Call for papers, actions, and workshops
The Great Transition, 18-21 may 2023, Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, Canada
Organized by Alternatives and Historical Materialism
Fighting back in Times of Global Crisis: Repoliticizing, Imagining, Achieving
We live in an era of global crisis – ecological, economic, social, and political – that requires a civilizational shift away from all dimensions of the capitalist system. For example, the resurgence of unabashed white supremacy and right-wing nationalist populism is a global phenomenon disproportionately affecting marginalized groups. The worsening of the ecological crisis, coupled with a climate of war, is also reviving a patriarchal culture emphasizing control over nature and over women’s bodies. This context highlights how racial and gendered subordinations are interlinked under capitalism; it is a racialized, colonial, and gendered system. We must therefore conceptualize ways to move beyond capitalism, namely through intersectional, liberation-oriented, ecological and democratic socialism.
It is crucial to map out the relationships between systems of power – colonialism, patriarchy, white supremacy, or cisheteronormativity – to determine the different ways in which capitalism organizes bodies and territories. Though different geographical and digital spaces are distinct, they remain interconnected through hierarchies that enable the exploitation of vulnerable groups. Conceptualizing capitalism should allow us to articulate the parallels and intersections between race, gender, sexuality, religion, patriarchy, ecology, and class and to see these as components of a multifaceted system of exploitation. We must reconnect at two levels: conceptually reconnect systems of oppression to understand their impact on the world, but also reconnect ourselves to the world to fight more effectively for its liberation, and transform it. To dismantle current systems, we must (re)build trust and ensure that dynamics of subordination are transcended.
To move from resistance to societal transformation, a social project of transition away from capitalism, based on knowledge from both university and community organizing perspectives, is necessary. Thus, the international event The Great Transition: Fighting Back in Times of Global Crisis invites citizens of various backgrounds (activists, trade unionists, members of political parties, students, or academics) to reflect on these questions along three axes: Repoliticizing, Imagining, and Achieving. This conference aims to reinforce ties between academics and activists, but also between francophone, anglophone and indigenous communities. It also seeks to promote post-capitalist ideas and introduce them to the lay public.
Panels and workshops of 3 to 5 speakers will be prioritized, but individual presentations will also be considered for integration into a panel. Exclusively male panels are discouraged and diversity is encouraged. In addition to the typical conference format, we invite you to submit practical workshops, technology-related sessions, artistic and cultural performances, political actions, or any other creative format. A mix of theory, practice, and art can produce the politicization needed to achieve our collective dreams.
- Transforming our economies
This topic seeks to foster discussion about the strategies to reclaim the economy collectively. Nearly 15 years after the 2007-08 crisis, we are now facing inflation, stagnant wages, rising inequality, and a housing crisis which make a renewed opposition to neoliberalism all the more urgent. Beyond strategies of resistance, what are the experiences (production, housing, multilateral models, urban spaces, digital spaces, etc.) that prefigure the development of an economic base which would be independent from capital? How can we rethink the economy to confront the climate crisis? What lessons can be learned from past and present cooperative movements and nationalizations? What place should the nationalization of the financial sector occupy? How can we abolish the debt of countries in the Global South? We must imagine alternatives to capitalism that would allow us to democratize our economy and render it more ecological. To formulate a global alternative to the current system, this topic seeks to identify and create a dialogue between different post-capitalist models (democratic socialism, afrotopic economies, Latin American socialism, participatory economy, eco-socialism, degrowth, libertarian municipalism, commons, etc.). These models must be considered in all their intersections with other systems of oppression and exploitation.
- Rethinking democracy and power relations
Poignant criticisms of the liberal capitalist state have for many years called into question its legitimacy. The central role played by this political system in its numerous forms of systemic oppressions and its failure to establish truly representative and participatory democratic practices, have encouraged the emergence of political alternatives in academic and activist milieux. The need for action is becoming increasingly urgent: the time has come to go beyond criticism and organize to move forward. Which strategies should we adopt to move from a bureaucratic and disciplinarian state to one that is open to popular demands and promotes the self-management of communities and workplaces? Can we imagine living in a more collective world? How can we democratize our movements and political formations so that they stimulate forms of self-organization that encourage a more direct and participatory democracy? What innovative and inspiring steps forward have been taken over the past few years, and what can we learn from their successes? How can we fight the far right and the rise of fascism taking place in various societies, and make just and democratic struggle central in the process? How can we build a political transition centered on justice for groups which have been historically excluded or marginalized? The reflections prompted by these questions can stretch from the local level (such as grassroots movements or eco-villages) to the global one (such as North-South dynamics, migration or the abolition of borders).
- Upholding sovereignty against imperialism and colonialism
For a just transition to take place, it is essential to dismantle all forms of imperialism and colonialism. Abolishing these power dynamics is a major challenge but represents a key course of action in the struggle against capitalism. How can we build solid relationships of solidarity and mutual support to work towards our common goals in the context of the coloniality of power? How can we ensure that the Land Back movement plays a central role in the future we seek to build? How can we stimulate innovation within activist movements and amplify the voices of anti-colonial movements without appropriating them?
We must support peoples of the global South in their struggles against the predatory practices of capitalism, fight against apartheid in Palestine, support the struggles of Indigenous women in Latin America against mining companies, combat the imperialism of Russia in Ukraine. How can we construct an anti-war, anti-colonial movement which supports the unfinished struggle for decolonization throughout the world? How can we rethink international cooperation so that it functions for and by peoples of the global South? Which strategies can we implement at the local level to weaken imperialism? What have been the failures and successes of the struggles for peace, demilitarization, and denuclearization? In the Canadian context, we must support Indigenous peoples’ struggles for sovereignty, be they territorial, bodily, cultural, or digital. It is imperative that we develop a collective struggle against Canadian imperialism which combines Québec’s struggle for liberation with support for Indigenous struggles and those of francophones across Canada. We must also articulate these struggles in dialogue with the working and popular classes in Canada. How to organize Québec’s national struggle and that of Indigenous peoples against imperial strategies, including those of the mining industry?
- Understanding the co-constitution of systems of oppression
Our world is shaped by many intersecting forms of oppression, exploitation, and dispossession. In a desire to move beyond them, there are an increasing number of practices that contest the colonial, sexist, racist, and ecocidal order upon which capitalism remains dependent to this day. At the same time, we are witnessing a worrying normalization of extreme right-wing discourse. We must reaffirm the interdependence of all systems of oppression and articulate the importance of leaving no one behind in our struggle for a more just post-capitalist world. What are the intersectional obstacles we face in our global and local struggles? What is the place for the anticapitalist struggles in decolonial and intersectional activism and frameworks? If our oppressions are interdependent, the same is true for our liberations. How can we analyze the ties between systems of oppression and marginalization with regards to social and environmental destruction, in order to enable us to construct greater solidarity between our struggles? What would international relations look like in a post-capitalist, feminist, decolonial, and inclusive world? In this sense, how can we fight against the closure of international borders and the creation of internal borders which disproportionately affect racialized groups? What is the source of identity-driven nationalism? How can we effectively oppose the rise of the right?
- Repoliticizing the climate question
In September 2019, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, participated in the climate march in Montreal. The previous year, his government had concluded a $4.5 billion transaction with Kinder Morgan, the energy company, to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline, to complete the planned expansion. In May 2022, the expansion cost had gone up to $21.4B. This example shows that the politicians pay only lip service to the climate crisis since they continue to support a destructive status quo. Worse than greenwashing, we are witnessing a de-politicization of the issue, which creates a false narrative that the climate crisis can be solved without radically transforming our economic system. There is no solution to the climate crisis within the capitalist, colonial, and extractive system that created it, a system that denies the fact that humans are an integral part of the environment. How is the repoliticization of the climate question related to the link between capitalism and ecological destruction? How can we reaffirm the central role of climate justice in the liberation of all oppressed peoples? How can we repoliticize power relations within environmental movements?
- Reconfiguring the left
The recent presidential elections in Chile and Colombia have contributed to a discursive and practical renewal of the left in Latin Americ and elsewhere by integrating feminist and environmental demands into their platforms. This new left differs from the pink wave of the beginning of the 21st century: it criticizes extraction-based economic development and openly denounces patriarchy and the coloniality of power. It has also constructed new forms of political socialization based on structures that are less hierarchical and increasingly centered on the use of social media. It is a left nourished and sustained by global social movements. Within a transition project born from the convergence of many forms of resistance, it is essential to build models of the left that consider the emergence of new meanings of citizenship, power, and modes of articulating the question of rights. How can feminist and decolonial critiques help build new left-wing models of emancipation? How to establish a constructive dialogue between these critiques and Marxism to develop new political frameworks which go beyond racism, sexism, imperialism, and the coloniality of power within political practices? How can we imagine new forms of political socialization within the left, less hierarchical and more decentralized, which use social media and technology to promote processes of liberation? And if the problems the left is facing can only be solved on a global scale, how can we embody a true internationalism?