The world is gripped by a devastating pandemic. We are seeing economic collapse worse than the Great Depression. Authoritarian regimes are strengthening their power. Climate change is burning our forests, towns and homes. Workers and the poor are suffering and dying while the rich prioritise profits over our health and lives. The horrors of capitalism have been laid bare. This panel discussion opens Socialism 2020, looking at the enemy we're up against.
More than 170 years after it was first published, the Communist Manifesto remains a central text for those wanting to change the world. This session will defend its basic ideas in the context of 2020: a scathing critique of capitalism, the relevance of the working-class to social revolution, and a political strategy of class struggle.
Covid-19 is the latest and most devastating in a string of viral epidemics. Epidemiologists have warned that factory farms make perfect breeding grounds for virulent disease, while land clearing and the commodification of wildlife brings previously isolated animal populations and their diseases into contact with enormous human population centres. Capitalism has proven itself utterly incapable of handling the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the enormous loss of life, most countries have pushed to keep non-essential industries open and profits flowing. Privatised and underfunded healthcare systems have been totally overwhelmed.
The mass movement that erupted against the police murder of George Floyd earlier this year has once again helped expose widespread police brutality and racism in the United States. It's also helped raise new debates about whether the police are necessary at all, and whether they should be abolished - not just in the US, but also here in Western Australia, where dozens of Aboriginal people have died in police custody. This talk will explore these debates, and make the argument for a world without the police.
The black lives matter rebellion is the biggest movement in US history. It comes after uprisings in Chile, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Sudan, France, and more. Each saw prolonged militant protests, with demonstrators braving tear gas, beatings and rubber bullets. This talk will explore how these revolts can deepen into revolutions, and what it takes to overthrow capitalism.
The breakthrough of black power in the 60s and 70s, the radical current in African-American politics, was like lightning to the oppressed all around the world. In Australia, Aboriginal activists were deeply inspired by the movement and its figures. They established their own black power movement; monitoring police violence, setting up community programs, and leading dramatic struggles including the tent embassy protests. This session will look at the radical history of the Black Power movement in Australia.
This will be presented by Gary Foley, Gumbainggir activist and leader in the Black Power movement of the 1970s. He was centrally involved in the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972 and in radical Indigenous organising in Redfern, Sydney.
The far right response to the global pandemic has been absolutely disastrous. The denialism of figures such as Bolsonaro and Trump have left millions infected and tens of thousands dead. At the same time the far right has seen opportunities to deepen their authoritarian powers in the pandemic, as is in Hungary where Viktor Orban now rules by decree indefinitely.
Three socialist healthcare workers speak out in this panel discussion. Healthcare workers are on the front-lines of the pandemic. Underfunded, under-resourced, privatised healthcare systems worldwide have been completely overwhelmed. Doctors and nurses are dying, while governments push to re-open businesses.
Two intellectual currents dominate the left understanding of race and its construction: identity politics and class reductionism. For a revolutionary left attempting to understand race, its importance and its construction, neither current provides a satisfactory account.
This session will take up live debates on the left, arguing for a Marxist analysis that avoids the pitfalls of identity politics and reductionism.
"Capital comes dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt". This was how Karl Marx described the ugly origins of capitalism, the importance of slavery for kick-starting the accumulation of capital in the Americas and supplying the raw materials for textiles in England. Since then, he centrality of slavery to capitalist development, the relationship between free and unfree labour and the differences between the Antebellum South and the North have all been hotly debated on the Marxist left. This session is an engagement in those debates.
Transgender people face oppression in every aspect of life. Alongside daily discrimination, the Right everywhere are waging an aggressive culture war against our very right to exist. In a time where attitudes to homosexuality have dramatically improved and many rights have been won, why does the capitalist system try so hard to keep LGBTI oppressed? And why does transphobia in particular seem to be sharply on the rise?
This talk will argue the socialist case for understanding the roots of transphobia and tackle the arguments of transphobes. It will explore the history of gender diversity and explain why liberation to be our true selves can only be won with the overthrow of capitalism.
Racism, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of oppression are central and persistent features of our society. Some leftists view oppressive structures as separate features to capitalist society that can be understood outside of it. This session presents an argument that capitalism thrives on division and oppression, and requires it to carry out the exploitation of the majority of people. The struggle for socialism is a struggle to end all oppression and exploitation.
When waterside workers returned home to Fremantle from the slaughter of the First World War, the world was in the grip of the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed millions. To add insult to injury, they found their jobs taken by non-union scab labour. When the Liberal premier tried to let a ship dock in Fremantle, breaking quarantine, he triggered one of the most dramatic class battles in WA history. Though the police killed one wharfie, the working class of Fremantle won the day.
The experience of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War created a new generation of radicals in America, who led the last serious challenge to capitalism. Guest speaker Joel Geier was an eyewitness to these struggles, beginning with the Berkeley Free Speech Movement.
Is human nature a barrier to socialism? Haven't all socialist experiments ended in tyranny? Is parliamentary reform or revolution the best way to achieve socialism? If you have a question about socialism or Socialist Alternative, we want to answer it. Submit your questions using the question box in each of the sessions and our panel will answer them for you!
US politics is a cesspit. The choice between two parties of capitalism, one conservative and one nominally liberal, has stifled progress and disenfranchised millions of working class voters since the birth of 'the world's oldest democracy'. In the face of the inspiring Black Lives Matter uprising, voters going to the polls in November will be faced with an uninspiring decision. Should they vote for Donald Trump, the billionaire bigot with nothing but contempt for the poor and the oppressed? Or Joe "Shoot 'em in the leg" Biden, the millionaire bigot with nothing but contempt for the poor and the oppressed? This talk will explore the current juncture of electoral politics in the United States, and pose an alternative to the dead-end of supporting the Democrats as the 'lesser' evil.
Covid-19 is a disaster of capitalism's making. From the ruthless industrialisation and urbanisation in southern China that gave birth to the virus, to the anemic public health systems of the neoliberal era, to the foot-dragging of capitalist politicians more afraid of losing a few percentage points of GDP growth than losing hundreds of thousands of lives- the system is sick, and it's making us sick. A system that can't sustain itself without endless growth can never be rational or humane, as the pandemic has amply proven.
Rebellion against our rulers is the only way out. This talk will discuss the challenges and opportunities for the radical Left in the Covid-19 era, and make an argument for a new system founded in the struggle of workers and the oppressed to defeat death-cult capitalism.