Welcome to the next post in my series about Marxism 2017. The event finished with the Closing Rally last night, after which I travelled back to King’s Lynn. I have quite a few more posts to do before this series finishes however.
I was staying in a room in a University hall of residence about a 15 minute walk from the event, which suited me very well. I set off at about 9:20AM (the first meeting session started at 10AM, and I wanted to be early because the meeting I had chosen was likely to be very well attended. I arrived at Student Central at about 9:30 and took the stairs to the third floor as the meeting was scheduled for the Upper Hall (I am old enough to have attended meetings there when it was still called the Badminton Court).
FAKE NEWS: MEDIA, TRUTH AND POWER – SIMON BASKETTER
This was a splendid way to start the day. There was some very entertaining stuff, with serious purpose. The events of June 8th showed everyone who was not already aware that there are limitations to the power of the media – our mass media were universal in predicting (and in most cases wanting) a huge majority for Theresa May and the
SelfConservatives and of course she ended up with no majority, dickering with the foul bigots of the DUP to hang on to the power. Of course she is now so desperate that she is asking Labour for ideas (Jeremy Corbyn’s response: “I’ll give you a copy of our manifesto”). Here are some photographs to help tell the story:
MARXISM AND MENTAL HEALTH – BETH GREENHILL
I will be giving this meeting a full post to itself in due course – it deserves it, and I have asked the speaker to email me all her slides, including those she did not get to use because of the importance I attach to this subject. For the moment here are a few pictures:
MARXISM, NATURE AND SOCIETY – MARTIN EMPSON
Following the lunch break (picnics are something of a tradition at Marxism festivals, and I participated in the Norwich and East Anglia picnic) I headed to room 3E for this meeting. I would have preferred this talk to have been assigned a bigger room because the topic is so important. It was well attended, as it should have been. There were many outstanding contributions, including from those fighting against fracking (a particularly destructive method of extracting fossil fuels from shale). A woman who was born in Australia and whose father works in mining talked about her arguments with him and how she explains that she does not want people in mining to be jobless – she wants them to have jobs helping the environment, such as developing renewable energy sources etc. Here are some pictures:
IRELAND AND THE RISE OF THE RADICAL LEFT – GERRY CARROLL
Gerry Carroll is one of two members of People Before Profit elected to the Stormont Assembly in the days when that body still functioned. The other was Eamonn McCann. One of Stormont’s less charming features is a register that requires you to state whether you are Nationalist or Unionist – McCann and Carroll both wrote the single word Socialist in this space. People Before Profit are a cross-border organisation and they also boast three members of the Dail (the Irish Republic’s parliament), two of whom, Richard Boyd Barrett and Brid Smith were also at Marxism 2017. Gerry Carroll won his seat in West Belfast – Gerry Adams’ stamping ground. For an avowed non-sectarian to win in the very heartland of Sinn Fein is particularly remarkable. Carroll talked about both his success and that in the Republic. In the Republic much of the radicalism developed around the attempted imposition of water charges (yes – in Europe’s wettest country), but also of course the Republic became the first country in the world to vote in favour of equal marriage.
After Carroll finished his inspiring speech various people in the audience talked further about some of the points he raised, filling out the picture. Here are some pictures…
DID LENIN LEAD TO STALIN? – PADDY NIELSEN
After the second long break of the day it was back up to floor 3, this time room 3B for me. This meeting dealt with one of the more persistent accusations flung at the left (note, until the mid 1990s Socialist Worker retained its masthead stating “Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism”). Nielsen set out the counter arguments excellently. Stalinism was a product of the isolation of the Russian Revolution – it did not spread elsewhere as the revolutionaries hoped, and it was separated from the revolutionary movement by a river of blood. Most of the old Bolshevik leadership who were alive when Stalin took power died at his hands. Here are some pictures: