Why you need to be at Socialism 2018

April 10, 2018

SW invites you to join us at Socialism 2018 in Chicago, where more than 150 sessions are planned at a conference organized around the theme: Another world is necessary.

MORE THAN A year into the Trump presidency, and some days, it still feels like a sick joke--one where someone forgot to let the rest of us in on the punch line.

Most everyone reading this will know that sick-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling that goes along with every new Trump atrocity: his bigoted tirades, his ramped-up threats of war, his administration packed with right-wing zealots dedicated to a vile reactionary agenda.

But we shouldn't forget the other side of the Trump horror show: the signs of struggle and the desire to resist.

We see it among immigrant youth threatened with deportation, but declaring that no human being is illegal. We see it among the teachers and students who mobilized in the heart of "Trump country" against declining living standards and decimated public schools--and who, even more importantly, have begun to win concessions.

We see it in the eruptions of protest against gun violence, led by a new generation that is confronting the deeper causes in a deadly society. And we see it in the return of the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of Stephon Clark, shot eight times in his grandmother's backyard in Sacramento for the "crime" of carrying a cell phone.

A plenary session crowd at Socialism 2017
A plenary session crowd at Socialism 2017 (John Snowden)

All of this is a reminder of what radical journalist Glenn Greenwald once said: "Courage is contagious."

GREENWALD MADE that statement in a speech at the annual Socialism conference in Chicago back in 2013. That's worth remembering as the organizing for this year's Socialism 2018 conference--in Chicago on July 5-8--kicks into high gear.

Last year, more than 2,000 people--a record number--participated in Socialism 2017. As the left contends with another year of the Trump era and the many facets of the resistance, there's every reason to look forward to another success with this year's long weekend of political education, discussion, debate and entertainment.

More than 150 meetings are planned, ranging from a socialist analysis of pressing political issues, to discussions and debates about the left and social movements, to classes on Marxist theory and the socialist tradition, and to sessions that reveal the hidden history of working-class and socialist struggles.

Socialism follows in a long and proud tradition for the left that dates back to the early part of the last century. More recently, the International Socialist Organization and Socialist Worker have been sponsors of annual summer educational events for more than 40 years.

Once called Socialist Summer School, they were held at church camps and on university campuses in those early days. Now, we claim a part of Chicago's main convention center, south of downtown. Where dozens of people once attended the different sessions of Socialist Sumer School, now, there are a dozen sessions up against each other in each time slot, and it's rare to find a room that isn't packed to capacity.

The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, publisher of Haymarket Books and the International Socialist Review, is the lead sponsor, and since 2017, Jacobin magazine has participated as a co-sponsor.

At a time when the demands on the left are higher than ever to discuss and debate a way forward through the Trump nightmare, Socialism 2018--organized under the theme "Another world is necessary"--can be a part of building that urgently needed political alternative.

WHAT CAN you look forward to at this year's Socialism conference?

One theme will be a celebration of "1968: Year of Revolt"--when, 50 years ago, major social and political upheavals shook societies around the world. Look for sessions on "Beach Beneath the Streets: May '68 in France," "Students for a Democratic Society and the Student Revolt" and "Black Liberation and 1968."

A major panel discussion on "1968-2018: Sports and Resistance, Then and Now" will feature Nation sportswriter Dave Zirin and Olympian Wyomia Tyus--alongside John Carlos, who raised the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympic Games in protest against racism and oppression.

There will be many other sessions on the fight against oppression--including "#MeToo and the Struggle for Women's Liberation," which will feature a series of presentations on questions of women's liberation and the tradition of socialist feminism.

A track on "The Fight for Black Liberation" which include talks on "King's Last Year," and "Class Struggle and the Color Line"--along with discussions featuring Combahee River Collective veterans Barbara Smith and Demita Frazier speaking on the rich history of the Black feminist thought.

Also featured is a series on the "History and Politics of Indigenous Resistance." Trans liberation is the subject of several sessions, along with more on the struggle for LGBTQ equality.

Special sessions curated by Jacobin will be featured alongside talks on some of the key questions facing the left today, including "Teachers on Strike: From West Virginia to Oklahoma and Beyond."

If you want to learn more about Marxist theory, Socialism 2018 is the place to be--get reading for tracks on "Marxism, Exploitation and Oppression" and "Marxism, Elections and the State."

As always, Socialism will bring together authors, activists and experts from around the country and across the globe. Among the featured speakers this year are Swiss-Syrian socialist Joseph Daher, Scottish socialist Neil Davidson and Mercedes Martínez of the Puerto Rican Teachers Federation.

Independent journalists Anand Gopal and Sarah Jaffe will lead sessions, along with education activist Wayne Au. And you'll hear familiar voices from past conferences, from actor and author Wallace Shawn to native rights activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz to Socialism...Seriously author Danny Katch and more.

We at SocialistWorker.org invite everyone who reads our site to come to Socialism 2018 for four days of political discussion and education to contribute to the struggle for a better world.

Further Reading

From the archives