I have just got back from London’s true summer spectacular – not the overhyped contest to see who has the best performance enhancing substances but Marxism 2012, a five day extravaganza of meetings, rallies and more, this years version of the SWPs annual summer event – if this inspires you and you did not make it this year make a note to leave early July clear in next year;s diary. To describe the whole event from my view in a single post seems to me neither sensible nor desirable, so this is the first in a series of posts in which I will be writing about the event and displaying photos that I took over the five days. Many of the photos were taken inside meeting venues. For those who were lucky enough to be at the event I invite you to guess which venues the the indoor photos come from (some will be very easy, some exceedingly difficult.).
First a brief overview of the event: some 5,000 people turned up (4,000 booked in advance as I did and another thousand paid on the door) to give you an idea of the scale of the operation. The venues are mainly lecture theatres at University College London (UCL) with the biggest meetings being staged at Friends Meeting House (capacity 2,000, and it was full to bursting for both the opening and closing rallies). This works considerably better than the previous venues which ranged across ULU, SOAS, The Institue of Education and the Royal National Hotel as well as Friends. At this point I am going to make a bold claim based on an experience of the events that dates back to 1995: THIS WAS THE BEST MARXISM EVER!!!
Having booked well in advance and got some suitable accommodation sorted, the next thing was to actually get there. With the first meetings starting at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon I had two possible trains to catch (the venues are very close together and all withing walking distance of King’s Cross where the train comes in), either the 10:56 or the 11:56. In accordance with Sutcliffe’s laws of travelling by public transport I went for the earlier train so that I could take any but a very substantial delay in my stride. This (as so often) proved well founded – there was a delay. One of the other passengers had been so foolhardy as take the 10:56 when he had a twelve o’clock appointment in Cambridge and was obliged to phone to say he was going to be late. I was at the event by 1:30, giving me time to put my larger bag into the baggage room at Friends for the afternoon and evening before heading for the first meeting.
In the two hour break between the Thursday afternoon session and the Opening Rally, I phoned the person I was staying with (having experienced a Community Centre last year I was reluctant to endure the experience again, and the organisers did a superb job a finding my somewhere convenient to stay where I would have at least some privacy. At this point to give some idea of the breadth of the event and to whet your appetite for posts to come I will list the meetings I attended (and remember in each case there between seven and eleven different meetings in the session): Thursday, Climate change: are we too late to save the planet; Does the Media Control Our Minds?; Opening Rally; Friday, Marxism and Ecology; Darwin, Engels and the evolution of modern humans; Do genes determine our behaviour; Primitive communism: Marxism and pre-history; A very short history of god; Saturday, The dark arts of the secret state: a decade of false narratives; The press, power & the phone-hacking scandal; The Higgs boson: should Marxists care?; Can Greece beat the Troika?; Defend the right to protest; Sunday, Marxism & human nature; Disability and the fight against austerity; The case for sanctions against Israel; Dear Mr Gove…; Capitalism & the creation of disability; Monday, Why we defend multiculturalism; ‘Festivals of the oppressed’: women in revolution from Russia to Egypt; Closing Rally.
I append some photos…. (note for new readers, the first picture was taken outside my flat and is one of my View from the Rooftops series which is a regular part of gthese posts)