On Wednesday, July 4th, myself (Vice Secretary) and the Vice chair of YDSA FIU were able to attend the Socialism 2018 conference in Chicago. None of this would have been possible for us, had it not been for the South Florida International Socialist Organization (SF ISO). SF ISO informed YDSA FIU about the conference in April of the Spring 2018 semester, and then secured our flights to and from Miami and Chicago for us.

So, what is Socialism 2018?

Much as the name suggests, it’s a gathering of 2,000+ socialists who believe that human beings should come before profit. The annual Socialism Conference “has brought together revolutionaries and activists to exchange and debate ideas to advance our struggles” for more than two decades.

To actualize this, everyone at the conference is already, or is interested in, learning about getting rid of capitalism due to the harmful inequalities and violence that the capitalist system thrives on. Thus, there is a broader understanding (as the conference contains socialists of many stripes) that we are fighting for a new system where capital and the means of production are publicly and democratically controlled by the majority of people– those that are part of the working, exploited, and excluded classes.

Check out our cool earrings that we picked up at Socialism 2018 from awesome handcrafters existenceresistance (IG) and tarinandreadesigns (IG)

[Side Note: Due to the wealth of information, my blog post on the Socialism Conference will mostly highlight the panels that stood out to me for various reasons. I will then just list the other panels that I attended. I would also like to note that photos and videos inside of panels were restricted to those with media cards and access (unless you received express permission to record/photograph participants and speakers). Audio of all presentations are available at WeAreMany.org You can also visit the Socialism Conference Facebook page or @socialismconf on twitter for updates and information regarding the conference. I also appreciated that the Socialism Conference provided free childcare services, translation services, and a bookstore– while being hosted at a hotel where the workers are unionized.]

Day One

On Thursday, July 5th Socialism 2018 was underway!

I attended three panels plus the Welcome Plenary to the conference.

To get as much information as possible, whilst also sticking true to our own individual interests, myself and my colleague/comrade/friend only attended the first panel on the first day of #Socalism2018 together. That panel was:

“The Fallacies of “Scientific” Racism: From Thomas Jefferson to the Alt-Right” given by Phil Gasper.

In this panel, Gasper spoke about the resurgence of scientific racism in the era of Trump, particularly where scholarship is concerned. He highlighted recent scholars promoting racial difference (inferior vs superior) like Nicholas Wade, Richard Lynn, Charles Murray, and Thilo Sarrazin. Although one may be surprised that these authors are able to publish such horrendous material, even after race science and eugenics have been debunked as credible, they’ve been published by right-wing publishing agencies like Washington Summit Publishers (which is owned by notable racist and white supremacist, Richard Spencer).

Additionally, there’s a long history within the United States of utilizing fallacious science to explain race and racial difference. Gasper talks about how Thomas Jefferson, in the 18th century, created a hypothesis to explain the “inherent” inferiority of the enslaved in order to justify why they, unlike “all [other] men” were not “created equal,” and are thus slaves. To assert this, Jefferson wanted science to prove his hypothesis which births the anatomical science that starts measuring human brains and, through the falsification of measurements, asserts that each race is a new species.

Then, in the 19th century, Darwin releases his Origins of the Species which brings about evolutionary science in racism. During the 20th century when eugenics is accepted as factual and true within the United States, IQ testing enters the discourse with the United States. Ironically, the IQ test was created in France by Alfred Binet as something altruistic for society. The inventor of the test wanted to identify and provide remedial services to children which underperformed in their age category. His altruism came from the understanding that IQ measurements were not immutable and can be improved based on environment and learning. In the U.S. however, the IQ test as used by conservatives were to limit social programs for the poor which they stereotyped as largely being genetically inferior minorities that were unworthy.

Just like the aforementioned works written within the past 4 years, today the resurgence of scientific racism, is being used by the right to explain inequality. Why? Because if race is seen as a political category versus a disguised biological category (which race science and scientific racism aims to do), then you’d have to address the social and political inequalities based on race. This would require changing a society that depends and generates racial inequality (unsurprisingly, this would also be how we eradicate scientific racism). The other way around, the conversation becomes “why must we provide for their genetic/biological disadvantages?”

On Thursday, I also attended these panels:

“Marxism and Intersectionality,”which was given by Hailey Swenson (amazing panel)

“Loaded: AnDisarming History of the Second Amendment,”which was given by no other than Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz herself!

The Opening Plenary deserves a small space of its own. Theenergy in the roomwas amazing/exciting/thrilling/overwhelmingly good! Before the welcome could even begin, we were already chanting: Shut Down ICE and Free abortion on demand. We can do it, yes we can!

It was absolutely amazing and got me pumped for the of rest the Conference.

For Further Readings/ Information on the Panels that I Attended, Below are Book Recommendations and Online Resources 

Books:

“Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century” by Dorothy Roberts

“How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective” edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

“On Intersectionality: Essential Writings” by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw

“Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Online Resources:

“Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color” by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw 

“Intersectionality and its discontents: Intersectionality as Traveling Theory” by Sara Salem

Day Two

On Friday, July 6th I was able to pick up 4/5 of the books that I had wanted to get at Socialism 2018. Haymarket Books hosted the book store shop, and as a “radical, independent, non-profit book publisher based in Chicago,” it should come as no surprise that they specialize in selling providing us with texts critical of the social, financial, international, and political world. A lot of the books seemed to be themed around helping us to understand histories of struggle and present day struggles (again, from a critical lens) within the U.S. and around the globe.

In no specific order, the books that I got were:

1. Decolonizing Dialectics by George Ciccariello-Maher

2. The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy by John Bellamy Foster

3. Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump by Asad Haider

4. Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields

5. Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America by Todd Gordon and Jeffrey R. Webber

I cannot wait to read all of these books. I am hoping that Decolonizing Dialectics, Blood of Extraction, and Theory of Monopoly Capitalism will help me with my dissertation research. I got Racecraft because many panelists and audience members brought up how profound it was at the conference. I picked up Mistaken Identity as a leisure book (how nerdy does that sound, haha) for me to read, in order to better understand identity politics and how analysis on identity cannot be divorced from class and other narratives of struggle as well.

[Sidebar: Have you read any of these books yet? Please comment and let me know!]

On Friday, I admittedly was only really excited about two panels, one on Israel and the other by Democracy Now!, but I ended up going to three:

“Capitalism and the Gender Binary,”which was given by Lichi D’Amelio (GREAT panel)

“Israel: Colonial Settler State,” which was given by Bill Mullen

“Democracy Now! Covering the Movements Changing America,” by the wonderful Amy Goodman

All I will say here is #FreePalestine, and that there should be a one state solution. The Zionist project started off as a racist white supremacist project to rid certain European countries of Jews, and in the WWII period the Zionist State was (1) not to protect Jews from the Holocaust, but (2) to build a Jewish State in Palestine based on the dislocation, dispossession, relocation, and oppression of Palestinians and Arabs. Israel is an apartheid state which is why BDS is so important, especially in light of decreased Arab nationalism and increased neoliberalism after what happened in Egypt with the Arab Spring. Narratives which try to downplay apartheid and colonial settlement of Israel should always be debunked.

For Further Readings/ Information on the Panels that I Attended, Below are Book Recommendations and Online Resources 

Books:

“The Struggle for Palestine” by Lance Selfa

“On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice” by Jewish Voice for Peace and Judith Butler

“Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations” by Ronen Bergman

“Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East” by Adam Hanieh

“Democracy Now! Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America” by Amy Goodman with David Goodman and Denis Moynihan as contributors

Online Resources:

Jewish Voice for Peace

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IAJN)

Democracy Now!

Day Three

Saturday, July 7th was a full day, and I attended five full panels!

“Slavery and Capitalism,”which was given by Brian Jones (GREAT panel)

“Class Struggle and the Color Line,” which was given by Paul Heideman

“Decolonizing Socialism: Getting Racially Organized so we can get Free” which was given by Demita Frazier (wonderful workshop)

“Trump’s War on Immigrants,” which was given by Lucy Herschel and Heather Ramirez

“The Importance of Being Unruly,” which was a conversation between Frances Fox Piven with Sarah Jaffe

Because all of these panels were really good, I sat here thinking for 28 minutes thinking about which one I would like to highlight the most on my blog. I decided on “The Importance of Being Unruly,” which seemed to embody the broader theme of all of the other panels on Saturday.

While some people are drinking the #MAGA and neoliberal #RESISTANCE juice, they lose their perspective on what U.S. politics means, and how it impacts the rest of the world. This is dangerous because behind the apparatus of the right-wing #MAGA folks, there is formal power that they also wield and there is also an unhinged business group (like those in the fossil fuels industry) getting what they want. There’s also financial and banking interests getting what they want right behind them. Because of the nature of the formal #RESISTANCE which is neoliberal, it is insufficient to properly counter anything that the right-wing is doing. So the real Resistance– mostly composed of women are those people taking to the streets. Are those people realizing the importance of anti-racist socialist movements.

There is, and has always been, power in the collective. Collective refusal to cooperate on behalf of the enslaved southern Blacks to participate in the plantation economy decisively won the war and defeated the confederacy. Collective refusal to cooperate on behalf of the teachers strike which arose all across the nation teaches us the importance of collective refusal today. Massive movements, unorganized by formal bodies are allowing in the present, people to seize their own power and act on it.

If anything, Socialism 2018 reinvigorated me. And for that, I am glad to have gone.

For Further Readings/ Information on the Panels that I Attended, Below are Book Recommendations and Online Resources 

Books:

“Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”” by Zora Neale Hurston

The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition” by Manisha Sinha

“Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All” by David R. Roediger

“Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution” by Laurent Dubois

“Class Struggle and the Color Line: American Socialism and the Race Question 1900-1930”by Paul Heideman

“The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800” by Robin Blackburn

“Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail” by Frances Fox Piven

“Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare” by Frances Fox Piven

“Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America” by Frances Fox Piven

“Why Americans Still Don’t Vote: And Why Politicians Want It That Way” by Frances Fox Piven

“U.S. Politics in the Age of Uncertainty: Essays on a New Reality” edited by Lance Selfa

Online Resources:

African Blood Brotherhood

Negro Resolution Adopted by Indianapolis Convention, August 1901

Poor People’s Movement/Campaign

Black Lives Matter

Immigration Act of 1917, I

Immigration Act of 1924, I

Immigration and Control Act of 1986, I

Immigration Act of 1990, I, II

Clinton: Operation Gatekeeper

Questions for Organizers and Individuals Willing to/wanting to Organize

1: When was the last time you had a conversation on race, involving the political sphere?

2: Is it forbidden to have a discussion about race within your group/organization?

3: Have you had deeply dissatisfying discussions on race?

Themes that came up within the Conference Workshop in Response to the Aforementioned Questions

-Tokenization

-Racial Justice always being pushed to the end of agendas

-Contradictions within Marxist spaces as they regard race

-Microaggressions which end people of color retention within organizations

-Branches being “too white”

-Diverse branches do the “job” of race well

-Talking about race and understanding race and issues of race as two different things