Reports on left conferences


I attended the Labor Notes conference in Detroit this past weekend. I was very impressed with the quality of the sessions I attended and the great diversity of the participants. I went to a session on racism chaired by Theresa El Amin of Black Workers for Justice (she is the second person from BWFJ I have heard. These are some sharp folks!). It started a bit chaotically but ended very well. Some examples of racism in union shops really shocked me but will spur me to speak out more forcefully on racism. Another session on European resistance to neoliberalism was also very good. I was surprised at the number of people who expressed open commitments to socialism. This also occurred at a session I co-chaired on the AFL-CIO's political economy (which, sad to say, is also the political economy of a good many leftists). More than 50 people were at our session, and the others I went to were also well attended. There were a couple of special sessions on Kosovo, and although I could not attend these, I got the impression that opposition to the war was pretty widespread among the participants at the conference.

I would be interested to hear the views of any others on the list who attended. I also encourage people to subscribe to Labor Notes.

Finally, I want to send a message of solidarity to Will Miller and the folks occupying Bernie Sanders's office. Only one House member opposed the congressional support vote on the bombing (Barbara Lee of Oakland, Ca, who won election after Ron Dellums retired).

michael yates

p.s. Isn't it incredible that Colin Powell was at the funeral in Littleton broadcast on tv and that fighter jets flew overhead?

Dear Friends, I am sorry I do not have time to do a properly thorough job summarizing what I saw and heard at the Socialist Scholars Conference. But here is a quick take. Perhaps others onlist were in the same sessions and could expand.

I was lucky, it appears. What I encountered was far more good than bad. I attended two sessions simply because of the people who were in them, and one session because of the topic. The first of the first group was a session which included William Hinton, the author of Fanshen. Hinton is 80 now and my hope was to have a chance to encounter him again and to thank him for a life and career that has been humble, persevering, incredibly tough, but inspirational for me and many many others. Hinton spoke, for the most part, about the reversal of socialism in China and the growing crisis rising, in part, from the shift of population from the cities to the countryside. He and other panelists stated that there are over 130 million people in China, now virtually rootless--a remarkable figure in any society. The panel was briefly interrupted by some left-Hegelians from some Trotskyist sect, but they calmed themselves after a few moments of hysteria about being sure that we all understood that in fact China is a deformed workers state, which I think is as silly an idea as their out