What you missed at the National Conference on Socialism 2010

And if you were there, here's an opportunity to re-live it

In the United States, the richest 400 people have as much wealth as 50 million households combined. The criminal occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have cost the lives of over a million innocent people, and thousands of U.S. troops, while costing trillions of dollars. The richest banks and corporations have been bailed out by the government to the tune of $14 trillion, all on the backs of working people. The epidemic of police brutality, checkpoints and immigrant bashing is intensifying as the capitalist state seeks to protect the class it serves.

This is the reality of capitalism. Is this the way it has to be? No. The National Conference on Socialism, organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation on Nov. 13 and 14 in Los Angeles, discussed an alternative to this irrational and increasingly barbaric system that puts human needs over private profits.

Watch a slideshow of the National Conference on Socialism 2010!

Video from the National Conference on Socialism 2010:
Opening Plenary Resisting U.S. Imperialism panel Special International Awards Session
Keynote Plenary Class Struggle in Africa panel Closing Plenary


Day 1 of the Conference

 Opening Plenary:
Building the struggle against capitalism across the United States


A diverse group of PSL members from across with the country share short reports on struggles that are taking place in their cities and states, and exciting plans that are on the horizon. Building the revolutionary struggle takes a great deal of education and study, but it must also involve practical action. PSL members from across the West Coast, East Coast, Midwest and South give 3-minute reports.  

Watch a video of the session

"The need for socialism" - Talk by PSL member Peta Lindsay

"Being in a revolutionary party means you are in the struggle" - Talk by PSL member Tina Kelly

"The struggle against imperialist war and racism" - Talk by PSL member Akufuna Ngonda

PSL members report on work done across the country

 Keynote Plenary: Tasks and perspectives of the socialist movement

The keynote plenary speakers takes up the tasks and perspective of the socialist movement. As socialists who fight for the overthrow of the current system and its replacement with a new system based on solidarity and providing for the needs of the people, we must understand our short and long term goals, we must have a critical political analysis of our tasks in confronting the capitalist system.

There are three speakers—Frances Villar, Gloria La Riva and Brian Becker—all of whom are members of the PSL Central Committee, followed by questions and answers.

Watch a video of the session

"Why we need a revolutionary party" - Talk by PSL member Frances Villar

"Why we continue to defend the Soviet Union" - Talk by PSL member Gloria La Riva

Lunch Break (Plus screening of "The Sand Creek Equation")

During lunch, there was a special screening of the new documentary, "The Sand Creek Equation" by award-winning filmmaker Travis Wilkerson ("An Injury to One"). The film takes the viewer on a lyrical journey from occupied Gaza to Sand Creek, Colorado, the site of a notorious massacre by U.S. troops of Native Americans. The filmmaker introduced the film.

 (Panel 1) Resisting U.S. imperialism: Is it just bad policies or the system?

This panel discusses imperialism, what it is, and how it affects people across the world. It examines the policies of the Bush regime and compare them to what’s now happening under Obama. An overall analysis of Lenin’s thesis on the subject also is presented, along with discussion about Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, the Philippines and elsewhere.

  • Chair: Richard Becker, San Francisco; Western Regional Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition
  • Tamara Khoury, Los Angeles; student at Cal State Fullerton
  • Mazda Majidi, San Francisco; member, SF Bay Area ANSWER Coalition Steering Committee and United Educators of San Francisco
  • Preston Wood, Albuquerque, N.M.; Registered Nurse, member of 1199 NM Health and Hospital Workers Union
  • Al Garcia, West Coast Coordinator, Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines
  • Heather Benno, Chicago; Iraqi American attorney; National Organization of Legal Services Workers UAW Local 2320.

Watch a video of the session

"Imperialism is a system, not a policy choice" - Talk by PSL member Mazda Majidi

"U.S. imperialism seeks to dominate China" - Talk by PSL member Preston Wood

"The Israeli occupation of Palestine" - Talk by PSL member Tamara Khoury

"Iraq, Iran and U.S. imperialism in the Middle East" - Talk by PSL member Heather Benno

(Panel 2) Fighting to win: How we can defeat immigrant bashing,
anti-LGBT bigotry, Islamophobia and the ultra right

The struggle for class unity is more important than ever. This panel analyzes how to build a united fight back by focusing on the movement to overturn racist, anti-immigrant laws and win equality, the battle for LGBT and women's rights, what's behind the sustained attacks on Arabs and Muslims, and what the rise of the Tea Party means for workers.

  • Ben Becker: editor, Liberation Newspaper
  • Jennifer Zaldana: Boston May Day Committee
  • Stevie Merino: Los Angeles; student, Cerritos College; organizer Students Fight Back
  • Omar Ali: San Francisco; student, San Francisco State University
  • Irvin Pachuca: San Diego; community organizer

"Struggle against anti-immigrant racism" - Talk by PSL member Jennifer Zaldana

"Equality for women, LGBT requires militant, unified struggle" - Talk by PSL member Stevie Merino

"The right wing in the United States" - Talk by PSL member Ben Becker

"Resisting ICE terror tactics against immigrants" - Talk by PSL member Irvin Pachuca

"'Islamophobia' serves to justify U.S. crimes in the Middle East" - Talk by PSL member Omar Ali

(Panel 3) Building a new workers' movement:
Organized labor and the challenges ahead 

Organized labor is under attack by Wall Street, corporate giants and capitalist politicians. This panel features labor leaders and workers who resist and organize to stop these anti-worker policies. Topics include the dynamics of the labor movement today, organizing the unorganized and the prospects for a class-wide fight back.

  • Chair: Lauren Kellner, Public school teacher and UFT Chapter Chair, New York City
  • Rev. Israel Alvaran: Community Outreach Coordinator, Hotel & Restaurant Employees, Local 2, San Francisco
  • Jeff Bigelow, Long-time public sector union leader in the Midwest
  • Jinnette Caceres, New York City teacher, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) activist, and PSL
  • Gloria La Riva, President, Typographical Sector, No. California Media Workers Union, PSL candidate for President, 2008

"New openings for reviving the workers' movement" - Talk by PSL member Jeff Bigelow

"Capitalism fails the children in our schools" - Talk by PSL member Jinnette Caceres

 (Panel 4) The class struggle in Africa and the fight against imperialism

Class struggle exists everywhere in Africa, but it is rarely discussed or covered in the United States. This panel features experts on the workers’ struggle in Africa, discussing the conditions for working and poor people today. Featured topics include South Africa after apartheid, Sudan: united or divided, Zimbabwe and imperialism, and overcoming the legacy of colonialism and underdevelopment.

  • Chair: Mohamed Ntale, Washington, D.C., student
  • Akufuna Ngonda, Washington, D.C.; organizer, ANSWER Coalition; contributing writer, Liberation Newspaper
  • Austin Thompson, Atlanta; Pan-African Youth Summit Coordinating Committee; recent graduate, Howard University
  • Eugene Puryear, Washington, D.C.; 2008 PSL vice presidential candidate
  • Muna Coobtee, Los Angeles; board member, Palestinian American Woman’s Association

Watch a video of the session

"Resolving the crisis of leadership in Africa" - Talk by PSL member Austin Thompson

"Dismantling the myth that Africa has no history or culture of its own" - Talk by PSL member Akufuna Ngonda

(Panel 5) Socialism and the Latin American revolution

 

“Down with Yankee imperialism” is an increasingly popular slogan south of the U.S.-Mexico border. This panel discusses the leftward shift in Latin America and the class dynamics at play. Topics include Cuba’s economic reforms and socialism, an appraisal of the Venezuelan revolution; what’s happening in Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil and Colombia; Mexico’s revolutionary legacy, and the new role of China in Latin America.

  • Chair: Marcial Guerra - PSL LA, Coalition for Peace and Democracy in Honduras, Latin America solidarity activist
  • Jacqueline Villagomez PSL - Los Angeles; member, United Teachers Los Angeles
  • Jonh Beacham - PSL Midwest Organizer, Chicago Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition
  • Frank Lara - PSL San Francisco, SF State student, MORE Public Transit Coalition organizer
  • Monica Somocurcio - PSL New York City; ANSWER NY organizer

"Reform and revolution in Latin America" - Talk by PSL member Jacqueline Villagomez

"Cuba: an example to fighters for social justice" - Talk by PSL member Monica Ruiz

"The role of U.S. imperialism in Mexico's crises" - Talk by PSL member Frank Lara

"Revolutionary tide in Latin America exposes nature of U.S. imperialism" - Talk by PSL member John Beacham

(Panel 6) Fighting racism and the expanding police state

What role do the police play in society? Why do they target and kill Black and Latino people more than anyone else? This panel includes lawyers and activists from across the country involved in the movement against racist police violence, terror and repression. Strategies are discussed with the goal of building a more effective struggle against the expanding police state.

  • Chair: Orlando Pardo has been a PSL organizer in the struggle for Justice for Manuel Jamines here in LA
  • Karina Garcia is a New York City teacher and PSL activist, and advisor to the Youth Against War & Racism club at her high school
  • Yari Osorio lives in New York, activet in the struggle against the NYPD’s racist “Stop & Frisk” and the PSL
  • Carl Messineo is an attorney and co-founder of the Patnership for Civil Justice Fund in Washington DC
  • Steve Johnson is a PSL activist who has been involved in struggles against police brutality in the Deep South and LA
  • Lisa Santanilles is an ANSWER activist and spokesperson in the struggle against police killings in Albuquerque, New Mexico

"Mobilizing the community against police abuse" - Talk by PSL member Yari Osorio

"Police brutality: not just a few ‘bad apples’" - Talk by PSL member Karina Garcia

"The struggle against the police state in Albuquerque" - Talk by PSL member Lisa Santillanes

"LAPD's history of racist violence: Rebelling against police brutality" - Talk by PSL member Steve Johnson

 Special International Solidarity and Awards Session
Fighters for justice, champions of freedom

Watch a video of the session

The first ever PSL "Fighters for Justice, Champions of Freedom" awards are presented in this session to political prisoners, radical lawyers and longtime leaders in the people’s struggle.

Fighters for Justice award recipients:

Champions of Freedom award recipients:

Featured speaker

  • Ramsey Clark: former U.S. Attorney General

Speakers and solidarity greetings

  • Yousef Abudayyeh: National Coordinator, Free Palestine Alliance
  • Heidi Boghosian: Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild
  • Muna Coobtee: Palestinian American Women’s Association
  • Jollene Levid: National Chairperson, AF3IRM
  • Dr. Henry Clark: Executive Director, West County Toxics Coalition
  • Carlos Mejia: National Resistance Front of Honduras
  • Berny Moto: Comites de Base del FMLN
  • Lenin Barahona: Sandinista National Liberation Front

Emcees

  • Javier Guerrero: Los Angeles
  • Cassie Regan: New York City
  • Stewart Stout: San Francisco

    Statements of solidarity sent to the National Conference on Socialism:

    "Why I joined the PSL" - Talk by PSL member Sasha Murphy

    "Society can be reorganized on a different basis" - Talk by PSL member Sarah Sloan

    "From soldier to revolutionary" - Talk by PSL member Michael Prysner

    A tribute to Lucius Walker

    Entertainment

    • Danza Azteca Cuauhtemoc
    • Marcel Cartier
    • Short film by Travis Wilkerson

     

    Day 2 of the Conference

    Practical experiences of building a revolutionary socialist movement

    This session featured four different breakout groups that discussed organizing work taking place around the country, from Los Angeles to Texas to New York and beyond. Organizers in a variety of struggles were encouraged to attend, share experiences and figure out ways to push the working-class struggle forward.

    Revolutionary writers’ clinic

    Hone your skills as a revolutionary writer and learn new ones in the Revolutionary writers’ clinic. One of the PSL’s top editors will lead this session about how to write articles, frame slogans and draft flyers to forward the class struggle.

    Expanding the reach of socialist media

    As socialists, the goal is to reach more people with revolutionary ideas. How can we do this? What means to we use? Videos, websites, Liberation newspaper and more were discussed in this session. Hear from people involved in creating the new wave of socialist media and learn how to get involved.

    Developing the PSL’s Spanish-language work

    Reaching out to and recruiting Spanish speaking people and immigrants is a central focus of the PSL today. In Los Angeles and across the country, members and friends have embarked on a new plan to better engage workers and students that speak Spanish. Discuss what is happening, what our ideas are, and how you can become part of this important work.

    Introduction to Socialism

    This class will answer basic questions about socialism and communism, including: Is Marxism relevant in the 21st century? How do socialists view the rise and fall of the Soviet Union? Why only socialism can solve the ills of capitalist society and bring about a different world.

     Closing Plenary
    Next steps for the socialist movement: Where we go from here

    The goal of the PSL is to organize and promote struggle, to facilitate political awareness among the working class and to facilitate the development of leaders from the working class, from the oppressed sectors of society. The closing plenary addresses the PSL's perspective on the work ahead of us, and calls for the building of a revolutionary party as a central task of working-class activists.
    • Chair: Stefanie Beacham, Chicago
    • Eugene Puryear, 2008 vice presidential candidate of the PSL
    • Nathalie Serrano, New York City
    • Ian Thompson, Los Angeles

    Watch a video of the session

    "Why I joined the PSL" - Talk by PSL member Nathalie Serrano

    "A step forward in the class struggle" - Talk by PSL member Ian Thompson

    Singing of the Internationale

    The Internationale was written by Eugene Pottier, a transport worker in Paris, who wrote the song after the French government crushed the Paris Commune in 1871. It became the anthem of the First, Second and Third International, and the National Anthem of the Soviet Union.