Sydney, April 10-12, 2009: `World at a Crossroads' 21st century socialism conference day-by-day agenda

World at a Crossroads: Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century
Easter 2009, April 10-12, Sydney

Venue: Sydney Girls High School

World At A Crossroads is a conference that brings together hundreds of socialists, progressive activists and Marxist thinkers from around Australia, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North America in dozens of panel presentations and workshops dealing with the urgent questions that confront us all: war, imperialism, food security, racism, workers' rights, sexism, the media and culture. Feature sessions and streams will include:

  • The capitalist economic crisis: Putting people and planet before corporate profits
  • Stopping global warming: Social change, not climate change
  • Emerging alternatives to capitalism and war: The Venezuelan revolution and anti-imperialist rebellion in Latin America
  • Organising to fight for a better world: Building mass movements, alliances and left parties

Most of all, however, this conference will be about creating solutions. The rising revolutionary movements in  Latin America, which are posing the most serious challenge to global capitalist destruction for decades, are full of inspiration and lessons for people fighting for justice everywhere. Those struggles, and the alternative social systems they are creating, will be a big feature of this conference with the participation of guest speakers from Latin America.

The many struggles of the people in the Asia-Pacific region against imperialist exploitation and state repression, and for genuine democracy and social justice will be addressed by guest speakers from left parties, trade unions and social movements in the Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Timor Leste, amongst others.

For more info, email or, or phone (02) 9690 1230. Alternatively, you can register online now!

Organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance.

Sponsored by Green Left Weekly.

World at a Crossroads conference day-by-day agenda


9am Welcome and acknowledgement of Aboriginal land

9.30am Feature session
Capitalism's crises and our solutions
Reihana Mohideen, feminist and labour activist in the Philippines, leader of the newly formed Party of Labouring Masses
David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red
Michael Lebowitz, Centro Internacional Miranda, Venezuela, and author of Build it now: Socialism For the 21st Century

11am – Workshops

Sexism and the system: A rebel’s guide to women's oppression - Reihana Mohideen, feminist activist from the Philippines; Kavita Krishnan, national secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association; and Jay Fletcher, Resistance activist

Evo Morales and Bolivia's Indigenous revolutionFederico Fuentes, editor of Bolivia Rising and co-author of MAS-IPSP: a political instrument which emerged from the social movements

Iraq and Afghanistan: The US' unwinnable wars for oil – Alex Bainbridge, DSP; and Ammar Ali Jan, Labour Party Pakistan

Working-class responses to the economic crisis - Jody Betzien, activist in the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union; Roger Annis, activist in the International Association of Machinists in Vancouver, Canada, and delegate to the 2008 Canadian Labour Congress convention

Marx and Engels and Darwin: Evolution and Historical Materialism - Ian Angus, author of forthcoming book on Darwin and materialism

Understanding Marxist economic theory – Graham Matthews, DSP national executive member and Green Left Weekly journalist on economic issues

1pm – Lunch

2pm – Feature session
Obama, US imperialism and the “war on terror”
Salim Vally, spokesperson for Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)
Ammar Ali Jan, anti-war activist from the Labour Party Pakistan
Rob Stary, civil liberties lawyer
Introduced by Pip Hinman, DSP national executive member and activist in Stop the War Coalition

3.30pm – Workshops

Public ownership and workers’ control – Dave Kerin, heading up initiative to establish worker-run cooperatives to build solar panels; and Michael Lebowitz on the experiences and lessons of self-management in Yugoslavia and Venezuela

The Politics of Che Guevara – Resistance activist Duncan Meerding

Challenges of building a climate change movement - David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red; Simon Butler, Green Left Weekly journalist on environmental issues and People for a Safe Climate activist; and John Rice, Adelaide Ecosocialist Network

Boycott Israel campaign – Discussion hosted by Salim Vally, involved in the recent actions by South African dockworkers to boycott Israeli ships, with activists in the BDS campaign against Israel

Political struggle in Timor Leste: The global, regional and local context (Fri 3.30pm) – Mericio Juvinal Dos Reis and Tomas Freitas, both socialist activists involved in Timor’s clandestine movement against Indonesian occupation and initiators of Luta Hamutuk (Fight Together), a research and advocacy institute focussing on economic issues
Understanding the economic crisis: why stable capitalism is not possible - Jamie Doughney, senior researcher at the Work and Economic Policy Research Unit at Victoria University of Technology

Why be a Marxist today? – Resistance activist Katherine Bradstreet and Brianna Pike, DSP Sydney organiser

5.30pm – Feature session
Confronting the climate change crisis: an ecosocialist perspective
Ian Angus, founder of the Ecosocialist International Network, editor of Climate and Capitalism and associate editor of Socialist Voice (Canada)
Dick Nichols, author of Environment, Capitalism and Socialism, Socialist Alliance national co-convenor
Introduced by Stuart Rosewarne, co-editor of Capitalism, Nature, Socialism

7.30pm Dinner with music, poetry and film footage from struggles around the world



9.30am Feature session
The specter of 21st century socialism
Michael Lebowitz, Centro Internacional Miranda, Caracas, author of Build it Now: Socialism For the 21st Century and Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class, winner of the Isaac Deutscher memorial prize (2004)

11am – Workshops

Marxism, Islam and national liberation – Ammar Ali Jan, Labour Party Pakistan, M. Saraswathy, founding member and deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia; and Tony Iltis, DSP activist

The struggle for human rights in Guatemala - Raul Molina Mejia, long-time Guatemalan human rights defender, Adjunct Associate Professor of History at Long Island University

Climate refugees and the “overpopulation” debate – Kamala Emanuel, DSP national committee member

Philippines: Developments on the leftReihana Mohideen, long-term activist in the women's and labour movements in the Philippines, involved in the recent formation of the Party of the Labouring Masses, and formerly vice-chair for international affairs of the socialist labour centre, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers)

Haiti today: five years of UN military occupationRoger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network, visited Haiti on a human rights fact-finding mission in 2007

Production and consumption as a source of global warming: Beyond capitalism and toward a democratic ecosocialism - Hans Baer, Development Studies Program and Centre for Health and Society at the University of Melbourne, author of Global Warming and the Political Economy of Health

Understanding the economic crisis: peculiarities of the 2008-09 crisis – Dick Bryan, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney

1pm – Lunch

2pm – Feature session
Building a worker-green-community alliance for sustainability
Tim Gooden, secretary of Geelong and Regions Trades and Labour Council
Dave Kerin, convenor of Union Solidarity and heading up initiative to establish worker-run cooperatives to build solar panels
Mel Barnes, Resistance activist in the Stop the Pull Mill campaign in Tasmania

3.30pm – Workshops

From Invasion to Intervention: Indigenous resistance in Australia – Sam Watson, Aboriginal leader from Brisbane and Socialist Alliance national spokesperson on Indigenous rights; and Mitch, inspiring Arrernte/Luritja woman, author, poet and artist, who is fighting the federal radioactive waste dump proposed for her country.

The struggle for transgender and same sex marriage rights in Australia – Ben Cooper, Community Action Against Homophobia and active in defense of queer refugee rights; Ryan Radclyffe Hall, A Gender Agenda, involved in the Campaign for Civil Unions in the ACT, currently active around trans rights; and Farida Iqbal, Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance, activist in the Campaign for Civil Unions in Canberra, and former national queer officer for the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations.

The left in MalaysiaM. Saraswathy, founding member and deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia, and long-term organiser of plantation workers, urban settlers and women workers in Malaysia

Crisis and resistance in AfricaSalim Vally, long-time anti-apartheid campaigner in South Africa; and Soubhi Iskander, Sudanese Communist Party

Experiences of left unity: the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France and Socialist Alliance in Australia – Sam Wainwright, international observer at the NPA founding congress; and Sue Bolton, DSP Melbourne secretary and Socialist Alliance Victoria.

El Salvador after the elections: the struggle continues – Aristides González, Ismael Alvarado and Rafael Pacheco, activists from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in Australia

History of Resistance and the DSP – Resistance activist Stuart Harrison and Stuart Munckton, DSP national executive

5.30pm – Feature session
Latin America: revolt, revolution and socialism in the 21st century
Abelardo Curbelo, veteran of the Cuban revolution, central committee member of the Cuban Communist Party, currently Cuban ambassador to Australia
Nelson Davila, founding member of Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement (MBR-200), currently head of Venezuela's diplomatic mission to Australia
Luis Bilbao, long-time socialist activist on the Latin American left, participant in the construction of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations
Introduced by Lisa Macdonald, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network national co-convener

7.30 pm Conference Dinner and Fiesta
Celebrating revolution: 50 years of Cuban Revolution, 10 years of Venezuelan Revolution
With toasts by Cuba’s ambassador to Australia, Abelardo Curbelo, and Venezuela’s charge d’affaires, Nelson Davila



9.30am Feature session
Neoliberalism and resistance in the Asia-Pacific region
Kavita Krishnan, Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist), editor of Liberation, the CPI-ML’s magazine in English, and national secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association; and Mericio Juvinal Dos Reis, executive director of the Luta Hamutuk Institute

11am – Workshops

Cultural dissent: the politics of art and resistance - Ian Angus on Racism, resistance and the blues; Jill Hickson from Actively Radical TV; and Phil Monsour, progressive folk singer

Capitalism, agribusiness and sustainable agriculture – DSP members Trish Corcoran, Kate Stockdale and Nick Soudakoff

Has racism always existed? – Resistance activist Dom Hale

The Great Depression, the ALP and communist organising: Lessons for today – DSP national executive member Dave Holmes

Understanding the economic crisis: what now? – Dick Nichols, Socialist Alliance national co-convenor; Dick Bryan; and Jamie Doughney

The Cuban economy and Latin American integration – Tim Anderson, lecturer in political economy at Sydney University just returned from Cuba, and producer/director of The Doctors of Tomorrow

1pm – Lunch

2pm – Feature session
Revolution in Venezuela - communal councils, the workers’ movement and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela
Luis Bilbao, participant in the construction of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations, founding editor of the Latin America-wide monthly magazine América XXI, and author of 16 books, most recently Venezuela in Revolution: the Rebirth of Socialism

3.30pm – Workshops

Young socialists fighting backKavita Krishnan, former president of the All India Students' Association (1999-2006); and Resistance national co-organiser Jess Moore.

Sustainable cities: the transition to public transport, accessible housing and liveability – Ben Courtice, DSP environment movement activist

Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah and the right of Palestine to exist – Issac Shuisha, Israeli-born Palestine solidarity activist; and DSP member Rupen Savoulian

Argentina: the key to the region - Luis Bilbao, Union of Militants for Socialism, Argentina, author of recently published Argentina as the key to the region

Imperialism, nationalism and financial collapse: the Canadian experienceRoger Annis, associate editor of Socialist Voice, Canada

The Tamil struggle for self-determination - Brian Senewiratne, Sinhalese activist involved for more than four decades in exposing the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Sri Lankan government and Sinhalese militias; author of various books on the Tamil struggle that have been banned in Sri Lanka

Building a revolutionary alternative in Australia today – Resistance activist John Hawtin; and Ruth Ratcliffe, DSP Adelaide organiser

5.30pm – Feature session
World at a crossroads: Fighting for our future
Peter Boyle, Democratic Socialist Perspective national secretary
M. Saraswathy, deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia
Daphne Lawless, Socialist Worker (New Zealand) central committee member and editor of Unity journal
Ian Angus, Socialist Voice (Canada)

7pm Resistance gig with beats from Dhopec and others.

About the DSP, a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance

Since the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe, capitalism's ideologists and media mouthpieces have happily written off socialism. The Democratic Socialist Perspective has a different view: it argues that the need for a radical reorganisation of society has never been more urgent.

The DSP seeks to build a mass revolutionary socialist party that is capable of organising the Australian working class to bring into being a socialist society through replacing the political rule of the capitalist class with a government of the working class.

About Resistance

Past generations have stood up against the great injustices of their time: slavery, apartheid, fascism, and war. They envisioned the world as it should be, not just as it was, and through their struggles achieved things once thought impossible. Now is not the time to despair. We need to get angry, get active and get organised.

Resistance is a socialist youth organisation. We look at not only what is wrong, but why - and how we can change it. The injustices in the world today are fundamentally caused by capitalism. We believe that the only viable alternative is socialism - the democratic control of society and economy by ordinary people, not corporations.