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LAC, Day Two


Well, it’s hard to convey all that happened today. It wasn’t like last
nights event, "Beyond Bush", where all four speakers were under the same
roof spanning a three hour period. Workshops today had at least three, and
up to five, speakers, mostly in two hour sessions from 11:00 am to 6:00
pm. An extra difficulty in providing adequate coverage was the fact that
for any workshop I attended there were 5-7 others happening
simultaneously, but this was expected…

I don’t want to try to recap todays events in as much detail as last
night, I have been recording audio for that. However, I do want to make
some general, but brief, observations that seemed promising, which is
also a reason why I think it is important to report back from the
conference.

Again, this event is kicking off the week of events protesting against
Bush and the Republican National Convention (RNC). People have come from
predominantly the US, but there was also constituency from other parts of
the world. They have come to show opposition to the RNC, but also to
deepen and sharpen our movements analysis, understanding, and articulation
of both institutional critiques, and visions for another world. Although
the US election is one that will have an important outcome for many, and
people could easily become myopic on the election alone, the LAC conference
is a conscience effort that is aware of the need for longterm vision and
strategy. This is why I came.

The first half of today focused on the "Contours of Capitalism". I
attended the plenary on "Capitalism and Democracy". This workshop featured
Ruthie Gilmore from the Prison Moratorium Project, Cindy Milstein from The
Institute for Social Ecology, and Janine Jackson from Fairness and Accuracy
in Reporting (FAIR). The speakers explored "the contradictory nature of
capitalism and democracy through an examination of mass media, racism,
the prison system and corporate globalization." They posed the questions
"What are the implications for citizens rights under the current economic
system?" And, "What does true and direct democracy mean?"

The second half of the day explored "Perspectives on Power". The workshop
I went to was titled "Engaging the State". The speakers were comprised of
Farrah Miranda of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), Zapatista
solidarity activist Sylvia Romo, and Michael Albert of ZNet. As the titled
suggests, the topics for discussion were whether to end or wield state
power. Lessons from past and present social movements were discussed and
thoughts of how we can develop alternative powers and institutions were
proposed.

The final workshop of the day, that I attended, was "The Party’s Over!
Post-party Politics and the New Radicalism". This one featured Bilal
El-Amine of Left Turn, author and journalist Naomi Klein, and author and
professor Michael Hardt. This panel explored new forms of organising, what
our movements lack, how to challenge capitalism, and the benefits and
limitations of party politics.

Again, I think this event is important as an example, deepening our
capacities as social movements. As an example because I think that the Life
After Capitalism conference could serve as an inspiration for more
conferences focusing on humane post capitalist, racist, sexist and authoritairian
visions, and strategy how to get their. Perhaps a Life After Capitalism conference could
be held annually, reviewing the past year and taking steps forward. Regardless, I
am excited to see that those who are intensely mobilising for the coming week of
RNC protests are also looking beyond into the future towards another world.

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