lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Apr 15 15:10:29 MDT 2001
A quiet day at the conference, at least for me. My cyberpal Ravi Malholtra
spoke on disability rights this morning at a Socialist Register panel. (Our
Marta Russell was supposed to speak as well but couldn't raise the air fare
from LA.) The panel's title was "Contradictions and the Left", which
created a doctrinal swath wide enough for a Mack truck to drive through.
Ravi's presentation was a defense of a classical Marxist approach to
disability against the postmodernism that seems to have swamped this arena
of struggle. Theoretical magazines have all sorts of convoluted discussions
of "the body" in a Foucauldian sense, when folks like Marta and Ravi just
want to overthrow the fucking profit system and the barriers to disabled
people that arise within that context.
Gerard Greenfield spoke as well. He gave a nifty analysis of the drawbacks
anti-corporate populism that was in sharp contrast to the Naomi Klein
presentation that preceded his. As you probably know, Klein has crusaded
around the question of "labeling" as in Nike shoes, etc. The magazine
Adbusters (adbusters.com) is narrowly focused around this well and barely
gets into questions of class and capital accumulation.
A prof from UNAM in Mexico spoke for 25 minutes about capitalist crisis and
contradictions without saying a thing. Perfectly dreadful.
In the afternoon I went to hear a panel on labor and deregulation which was
fairly interesting. A chap named Hix came over from Britain to talk about
the progress being made by his railroad union to defend public ownership.
Apparently Ken Livingstone was elected mayor of London mainly on the basis
of keeping the trains from being privatized. Stanley Aronowitz, a top DSA
leader who was elected along with other left professors to run the teachers
union at CUNY, spoke about the problems facing the union movement which
mainly have to do with a sea change in the economy. For example, twice as
many steel workers were producing half as much steel in the 1950s.
Mechanization across the board has resulted in fewer union jobs, not
runaway shops although that still is a problem. There are industrial shops
but mainly in the south where the AFL-CIO lacks the guts to organize. Ray
LaForest spoke next. He is an organizer for DC37 in NYC who was born in the
Dominican Republic. I heard him speak at a save WBAI rally in NYC recently.
He is a genuine militant who bodes well for the labor movement. Right now
he is pulling together a delegation from DC37 to visit Cuba.
The final round of panels appeared to be pure vapor so I took off for
Thompkins Square Park in the Lower East Side to watch the punks exercise
their dogs. Great fun.
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