Marxism 2017: Climate Change

An account of the three meetings at Marxism 2017 that focussed exclusively on climate change.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this latest post in my series about Marxism 2017. This post deals with three meetings from the event and also features some external links as well. This post features green body text because of the subject matter – headings still in red. This post features pictures in ’tiled mosaic’ form – to view them at full size left-click/ single finger push an image to open the gallery, and if you right-click/ two finger push you get a drop down menu that enables you to open a single image.

MEETING 1: FACING THE ANTHROPOCENE – JEFFREY HALL, SATURDAY – IAN ANGUS

The Jeffrey Hall is the second largest venue in the Institute of Education, with a seating capacity of 500. It was pleasingly full for Ian Angus’ talk about Facing the Anthropocene. This talk was accompanied by numerous slides. Here are the first few pictures:

From this start the speaker went on to define the anthropocene:

Before the Anthropocene the earth had seen five mass extinction events, and all evidence points to the fact that a sixth is upon us. Here are a few links to recent articles about this:

Now here are my remaining pictures from this meeting:

The website climateandcapitalism can be accessed here.

MEETING 2, SUNDA: A REDDER SHADE OF GREEN – MALET SUITE – IAN ANGUS

This was conducted in an informal style. Martin, chairing, asked Ian questions about his latest book (it is a good read btw) and Ian answered. After about half an hour questions were taken from the floor, and they were mainly excellent contributions. At the end of the meeting Ian signed copies of his book for those who were interested. Here are some photos:

Ian Angus and Martin EmpsonPostersPoster

Book
The book – the only one I purchased at Marxism 2017 (there were many others I looked at)

Martin Empson starts the meetingMartin asks Ian a questionMartin asking Ian a questionIan Angus speakingMartin Empson advertises the bookClimate Change poster

PART 3: BUILDING THE MOVEMENT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE AFTER TRUMP WITHDRAWS FROM PARIS – SUZANNE JEFFERY

This meeting was in the session immediately after the second Ian Angus meeting, and before the closing rally. This was a really excellent meeting, with many people speaking from the floor about campaigns they were involved in, and the mood generally confident. Here are some photos:

Speaker and chair
Chair Jasmine and main speaker Suzanne before the meeting.
Jasmine introduces Suzanne
Jasmine opening the meeting.
Suzanne giving her talk
Suzanne giving her talk.

AFTERWORD

This post being about climate change and by extension nature I have decided to end with some links courtesy of Anna who has produced some excellent stuff about nature:

Marxism 2017 – Day 4: Outline

An outline of Dat 4 at #Marxism2017.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this latest addition to my series about Marxism 2017. This post covers day 4 up to the start of the closing rally, which will have a post of its own to close the series. Before that one there will be two others, a big climate change post featuring Ian Angus’ two talks and Suzanne Jeffery’s talk, and a post about Beth Greenhill’s talk on mental health.

THE START OF THE DAY

As I would be returning to King’s Lynn that evening, and Logan Hall is closer to King’s Cross than my accommodation was I took everything with me. As had been the case on Saturday, my first meeting as at Friend’s Meeting House, this time in the Sarah Fell room, so I had both bags with me for that, as the baggage room was in Student Central, where my second, third and fourth meetings of the day were due to be. Therefore I handed in my keys on my way out.

Keys

The fob gives access to the entire complex, by way of the reception building, the first of the three larger keys unlocks the particular block in which I was staying, the biggest key opens the flat in which my room was located, and the middle key of the three opens the door to the specific room I was staying in. The CG12 on the metal disc refers to the fact that this room is room 2 in flat 1 on the ground floor of block C.

On my way I photographed a building near my accommodation that had fascinated me:

Camden People's Theatre

MEETING 1: CLIMATE CHANGE
AND SCIENCE FICTION

This was very interesting, showing how science fiction writers approach’s track real world events. The first “cli-fi” (a back formation from climate change and science fiction) referred to ice and floods, with fire and warming coming later as apocalypse scenarios. Here are some photographs, which I am presenting as a ’tiled mosaic’ – to view as a gallery left-click (or single finger touch if you have a finger pad like mine):

OVER THE RAINBOW: LGBT+ LIBERATION IN THE 21st CENTURY – NICOLA FIELD

This meeting took place in the Malet suite at Student Central, so I was able to deposit my bigger bag in the baggage room which was across the corridor from this room. I picked it up just before heading to the Institute of Education’s Logan Hall for the closing rally. The speaker gave a history of the development of the LGBT+ movement going back to the Stonewall riots, and contrasted the complete commercialisation of the London Pride march (people having to pay to actually march!) with the recent launch of the UK’s 66th pride event, Lancaster Community Pride. 

CLIMATE CHANGE AFTERNOON

Both the meetings I attended in the afternoon were in the Malet Suite and both were about climate change, and I am covering both in a separate post. A solitary photo before moving on:

Book

THE CLOSING RALLY

I am giving this and my journey home another post. Suffice to say for the moment that it was an excellent finish to the event.

Marxism 2017: Two Meetings About Disability

Continuing my personal account of #Marxism2017 with two disability themed meetings.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this continuation of my series about Marxism 2017. This post focusses specifically on the two meetings on disability, which took place during the second and fifth slots on the Saturday. 

DISABILITY AND RESISTANCE

This meeting was scheduled for room 3E, but when the main lift at Student Central broke down and resisted all efforts to get it working again it was rescheduled for the ground floor. As soon as it was known that the lift was busted the organisers of the festival made it clear that refunds would be available for those who thought they could no longer enjoy the event (there was only one ground floor location remotely suitable for meetings, and three meetings in each session were scheduled for rooms on the 3rd floor, which was inacessible to the physically disabled without the lift working.). Although the ersatz meeting venue was not ideal it was the least bad solution for this meeting.

This meeting was packed full of inspirational stories from various campaigns. As an autistic person I identify particularly strongly with struggles for disability rights. I am a member of group of whom (UK figures – feel free to give me others from elsewhere in the world if you know them) 74% are unemployed, and 85% are under-employed. 

Here are some pictures:

ad hoc meeting venuePosters1DPMThe PanelPanel2

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Amy, organiser of the festival, speaking to the panel before the meeting started.

Amy and the panelchair and panelchairChair and panel 2Denise at the micBanner1Banner2Banner3

HOW CAN DISABLED PEOPLE WIN LIBERATION – RODDY SLORACH

The lift appeared to working again during lunch, but then packed up again and could not be coaxed back to life again, so again we were in the ersatz venue. There was an additional problem this time in that the machines in the cafe outside which we were based were shutting down, creating a lot of background noise. Although 6 hours had elapsed since the end of the panel meeting covered above this meeting felt in many ways like a continuation of the other, with every contribution being inspiring. Although I did not speak myself I was pleased to note that three other autistic people did make contributions. I conclude this post with a few photos:

internal mural
With two meetings being held facing it I got a good look at this ‘internal mural’.

Platform1Chair and speakerchair and speakerSpeaker and chair 2Roddy speakingChair plugging Roddy's book

Marxism 2017 – Day 3: Outline

An outline of day 3 at Marxism 2017, setting the stage for two further posts.

INTRODUCTION

Wel come to this latest post in my series about Marxism 2017. The Saturday at Marxism is always the busiest day of the festival. For this reason I am doing three posts about the day, this one, one that covers the two disability themed meetings I attended and one which will also cover a meeting from Sunday devoted to Ian Angus’ two talks, “Facing the Anthropocene” and “A Redder Shade oif Green”. 

THE TIMETABLE

Here to show you the scale of the event is the timetable for thia day:

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IS A ROBOT AFTER YOUR JOB? MARTIN UPCHURCH – FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE

For the Saturday we were using venues at three locations, Student Central, The Institute of Education and Friends Meeting House. This meeting took place in the Hilda Clark room, which is on the first floor of Friends Meeting House. The answer to the question in the meeting title is “probably not”. As yet robots still require humans to watch them to ensure gthat they function as they are supposed to, and that is likely to remain the case for some time. Here are some photographs:

The Hilda Clark room (FMH)big screenFMH PRProductivity and microshipsPlatformProductivity did not grow with microchipBooksBar Chart 1Bar Chart 2Chair introduces meetingThe chairSpeakerIs a robot after your jobTechnology since 1900Robots, AI and singularitiesWorld Robot DensityChinese labour costs and robotsTuring;s two testsTentativbe conclusions2Clock

It was announced during this meeting that the main lift had failed in Student Central and gthat as yet the engineer had been unable to fix it. Therefore the panel meeting on disability was moved to a ground-floor location because the backup lifts only went up to the first and second floors (duh!). Barring a brief period at lunchtime this main lift did not work again during the rest of the event. 

DISABILITY AND RESISTANCE

I will be dealing with this meeting and the last one of the day in a separate post. For the moment here are a picture from the first and a couple of lunchtime pics:

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The woman in front of the banner is Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
Picnic
The Norwich & East Anglia picnic. A small donation buys you a meal – the guide prices are £3 waged and £1 unwaged, and as someone who is employed part-time I split the difference with £2.
Canary
The canary is the symbol of Norwich City FC, and this specimen can be seen at a fair distance.

HOW THE MEDIA LOST ON JUNE 8TH – IAN TAYLOR (STUDENT CENTRAL)

The mainstream media were virtually unanimous in predicting (and in most cases making it obvious that they wanted) a Tory landslide in the June 8th General Election. The fact that the Tories ended up without a majority at all, and that Labour increased their presence by 30MPs was one in the eye for MSM. Newspapers are losing readers at a vast rate, and readers are increasingly not taking their papers on trust.  Since this meeting happened we have seen Theresa May begging for policy ideas (“here is a copy of our manifesto!”), and a Prime Ministers Questions where both leaders were absent, and Emily Thornberry starred for Labour while Damien Green for the Tories managed the less than challenging feat of doing a better job than Theresa would have done. Here are some pictures:

Media MeetingThe chair introduces the meetingIan Taylor starts his talkIan Taylor

FACING THE ANTHROPOCENE – IAN ANGUS – INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION

I am covering this meeting and Ian Angus’ other meeting which took place a day later in a separate post. For the moment here are a few of the pictures from this one:

Geological timescale updated
The first seven pictures in this section provide the facts that show us tgo be in the Anthropocene.

Ice age to HoloceneIce age to Holocene 2Global Carbon Cycle800,000 years of CO2Earth ssystem trends 29 of 12 indicators beyond bounds of Holocene variability

Marx quote
150 years on this remains an excellent summary of our responsibilities tro our planet – and one that has been neglected shamefully.

HOW CAN DISABLED PEOPLE WIN LIBERATION? – RODDY SLORACH – SC

My final meeting of the day was back at Student Central, and as with the earlier panel meeting had been relocated due to the faulty lift and the fact that the backup only went as far up as the second floor. As I will be covering this meeting in more detail in another post, suffice to say that it was an inspirational end to the day. Here to end this post is the chair advertising Roddy’s book:

Chair plugging Roddy's book

Marxism 2017: Day 2

An account of Day 2 at Marxism 2017.

INTRODUCTION

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. 

DAY 2

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:

UCL building
This building caught my eye as I walked past on my way to the event.
Posters1
Posters on the way up.

Posters2

Upper Hall
The Upper Hall at 9:30AM

Posters3Posters4Posters5Posters6Posters7Posters8

Throughthewindow1
The view through one of the the Upper Hall windows
Food stand
A food stall (London prices are beyond my means – I was not a cjustomer)
Rose window
Rose window

big screen, UHBasketter

Sarah Ensor + Simon Basketter
Chair Sarah (one of the speakers at the meeting on Biodiversity and Species Extinction) and speaker Simon Basketter.
Sarah Ensor opens the meeting
Sarah introduces the meeting
Simon Basketter starts his talk
Simon speaking, careful not obstruct the screen.

FN1FN2Basketter at the micGraph1Graph2Broken NewsGraph3TrustGraph4Rogers + HammersteinLukacs

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:

Display1
A display on the main staircase at Student Central.

Tomas Tengely-Evans and Beth Greenhill (speaker)Four humoursBimaristansBeth GreenhillMarx at the asylumVygotskyAusterity Ailments

service maps

'Bildung'

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:

PlatformBook displayRent controls now!big screen

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…

Jasmine (chair)Capital 150Jasmine and GerryChair and speakerJasmine at the micGerry giving his opening speech

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:

Paddy Nielsen ready for his talkPlatformBook displayChair introduces meetingPaddy speakingPaddy in action

 

Marxism 2017: Biodiversity and Species Extinction (Ian Rappel and Sarah Ensor)

Ian Rappel and Sarah Ensor’s meeting on biodiversity and species extinction covered in detail. #Marxism2017

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this post in my series about Marxism 2017. The meeting covered in this post was the second that I attended on day 1 of the festival. Most of the rest of this post will be photographs from that meeting, but before getting to the main meat I have one small thing to do relating to my previous post

ERRATUM

In the first published version of my post about day 1 I labelled a logo as being from the front of a TEAM t-shirt. It was not, and I have corrected the original post, but I refuse to do the blogging equivalent of sneaking out a correction in 6pt type in the middle of page 27, so here is a picture showing the a TEAM t-shirt:

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BIODIVERSITY AND SPECIES EXTINCTION

Of our two speakers, Ian Rappel is a conservation biologist and was looking at the overall picture, while Sarah Ensor, author the blog Herring and Class Struggle, focused on the oceans. 

THE PRELIMINARIES

Here are the photos from before the main talks:

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The speakers and chair (centre) at the platform

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The chair introducing the meeting

PART 1: IAN RAPPEL

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Four diverse life forms – sperm whales, ants, duckweed (the smallest of all vascular plants), tardigrades

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There will be more on the Anthropocene later in this series, with an account of Ian Angus’ meeting on this subject.

PART 2: SARAH ENSOR

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The light relief – a tardigrade.

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AS followers of this blog will know I was in northwest Scotland recently, and I saw many signs of fish farms, including in Loch Alsh, as seen from above in this post: https://aspi.blog/2017/06/12/scotland-walking-from-ferry-cottage-to-kyle-of-lochalsh/

CONCLUSION

This was an important meeting, and I welcome the higher profile that nature and ecology are enjoying at this year’s Marxism (I have been to three meetings on the topic already, with another three scheduled for this final day). I cannot say that I enjoyed it, but I am glad that I attended and was glad to note that there were few empty seats. 

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Marxism 2017 – Day 1

My account of day 1 at Marxism 2017.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this post about the opening day of Marxism 2017 (see @MarxismFestival on twitter). As I write this, we are having our lunch break on Day 3.

GETTING THERE

With the first meeting due to begin at 12:30 on Thursday I opted for the 9:57 train from King’s Lynn. I duly arriuved with time to deposit my larger bag in the designated bag room, get information about the exact details of my accommodation (I was in a hall of residence, just not sure exactly where). 

MEETING 1: SARAH BATES ON WHAT SOCIALISM WOULD BE LIKE

This was an excellent start to the festival, addressing the question of what we are for. Sarah provided an excellent lead off, and the discussion that followed was also excellent. Here are some pictures from the early stages of the event:

Marxism1Marxism2Marxism3Marxism4Marxism5Marxism6Marxism7Marxism8Marxism9Marxism10Marxism11Marxism12Marxism13P1020691P1020692

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Sarah Bates
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Simon, chair of this meeting.
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Sarah making her speech.

MEETING 2: BIODIVERSITY AND SPECIES EXTINCTION – SARAH ENSOR AND IAN RAPPEL

This meeting featured so much in depth information that I shall be devoting a whole post to it. For the moment, here are a couple of pics to whet the appetite:

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MEETING 3: ANTISEMITISM, ISLAMOPHOBIA AND THE FAR RIGHT: ROB FERGUSON

An excellent meeting, with the main speaker an anti-Zionist Jew.

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Meeting chair and a member of the TEAM – and as a six-time former TEAM member I can tell that they do a marvellous job of running the event and that it is a very demanding one.

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Rob Ferguson speaking

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THE OPENING RALLY

We had a superb venue for our opening rally, The Light, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road. We also had speakers to match, with people from all sorts of campaigns, such as cleaning workers who had bested the bosses at the London School of Economics, anti-fracking campaigners from Lancashire, speakers from the Justice for Grenfell campaign and campaigners against police brutality. I think everyone left this meeting feeling angered but also uplifted.

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The light part of “The Light” – a gigantic skylight.
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A close-up of the view through said skylight.

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Sarah Bates introducing the opening rally.

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AROUND AND ABOUT

I conclude this post with some photos from this part of central London:

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The frontage of Warren Street Station
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Euston Square, one of the original 1863 stations, now with a hyper-modern surface building.
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The moon, darkened to bring out its finest points.
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This Church is visible from the Gallery Bar at Student Central.