The Radical Ideas Conference organised by Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance over August 18 to 20 attracted young and older radicals committed to “sparking the resistance”.
Celeste Liddle, an Arrente woman, union activist and writer joined abortion rights and Socialist Alliance activist Kamala Emanuel and Mia Sanders from Resistance in a fascinating panel “Women fight back against misogyny and rape culture”.
Liddle spoke about the intersectionality of violence and oppression Aboriginal women face, as well as the role First Nations women are playing in the movements for justice and sovereignty. Sanders highlighted the growing fight back against sexual harassment and rape on campuses and Emanuel addressed the ongoing struggle for the right to reproductive choices.
The conference heard an enthusiastic account of how young people in Britain are being radicalised as a part of the movement sparked by British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for office. Nathan Roberts, a young socialist from Socialist Resistance in Britain, said radicals and progressives can and are learning from the Corbyn campaign and spoke optimistically about prospects for the left there.
Ellecer “Budit” Carlos, spokesperson of iDEFEND (In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement) and the campaigns and advocacy officer of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, gave a very detailed account of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” policy and the response to it. He described it as a “veiled attack on the poorest sections of Filipino society” and said it strengthened the authoritarian elite.
US activist Justin Akers Chacón spoke via live stream on the panel “Tearing down their barbed wire borders”. While there have been new fronts opened up in general attack on immigrants, he reminded us that the ground had been laid by the neoliberal Democrat administrations. Dima Al-Msodny, a Resistance activist and former refugee from Iraq, spoke about the bipartisan cruelty to asylum seekers and called on people to get active in the refugee rights campaigns across the country.
Workshops drilled down on racism, colonialism, Marxist theory, environmental sustainability, the rise of the far-right and lessons from the Russian Revolution. The art work of Sam Wallman, Michelle Baginski and Nicky Minus was on display at the Electrical Trades Union offices where the conference was held. At the “Drawn Together: Art as a tool of Resistance” workshop, the artists spoke about their work and the importance of linking art to the ecological and social movements
A poetry and performance night supporting Green Left Weekly featured a range of poets including a former detainee Ravi Navven and music from Ezekiel Ox and The Same Boat.
The conference also joined with those campaigning nation-wide for a “Yes” vote in the postal ballot on marriage equality. This followed a workshop on how we can win against the bigots and push homophobia back. A photoshoot was also organised to send solidarity to the people of Venezuela fighting for sovereignty against the US-backed right-wing opposition in that country.
Resistance member Rebecca Edwards told Green Left Weekly that it was inspiring to meet and talk with youth activists from around the country and internationally about strategies on fighting for a better world.