• Short Report
  • Left Forum in New York

  • By Barbara Steiner | 12 Jun 17
  • The annual spring Left Forum took place 2-4 June and gathered about 3,000 different activists, academics and organisations of the US and international Left. transform! contributed with 3 workshops.

    They met to discuss in panels, invited leading intellectuals to the plenaries and offered talk and information at various stands. Publishing houses and artists offered critical literature and art.

    transform! europe had a presence with three major panels: “Transatlantic Dialogue: The Left and the ‘Struggle of Giants’” with Michael Brie, Waltraud Fritz-Klackl, Leo Panitch, Ethan Young, and Conny Hildebrandt; “The Left in Europe: Strategies and Urgencies” with Waltraud Fritz-Klackl, Conny Hildebrandt, Javier Moreno, and Walter Baier; “The Populist and Radical Right in Europe” with Walter Baier, Conny Hildebrandt, Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska, and Barbara Steiner (details here).

    The yearbook 2017 entitled The Left, the People, Populism has been presented at the stand of the New York office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, member of the transform! network. Exchange and inspiration between US-american and European Left took place.

    This year’s Forum in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (a public police college) had the slogan “The Resistance: Strategy, Tactics, Struggles, Solidarity and Utopia”, in the focus stood of course the protests against Donald Trump, his government and politics.

    In the conference call the protests against the “the highly organized, racist, misogynist right” in power is seen as a chance to broaden the protest movement addressing the very system that produced this right. These past few years have seen the rise of major protest movements. Examples are the “direct action among the brave fighters at Standing Rock”, Sanders, a democratic socialist who got very close to the White House, young Americans favouring socialism over capitalism, the Black Lives Matter movement, the many becoming politicised and people are talking general strike (Left Forum website), also the Women’s Marches have been recently examples of gigantic mobilisation.

    The call stated that the establishment’s opponents of Trump also stand for the same system, be it the anti-Russian right or the Democratic Party, whose decision against Bernie Sanders, “a popular socialist who could, no doubt, have beaten Trump at his own game” is being criticised.

    This has been reflected in the Forum’s discussion. Beneath the condemnation of Trump’s politics and a drastic evaluation of the present situation, the anti-Russian ressentiments and critique of the democrats, being seen as neoliberal, have been mentioned a lot. There is unanimity concerning the need for a united left alliance. It is being discussed, whether Sanders’ strategy, to change the Democratic Party from within with his movement “Our revolution” or whether it needs a party of the Left outside of the Democrats.

    The thematic spectrum of the different workshops at Left Forum was extremely broad. It reached from a panel on Karl Polanyis Socialist Vision (organised by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation New York) and Marx’ Kapital, to experiences from labour struggles, various protests and teachers’ everydaylife in flashpoint schools and to media and political strategies. The programme contained also sessions of theatre of the oppressed and filmscreenings.