Marxism

A capacity crowd of about 350 people filled the room for the opening night of the Marxism 2013 conference in Melbourne on March 28.

The forum, called "Uniting the left to resist austerity, war and crisis", heard from six speakers, including Australian unionist Bob Carnegie, striking airline union PALEA president Gerry Rivera, US teacher and socialist Brian Jones, Socialist Alliance co-convener Peter Boyle, Socialist Alternative national executive member Vashti Kenway, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party's (RSP) Kim Bullimore.

The decision by the organisers of the three-day Marxism 2012 to invite a broader range of international speakers and allow other socialist groups to set up stalls at its three-day Marxism 2012 conference in Melbourne over the Easter long weekend was a welcome and positive step.

The conference is organised each year by Socialist Alternative and its sister organisation, the International Socialist Organisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Brain science — neuroscience — is big business, big science and big research. Neuroscientists are offering to explain, mend and manipulate the mind. Many see no problems with this.

For example, Eric Kandel, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on memory, said: “You are your brain.”

This is an extraordinary, arid reductionism. This is the idea that you can collapse the complex phenomenon that goes on in the human mind into being simply the working of cells or molecules.

This must be a momentous occasion. According to the May 22 Sydney Morning Herald, the Dalai Lama — a major leader of a major religion — has declared himself “half Marxist half Buddhist”.

First we must ask questions about Buddhism itself. Is Buddhism a single religion, or even a religion? Would the two main streams constitute a schism? The Dalai Lama is the largely undisputed global figurehead of Mahayana Buddhism. There is no equivalent figurehead in the other dominant stream, Theravada, which stretches from South Asia to South-East Asia.

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