Left Forum 2009

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KeyWiki has information on Left Forum conferences held in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Left Forum is the new name for the Socialist Scholars Conference.


Left Forum 2009 posed the question, "could we be at a historic juncture in the evolution of American power and politics?"[1]

There is a palpable sense that the end of the Bush Presidency might just be such moment. There are signs of deep and lasting changes might be possible, and even underway, in the political firmament. The economy is teetering on what could be the deepest downturn since the Great Depression. Politically, the Obama campaign and presidency have raised the spirits of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, but in doing so it has also exposed the Party to a defection by this very wing if Obama settles for business as usual. On the international front, the American empire is stretched thinner, and appears more vulnerable, than at any time since the Vietnam War. At an even more basic level, the continuing ecological crisis has reached a tipping point, or a point of no return.
Taken together, these developments have created a sense of crisis. But they also present the Left with an opportunity – perhaps a historic opportunity – to push for change in a progressive direction. We seem, in every sense, to be at a turning point. How can we address and challenge such a set of catastrophes?
The primary issue of what is to be done is as critical as it is classic. After we have identified the nature of the current conjuncture: how can the Left intervene effectively? Left Forum provides a unique space for the generation of ideas crucial to theorizing and building a resurgent Left.

Left Forum board 2009

In April 2009, the Left Forum board included Stanley Aronowitz, Roderick Bush, Eric Canepa, Vivek Chibber, Nancy Holmstrom, Jamie McCallum, Lorraine Minnite, Frances Fox Piven, Hobart Spalding, Bill Tabb, Richard D. Wolf and Julia Wrigley.[2][3]

In 2009, the sole Left forum staff member was Seth Adler.[4]


Left Forum 2009 included the following panels:

On the Brink of Depression: Turning point in world Capitalism?:

Nationalize the Banks! What Does it Really Mean?:

Progressive Program for Recovery and Financial Reconstruction:

Imperialism and the Global Economic Crisis:

  • David McNally, (Chair), Political Science, York University
  • Radhika Desai, Political Studies, University of Manitoba Hugo Radice - Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

On The Financial Crisis:

Money, Barrels, and Change:

Marxist Theories of the Global Economic Crisis:

Author Meets Critics: A Discussion of Joseph Schwartz's "The Future of Democratic Equality: Rebuilding Social Solidarity in a Fragmented America.":

What Comes After Neoliberalism?:

Marx and the Global Economic Crisis:

Is the U.S. Turning State Socialist? – An Analysis of the State of the Economy 2009 – Local, National, Global:

The relevance of the 1930s for today’s political and economic scene:

Marx's Capital and the Economic Crisis:

In search of a new political economy in times of global economic crisis:

Beyond Capital's Crises:

Democratic Socialist Responses to Stagnation, the Wall Street Collapse and the World Economic Crisis:

Counter Culture Industries: Capitalist, Anti-capitalist, Non-capitalist:

Sports as a Platform for Dissent:

Greed, Can an Information Age Society Afford to Indulge It?:

Theorizing Crisis and Class Mobilization: Ethnographies of Global Capitalism:

Childhood, Capitalism and Resistance:

Hip-Hop, Social Movements, and a New Left Turn:

New Frontiers: Exploring Emotional Labor:

New Frontiers: Left Psychology Explores US Personal Life:

A Marxist-Psychoanalytic Analysis of “Death of a Salesman":

The Trouble With Diversity in the Age of Obama:

Black Workers and the Current Economic Crisis:

Returning to the Source: Ethnic Studies in the Obama Age:

State Capitalism and a New, New Deal: Limitations and Consequences:

Obama and The Audacity of Hype:

Justice in the Age of Imperial America: Unchecked Political Power Verses the Law:

Obama Meets the World: Realities and Recommendations for a New Administration:

  • David Schultz, Chair), School of Business, Hamline University
  • Samer N. Abboud, Political Science, Susquehanna University, “Image, Rhetoric and Reality: The Potential of the Obama Administration in the Middle East”
  • Joseph G. Peschek, Political Science, Hamline University, “The Obama Presidency and the Politics of ‘Change’ in Foreign Policy”
  • Tracy Lightcap, Political Science, LaGrange College, “To Be or Not to Be: Torture, American Politics, and America's Future”
  • Celina Su, Political Science, Brooklyn College, CUNY, “Leaving No Child Left Behind” Behind: Building a Student-Centered Education Policy”

The Crisis - A Long View from the Left: Embedding Radical Visions and Democratic Potentials in Reform Campaigns:

Liberalism, Imperialism & the Politics of Human Rights:

Prosecuting Bush Era War Criminals & Seizure of Powers: Preventing More Crimes:

Left Lawyering in the Age of Obama:

The Crisis is in Charge, the Center Cannot Hold: What Way Forward with Obama:

Local Electoral Politics: Why Bother?:

Terror Incognita: Immigrants and the Homeland Security State:

The New Deal Model and Permanent Change:

Status Conflicts in America: Schools, Prisons, and WalMart:

Women on the Margins: Incarceration and Resistance in the Current Era:

Grassroots Organizing: Behind Bars, in the Community:

Campaign to End the Death Penalty National Tour: Live From Death Row! "Live call-in from death row prisoner":

Resistance Struggles on the Inside: Political Organizing Behind Bars:

Solitary Confinement in New York State Prisons:

Right-Wing Women and the Struggle to Remake Conservatism:

Three Generations of Women Explore the Price of Pleasure in Pornography:

Dialogue on protecting sex workers' rights versus human trafficking laws and logics:

The Culture Wars and Sexuality:

The New Slavery and the Global Sex Industry: The New Abolitionists:

Queer Politics, Class, and the Right:

Women’s Liberation in China:

  • Bai Di, Director of Chinese and Asian Studies at Drew University
  • Li Onesto, author of "Dispatches from the People's War in Nepal" and a writer for Revolution newspaper

Spitzer, Sex Work, and Trafficking:

Green New Deal - A Global Turn in Capitalism?:

The Debate Over Green Capitalism, Technofixes and Reforms:

Reclaiming Life:

Is Another World Really Possible?:

Science for the People:

Convergences and Strategies from the Emerging Global Climate Justice Movement:

Building Sustainable Communities, Beyond Green and Into Social Sustainability:

Overcoming Capitalist Ecological Degradation through Ecosocialism:

Global Warming and Society- What changes should students fight for?:

The Case Against Centralized Thermal (Nuclear and Coal) Power:

Strategies for Addressing the Climate Change Crisis: A Challenge to the American Left:

Withering Energies? Oil and the Financial Crisis:

Yes We Will!: Organizing to Bring Real and Lasting Social and Environmental Justice:

Grow It, Sell It, Cook It, Serve It, Eat It: Sustainable Alternatives in Food Production, Preparation and Distribution:

Food Sovereignty: Indigenous and People’s Control Over Their Own Food Production:

The Food Democracy Movement: Organizing for a Healthy, Sustainable, and Socially Just Food System:

God’s Economics: Is an Ethical Economy Possible?:

Spiritual Politics and Social Movements: A New Left Turn?:

Away With All Gods?:

Critique of Religion and Empire-Critical Bible Readings: A Christian-Marxist Dialogue:

Religious Communities, Social Justice Campaigns, and Poor People’s Movements:

Global Unions:

Crisis in Auto: Public Bailout or Public Ownership?:

Health Care Unionism and the Future of American Labor:

Informal Sector Worker Organizing at the Crossroads:

Internet Labor and the Economic Crisis:

Can the Chinese Labor Movement Reverse the “Race to the Bottom?”:

  • Ellen David Friedman, (Chair)- School of Government, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou
  • Zhang Xiaodan, Sociology, York College of CUNY
  • Earl Brown, Labor and Employment Law Counsel, American Center for International Labor Solidarity

Domestic Worker Organizing - Building Power Locally and Nationally:

Laboring American Culture: The Politics and Practices of Studs Terkel, Herbert Gutman, Staughton Lynd, and Archie Green:

  • Sean Burns, (Chair) - History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Andrej Grubacic, - ZMedia Institute, Sociology, University of San Francisco.
  • Steve Brier,- CUNY
  • Al Stein, Consortium for Oral History Educators and a lecturer at Chicago State University

Salty Dog Blues: Documenting the Dismantling of the National Maritime Union:

Can Collective Bargaining Aid Labor’s Economic Recovery?:

The Past, Present and Future of Strikes:

Solidarity Divided: The Crisis of Organized Labor, author meets critic:

Labor Strategy and Tactics for a New Era - A roundtable discussion with labor activists and strikers:

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3903 York University Strike: 85 Days of Struggle and Failure:

Class Struggle and the Crisis: From Workers to Capital and Back Again:

Direct Action Labor Struggle and Social Change:

Rank-and-file rebellions in a time of economic turbulence: Lessons for today from the long 1970s:

  • Mike McCarthy, (Chair) - Sociology, New York University & United Auto Workers Local 2110
  • Angela Glasper, National Union of Healthcare Workers
  • Cal Winslow, Fellow in Environmental Politics, University of California at Berkeley
  • Marsha Niemeijer, Longshore Worker's Coalition, staff organizer
  • Marvin Holland, Transport Workers Union Local 100 & founder of The Take Back Our Union Movement
  • Steve Early, Former organizer for the Communication Workers of America and labor journalist

Once More Into the Breach: Radical Film and Art:

  • Dennis Broe, (chair)- Graduate Coordinator, Media Arts, Long Island University, author of Film Noir, American Workers and Postwar Hollywood
  • Terri Ginsberg, author of Halocaust Film: The Political Aesthetics of Ideology - taught at Rutgers and Dartmouth
  • Paul Grant, New York University, translator Serge Daney's Postcards From the Cinema
  • Francine Tyler, art history, New York University

Poetry and Revolution:

Classy Documentaries about Class Struggle:

  • Barbara Garson, Chair- "MacBird", "All the Live Long Day"
  • Anne Lewis, "Fast Food Women", "On Our Own Land"
  • George Stoney, "The Uprising of 1934", Film and Cinema Studies, New York University
  • Peter Miller, "The Internationale", "Sacco and Vanzetti"

Left/Independent Publishing Panel:

Photojournalism and the Aesthetics of Suffering: Embedded Versus Unembedded and Sympathy versus Empathy:

Radical Left/International Film Makers:

  • Big Noise Collective Members

Photography: Revealing the Socially Invisible:

Anarchist Cinema, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow:

  • Richard Porton, (Chair) Cineaste editor and author of Film and the Anarchist Imagination
  • Howard Besser, Prof. of Cinema Studies and Director of New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program
  • Andrew H. Lee, New York University’s Tamiment Library

Salty Dog Blues: Documenting the Dismantling of the National Maritime Union:

Screening: The Uprising of ’34 (1995), George Stoney

SCREENING: Argentina's Dirty War: Through a Mother's Eyes (2008), Jessica Flores

  • Screening: Venezuela: Revolution from the inside out (2008), Clifton Ross
  • Screening: La Commune (2009), Cecile Clairval-Milhaud
  • Screening: The over spent American (1998) , Julie Schor
  • Screening: The End of Poverty? (2008) , Philippe Diaz
  • Screening: A Really Inconvenient Truth(2007), Joel Kovel
  • Screening: Malalai Joya: Enemies of Happiness women rights and the state of occupied Afghanistan

Post-screening discussion by

  • Paper - Tiger Documentary Interviews Left Forum Participants

Understanding the Roots of the “Israel-Palestine conflict”:

War and Imperialism: The New Turn in the War On Terror- from Afghanistan to Gaza:

Women’s voices from Iran:

  • Joel Simpson, Chair - critic, photographer, curator
  • Christiane Bird, Neither East Nor West: One Woman’s Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran (Washington Square Press)
  • Ezzat Goushegir, Medea Was Born in Fallujah (anthologized in Witness magazine), My Name Is Inanna

Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Roundtable on Ending Imperialist Projects in Iraq, the Middle East and South Asia:

Not our war: Afghanistan and the Challenges for the Global Peace Movement:

The Iraq War in Perspective:

Gaza: Between Invasion and Resistance - Jews and Arabs Speak Out!:

Building Solidarity with Iraq’s Civil Resistance:

The Role of Scholars and Artists in Palestine Solidarity: The Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel:

The Future of Israel/Palestine after Gaza:

A Panel Discussion on Anarchism and Marxism: Responses to Lynd/Grubacic "Wobblies and Zapatistas":

Dialectics in Debate:

  • David Fasenfest, (Chair)- Editor, Critical Sociology, Sociology, Wayne State University
  • Paul Paolucci, Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Alan P. Rudy, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, Central Michigan University
  • Carrol Cox, Illinois State University
  • Bertell Ollman, Politics, New York University

Remembering Mills: The Sociological Imagination 50 Years Later:

In Praise of Socialist Planning:

The Return of Marx: How can Socialism Change the World?:

Critical Theory and Democratic Vision: Herbert Marcuse and Recent Liberation Philosophies:

Revolution and Protest Yesterday and Tomorrow:

Responses to Meszaros' "Challenge and Burden of Historical Time":

The Trend of Chinese Marxism in the 21st Century:

Concretizing Marx's Alternative to Capitalism: A Marxist-Humanist Perspective:

How Does Marxist-Humanism Speak to Socialism for the 21st Century:

Dialectics of Defeat: Towards a Theory of Historical Regression:

The De-Stalinization of Chinese Marxism:

China's Contribution to Socialism and Democracy in the 21st Century:

China in the Global Crisis of Capitalism: A Turning point?:

South Asia Globalizing: What Ruling Classes Do When They Rule:

Rethinking the “most dangerous place in the world”: The war on terror in Pakistan:

The Chinese Model of Development:

Control and Discipline in Modern China:

'China in the face of Deepening Crisis of Globalized Capitalism

Political Economy of Contemporary India':

Marxist and other left perspectives on the future of the Chinese political economy:

  • Norman Levine, (Chair) - The Institute of International Policy
  • Wei Xiaoping, History of Marxism Philosophy, Philosophy Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • John E. Roemer, Political Science and Economics, Yale University

Exposing the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline and the Systematic Destruction of Poor Black and Latino Families in New York City:

Empowerment in Chinese American Communities- Then and Now:

Grassroots Organizing:

Building Strategies for Meaningful Local Development:

  • David Fasenfest, (Chair) - Critical Sociology, Sociology, Wayne State University
  • Gregory Hicks, Detroit Community Activist
  • William H. Brow, Mid America Medical Center District Neighborhood Redevelopment Corporation
  • Gwen Mills, Connecticut Center for a New Economy
  • Heather Mooney, Washtenaw County Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Specialist

Turning Points in Building Progressive Majority and Advancing a Vision of Socialism:

From the New School Occupation to Our Political Moment:

Rebel CUNY: Legacy of People's Struggle:

The Challenge of Right-Wing Populism in Northern Core Capitalist Countries: Differences, Similarities, and Labor Movement Counter-Strategies:

  • Ingar Solty, Political Science, York University, Toronto
  • Sam Putinja, York University, former shop steward & Teamster for a Democratic Union
  • Leo Panitch, York University, Toronto

Theorizing Radical Democracy:

Left Strategy from the Grassroots:

To Quell and Expel: Challenging the Police State:

What Has the World Social Forum Accomplished?:

Building New Social Relations: Prefigurative Politics in Movements:

The struggle at Six Nations and the politics of settler-indigenous solidarity:

For Leadership and Human Rights:

A Collaborative Multi-national Democracy Workshop: Building a Hemispheric Economy:

The Internet: Humanity's Revolutionary Initiative:

How Do We Create A New World: Do we help save the old dying world, or do we help speed up its certain death?:

A Networking Session for Radical Movement Centers:

Global Struggle for Democratic Control of Corporations in Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster:

Activists and the Current Crisis:

Politics of the Contemporary Student Left: Hope and Failures:

From the Barrio to the Barricades: Visions of a Better World:

Student Organizing in a New Era - A roundtable discussion for mobilizing students against Budget Cuts and War:

Solidarity Economy: Building Alternatives for People and Planet:

Rhizomic Democracy:

Women, Youth and the Solidarity Economy, Local and Global:

  • Terri Bennett, Earth and Environmental Studies, CUNY Graduate Student
  • Jenna Allard, Growing the Green Economy, member, U.S. Solidarity Economy Network coordinating committee
  • Mike Menser, Philosophy Department, Brooklyn College

Radical Organizing: Challenges and Successes:

Is the Left Ready for a New Political Party:

How Occupation Works:

Teaching War and Peace in the Classroom:

Building Power Through Educational Justice:

The Criminalization of People with Psychiatric Disabilities:

Teaching Immigrants and Immigration:

Teaching in Bad Times:

Teaching Popular Economics:

Campus Responsible Investment Movements:

Housing: A Basic Human Right:

Defeating the Persistent Assaults on Social Insurance:

The Practice of Teaching. Researching and Writing on Elite Deviance in the Higher Education Context:

Turning Up the Heat for Single Payer Health Care at this Political Turning Point:

Health Care Reform: Building Left Unity is Critical:

Public Education, Gentrification, and Privatization:

The Housing Crisis and the Possibilities for Resistance:

The Street Children of Tegucigalpa: Teenage Gangs, Child Labor, Family Disintegration, and the Failed Washington Consensus:

Venezuela’s Impact on Latin America:

Where is Venezuela Heading?:

  • Clara Irazabal, (Chair) - Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University
  • Steve Ellner, Political Science, University de Oriente, Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela
  • Gregory Wilpert, Brooklyn College, author of "Changing Venezuela by Taking Power"
  • Sujatha Fernandes, Sociology, Queens College, CUNY

Dependency Theory revisited: elements for a critical interpretation of the new-developmentism in Latin American governments:

Not Just Change, but Justice: Taking on U.S. Latin America Policy in the Obama Era:

Beyond the Links of Repression: from Chile to the US:

Social Struggles, Political Conflicts, Democracy in Latin America:

  • Hobart Spalding, (Chair)
  • Carlos Vilas, Political Science, Universidad Nacional Lanus in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Margarita Lope, Universidad Central de Venezuela, author of “The Rise and Rule of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela”
  • Emelio Betances, Sociology/Anthropology, Latin American Studies, Gettysburg College

The Puerto Rican Reality: The Duality of the anti-colonial struggle:

Cuba 2009: A Turning Point?:

Indigenous Mobilization in South America:

  • Gerardo Renique, (Chair) - CCNY-CUNY, Historian, Author and editor
  • Hugo Blanco, Peasant leader, former political prisioner and currently editor of "Lucha Indigena"
  • Silvia Rivera, Bolivian anthropologist, historian and activist, founder of the Taller de Historia Oral Andina
  • Marc Becker, Professor of History, Truman State University

New Left Party Formations in Europe: The Global Crisis of Neoliberalism and New Openings:

Making sense of the Greek uprising:

European Perspectives on Obama:

Victor Serge Read-In: Stop Political Terror in Russia:

Comparative Race and Gender in the U.S. and South Africa:

Creating a Civil Rights Agenda Post-Proposition:

Hyper-Consumption and the Failure of Capitalism:

Genocide and Human Rights:

Regroupment of the European Radical Left:

Indigenous activism, the new constitution, and political conflict in Bolivia:

Universities in (the) Crisis: Class Contradictions in Higher Education:

Long Term Strategies for the Left:

The Right to the City:

Africa And The Crisis Of Global Capitalism: Will It Be Bail Out Or Cash Out?:

China in the Global Economic Maelstrom:

Marxism and theory: The Return of Karl Marx…But Which Marx is Most Needed, Especially Now?:

Obama and Iran: A New Beginning?:

Illustrating Resistance: Art, Activism and Popular Education:

What Can Be Done About Corporate Media’s Biggest Magic Trick- The Disappearance of the Working Class?:

Secularism and the Radical Imagination:

Political Economy of the Globalized Food System:

Ecology and Environment: Capitalist Crisis, Energy and the Commons:

gender: Gay Marriage: Should the Left Care?:

prison industrial complex: Let Freedom Ring: Strategies to Free Political Prisoners Today

U.S. Politics: American Violence: Actually-Existing Barbarism?:

  • Vivek Chibber, (Chair) - Sociology, New York University
  • Philip Green, Government, Smith College, and Political Science, New School for Social Research
  • Ruth Wilson Gilmore, American Studies and Ethnicity and Geography, University of Southern California
  • Leo Panitch, York University

Race: Race, Class and the Black Left:

Culture and everyday life: Is the Crisis the Solution?:

Political economy and the current crisis: What is the Nature of the Economic Crisis?: