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The Fight for Socialism from Below: 40 Years of the ISO
May 6, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Featuring speakers from each decade of the ISO:
Sharon Smith, founder and national organizer of the ISO, author of Women and Socialism
Sherry Wolf, long time ISO member, Palestine, labor, LGBT activist, author or Sexuality and Socialism
Brian Jones, education justice activist, contributor to the book Education and Capitalism, speaker and writer on many articles about race and class in the U.S.
Monique Dols, longtime anti-war activist, frequent contributor to socialist worker newspaper – most recently on questions of free speech and fighting the right
Yasmine Kamel, Middle East solidarity activist, ISO member, and founding member of Bay Ridge for Social Justice.
6:30pm – Dinner and Drinks, fundraiser for scholarship funds for activists to get to the annual Socialism Conference in Chicago
7:30pm – Discussion on the decades of the ISO
8:30pm – Drinks, conversation, dancing
Put simply, socialism “from below” can be summed up by the idea that the emancipation of humanity can only be achieved through the self-activity of the vast majority, acting in their own interests. No political party, no “great” individual, no legislation can overturn the horrors and stresses produced by the capitalist system. In the International Socialist Organization, this is the guiding principle that we organize by. At every turn, how can the most people be brought into this political activity, to participate in organizing and fighting for their own liberation?
The tradition of socialism from below extends back to the foundations of Marxism, but has had to contend across generations, including on less than fertile ground. With the dominance of Stalinist politics (aka: socialism from above) that emerged in the degeneration and then defeat of the Russian Revolution, the memory of socialism from below was kept alive by small pockets of militants who were often marginalized. But even here in the U.S., in the belly of the beast, groups of revolutionaries have maintained organization and connection to labor struggles, social movements and political history through all the ups and downs. It was out of this tradition that the International Socialist Organization was founded in 1977 – a few short years before Ronald Reagan’s election ushered in what can only be described as challenging decades for radical politics.
Today we are seeing an unprecedented resurgence of interest in socialism, alongside massive protests against Trump’s onslaught. There is hope that years of retreat and defeat can give way to a rebirth for the Left. What better time to come together to eat some food and tell some stories from the years? We still have nothing to lose but our chains.