Portland State University (duh, where else) hosted a one day conference focusing on marxism and revolution. Sponsored by the International Socialist Organization, the event took place on April 30th and featured such speakers as Paul D’amato and Danny Katch, both of which are authors of popular (?) socialist books.
The facebook event page read:
One Day Conference of Socialist Politics, Debate, and Education
At Portland State University Parkway North in Smith Student Union Building
The popularity of Bernie Sanders’ campaign is evidence of widespread anger toward the deep inequality and oppression in our society. Many people are seeking out an alternative to capitalism and are for the first time embracing socialism. This conference will bring students and workers to discuss and debate strategies for building a socialist movement and a better world.
Video from the first session, featuring Mr. D’amato, features multiple calls to “overthrow the system”.
D’Amato praised Cuba and Vietnam, while blaming the US and the western allies for the fall of the USSR. “They did it, we can do it. Cuba broke away, Vietnam can do it. Vietnam broke away, they can do it. These workers fought, we can fight! They occupied their factory and they won, we can do it and win!” He goes on defend Russian communism by saying “Is socialism what happened in Russia? And there’s no doubt that what they tried to set up in Russia was socialism. It was also one of the poorest industrialized countries in the world, and their hope was we can start here but we can’t finish here. We can cling to power, but in conditions that are impossible… Socialism has to be made on abundance. Without abundance, all the old crap will revive, in spite of the desires and wishes of the revolutionaries themselves… You can’t have socialism built on the collapse of industry and mass starvation, and that’s what happened, and that’s what happened in Russia during the civil war. And a massive counter revolution army, supported by France, and Britain, and the United States, and Japan, under those conditions they managed to hold together, but they held together at the cost of the, sort of, democratic upsurge that had sustained it from the beginning.”
So the largest country by square mileage, which has vast amounts of oil, minerals, metal deposits, and countless other natural resources couldn’t find a way to thrive, and it’s somehow our fault.
This sentiment was further backed up by one of the students later in the event, saying “Why did socialism fail? Can socialism happen here? Yes, it can happen here, but it can’t only happen here. In Russia, you see this successful socialist revolution, but you also see the eight other imperialist countries attack Russia and smash the revolution.”
Another participant, Camille Avian White, wanted to clarify that the International Socialist Organization is Leninist/Trotskyist, not Stalinist.
They also claim that Franklin Delano Roosevelt wasn’t socialist enough, saying he was a stopgap who prevented true revolution and saved capitalism by giving in to enough of the revolutionaries demands to stop any TRUE prospective social change, thus saving the patriarchal system from actual socialism.
D’Amato cited a New York Post article that explained the difference between communism, capitalism, and socialism. “In a capitalist society, the people make those decisions. Businesses, the market decides how much products will cost, how many there are, and where it will be made,” to which the crowd busts out laughing. They go on to praise Bernie Sanders, of course.
This was a local version of a national conference of the same name, slated for the first week of July in Chicago.