This panel addresses two questions that are central to the thematic section, “Fighting all oppressions: Strategies to overcome the multiplicity of oppressions.” It will discuss strategies and tools that can be developed to fight the rise to power of openly xenophobic and often misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic governments.. It also addresses initiatives and social experiments that open a way toward a more genuine understanding of difference. Niko Block and Robert Latham’s communication, taking on nativist neoliberalism in North America and Europe, lays out ways to counter racist/sexist rightist appeals to reach workers and link them to intersectional movements. Sabrina Fernandes turns to Latin America which faces not only ecological disasters that affect most of all indigenous communities but also revitalized rightest (nativist neoliberal) formations. Her communication will explore ways of forging new left-anchored cultures of solidarity and collaboration that join indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Finally, Julian von Bargen and A.T. Kingsmith’s communication proposes a radical, intersectional set of collective civil liberties designed to empower left organizers with an inclusive legal framework necessary for the leap from our current conjucture to a future with less exploitation and oppression.
Rearticulating the Leftist Imaginary in the Everyday of Multiple Oppressions
In what ways do the crises of the twenty-first century call for a radical recasting of the leftist imagination? This recasting process involves building bridges between the real and imaginary, so that the path to achieving political goals is plain to see. Accordingly, the articulation of leftist goals must resonate with people in concrete ways, so that it becomes obvious how the achievement of those goals would improve their day-to-day lives. This means building movements that offer continual improvement rather than asking already-vulnerable people for short-term losses on the abstract promise of long-term gains. Such an approach is not a recourse to mere reformism but an attempt to recast how the left engages workers and the oppressed in terms of the full spectrum of their lives. This spectrum encompasses established lines of racial, gender, and status differences.
Can the traditions of workers’ inquiry and intersectionality be joined and built upon? This communication suggests they can but, in the context of decades of rightist ideologies of division and hate, they only offer starting points for organizing strategies for viable left movements. Such strategic development demands, first of all, that we understand precisely how right-wing ideology and culture retains such a popular appeal in so many spaces. A second necessary task is the articulation and direct engagement with both workers and multiply oppressed groups around everyday improvements offered by non-capitalist alternatives in key areas such as housing, education, financial debt, child care, and healthcare.
Ecosocialist Networks of Resilience in Latin America
An ecosocialist paradigm is important for recasting leftist tactics, strategies and imaginations. As Latin America faces constant pressure to “catch up” after centuries of colonization and extraction, climate change and other environmental issues continue to be treated as problems to be dealt with after wealth and political power have been redistributed. By highlighting strategies developed by the worker-led “Pink Tide” in Brazil and Indigenous “Buen Vivir” (i.e. good living) movements in Bolivia and Ecuador for linking extractive capitalism and neoliberal austerity to the planetary ecological crisis, this contribution surveys how ecosocialism can be used to build resilient networks of class, ethnicity and ecologism that connect Indigenous groups on the frontlines of extraction with researchers, organizers and support workers in urban centres. This effort will require forging new left-anchored cultures of solidarity and collaboration that join indigenous and non-indigenous peoples especially in the context of an increasing onslaught from North American empire.
Building a Leftist Framework for Collective Civil Liberties
Julian von Bargen
The radical left finds itself in a difficult predicament: in the face of an alarming right turn, the liberal set of civil liberties currently enshrined in law in North America are an embattled refuge, no matter how insufficient they are to building a truly democratic state. This is an opportunity for those on the radical left to build a legal framework for collective civil liberties that strengthens the foundations of left struggles for social transformation and address long-standing intersectional exclusions. With these ends in mind, our paper asks: what would a set of radical intersectional, collective rights capable of democratizing the state, the workplace and society by confronting the oppressions embedded in Canada and the USA actually look like? Drawing inspiration from the forgotten radical left-anchored history of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a “frank partisan of labor” we outline some starting points: the right of rank and file employees to challenge organization hierarchies in bureaucracies and parties, the right of student groups and journalists to participate in and publicize decisions made by university boards and executives, restrictions on non-disclosure agreements by the rich and powerful to protect themselves from accountability following the out-of-court settlements of sexual assault allegations, and the legalization of all drugs as part of a de-policing strategy designed to de-escalate the militarization of the police and hasten the redistribution of public moneys to non-oppressive institutions and social services.