Marxism 2018 was held in Melbourne over the long weekend....
IT WAS journalist John Pilger who observed several years ago that Australia's annual Marxism had become an important arena for political discussion and debate.
"Marxism in Melbourne is now Australia’s premier festival of debate and free speech on issues that are either excluded from or suppressed by the mass media: issues such as the government’s agenda for indigenous Australians, Palestine and propaganda in its many disguises. I salute the organisers."
Marxism 2018 was held over the long weekend, 29 March - 1 April, and attracted socialists and activists from throughout Australia and from around the world, including Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines ,India, Nepal, Britain and the United States
The event is hosted by Socialist Alternative, which is generally considered to be Australia's largest left wing organisation. It also publishes the newspaper Red Flag.
Marxism 2018 kicked off with over 400 people packing the Collingwood Town Hall on Thursday night to hear a panel discussion on 'Fifty years since 1968: Rebuilding global resistance to capitalism'.
Friday saw the editor of the New York based Jacobin magazine, Bhaskar Sunkara, address another packed venue on 'Politics and Resistance in Trump's America'.
Other sessions addressed the failure of the social democratic parties and how a new left is emerging from the rubble. Josep Maria Antetas, from the University of Barcelona, addressed this issue in his talk on 'Podemos and the Rise of the Spanish Left' while Omar Hassan looked at what needed to be done to build a mass socialist workers' party from scratch. Tom Gilchrist had some things to say about populism and how the left should react to it.
On a entirely different tangent altogether, it was standing room only for Jorge Joquera and ' Fuck Mindfulness: A Marxist view of Dehumanisation in Late Capitalism'.
One of the more popular features of the Marxism conferences are always the Marxism 101 talks. There were a dozen or such talks this year , ranging from “Can you create change from inside the system?” and “How do Marxists understand class?” to “Workers’ power in the German revolution” and “Everything you wanted to know about socialism but were too afraid to ask”.
In all, there were over 100 talks and workshops throughout the four days. There was also a comprehensive cultural program, including music and film. And there were some interesting exhibitions - more about them can be found in other posts.