mondays, February 11 through March 4
Analysis and discussion of the book

The first 10 registered participants in this group will receive a free copy of the book. Contributions to Monthly Review Press are appreciated.

From Monthly Review:

One of the horrors of the capitalist system is that slave labor, which was central to the formation and growth of capitalism itself, is still fully able to coexist alongside wage labor. But, as Karl Marx pointed out, it is the fact of being paid for one’s work that validates capitalism as a viable socio-economic structure. Beneath this veil of “free commerce”—where workers are paid only for a portion of their workday, and buyers and sellers in the marketplace face each other as “equals”—lies a foundation of immense inequality. Yet workers have always rebelled. They’ve organized unions, struck, picketed, boycotted, formed political organizations and parties—sometimes they have actually won and improved their lives. But, Marx argued, because capitalism is the apotheosis of class society, it must be the last class society: it must, therefore, be destroyed. And only the working class, said Marx, is capable of doing that.

In his timely and innovative book, Michael D. Yates asks if the working class can, indeed, change the world. Deftly factoring in such contemporary elements as sharp changes in the rise of identity politics and the nature of work, itself, Yates wonders if there can, in fact, be a thing called the working class. If so, how might it overcome inherent divisions of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, location—to become a cohesive and radical force for change? Forcefully and without illusions, Yates supports his arguments with relevant, clearly explained data, historical examples, and his own personal experiences. This book is a sophisticated and prescient understanding of the working class, and what all of us might do to change the world.

“Michael Yates’s passion and respect for the class he came out of delivers a book that is especially accessible without retreating from the complexities and internal contradictions of working class life and organization—a book committed not only to defending workers, but also to building on their potentials to transform society.”      —Sam Gindin, former chief economist, Canadian Auto Workers Union; Packer Visitor in Social Justice, Political Science, York University, Toronto

On Thursday, February 7, Michael Yates will teleconference with us for a preview and discussion of his important new book. On the four Mondays that follow, we will read, analyze and Michael’s book.

Michael D. Yates is Editorial Director of Monthly Review Press. For more than three decades, he was a labor educator, teaching working people across the United States. Among his books are The Great Inequality, Why Unions Matter, A Freedom Budget for All Americans (with Paul Le Blanc), and The ABCs of the Economic Crisis (with Fred Magdoff).

The Capital Studies Group has been meeting on Saturdays for nearly two years. We are a diverse group of students, activists and teachers who are now dedicating themselves to a chronological reading of all three volumes of Marx’s Capital.

 

The stated fees are sliding scale. No one is turned away for inability to pay., or

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Introduction to Marxism for Women Only

with Juliet Ucelli

co-sponsored with Left Focus

We’ll explore some key concepts about human beings, society and history, and our relationship to the rest of nature. Readings will be short and accessible excerpts from writings by Marx and Engels or later Marxists. I believe that this theory can help us analyze the social and economic realities and structures we live in–who holds power and how–and fight more effectively for liberation.

Some of the central questions that we’ll address are:
• How did the oppression of women, and the division of societies into people who work and others who exploit them, originate and develop historically?
• What are the driving dynamics of capitalism that make it make it so productive, innovative, brutal and ecologically destructive?
• What intellectual tools can help us understand industry’s complex impacts on our bodies, our psyches and the nature around us—impacts that capitalists, and people who think like them, don’t want to see or cannot see?
• What did Marx understand—and not understand—about white supremacy and Eurocentrism, and how has that analysis been deepened and modified by later Marxists?

In a continuing attempt to increase access for those who have been historically excluded, turned off or silenced by the way this theory is often taught and discussed, we are offering an intro class this October through December for women only. Everyone who identifies as a woman is welcome.

Juliet Ucelli has taught labor economics and class/race/gender for unions and activists, and writes on Eurocentrism in Marxist theory, and Marxist understandings of human development. She also teaches Marx’s Capital, Volume One with The Marxist Education Project.

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Capital, Volume One

with Capital Studies Group

Class & Discussion (12 week session)

Karl Marx’s Capital remains the fundamental text for understanding how capitalism works. By unraveling the commoditized forms of our interactions with nature and each other, it provides tools to understand capitalism’s astounding innovativeness and productivity, intertwined with growing inequality and misery, alienation, stunting of human potential, and ecological destruction all over the globe. In this way, Marx’s Capital offers the reader a methodology for doing our own analysis of current developments.

The CAPITAL STUDIES GROUP has been meeting on Saturdays for two years. We are a diverse group of students, activists and teachers who are have dedicated themselves to a chronological reading of all three volumes of Marx’s Capital. Newcomers are encouraged to join when your schedule permits.

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Marx at 200: Capital, Class and More

A talk and discussion with Kevin B. Anderson

At Marx’s 200th anniversary, it is clear that the emancipation of labor from capitalist alienation and exploitation is a task that still confronts us. Marx’s concept of the worker is not limited to European white males, but includes Irish and Black super-exploited and therefore doubly revolutionary workers, as well as women of all races and nations. But his research and his concept of revolution go further, incorporating a wide range of agrarian noncapitalist societies of his time, from India to Russia and from Algeria to Indigenous peoples of the Americas, often emphasizing their gender relations. In his last, still partially unpublished writings, he turns his gaze eastward and southward. In these regions outside Western Europe, he finds important revolutionary possibilities among peasants and their ancient communistic social structures, even as these are being undermined by their formal subsumption under the rule of capital. In his last published text, he envisions an alliance between these non-working-class strata and the Western European working class.

Kevin B. Anderson is a Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. He has worked in social and political theory, especially Marx, Hegel, Marxist humanism, the Frankfurt School, Foucault, and the Orientalism debate. Among his most recent books are Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism (with Janet Afary, 2005) and Marx at the Margins: On Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Non-Western Societies (2010/2016), both published by University of Chicago Press. He is active in Los Angeles in the International Marxist-Humanist Organization and in the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice.

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Highlights of Marx’s Capital, Volume 1

In Manhattan, For Women Only

A 10 Session Class and Discussion with Juliet Ucelli
Wednesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm
February 21 through April 25
2067 Broadway, Manhattan

Capital is the indispensable sourcebook on Marx’s method for analyzing the economy, politics and struggles. Many of us have less time to study it because, as Marx predicted, we have to work longer hours— and often more than one job—in order to survive. Fortunately, even a basic familiarity with the key concepts of Volume I offers many tools for understanding capitalism’s dynamics. With current conditions, we’ve been offering this highlights approach, breaking down key concepts and sections:

• use value, value and surplus value;
• why capitalism has needed conquest, enslavement and white supremacy;
• why capitalism drives technological innovation, overwork and unemployment and leads to ecological destruction;
• how working-class people (employed and unemployed) have historically won improvements in living and working conditions.

In a continuing quest to increase access for those who have been historically excluded, turned off or silenced by the way this theory is often taught and discussed, we are offering the highlights class this February through April for women only. Everyone who identifies as a woman is welcome.

Participant reports and life experiences are welcome!

The course provides a basic grounding for participants to pursue further study on their own or collectively. We’ll refer to new resources such as on-line and visual aids and current articles that illustrate capitalism’s developmental tendencies, which Marx calls its laws of motion.

Juliet Ucelli has taught labor economics and class/race/gender for labor unions, and was a public high school social worker. She writes on Eurocentrism in Marxist theory, the politics of inner city public schooling and Marxist understandings of human development.

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Highlights of Marx’s Capital, Volume One

A 9 Session Class and Discussion with Juliet Ucelli
Wednesdays, 6:00 to 7:30 pm
October 4-December 6, 2017

Capital is the indispensable sourcebook on Marx’s method for analyzing the economy, politics and struggles. Many of us have less time to study it because, as Marx predicted, we have to work longer hours— and often more than one job—in order to survive. Fortunately, even a basic familiarity with the key concepts of Volume I offers many tools for understanding capitalism’s dynamics. With current conditions, we’ve been offering this highlights approach, breaking down key concepts and sections:

• use value, value and surplus value;
• why capitalism has needed conquest, enslavement and white supremacy;
• why capitalism drives technological innovation, overwork and unemployment and leads to ecological destruction;
• how working-class people (employed and unemployed) have historically won improvements in living and working conditions.

Participant reports and life experiences are welcome!

The course provides a basic grounding for participants to pursue further study on their own or collectively. We’ll refer to new resources such as on-line and visual aids and current articles that illustrate capitalism’s developmental tendencies, which Marx calls its laws of motion. Suggested fees are sliding scale. No one is turned away for inability to pay.

Juliet Ucelli has taught labor economics and class/race/gender for labor unions, and was a public high school social worker. She writes on Eurocentrism in Marxist theory, the politics of inner city public schooling and Marxist understandings of human development.

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Paris, May 1968

Mitch Abidor
Tuesday, May 30, 7:30 to 9:30 pm

This second talk will investigate the events May 1968 in France through an analysis of the writings of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, one of the most important and interesting of its leaders, as well as the experiences of rank and file militants interviewed by Mitch Abidor for his forthcoming oral history, May Made Me.

Mitchell Abidor is the principal French translator for the Marxists Internet Archive and has published several collections of his translations. Mitch recently translated Jean Jáurès’ Socialist History of the French Revolution and A Raskolnikoff by Emmanuel Bove and is currently working on translations of further unpublished works by Victor Serge and Daniel Guérin.

Those enrolled in the New Left history course are already registered for these to sessions.

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

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Highlights of Capital, Volume 1

A 10 Session Class and Discussion with Juliet Ucelli
Thursdays, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
February 9-April 6, 2017

Capital is the indispensable sourcebook on Marx’s method for analyzing the economy, politics and struggles. Many of us have less time to study it because, as Marx predicted, we have to work longer hours— and often more than one job—in order to survive. Fortunately, even a basic familiarity with the key concepts of Volume I offers many tools for understanding capitalism’s dynamics. With current conditions, we’ve been offering this highlights approach, breaking down key concepts and sections:

• use value, value and surplus value;
• why capitalism has needed conquest, enslavement and white supremacy;
• why capitalism drives technological innovation, overwork and unemployment and leads to ecological destruction;
• how working-class people (employed and unemployed) have historically won improvements in living and working conditions.

Participant reports and life experiences are welcome!

The course provides a basic grounding for participants to pursue further study on their own or collectively. We’ll refer to new resources such as on-line and visual aids and current articles that illustrate capitalism’s developmental tendencies, which Marx calls its laws of motion.

Juliet Ucelli has taught labor economics and class/race/gender for labor unions, and was a public high school social worker. She writes on Eurocentrism in Marxist theory, the politics of inner city public schooling and Marxist understandings of human development.

Please follow and like us:

Highlights of Marx’s Capital, Volume I

A 9 Session Class and Discussion with Juliet Ucelli
Thursdays, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

Over the past 40 years, many of us have needed to work longer and longer hours—and often more than one job—in order to survive. This longer working day has also become more intense and saps more of our energy. These trends, which Marx predicted and analyzed in Capital, also make it harder for workers and activists to read Capital all the way through. Therefore, we are trying a new approach and highlighting the main sections and concepts of Volume I in a 10-week course.

Key topics that we will cover include: use-value, value and commodity fetishism; the labor process, the working day and surplus value; competition, innovation, productivity growth and the concentration of capital; the sources of ecological destruction; capital’s need for unemployed people and a reserve army of labor; and the bloody origins of capitalism and white supremacy in expropriation and enslavement.

The course will provide a basic grounding for participants to pursue further study on their own or collectively. We’ll refer to new resources such as on-line and visual aids and current articles that illustrate capitalism’s developmental tendencies, which Marx calls its laws of motion.

Juliet Ucelli has taught Capital at the New York Marxist School and labor economics for labor unions, as well as adult basic education and GED preparation. Currently a high school social worker, she has written on Eurocentrism in Marxist theory, the politics of inner city public schooling and other topics. Her “Introduction to Capital, Volume I” can be accessed at http://thecommonsbrooklyn.org/intensive-readings-2014.

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Greece at the Crossroads

Alex Steinberg
Frank Brenner
George Caffentzis

Live via Skype from Greece, Savas Michael Matsas, Secretary of the Workers Revolutionary Party of Greece

BOOK LAUNCH
The book, Greece at the Crossroads, concentrates on the fateful year 2015 when for the first time in generations a radical left wing party took power with a promise of ending the vicious austerity regime imposed by the EU.
The year began with euphoria about the victory of Syriza in January, continued through the spring with increasing frustration at the willingness of the new government to make one concession after another and was capped by the referendum of July. The mass mobilizations supporting a NO vote in the referendum were unlike anything seen in Greece in several decades. The landslide victory of the NO promised a historic confrontation with the EU and the capitalist system in general. But Prime Minister Tsipras overnight repudiated the results of the referendum and negotiated the most onerous agreement yet with the EU. The year ended with a series of general strikes against the Syriza government. Those actions continue in the new year.
How to make sense of these developments? What are the implications of the events in Greece for the project of fighting the austerity regime of the EU? Is socialism a viable alternative to austerity?
These are just some of questions that we will deal with in the Panel

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