Marxism 2018: Meetings with an Environmental Theme

The environment themed meetings at Marxism 2018.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the penultimate post in my series about Marxism 2018 (to be followed in the not too distant future by a series that I will title “A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall” following my recent visit to Cornwall (more on that curious word grockle at the start of said series). I missed only one of the environmentally themed meetings at Marxism 2018 (it clashed with a meeting about mental health, which I attended instead), the one featuring John Bellamy Foster.

MEETING 1: MARTIN EMPSON ON CLIMATE CHANGE

THis meeting was the subject of my first Marxism 2018 post. Here is the featured image:

WHY DOES CAPITALISM LOVE PLASTIC?

Amy Leather started her talk with a potted history of the development of plastics. She then talked about plastics as a by-product of fossil fuel extraction, linking in to controversies over fracking. She also talked about how when disposable plastic first became a thing there were advertising campaigns to persuade people to dispose of the stuff. During the discussion James from north Derbyshire mentioned that the company who are seeking to engage in fracking in his part of the world and against whom he and others are fighting are primarily a plastic making company, and their interest in fracking is based on a desire to use by products of fracking to make more plastics.

Amy prepares to give her talkPlastics meeting just before startAmy at the ready.Amy and booksAmy makes final preparationsrecruiterBooksPlastics meetingSpeaker and ChairAmy speakingAmy speaking IIPlastic filled whaleA contribution from the floorthe filmer filmed

SARAH ENSOR AND IAN RAPPEL ON CAPITALISM AND EXTINCTION

This was the first meeting of the Sunday. The Institute of Education has a somewhat curious system of floor numbering, whereby you enter the building from outside on level 4. This meeting was in a room on Level 8, and I chose not to use the lift (I have been known to opt for the stairs at both Russell Square – 175 – and Covent Garden – 200 – stations, so for a mere four floors it was barely even a question). 

I enjoyed the meeting – both speakers were excellent, and although the sun prevented the presentation from being seen to best effect (even with blinds drawn and the lights off in the key part of the room – the latter a suggestion on the part of yours truly) it was still well worth the climb up and down.

Seminar room 802-4 for Capitalism and Extinction meetingPosters IPosters IIBookmarksPosters IIIDump TrumpSlide showIan adjusts the slide showTitle slidePlatformPlatform IIPlatform IIIThe chair introduces the meetingSarah Ensor speaks firstSarah speakingTitle slide IIBiodiversity - Arctic WatersBiodiversity pictureBiodiversity pic IIBiodiversity pic IIIArctic CodCapitalism and the EnvironmentDecline in Marine populationsMarine population declineDecline in marine populationsDecline in Marine populations IICapitalism degrades natureSarahWhaling 1850sWhaling 20th CenturyIan RappelIan Rappel IIpost-revolutionary ecological renaissanceRevolutionary ecologyCapitalist ecology3rd Runway protestOne (wonderful) world to win

DIRTY ENERGY AND CAPITALISM: WHAT’S THE REAL STORY

This meeting which featured Suzanne Jeffery and anti-fracking campaigner Tina Louise Rothery took place in Clarke Hall, on Level 3 of the Institute of Education in the post lunch session of the Sunday. It had been made even more topical by the fact that in the run up to the event the Tories had simultaneously refused to provide funding for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon (capable of supplying 10% of the country’s energy needs had it gone ahead) and forced through the 3rd runway at Heathrow.  Both speakers were excellent, and during the discussion Brid Smith TD talked about a bill she is trying to get through the Dail which would mean that no more fossil fuels will be extracted from Ireland (it has already passed its first reading). 

Dirty energy meetingJuxtapositionPostersPanelFrack Free Lancashire IISuzanne Jeffery speaking

Suzanne Jeffery
Suzanne Jeffery

Clarke HallClarke Hall IIClarke Hall IIILancashire

Tina Louise Rothery
Tina Louise Rothery

TLR ITLR IITLR IIITLR IVTLR VTLR VITLR VIIIAnti-fracking noticeTLR IXTLR XTLR XITLR XIITLR XIIIFrack Free LancashireTLR finishes her speech

Brid Smith TD contirbutes to the discussion
Brid Smith talks about her fossil fuels bill that is curfrently going through the Dail

Summing up

AN EXAMPLE OF A CAMPAIGN

A common theme running through these meeting was the necessity of supporting campaigns all over the world. I therefore conclude this post with a mention of the Save Trosa Nature campaign. You can find out more about this campaign by reading Anna’s posts about it. There is a petition currently running which you can sign here.

Marxism 2018: An Overview of the Weekend

The antepenultimate post in my series on Marxism 2018.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this, the antepenultimate post in my series about Marxism 2018 (to be followed by a post about the environmentally themed meetings I attended and a post about the Final Rally), in which I cover Saturday and Sunday.

SATURDAY

Having arranged to stay in a hall of residence near the event I was able to walk in, and had time to take a few photos along the way:

Warren Street Station and the BT Tower

Warren Street Station
London’s Pride march was taking place this same Saturday, hence the crowd outside Warren Street Station.

The BT Tower

I started my day with Sarah Bates’ meeting “How did women win the vote?”. She started by pointing out that it was only wealthy British women who actually won the vote 100 years ago – their poorer compatriots had to wait, like a few of the men, a further 10 years. Then she went on to talk about the struggles that led up to women’s suffrage being granted in this country in those two stages. A lively discussion followed.

Before the meetingSarah BatesThe chair calls the meeting to order.Almost ready to startChair introduces speakerSarah making her speechSarah, close upThe MeetingA contribution from the floorSarah summing up

I then went up one floor, from the Malet Suite where that meeting had happened to room 3C/D for WhatMakes Humans Different from Animals? The Marxist View of Human Consciousness, with John Parrington. This one was based around a powerpoint presentation:

Parrington on Human ConsciousnessParrington on Human Consciousness IIPostersPosters IIThrough the window 1Through the window IIPacked housemeeting titleThe chair introduces the meetingJohn Parrington speakingLooking towards the speakerTitle slideComparisonHuman CivilizationHPEnv CatEvolution of Human UniquenessH.U RHU LA Marxist Theory of the MindP1170067Vygotsky close up 1Vygotsky close up 2VoloshinovA modern Marxist view of the mindNerve and BrainGenome and EpigenomeWaves and signalsEmotions and ChemistryConscious and UnconsciousNormality and illnessResistance and rebellionFuture of ConsciousnessParrington

A contribution to the discussion
Jenny, who was filming the meeting (most of the meetings at this event should now be viewable on youtube) also made a contribution to the meeting.
Psychologist Beth contributes to the discussion
Psychologist Beth was well received when she made her contribution.

After lunch I headed for Nunn Hall and the meeting on Disability, Oppression and Resistance, featuring an excellent panel of speakers from DPAC. This meeting was particularly fiery, as you might expect. Mention was made of the petition that DPAC have started to get Esther McVey sacked for lying to parliament.

Nunn Hall 1Nunn Hall 2Education painting, Nunn HallThe panelEllen Clifford from DPACFilling up IIEllen starts the meetingPaula Peters makes a contributionMeeting underwayMark DunkRebeccaThe panel IIThe story of the murder of a disabled asylum seekerconcluding the opening speechesPaula PetersThe picture on Paula's t-shirtPaula Peters IIRMT

Paula Peters IIIEllen Clifford

After this meeting I headed for Politics of the Mind: Marxism and Mental Distress, a book launch meeting. There were two other meetings in that session that would have been of interest but for the clash, John Bellamy Foster on Marxian theory and eco-revolution, and a debate being Charlie Kimber and an as yet unnamed Labour MP, What Would a Labour Givernment Look Like?. The meeting I opted for was a very interesting one, with many people sharing their stories during the discussion section.

Room 3CD for the Politics of the Mind - Marxism and Mentakl Distress book launch meetingThe platformThe bookPostersThe chair calls the meeting to orderIain Ferguson speaking

I concluded my day by going to Alex Callinicos’ meeting on Marx the Revolutionary.

The Venue before the start of Marx the RevolutionaryPreparing for Marx the RevolutionaryPlatformSpeaker and chairBannerJust before the meetingSarah intorduces the meetingAlex Callinicos speakingDuring the meetingCallinicos continuesThe VenueThe Venue IISarah opens the discussion section

SUNDAY

Since I was returning to King’s Lynn that night I was leaving my accommodation on the Sunday morning, and got away earlier than I needed to. My first meeting was at The Institute of Education, but before that I needed to deposit my larger bag at Student Central. I walked via Euston Square this time, using its two street level entrances as a convenient way to cross the Euston Road. 

Euston Square stationDisplay bioards, Euston Square

My first meeting of the day was Capitalism and Extinction, featuring Sarah Ensor and Ian Rappel. This is one I shall be covering in my next post, so for the moment here is a single picture:

Decline in Marine populations

After this meeting I headed for Brian Richardson’s meeting on “Who gets to be remembered: should all the statues fall?”. The thrust of this was that while statues do not necessarily have to fall it is appropriate to demand that the bad side of people like Cecil Rhodes (vicious racism and imperialism) be acknowledged. 

Platform for the who gets to be remembered meetingPlatformchair Despina introduces the meetingAudienceAudience IIRoomDespinaBrian Richardson speakingThe Rhodes statue

Mary from Norwich makes a contribution tio the discussion
Mary from Norwich contributing to the discussion.

Mary speaking

A brief note on meals: food was available at the event for £5 per meal, and also there were district picnics, where the food was cheaper. I therefore attended the Norwich picnics, donating £2 per time.

The lunch area

My third meeting of the Sunday was “Dirty energy and capitalism: what’s the real story?”, featuring Suzanne Jeffery and Tina Louise Rothery, which I shall be covering in my next post. 

TLR XII

For my final meeting before the Closing Rally I opted for “Corbyn, antisemitism and justice for Palestine”, featuring Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi (founder of Jewish Voice for Labour), Salma Karmi-Ayoub (British-Palestinian lawyer) and Rob Ferguson. This meeting was chaired by Anna Gluckstein (I do not usually mention chair’s surnames or origins, but she is Jewish, and her father Ygal, also known as Tony Cliff, was a founding member of the Socialist Workers Party, organisers of the Marxism Festival). 

I left this meeting slightly before the end in order to reach the final rally venue early because I was hoping to catch three of the four speakers at that before departing in time to at least be home by 9PM.

Upper Hall before meeting on antisemitismNaomi Wimborne Idrissi, Salma Karmi-Ayoub and chair Anna Gluckstein before the meetingBefore the meetinghalf a rose windowAnna and Naomi preparing themselvesAnna and NaomiPostersRob Ferguson arrivesNaomi Wimborne-IdrissiAnna opens the meetingNaomi continuingThe upper hall during Naomi's speechNaomi finishes her speechPalestinian biorn lawyer Salma speaksSalmaSalma Karmi-AyoubUpper hall during Salma's speechUpper hall during Salma's speech IIRob's speechA contribution to the discussion

 

Marxism 2018 Day 2

An account of Day 2 at Marxism 2018 (now a week ago).

INTRODUCTION

There has been a hiatus in my coverage of Marxism 2018 because I had no opportunity to blog on Sunday, due to the tight meetings schedule and my subsequent journey home, was working on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and travelling virtually all day yesterday (getting from northwest Norfolk to southeast Cornwall by public transport takes a long time). I have plans for several more posts about Marxism 2018, a batch of posts about Cornwall, and at least one work-related post in the near future. 

FIRST MEETING: JAN NIELSEN ON THE POLITICS OF FOOD

This was a good though very disturbing start to the day. Some of the things that the speaker revealed about what is done to our food were quite shocking. There was an excellent discussion.

PostersDisplay BoardPlatformThe speaker and booksJan gives her talk

MEETING 2: WHY DOES CAPITALISM LOVE PLASTIC?

I will be covering this meeting in a later post along with several other environment related meetings. For the moment here is a photograph from the room:

Plastics meeting just before start

MEETING 3: MARXISM AND RELIGION

The thrust of this meeting was that we are always willing to work with people no matter what their religion, or indeed whether they have one or not. Most people at this event are not religious themselves but would always consider arguig against religion to be a waste of time.

The Religion MeetingSpeaker and chair, religion meetingPostersBooksMaxine giving her talk

DEMOLITIONS TO SOCIAL CLEANSING – THE CLASS WAR ON HOUSING

This meeting, excellently chaired by Moyra from the Justice for Grenfell campaign, began with a small disappointment. One of the scheduled speakers, Emma Dent Coad MP, was unable to get away from parliament to make her contribution and sent her apologies. The other two speakers were housing campaigner Eileen Short and London Assembly member and housing expert Sian Berry from the Green Party. I was particularly pleased to finally get to here Ms Berry (have a look at my coverage of the 2016 London Mayoral Election and my “Fantasy Cabinet” post for more about my opinions of Ms Berry).

She made an excellent speech, searing criticism of current housing policy and some good suggestions of her own. 

Eileen Short was also excellent, and there were some great stories in the discussion. 

Housing meeting - chairSian Berry and Eileen ShortMoyra opens the meetingMoyra introducing the meetingMoyra hands over to the first speaker...

Sian Berry
The first of a number of shots I got of Sian Berry in action.

Sian Berry speakingSian Berry speaking IISian Berry IISian Berry Close Up

Eileen Short speaking
Eileen Short

Eileen ShortThe scene as Eileen addresses the meetingA contribution from the floorSian Berry summing up ISian Berry summing up II

Outisde student central
Outside the building after the meeting.

Student Central Main Entrance

INJUSTICE AND THE BRITISH STATE

This meeting, which took place at The Venue (in it’s third incarnation, having started life as Manning Hall and then had a few years as Room 101), featured Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Campaign, Brian Richardson and Gareth Peirce. It was a superb ending to the day.

The Venue before the big meeting on injusticeThe Venue looking towards The Gallery BarThe Venue looking towards the front rightPostersBrian Richardson ready for his part in the meetingPosters IIChurch frontagePosters IIIChurch ViewBooksGareth, Sheila and BrianSpeakers and ChairSpeakers and chair II

Almost showtime.
Jill from South Yorkshire chairing the meeting.
Gareth Peirce speaking
Gareth Peirce spoke first
Sheila Speaking
Followed by Sheila Coleman
Brian Richardson speaking
Brian Richardson was third to speak.

Marxism 2018: The Opening Rally

An account of the Opening Rally at Marxism 2018, which took place on Thursday night.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series about Marxism 2018. My previous post covered the second and third meetings of the first day, and this post takes up the story with coverage of the opening rally.

THE OPENING RALLY

This event took place in Friends Meeting House on Euston Road. We heard from a McStriker about their ongoing battle, a victim of the Windrush scandal, a muslim woman talking about islamaphobia, two women, Siomha and Mary,  giving a shared talk about the #Repealthe8th campaign in Ireland, one of the Wigan, Warrington and Leigh strikers about their determination to remain as NHS workers and not be contracted out (a battle that we now know has been successful), Moyra from Justice for Grenfell, and finally wrapping up the evening Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of Stand Up to Racism. Here are my pictures from the evening:

Arriving at The LightThe LightAfter Party AdGet ConnectedStarting to fill upOther sideThe PlatformSB

Team Member
One of the Team – the group who ensure the smooth running of the event and deal with any queries.

The forward viewAnkhThe Platform IIFilling up IIFilling up IIIAbout to startThe chair opens the rallyMcStriker speaksMcStriker IIOne of the Windrush generation tells her personal story

Siomha and Mary speak about #Repealthe8th
Siomha and Mary gave a very moving account of the campaign to #Repealthe8th

Siomha and Mary speakingSiomha at the mic

Ovation for Siomha and Mary
The next three images show how Siomha and Mary’s efforts were received by the audience.

Ovation for Siomha and Mary IIOvation for Siomha and Mary IIIA Muslim speakerA WWL worker speaks about their strike and their determination to keep working for the NHSClose up of the t-shirt

Moyra from the Justice for Grenfell campaign speaks powerfully
Moyra was savage about the official response to the Grenfell tragedy, particularly their increasingly desperate efforts to pin blame anywheren other than where it belongs – the latest dirty trick they have pulled out being to point fingers at the firefighters – the very people who went into the burning building to attempt to save lives.

Moyra close-up

Weyman brings the curtain down on the evening
Weyman’s fiery speech was a splendid finish to evening.

Platform shot

Marxism 2018 – Day 1 Continued – Science and Slavery

Continuing my account of Marxism 2018, with the second and third meetings of the Thursday.

INTRODUCTION

This post continues my coverage of Marxism 2018, which started with an introductory post. In this post I cover the second and third meetings of the opening day, which for me were Camilla Royle on the Politics of Science and Ken Olende on What Was Unique About The Translatlantic Slave Trade.

CAMILLA ROYLE ON SCIENCE

Camilla’s actual title was “Is science political?” Most scientists would like the answer to this question to be no, but desirability and truth are two different things. Camilla demonstrated many examples of science being coopted for political ends. This was an excellent talk and it set the stage for a splendid discussion.

3E before the second meetingSpeaker and chair preparing for the meetingspeaker and chairCamilla ready to speakBookmarksEnvironment and WindrushThe chair introduces the meetingCamilla speakingCamilla speaking - close upSarah contributes to the discussionAnother contribution to the discussionCamilla summing upDisplay

KEN OLENDE ON SLAVERY

This talk was accompanied by slides which makes it easier to convey an impression of the ground covered. 

3CPosters, 3CPosters,3C II3C IIFront of 3CPosters 3C III3C IVPosters 3C V

Meeting setup
The big screen, speaker and chaiur before the meeting.
The chair opening the meeting
chair Jay introduces the meeting
Ken Olende giving his talk
Ken starts his talk

The presentationRoman Empire 100 BCE

Moorish cavalry under Lusius Quietus
A depiction of Moorish forces fighting for the Roman Empire – while Rome was a slave holding society skin colour did not come into the equation.

Slaves in Roman CarthageSlaves in CarthageGladiatorsJanissariesMansa Musa

Slave trade routes
The extent to which the translatlantic slave trade dwarfed its predecesors
13th century slave market
This was a slave market in Yemen in the 13th century
Slaves close-up
As this close-up shows skin colour again was not decisive.

Benin bronzeIndentured labourersSlave shipThe storming of the Bastille

Olaudah Equiano
I heartily recommend that you read Olaudah Equiano’s book.

Gillray cariacatureToussaint L'ouvertureLiverpool

William Cuffay
London Chartist leader William Cuffay – the establishment used the same sort of terms about him as they did about slaves.

Display

Marxism 2018: Martin Empson on Climate Change

My first post about Marxism 2018 – which has kicked off in fine style.

INTRODUCTION

The Marxism Festival is always one of the highlights of the year for me, and it got underway today. My train to London ran a bit late, but I was still at the venue in good time to do everything that I needed to before the first meeting. 

Double map, Kings CrossSt Pancras ISt Pancras IISt Pancras IIIRoundel

CLIMATE CHANGE: WHAT DOES THE ANTHROPOCENE MEAN FOR REVOLUTIONARY STRATEGY

Just before I get on to covering this excellent meeting I wish to deal briefly with a related matter: Jeremy Corbyn has been getting stick in certain circles for choosing to use Prime Minister’s Questions this week to tackle Theresa May on the state of buses in Britain. He was right to take her to task on this topic, and she floundered hopelessly as she usually does, unable to answer the questions. Here are a couple of charts from nomisweb.co.uk that between them make quite clear the rightness of Corbyn on this issue, which I found by way of the twitter feed of somebody called David Ottewell

and with car journeys added to the chart:

That vast number of people using the car as their main mode of transport outside of London is a major problem in many ways, and is caused in large part by the scandalous state of bus services outside the capital. As a concrete example, King’s Lynn is the third largest town in Norfolk while Fakenham is a market town in the middle of Norfolk. The last bus out from King’s Lynn to Fakenham leaves Lynn at 5:40PM, while the last bus back from Fakenham to King’s Lynn leaves Fakenham at 5:30PM – and this is still a better bus service than most of Norfolk can count on.

The meeting began with an explanation of the term Anthropocene, and then covered some details about recent heat records:

Display IDisplay II

3E before Martin Empson meeting
The room in which my first meeting was taking place.

Book Display

Martin at the ready
Martin Empson preparing himself.

No To FrackingTimetable FCTimetable BCCover slide

Speaker and chair just before the start
Speaker Martin and chair Jasmine just before the start.

Fracking plus WindrushDump Trump

The chair introduces the meeting
Jasmine introduces Martin
Heatwave slide I
The first of six record temperatures set in a very short space of time to be shiown here.

Heatwave slide IIYerevan record

Quriyat min temp
This means that there was whole 24-hour period in which the temperature was never at any point less than 42.6 celsius in this location.

Pakistan 5o degrees

Colorado
A heat record set in the country with a climate change denier as president.
Heatwave slide - final
The final slide showing all the records.

After this the speaker went on to talk about the inadequacy of the provisions made at an important meeting in Paris, the demonstration that occurred in Paris at the same time as that meeting and to end with a message:

Climate Change meetingCC protest

Gas Platform
This is the largest floating object ever built by humans – an offshore gas platform owned by Shell.
System Change Not Climate Change
The ultimate message of this meeting.

There then followed an excellent discussion as people asked questions and made contributions, before Martin came back to tie everything together. This meeting was an excellent start to my Marxism 2018.

Camilla contributes from the floor
This young woman was to be the main speaker at the second meeting I attended, and her contribution from the floor in this one was excellent.
Martin summing up the meeting
Martin Emspon summing up.

LGBT+ Liberation