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    steps forward-conference report

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    lost

    Number of posts : 151
    Registration date : 2010-12-13

    steps forward-conference report

    Post  lost on Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:30 am

    on 10-13 november 2011 the 8th historical materialism journals 8th annual/london conference took place at SOAS/school of oriental and african studies,bringing together according to steve edwards one of the organisers some 850 intellectuals and activisits from around the globe in 4 days of discussion and debate.

    i was there as an activist who amongst other things had only started subscribing to the journal this year,although i have been reading and buying it for some years.

    i was not the only one to observe that this was not a conference pitched at academics but sought to bring together activits and intellectuals in theorising and generalising beyond the increasing number and diersity of current and recent struggles.Spaces of capital,Moments of Struggle seemed a fit title.

    having had a little time to digest the experience i wanted to record here,in a way which itself migh.i want to give some initial and overall impressions before moving in further posts to further reports in more detail about the conference.

    the conference potentially allowed participants to attend up to 17 lectures in a diversity of threads and stand alone lectures.breaks between sessions were very short allowing participants usually just enough time to get to the next session,especially someone who is now slowed by mobility problems like myself.this occurred within a largely accessible and busy venue which also hosted stands froma number of left publishers,campaigns and political organisations.from my own experience and from what i saw sessions were always fraternal if sometimes critical,although occassionally differences were sharp.

    several speakers commented on that ambience and that the sharp sectarianism of the past might be seen as a luxury accompanying a period when marxist and other genuinely radical ideas had been in ascendancy but that this was no longer possible nor acceptable.i would disagree to the extent that sectarianism has always been damaging and is not ever functional.sectarianism as a way of weeding oout or testing cadere is both irrational,wasteful and destructive.it also underestimates the damaging impact of specific forms inclduing workerism,reformism and perhaps most damaging of all-stalinism.joseph stalin and the soviet emire might be long dead but the ideaological and sectarian impacts are not.

    that said the conference seemed determined in its structure and outlook to share and learn from our understandings of theory and events in the world.

    whilst such a conference pases no resolutions nor positions,it will i am sure contribute to arming the revolutionary socialist currents in developing their understanding and increasing their constructive interventions in a world in crisis.

    there were at least 3 main foci-the struggle in north africa and the middle east,the particularr crisis in the eurozone,and not least understanding the differences and links between a variety of struggles currrently and recently taking place.

    inevitably centred on london,many most participants will have been relatively local,although i was aware of considerable numbers of comrades from ireland,the united states and canada.greece,germany,and elsehwre in europe.there were also comrades from malaysia,hong kong/china and south and central america.

    it is a pity thatsometimes there was a mismatch between space available/allocated and subject matter.at least one session on hegel took place in a small classroom,where participants were packed and spiled out into thde corridor.as someone now plagued by disability,much of the furniture quickly became very uncomfortable and sometimes distractingly so.overall it seemed well organised in most respects although ticketing or rather lack of it for the david harvey lecture seemed bizarre to say the least,and i hope this will be cdhanged in future.

    i cam away having managed only 12-13 of the lectures but excited and heartenede by the work beinmg undertaken and contributed by the revolutionary left,that should arm us to create traction in a world torn by crisis,thrown into the struggle of resistance and where we need more than ever the material,the ideas and the experience to bring to bear in making the world we have to win.


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