While cable news pundits are busy predicting outcomes for Tuesday’s midterms, New York socialists have already set the schedule for a Marxism conference for this weekend; they plan to discuss the same topics no matter who wins on Election Day.
The conference– Saturday from 11am to 8pm at the New School, 66 W. 12th St— is for “hundreds of socialists and activists from NYC and the broader Mid-Atlantic region to dig into the theory, history and practice,” the event page reads.
“We’ve put the big questions together with the tasks of right now,” said Natalia Tylim, a Downtown Socialists member who organized this year’s conference.
There are several Mid-Atlantic candidates backed by high-profile socialists on the ballot tomorrow, including Ben Jealous in Maryland, John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York.
“Regardless of the specifics of what happens in each individual election, there’s going to be a need to build a socialist movement and a need for people coming together to analyze things as they happen and how best to respond to them,” Tylim said.
“The issues we’re seeing are systemic and are not caused by any one candidate,” she added.
Local chapters of the International Socialist Organization have held an annual fall conference for over a decade; last year, over 300 people attended, Tylim said. This year, sessions include “From #Metoo to Women’s Liberation”, “Race, Class and Marxism,” “Being a Socialist at Work,” and “Building a Socialist Left Under Trump.”
The speakers will be organizers and activists, and sessions will include time for attendees to participate. A session titled “Crisis of Democracy: The Rise of the Authoritarian Right Internationally” will include the writer Samuel Farber and Ella Mahony of Jacobin as speakers.
“Every group on the left is growing right now,” Tylim said. “I think it’s been one of the most important developments of the current moment.”
More than 40 democratic socialist candidates won their primaries this year, and since Trump’s election, Democratic Socialists of America membership has grown from 7,000 to more than 50,000.
“It’s moments like these that socialism exists for,” Tylim said. “The whole reason we’ve been doing what we’re doing for the past 41 years [as the New York International Socialist Organization] is because the way capitalism is structured forces people to question it.”
New York’s socialist groups say they tailor the annual conference to whatever is happening in the current moment. The Brooklyn and New York chapters of the International Socialist Organization are also co-hosting an event on Wednesday titled “Will the Blue Wave Wash Out the Orange Stain? The ’18 Midterms.”
“I think that Trump happened because of the politics of the status quo,” Tylim said. “I think you saw that really clearly around the Clinton campaign. Her message was that America is already great, and that just wasn’t gonna fly with the reality of people’s lives. And instead of turning inward and asking what they did wrong, Democrats turned on the electorate, the people they’re supposed to represent.”
Tickets for Saturday’s conference are on a sliding scale from $10 to $30 to cover conference costs, including childcare for participants, and no one will be turned away for inability to afford a ticket.