By CHRISTINE MARIE
— NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — An ambitious Youth for Socialist Action educational conference drew close to 100 participants, including students from at least six different colleges, to Central Connecticut State University on Saturday, Oct. 22.
The conference was opened by the past president of the CCSU YSA, David Kiely, who said that his generation has “grown up with constant war, with the revelations of Snowden and Chelsea Manning, with a minimum wage that was never enough to live on, with huge student debt, and with the 2008 world market crash as a backdrop.”
“For our entire lives, he said, “capitalism has been a complete disaster.” This conference was called, he explained, because it is clear that many of this generation are ready to seize the tremendous opportunities made plain by the growing resistance to racism, sexism, inequality, and the headless drive toward climate catastrophe, to build a movement capable of replacing the fossil fuel based profit system with something entirely different.
The event opened with a historical look by Professor Charles Post of Borough of Manhattan Community College at the way that capitalism has matured as a disastrous system in North America and the centrality of racism to its operations. Professor Hannah Holleman of Amherst College presented the statistics that a number of Marxist thinkers have been using to begin to develop a full theory of ecological imperialism. She argued convincingly that without an understanding of imperialism, the climate justice movement would be unable to mount the kind of solidarity necessary to build the movement we need.
Dr. Alan Sears of Ryerson University spoke about the ways that capitalist work regimes created gender identities useful for profit and production, the power of queer resistance to those regimes, and the way that an understanding of this dynamic will strengthen the fight for a socialist future.
These historical and theoretical presentations were complemented by presentations by representatives of two of the most powerful social movements currently on the stage. Alix Shabazz of Freedom Inc. in Madison, Wis., described the thinking and process that went into the development of the Movement for Black Lives Platform, a document that codifies the centrality of the fight for Black self-determination and encyclopedically lists elements of the racist criminal justice system that must be dismantled as part of the process. Shabazz related, as well, the efforts of Madison activists to find restorative justice alternatives to the destructive approach of the Madison police around cases of sexual violence in the African American and Hmong communities.
Mikhal Rosa, a member of the national leadership of the Movimiento Independista Nacional Hostosiano in San Juan, P.R., spoke about the history of U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico and the current fight against the U.S.-imposed austerity regime known as PROMESA. Local Puerto Rico independence activists in attendance gathered with him to discuss the next steps in building links between central Connecticut and the island.
The conference closed with two sessions devoted to the strategy and tactics of building a movement for socialism today. The first, led by Left Voice editor Jose Cruz Ferre, a participant in the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas and the Left and Workers Front (FIT) in Argentina, explained how a rejection of lesser-evil politics in the national elections, and the mounting a united and independent working-class election campaign, led to the growth of the revolutionary socialist movement in that country.
The day ended with a talks by three veteran socialist organizers—Christopher Hutchinson, Ann Montague, and Daniel Belle—on the historic working-class tools of political action independent of the bosses’ parties, mobilizations based a united front of all tendencies in the working-class movement, and a disciplined revolutionary political party. Their trade-union and mass movement experience allowed them to paint a clear picture of the way in which the modest but growing cadres of the socialist movement could make a real difference in the months and years ahead.
In the week after the conference, a new chapter of the Youth for Socialist Action was established on the campus of the University of Connecticut and the basis laid for the regional collaboration of YSA members at CCSU, UConn, and the University of Massachusetts.
Photo: Discussion by participants at the Solution is Socialism conference. By Tony Savino / Socialist Action