[TOPLAB-ANNOUNCE] The 33rd Annual Intensive Introduction to Marxism: They Say Austerity, We Say Solidarity! NYC 7/14-17/2011

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The Brecht Forum
451 West Street
New York, New York 10014
(212) 242-4201
info at brechtforum.org

They Say Austerity, We Say Solidarity!

The Brecht Forum's 33rd Annual Intensive Introduction to Marxism

Thursday, July 14 through Sunday, July 17, 2011

presenters include Younes Abouyoub, Kazembe Balagun, Nyaza Bandele,
Matt Birkhold, David Braun, J.J. Brown, Randy Martin, Donna Murch,
Shadid Stover, Juliet Ucelli, Lincoln Van Slutyman, Tim Schermerhorn,
Ganesh Trichur, Rick Wolff and others TBA

The Brecht Forum's annual Summer Intensive is designed as an
introduction to the theoretical and practical traditions that trace
their origins to the works of Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. In
laying bare the inner workings of the capitalist system of wealth
production and distribution, Marx and Engels laid the basis for
theoretical explorations into every area of human activity from art
criticism to the environment. As the current crisis deepens, and as
working people watch the values of their homes plummet, and their
savings wiped out, and the State finds itself deploying more of the
public wealth to save private capital people are demanding answers
that respect their intelligenceand get to the root of the problem.

Through lectures, readings and lively discussion, in an adamantly
open-minded environment, participants will be introduced to Karl Marx'
revolutionary critique of capitalism--not to find a ready-made
blueprint for change, nor a dogma that excludes other traditions, but
for tools of analysis that can help us to think more strategically and
act more effectively.

Tuition--sliding scale: $60-$90
Register online at


Thursday, July 14--

6:30 - 8:30 pm Personal and Political Transformation in the Age of
Revolt and Austerity
Matthew Birkhold and Nyaza Bandele

In this session we will explore the theme of this year's Marxist
intensive, "They Say Austerity, We Say Solidarity," by placing it
within a global perspective. Proceeding from the idea that capitalism
has always been a global system, this session will explore changes to
the capitalist system over time and what these changes mean for
revolutionary activity. Changes explored will include the changing
relationships of different racial groups to capital accumulation and
labor, and changing relationships of different groups of workers to
revolution. Based on this historically developing, world-relational
understanding of capitalism and revolution, during the session we will
explore questions related to how solidarity between people in the
global south and global north allows us to think about austerity in
different forms than state mandated measures.


Friday, July 15--

9.00 - 9.30 am Registration


9:30 - 10:30 Ways of Seeing the World: Marxist Method
Lincoln Van Sluytman

Even during his lifetime Karl Marx was faced with the challenge of
favoring one "Marxist" tendency over the others. His famous aphorism
that he himself was not a Marxist attests to the difficulty of his
position. From the time of his death and throughout the twentieth
century there has been an almost bewildering array of Marxist
tendencies that have emerged globally--at times in antagonistic
contradiction with each other. This introduction will probably not
shed any light on the orthodoxy or not of any tendency but will
encourage a return to the Marxian method of analysis beginning with
the commodity-form and its centrality to an understanding of social
totality both in its objective and subjective manifestations.


10:30 am - 12:30 pm Capital
Randy Martin

A collective reading of Marx's Capital is the ideal occasion for
turning austerity to solidarity. We'll take a close look at his
opening gambit, which begins with the primacy of the commodity and
discloses the universe of mutually associated interdependent labor
that capital depends upon but cannot abide. We'll then consider how
Marx would understand the world of work today, and where finance,
which has caused so much mischief of late be grasped from the
perspective of the socialization of labor that underpins his analysis.


12:30 - 1:00 LUNCH


1:00 - 2:30 Queering Marxism: Understanding Gender
Juliet Ucelli and The Counter Public Collective

In part one of this course, we'll briefly survey some classical
Marxist and Marxist-influenced analyses of the historical origins and
current dynamics of women's oppression and resistance. Among the
topics we'll briefly touch on: going beyond economism to analyze the
contributions of women to total social reproduction; Third World
women's labor and global capital accumulation; the systemic necessity
of violence against women. In part 2 we will look at queer aspects of
Marxism, including examining the work of Michel Foucault, Angela Y.
Davis among others.


4:00 - 5:30 Race and Empire: A Beginner's Guide to U.S. Hegemony
Speakers TBA

The United States was built on the enslaved of Africans, the stealing
of Native American land and the occupation of foreign lands through
"manifest destiny." We will discuss the historical roots of US
hegemony as well as racial oppression in the United States.


Saturday, July 16--

9:30 - 11:00 am Gramsci: Strategy and Tactics
Harmony Goldberg


11:00 am - 12:30 pm Neoliberalism and the Working Class Response to
Capitalist Crisis: Lessons from the New York City Fiscal Crisis
Tim Schermerhorn

Starting in the 1970s, capital reorganized as a class. This entailed
new approaches to worker organizations and government at every level.
In the latter half of the decade, New York City served as the
laboratory of neoliberal austerity. The bankers' dictatorship (1976 to
1982) provided valuable lessons for capital is still utilizing today
in its attack on working class organizations and communities. There
are also valuable lessons for us to draw from that fightback--how do
we organize going forward as capital has new approaches.


12:30 - 1:30 LUNCH


1:30 - 3:00 Hip Hop, Globalization and Imperialism
Shaid Stover, Matthew Birkhold and Donna Murch

Hip Hop has always been a balancing act, a particularly
African-American art form that has borrowed heavily from world
culture; a music that can move the crowd and recreate community, at
the same time priding itself on fragmentation over staccato beats. Hip
Hop is the soundtrack of globalization. In this roundtable, we will be
looking at Hip Hop's beginnings at the turn of neoliberalism, when the
empire stuck back at resistance movements. Through this lens we will
look at the urban resistance movements such as the Black Panther
Party, as well as responses to crack epidemic and currents in


3:00 - 4:30 Contemporary Social Movements


Sunday, July 17--

9:30 - 11:00 am "Smashing the Machinery": Marxism and the State
Ganesh Trichur

How do we understand the relationship of the state and modern
capitalism? What might a revolutionary state look like after
capitalism? In this session we look at the state through Marx's
writings on the Paris Commune of 1871 to Lenin's State and Revolution.


11:00 am - 12:30 pm Environmental Dangers in the Current Moment: Why
Science is a Hammer for Change
J.J. Brown

Where does science fit in radical activism today? Recent environmental
dangers in the news of the Tsunami in Japan, the ongoing global
warming, and the threat of hydraulic fracking in New York all raise
important questions for activists. The role of the radical activist in
confronting the ecologic dangers of our times will be explored in this
interactive 90 minute session. Science can be one of the effective
tools used to protect societies around the world from environmental
disasters. A 30 minute lecture from scientist author J.J. Brown will
focus on issues of radiation threats following the Tsunami, on global
warming's effects, and on results of fracking. The lecture will be
followed by an interactive discussion will all attendees. Using these
three recent examples, understanding how to use science as a hammer
for change will be the goal of this session. Bring your questions,
let's build the answers together.


12:30 - 1:30 LUNCH


1:30 - 3:00 The Historic Meaning of Austerity as the Policy Response
to Global Capitalist Crisis
Rick Wolff

We will examine the "austerity" policies being used to manage the
ongoing capitalist crisis. We will focus equally on popular resistance
to austerity growing in Europe (Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, UK and
beyond). How might European resistance become a serious
anti-capitalist movement there? Might Europe's resistance to austerity
and European anti-capitalism be replicated in the US? Finally, we will
examine why certain socialists (and certain kinds of socialism) are
imposing those austerity policies (Greece, Portugal, and beyond) and
what that means for socialism's future.



Presenter Biographies:

Matt Birkhold is an activist, educator, and writer-theoretician
originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is the editor of the
forthcoming special issue of Souls: A Journal of Black Politics,
Culture and Society, Reflections on a Black Worker's Notebook:
Contemplating the Legacy of James Boggs The American Revolution, and
the author of the forthcoming book, Becoming the Leaders We Need: A
Guide to Transformational Campus Organizing for the Twenty-first
Century. A PhD candidate in sociology at SUNY Binghamton, he has spent
the last three years struggling to make the struggle to defend public
education in New York State an experience in two-sided transformation
and will be a visiting instructor of sociology at Kalamazoo College in
the fall.

J.J. Brown PhD, scientist and author, completed her Genetics PhD on
gene recombination and transposons with Nobel Laureate Dr. Barbara
McClintock at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in New York. J.J. Brown
has published her research studies in the scientific journals
Theoretical and Applied Genetics and Genetics. She has published gene
cloning and sequencing results in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences and virus studies in the clinical journal,
Hepatology. Her recent educational research is published in Child and
Adolescent Psychopharmacology, BMC Medical Education, and CE Measure.
She is also an author of realistic fiction with a scientific edge.
Visit her blog for essays on science and society at

Counterpublic NYC provides peer education and community resources to
its members of queer identities without cost.

Donna Murch is associate professor of history at Rutgers University
and co-director of the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis and the
Black Atlantic lecture series. Her teaching and research
specializations are postwar U.S. history, modern African American
history, and twentieth-century urban studies. Professor Murch has
published several scholarly articles and has recently completed a book
entitled Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the
Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. She received her Ph.D.
from the Department of History at U.C. Berkeley and has won numerous
honors, including a Teaching Effectiveness Award and a Woodrow Wilson
postdoctoral fellowship. Professor Murch is currently researching a
new book on black youth culture, informal economy and drugs in the

Tim Schermerhorn is a 29-year transit worker and a
rank-and-file-oriented organizer throughout that time. Formerly, He
was vice president of Local 100 and vice chairman (chief steward) for
train operators. Now a rank-and-file organizer, his work includes a
fight-back school held July 13, a founding member of the Black Workers
Rank and File Network (at the 2008 Labor Notes Conference) and a Labor
Notes Policy Committee Member.

Shahid Stover is a writer, philosopher and social critic based in New
York City and Editor-in-Chief of The Brotherwise Dispatch, an online
journal focused on radical theory, social critiques and human
liberation. His first book of critical theory, Hip Hop Intellectual
Resistance, examines Hip Hop aesthetics as Black cultural resistance
to western imperialist oppression and racist dehumanization.

Ganesh Trichur has taught at Remnin University, China. He currently
teaches on world system theories at the Brecht Forum.

Juliet Ucelli is a writer and member of Freedom Road Socialist

Lincoln Van Sluytman has been an internationalist activist for many
years. He has served on the Central Committee and Political Bureau of
the Working Peoples? Alliance of Guyana and has taught and been the
Education Coordinator at the Brecht Forum. He has also been the
Education Coordinator at the Institute for Social Ecology in Vermont
where he is presently resident. He has also worked for many years in
Amerindian communities in Guyana and has been involved in empowerment
processes in these and other locations.

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of
Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He
is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in
International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He
also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. For
more info, visit his website at http://www.rdwolff.com.

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