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First Solidarity Halifax Conference Held

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Introductory remarks from the conference panel
Introductory remarks from the conference panel
Posters and information for conference participants
Posters and information for conference participants
Outside the ICC
Outside the ICC
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives display
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives display

Amidst an ongoing debate over public financing of the proposed Halifax Convention Centre, and HRM Council wage increases, there is also a more fundamental political discussion occurring in Halifax. This discussion culminated in the organization of the first Solidarity Halifax conference, held on November 14th at the Agricola Street Italian Cultural Centre. More than 100 activists and concerned citizens converged to discuss anti-capitalism as a political concept and the state of anti-capitalist and left movements within the region.

The 6.5 hour conference is the first of what is planned to be a series of meetings to facilitate discussion and coordination between people of various leftist social movements in the region. Academics, labour, feminist, environmental and anti-racist group members, and otherwise concerned citizens attended the event, to discuss and find effective strategies to address problems within their movements.

The event was discussion-based, and opened with a few introductory remarks by a five member panel, who spoke on behalf of the conference organizing committee. The panel spoke to some of the reasons they had chosen to organize the conference. These included:

  • Within our individual movements, we discuss broader political questions privately, but don't regularly do so in collective settings.

  • There is a lack of “connecting the dots” between our individual movements in the region.

  • Because there are problems that demand immediate attention, we get caught up trying to make small gains, and are failing to discuss broader political concerns.

Thus, the conference was organized as a place to begin an ongoing discussion amongst the anti-capitalist left.

Attendees of the conference spanned the range of those with strongly-developed political viewpoints, to activists who are engaged or interested in leftist movements but who remain undecided about their specific political views. Everyone broke out into groups to answer some difficult questions: Where does the political left really sit at present, locally and internationally? In what direction does the left need to go, in terms of political philosophy and activity? And, how do we get where we want to go?

With various groups in attendance, discussion ranged regarding what direction the left needs to take. Some environmentalists expressed the need to continue fighting for sustainability and more ecologically sound economic policies. Some with socialist, Marxist, and anarchist political views spoke of the need to counter neoliberal socio-economic policies that are ultimately reducing wages and standard of living. Others addressed a desire to adopt a specifically anti-colonialist view, stating that any anti-capitalist political philosophy must also necessarily include an understanding of the imperialist outcomes of capitalism.

Later, attendees grouped together to discuss other specific questions: How do we make an anti-capitalist movement something more people want to be a part of? How do we address racism in our communities and within our movements? How do we empower and retain new activists? And how can we improve communication to create space for inclusive political discussion?

More than a dozen people were nominated from the conference participants to form a steering committee for the next Solidarity Halifax event. The many discussion notes from the November conference will be compiled, sent to all conference participants, and used by the steering committee to refine questions and discussion points for future meetings.

Solidarity Halifax: A Working Conference was followed by a 3 hour all-ages social at the Italian Cultural Centre. For more information on the Solidarity Halifax Conference and future events contact solidarityhalifax@gmail.com.

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560 words


Beyond 'Anti' - What do we want?!

If we want more people to join the movement and stay in it, we should offer more than what we are against. If we want to inspire people we need something to aspire to, not merely something to run away from. We can't just be the negators who wish to tare down what exists and serves a good portion of society. If all we offer is to create a rupture with nothing to fill it, we should expect people to run away from our movements. 

Check out my essay on the above dynamic (I think it was only on the VMC site): http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/blog/greg-dean/4969

And great work Halifax! I've started to call for a basis of unity conference here in Vancouver, but it's very far away indeed, seeing as our last two were very depressing in how little solidarity there was (amazing amounts of nit-picking). I hope this story gets promoted to every local in the media co-op chain.




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