Spring 2021  –  Thursdays, 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Virtual Zoom Lectures  –  The University of Maine

Zoom link for all Spring programs


 

Tuesday, Mar. 9

5:15 p.m. EST

 

THE ABOLITIONIST ORIGINS OF RECONSTRUCTION

Zoom link for this program. Password: 391122

 

Manisha Sinha

Draper Chair in American History, University of Connecticut

 

This is the Howard B. Schonberger Peace and Justice Lecture, hosted by the UMaine History Department. Howard Schonberger was a Professor of History at UMaine and a founder of the Socialist and Marxist Studies Series. This annual lecture honors his commitment to peace, justice, democratic socialism, economic equity, racial and gender liberation.

 


 

Upcoming Programs

 

Mar. 18: IPM RESPONDS TO COVID-19: NURTURING RESILIENCE AMONG IPM’S LATIN AMERICA COMMUNITY-BASED PARTNERS

Adela Zayas, International Director of Programs & Partnerships and Regional Director for Latin America & the Caribbean

Victoria Jimenez, Director of Education & Immersion Experience Programming

Eneyda Ramos, Director of Research & Resource Mobilization

IPM was founded in 1974 and, as part of its core mission, accompanies women-led, community-based, Project Partners, in 20+ countries around the world, in their transformative and sustainable programming. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adela, Vicky, and Eneyda will highlight their extraordinary efforts this past year as IPM continues to respond to the unprecedented challenges.

 

Mar. 25: THE SCORED LIFE: FINANCIAL ABSTRACTION AND CONTEMPORARY CULTURE

Christian Haines, Assistant Professor of English, Penn State University

The author of A Desire Called America: Biopolitics, Utopia, and the Literary Commons (2019), Haines will focus on videogames as an industry and a medium, especially on how games turn risk into a matter of play and how they literalize the competitive and speculative dimensions of financial capitalism. He’ll provide an accessible explanation of terms like financialization, neoliberalism, biopolitics, and risk.

 

Apr. 1: UNITED STATES RELATIONS WITH CHINA (SOUTHEAST AND EAST ASIA)

Ngo Vinh Long, Professor of History, the University of Maine

Apr. 8: REVISITING MARX’S CRITIQUE OF LIBERALISM IN 2021: IMPLICATIONS FOR POLITICAL THEORY AND PRACTICE

Igor Shoikhedbrod, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Univ. of Toronto (Mississauga) and Adjunct Faculty, Trinity College, Univ. of Toronto (Toronto)

Karl Marx was a powerful critic of capitalism and a revolutionary democrat, whose critique of liberalism was inspired foremost by its failure rather than its success in bringing about human emancipation. Shoikhedbrod proposes an alternative way of approaching Marx’s treatment of rights that demonstrates why conventional liberal and Marxist interpretations on this topic are mistaken. Champions of freedom have renewed reasons for revisiting and rethinking the relevance of Marx’s critique of liberalism today.

 


 

Past Programs: Spring 2021

 

Feb. 25: AT WAR WITH GOVERNMENT: HOW CONSERVATIVES WEAPONIZED DISTRUST FROM GOLDWATER TO TRUMP

Watch this program here.

Amy Fried, Professor of Political Science, the University of Maine

Americans’ trust in government has fallen dramatically since the 1950s to historically low levels. Fried argues this trend is not an inadvertent byproduct of other developments. Although distrust of authority is deeply rooted in American culture, it is fueled by conservative elites who benefit from it. Since the postwar era, conservative leaders have deliberately and strategically undermined faith in the political system for partisan aims. Distrustful efforts have often employed messages about immigrants and black and brown people.

After discussing four particular ways distrust has been used as a political resource, Fried turns to ways that citizens, leaders and organizations can revive trust. This is important because, while certainly skepticism of government power is warranted, the deployment of fear of and distrust in government has thwarted Americans’ ability to serve our common needs.

Amy Fried is the John M. Nickerson Professor of Political Science and the chair of UMaine’s political science department. Prof. Fried’s research primarily concerns the history and political uses of public opinion in the United States.  Her co-authored book (with Doug Harris of Loyola University Maryland), At War With Government: How Conservatives Weaponized Distrust from Goldwater to Trump, is forthcoming later this year. Her previous scholarly books are Muffled Echoes: Oliver North and the Politics of Public Opinion and Pathways to Polling: Crisis, Cooperation, and the Making of Public Opinion Professions. Fried provides analysis to a wide range of media outlets and writes a biweekly column for the Bangor Daily News. She is also a co-leader of the Maine chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network, a national group that brings together scholars to address public challenges and their policy implications.

 

Feb. 18: MORAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, AND SPIRITUAL NONVIOLENCE AND SOCIALISM IN 2021

Watch this program here.

Doug Allen, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, the University of Maine

Incorporating the formative influences of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Prophetic insights, and Karl Marx, Doug Allen will present his own formulations developed over many decades of theory and engaged practice on this topic. What are some of the weaknesses of diverse “Moral,” “Philosophical,” and “Spiritual” approaches to nonviolence? Why is an interconnected moral, philosophical, and spiritual approach necessary today?

In addressing moral, philosophical, and spiritual “Nonviolence,” what do we mean by violence and nonviolence? What are some of the rejected alternative approaches to violence and nonviolence in the past and today? What is a moral, philosophical, and spiritual approach and interpretation of nonviolence that is most significant today?

How does all of this relate to “Socialism”? What are some of the rejected alternative views of socialism? What is a moral, philosophical, spiritual, nonviolence that is radically critical of capitalism and is necessarily socialism in 2021?

Doug Allen served as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maine for 46 years and became Professor Emeritus of Philosophy in September 2020. Author and Editor of 16 books and 150 book chapters and scholarly journal articles, he has been the recipient of Fulbright and Smithsonian grants to India, the Maine Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award, and the Distinguished Maine Professor Award (given to the outstanding professor in teaching, research, and service).  His most recent book is Gandhi after 9/11: Creative Nonviolence and Sustainability (Oxford University Press, 2019). A peace and justice scholar-activist, Doug Allen has been active in the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam/Indochina Antiwar Movement, the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and many other struggles resisting violence, war, class exploitation, imperialism, racial and gender oppression, and environmental destruction. For Doug Allen’s publications, teaching, service, and honors, see his CV posted on his website at https://umaine.edu/philosophy/douglas-allen/

 

Feb. 4: CARBON DIVIDENDS AS UNIVERSAL PROPERTY

Watch this program here.

James K. Boyce, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The limited capacity of the biosphere to safely absorb carbon emissions can and should be regarded as universal property – a resource that belongs to everyone in common and equal measure. Unlike private property, universal property cannot be bought or sold, or owned by corporations, or concentrated in a few hands. Unlike public property, it belongs directly to the people rather than to the government. Universal property is individual, inalienable, and perfectly egalitarian.

Carbon dividends would create an asset-based source for a universal basic income by charging for fossil fuel pollution rather than letting it be dumped into the atmosphere for free. This can be implemented by means of a carbon tax, auctioned permits up to a hard ceiling, or a combination of the two. The revenue then would be returned to equally to all as dividends, similar to the stimulus checks of the Covid pandemic but paid monthly or quarterly. This would help advance the twin goals of stabilizing the Earth’s climate and building a more egalitarian economy.

James K. Boyce is an author, economist, and senior fellow at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His most recent books are The Case for Carbon Dividends (Polity, 2019) and Economics for People and the Planet (Anthem, 2019). He has written for Harper’s, Scientific American, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and numerous scholarly journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ecological Economics, and Climatic Change. He received the 2017 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought and the 2011 Fair Sharing of the Common Heritage Award from Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation.

 

Fall 2020

 

Nov. 12: THE HUMANITIES AS ACTIVISM IN CHICAGO (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)

Watch this program here.

This session will feature four remarkable panelists: Karen Sieber, Tonika Johnson, Kevin Coval, and Nicole Marroquin. This program is being sponsored by the McGillicuddy Humanities Center at the University of Maine.

Karen Sieber is Humanities Specialist at the McGillicuddy Humanities Center. She is a former Chicagoan, who is a public historian doing research on what she calls “tactical humanities,” or using the humanities in strategic outside-of-the-box ways to draw attention to urgent issues.

Tonika Johnson is a Chicago artist, photographer, and community activist. Her Folded Map project examines the long history of redlining and segregation in the city and works to address inaccurate negative perceptions about the South and West sides of Chicago. She is co-founder of RAGEnglewood and was named a 2017 Chicagoan of the Year.

Kevin Coval is a poet, the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, and the founder of Louder Than a Bomb, the world’s largest youth poetry festival. Author of over a dozen books, including A People’s History of Chicago, and editor of BreakBeat Publishing, Coval was the recipient of the 2018 Studs Terkel Award.

Nicole Marroquin is an artist, educator, activist, and the creator of Chicago Raza Research Consortium, a grassroots effort to map, gather, and present Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Latinx, and Raza history in Chicago. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Oct. 29: KARL MARX IN 2020 (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)

Watch this program here.

Cindy Isenhour, Associate Professor, Dept. of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute

Michael Howard, Professor of Philosophy

Doug Allen, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy

The three panelists, among the most productive and influential faculty at UMaine, maintain that the insights, methodology, theoretical framework, and interpretations formulated by Karl Marx, when creatively formulated and applied, are more essential and significant for understanding our world of 2020 than during his lifetime. How does Marx help us to understand conflict-based theories of change? How does commodity fetishism mask the true social, economic, and environmental cost of goods and why is it unsustainable? How can an updating of Marx’s social vision inform a defense of worker-managed market socialism? How can Marx’s vision of the transition from “each according to work” to “each according to need” inform recent work on universal basic income? How can Marx’s historical and dialectical approach provide the most insightful analysis of class relations, exploitation, oppression, corporate domination, globalization, and imperialism? How does Marx allow us to understand alienation and meaninglessness today, and how we can express social and moral development and unalienated human flourishing?

 

Oct. 15: THE DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIAN DISCOVERY AND DOMINATION, COLONIZING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, AND THE STATE OF MAINE (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)

Watch this program here.

John Dieffenbacher-Krall, Chair of the Episcopal Committee on Indian Relations and former Executive Director of Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission

Chelsea Fairbank, PhD Candidate in Anthropology & Environmental Policy

Darren Ranco, Chair of Native American Programs and Associate Professor of Anthropology

The Doctrine of Christian Discovery and Domination comprises a worldview and promotes the legal and moral authority justifying the invasion and conquest of non-Christian lands. Historically, this Doctrine’s legal and moral authority derive from papal bulls, edicts and declarations, from the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and the later use by Western Christendom’s secular leaders to reference the Doctrine to authorize their voyages of “discovery” into the New World. This Doctrine of Discovery forms the foundation of Federal Indian Law and the most important U.S. Supreme Court case affecting the Original Nations and Peoples of this land. The University of Maine exists on occupied Penobscot Indian Nation land legally justified via the Doctrine. Panelists will develop this program by presenting information on “Settler Colonialism, the Doctrine of Discovery, Capitalism, and Extractivism,” and on “the Doctrine of Discovery and the State of Maine.”

 

Sept. 24: LOVE, MARXISM, AND READING (2:00 – 3:15 p.m.)

Phillip E. Wegner, Marston-Milbauer Eminent Scholar and Professor of English, University of Florida

What does it mean to read as a Marxist? Building on a lifelong passion for reading, the essays collected together in Phillip Wegner’s latest book, Invoking Hope: Theory and Utopia in Dark Times (U of Minnesota P, 2020), make an appeal for the undiminished importance of the practices of theory, utopia, and deep close, and even critical reading in our current situation of what Bertolt Brecht refers to as finsteren Zeiten, dark times. The roots of his argument can be found in a chapter entitled, “‘The Point Is…’: On the Four Conditions of Marxist Cultural Studies,” from his previous study, Periodizing Jameson: Dialectics, the University, and the Desire for Narrative (Northwestern UP, 2014). In his talk, Wegner will explore the links between the work done in the earlier essay and in Invoking Hope, and he will reiterate the importance, especially in our current dark times, for any Marxist practice of reading to be attentive to what Alain Badiou terms the fourth condition of truth, that of love.

 


The Spring 2021 Socialist and Marxist Studies Series is coordinated by Michael Swacha, Lecturer in English and Philosophy, and Doug Allen, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy. The series is sponsored by the Marxist and Socialist Studies Minor, coordinated by Don Beith, Assistant Professor of Philosophy. It is co-sponsored by the Maine Peace Action Comm. (MPAC) and the Division of Student Life and with support of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Dept. of Philosophy. Speakers do not necessarily present socialist or Marxist viewpoints. For additional information, contact: Michael Swacha at michael.swacha@maine.edu.
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