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

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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

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:

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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.

Marxism 2017

Setting the scene for a series of posts about Marxism 2017.

INTRODUCTION

In approximately two hours I will be off to catch a train to London for Marxism 2017, four days of political meetings. Given the location I will have regular wi-fi access and will blog regularly about the event.

MARXISM 2017

Most of the rest of this post will be taken up with pictures of my timetable, but before I put them up a note – I have ticked the meetings that I definitely intend to go to, and put question marks against those I am considering (if for example there are two in one slot that appeal and I have not yet made a final decision).

Front CoverInside FCCorbyn & New PoliticsRRRA World in TurmoilThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayInside back coverMarxism Map

Marxism 2: Friday

An account of the second day of Marxism 2016, with plenty of photos.

INTRODUCTION

This is my second post about the wonderful event that was Marxism 2016. This time I will be covering the events of Friday.

GETTING THERE

Although the first post in this series featured a shot of Walthamstow Central station the quickest way to get from the house at which I was staying to the event was by bus to Blackhorse Road station and then tube to Euston. Making my usual allowances for unforeseen (but eminently foreseeable) public transport issues I was treated to a very smooth journey, and it was barely even after nine o’clock (for a ten o’clock start) that I arrived at the Institute of Education building.

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Art at the top of the escalator shaft at Blackhorse Road station
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TFL advertising, Blackhorse Road
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The tiled logo at platform level (the victoria line is famous for having this feature at all of its stations)
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The timetable for Friday with my selections marked.

MEETING 1: AFTER THE PANAMA PAPERS – HOW THE RICH HIDE THEIR MONEY

Both of my first two meetings of the day were to take place at Nunn Hall on Level Four of the Institute of Education (the IOE has nine levels in total, with exits from the building on Levels three (street only) and four (street and back). Nunn Hall has one commanding feature – this painting, here shown flanked by posters:

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The “JOIN THE SWP” poster closest to the painting as A2 size to give you an idea of the scale of the painting.

This meeting, with journalist Simon Basketter as main speaker featured powerpoint slides, some of which I have photos of. A killer stat first: 44% of global economic output is reckoned to be hidden via tax havens.

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This is a real picture from 21st century London and that ferrari is gold-plated!

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This is a penthouse dining suite in one of London’s newer blocks – the developers claim that it caters to all income levels, but the cheapest apartments have a price tag of £715,000 – even further removed from affordable than the Gidiot’s version.

Moving on from the third picture above, many of London’s grander properties these days are actually not really dwelling places at all but ostentatious safety deposit boxes for the super-rich.

MEETING TWO: POLITICS OF THE MIND: MARXISM AND MENTAL HEALTH

This meeting, with main speaker Beth Greenhill was excellent, and her presentation featured one of the best logos I have ever seen. I have a few photos. During the discussion which folowed the main presentation lots of stories both good and bad were told.

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LUNCH TIME

Lunch time features what has become a Marxism tradition – the district picnic. London food prices being what they are, these communal picnics reduce individual expenditure quite considerably. Food and water duly consumed it was time for the afternoon sessions. I have no pictures of the food itself, but here is the symbol that denotes the presence of Norwich and East Anglia:

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MEETING THREE: SHOULD WE BE IN FAVOUR OF FREE SPEECH?

After making it clear that we should be and are in favour of free speech, speaker Esme Choonara went on to talk about some recent controversies and then to talk about two particular things that have been much misused recently – the No Platform policy and the concept of a safe space.

The No Platform policy, first established in the 1970s was originally intended specifically to target fascism in the form of first the National Front, and later the BNP. It was never seen originally as being a way to deal with general disagreement.

Likewise, the concept of a safe space was developed for a specific purpose. This dates from the Vietnam War and the idea was to have places where people would not be exposed to recruiters. Again this concept should not be used to ban contrary ideas.

We favour the maximum amount of free speech possible – restricting freedom of speech is a measure of last resort.

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Speaker Esme Choonara (left as you look) and chair Kambiz Boomla before the meeting
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Esme giving her talk.

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MEETING FOUR

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The verdict on this one was that it could be either.

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Speaker Michael and chair Sarah before the meeting.
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Michael giving his talk.

THE SECOND MEAL BREAK

For the first time at Marxism, the Norwich and Eats Anglia district picnic was happening twice a day, so I got some more cheap food. I also had a look around bookmarks (for the record, I bought two new and one second-hand book there over the five days).

MEETING FIVE: FIGHTING SEXISM TODAY: MARXISM AND WOMEN’S LIBERATION

This was a splendid way to finish the day. I did not stay on that long after the end of this final meeting of the day because I was already tired, and considered it sensible to get some sleep.

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Judith Orr (on the left as you look) and chair Despina immediately before the final meeting of the day.
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A topiary roundel near Euston station.

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Bus routes in the part of London where I was staying
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Blackhorse Road Station just before the bus arrived.