Left Forum to meet at Pace April 17-19. Sign that the University no longer means just business

From early afternoon Friday, April 17, through Sunday morning the 19th some 2,000 young and old intellectuals, community organizers and activists who call themselves progressives, socialists, and leftists are expected to descend on the downtown campus to be officially embraced by Pace University, which is co-sponsoring the Forum.

Contacts:Seth Adler, Left Forum, 212-817-2003, cell 917-287-3005, seth@leftforum.org

Chris Cory, Pace University, 212-346-1117, cell 917-608-8164, ccory@pace.edu


What’s a university known for its business school doing sponsoring the Left Forum?

Diverse group of 2000 to gather April 17-19 at Pace University downtown campus to probe old and new social paradigms


TV and photo editors: You may get arresting images a few days before the conference or the day it begins (Friday, April 17) from a large, colorful backdrop evoking “foreclosure and the American dream.” It is being created now for the stage of Pace’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at 1 Pace Plaza, by the painter Jonathan Matas.

Panel discussions begin Friday at 1 p.m.

Most Left Forum panelists and speakers will be available at least briefly for interviews. Many will gather at a reception starting at 5 p.m. in Pace’s Multipurpose Room. The first plenary session starts Friday evening at 6:30.

A sampling of topics and speakers is at the end of this release. Full list at http://www.leftforum.org/?q=2009/panels

Media admission by press pass. Pace’s downtown Manhattan campus is east of City Hall on the downtown side of the Brooklyn Bridge on-ramp.

All Pace events mentioned are free and are open to the public. The Left Forum costs $60 for the weekend, $45 for those who state they have low incomes, and $15 for Pace students, those in groups of 10 or more, and those who ask for a scholarship. It is free for volunteers willing to work at least four hours.

NEW YORK, NY, April 6—Question: What is Pace University, traditionally known for its business school, doing sponsoring an international conference of scholars, intellectuals, and activists called the Left Forum?

Answer # 1: In this economy, business is looking for answers, too. The Left Forum is a unique New York tradition in which some of the world’s top progressive intellectuals offer just such answers and alternatives. Sponsoring it reflects a growing consensus in and beyond the business community at Pace that the country needs to listen as far and wide as possible.

Answer # 2: Pace is a marketplace of ideas.

Pace was founded as an accounting school 103 years ago and still is probably best known for its business school. Its downtown Manhattan campus is nine blocks from Wall Street.

But from early afternoon Friday, April 17, through Sunday morning the 19th some 2,000 young and old intellectuals, community organizers and activists who call themselves progressives, socialists, and leftists are expected to descend on the downtown campus to be officially embraced by the University, which is co-sponsoring the Forum.

The Forum started three decades ago as the Socialist Scholars Conference (SSC) and was held for almost 20 years at Borough of Manhattan Community College and for the last seven years at Cooper Union (CU). It moved to Pace because CU is under construction, because the conference got larger than the CU could accommodate, and because Pace has changed.

The 200 panels, multiple plenary sessions, and events combining arts and discussion will cover topics like “On the Brink of Depression: Turning Points in World Capitalism”, “Corporate Media’s Magic Trick: Disappearance of the Working Class” and “Sports as a Platform for Dissent.”

The conference starts Friday after lunch with panels organized by Pace faculty members and students. This year it has more sessions than ever before. In Pace’s main auditorium and approximately 30 classrooms, participants from 40 nations will examine the state of the world and their purchase on the future.

Notable speakers include famed political scientist, poor people’s advocate and Obama campaign strategist Frances Fox Piven; Sociologist Stanley Aronowitz, author of False Promises and Against Schooling (he recently ran for Governor on the Green Party ticket); Arlie Hochschild, a U.C. Berkeley sociologist known for pioneering work on women around the world, “emotional” labor and “the second shift”; Richard D. Wolff, U. Mass. Amherst, the Marxist economist now being recognized worldwide for his economic analysis and articulation of alternatives to the current crisis; Walden Bello, a World Social Forum critic and founder of an institute in the Philippines called “Focus on the Global South”; and Joel Kovel, a former professor in Bard College’s sociology department who recently generated controversy when he was terminated from his job, allegedly due to the anti-Israel content of a recent book.

Among the many representatives from abroad will be those from Germany’s new “Die Linke” party, which has been described as left of the Social Democrats while independent of old line Communists.

The world economy is one of this year’s predominant topics. “When Alan Greenspan is quoted as saying everything he knows doesn’t explain what’s going on in the economy,” said conference coordinator and sociologist Seth Adler, “it’s an acknowledgement that the prevailing models and modes of economic thought at the very least need to be shaken up.”

“Precarious labor.” Conference founders and organizers have worked to generate an “ecumenical” approach to every aspect of the Left Forum, encouraging diversity in viewpoints and debates on all issues along with networking and political strategy discussions. This year’s conference theme is “Turning Points.”

Discussions on the role of labor, Adler said, will be “bigger than ever before.” They include labor organizing in China and its potential impact on world wages; emerging worker centers for immigrants and their relation to popular movements for “the right to the city”; adding “from the ground up” to the debate about nationalizing U.S. banks; “precarious” labor, including part-time and temporary workers; and current struggles toward greater union density. Leaders will attend from mainstream national unions, local unions, and the emerging union campaigns in California for single payer health care and improved conditions for healthcare workers.

Several panels will discuss capitalism in once-socialist China and nationalization in the US auto industry.

Under a US President who once was a community organizer, the role of community organizations will be stressed. Says Adler: “The times are compelling people to think more creatively. Community groups are addressing global issues and globalists are addressing community issues.”

Student activism. More than 50 Pace students and faculty members are presenting the panels Friday afternoon and are speaking at other times. Their issues range from “Creating a Civil Rights Agenda” to “Genocide,” “Teaching about the Environment,” “Teaching Peace and War,” and “Hyper-Consumption and the Failure of Capitalism.”

Other highlights include independent film previews as part of a film festival, artists speaking on politics in their fields, two visual and photo exhibitions produced by conference curators, and theater, music, and film that will be integrated into the panels, roundtables and teeming hallway discussions.

Of the Pace community’s role in the event, Adler says “this is the most collaborative conference we have organized. We have benefited from the active engagement of Pace students, faculty, and staff, as well as input and support from the surrounding community.”

New Pace. This is hardly the Pace of the past. Its business school enrollment downtown is now equaled by enrollment in the humanities. The schedule in the week before the conference alone shows that the change is extensive.

On the two previous evenings and that Friday and Saturday, Pace is also hosting whores and knife-wielders in raw scenes staged in repertory by the soon-to-be-professional actors, directors and playwrights of the famous Actors Studio Drama School, which is now part of the University.

Thursday afternoon, there’s a public lecture on the University’s Pleasantville campus by a ferocious critic of US cooperation with dictatorships, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist Junot Diaz (“The Brief, Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao”). All week an exhibition called “Turbulence” will be at the University’s with-it digital gallery.

Of course, Pace has not morphed completely into the New School and its more leftward inheritance. The week starts with a business plan contest for entrepreneurs and a marketing conference.

Arrangement details. The Left Forum conference website is www.leftforum.org. Participants can register at register for Left Forum 2009 Conference; volunteers can email volunteer@leftforum.org.

Pace events mentioned are free and open to the public. The Left Forum costs $60 for the weekend, $45 for those who state they have low incomes, and $15 for Pace students, groups of 10 or more, and people who ask for a scholarship. It is free for volunteers willing to work at least four hours.

About Pace. For 103 years Pace University has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions resting on a firm base of liberal learning, amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

Conference Panels. A few of the more than 200 confirmed Left Forum panels include (full list at http://www.leftforum.org/?q=2009/panels):

On the Brink of Depression: Turning Point in World Capitalism?

Nationalization of the Auto Industry

Childhood, Capitalism and Resistance

Crisis Politics: What Way Forward for Obama?

Afghanistan & the Global Peace Movement

Women, Incarceration and Resistance

Religion & Empire: A Christian-Marxist Dialogue

Black Workers and the Current Economic Crisis

China’s Labor Movement: Global Dimensions

Debating Long Term Strategies for “the Left”

Left Psychology Explores US Personal Life

Illustrating Resistance: Art & Activism

Street Children of Tegucigalpa & Wash. Politics

The Debate over Green Capitalism

Health Care Reform: Building Left Unity Is Critical

Progressive Program for Financial Reconstruction

New School Occupation, New Political Moment?

Systematic Destruction of Poor Black & Latino Families in NYC

State Capitalism – a new, New Deal?

Gay Marriage: Should the Left Care?

Hip Hop and the Left

Gaza – Jews & Arabs Speak Out

The Food Democracy Movement

Speakers. Confirmed speakers include:

Arlie Hochschild

Walden Bello

Adolph Reed

Richard D. Wolff

George Stoney

Stanley Aronowitz

Frances Fox Piven

Gihan Perera

Barbara Epstein

Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Barbara Ransby

Katja Kipping

Laura Flanders

Fr. Paul Mayer

Rev. Anthony Johnson

Rabbi Michael Feinberg

Rev. Earl Kooperkamp

Jose LaLuz

Craig Calhoun

Ai-jen Poo

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Benjamin Chavis

Anwar Shaikh

Harmony Goldberg

Richard Kim

Hugo Blanco

Sahar Shafqat

Robin Blackburn

Radhika Balakrishnan

Staughton Lynd

Sheila Collins

Vijay Prashad

Nomi Prins

Leo Panitch

Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Doug Henwood

Houzan Mahmoud

Bashir Abu-Manneh

Silvia Rivera

Cindy Milstein

JoAnn Wypijewski

Douglas Kellner

Mark Solomon

Jane Slaughter

Marsha Neimier

Roger Salerno

Laura Whitehorn

Brigitte Kahl

John Bellamy Foster

Michael Menser

Peter Kwong

Bertell Ollman