Venue: Black Dog Ballroom, City Centre
Doors: 7pm / Talk starts: 7.30pm
The class society described by Karl Marx still exists today. We live in a world characterised by inequality, where a handful of people own as much as half the world's population. People sleep on the streets next to sumptuous buildings, many of them left empty. In one of the richest countries in the world, growing numbers are dependent on food banks, while supermarkets and restaurants throw away food. Workers in over stretched public services are forced to put in ever longer hours to maintain the services, while wealthy individuals and companies avoid the tax which could help pay for them. Millions are spent on wars which cause misery to large sections of humanity.
Marx is identified with a failed model of communism, but his ideas were very different from how they have been interpreted, and these societies never represented genuine equality or freedom. His youth was spent campaigning for a democratic society in his native Germany. He favoured the right of all people to be equal, was a believer in women's rights, and opposed monarchy and aristocracy. He argued that the economic system under which we live was unable to deliver genuine equality and happiness for all, precisely because it was based on a social division which meant that the vast majority had to work in order to produce profits for the small minority who already owned the wealth.
His famous work, Capital, argued that this system was wrong, but that it was also prone to crisis. It was based on competition which led to over production and unemployment, so could not be guaranteed to deliver even the most basic needs of people. That system is failing today, as wealth accumulates to the 1%, while the majority suffer worsening living conditions. Marx's solution to this was that working people themselves who produced the wealth also needed to control it, and decide collectively how it was used for the common good. In doing so, they would also transform themselves and begin to build a society free of the divisions and problems which exist. Marx was right that this was the only way in which human beings could take control of their destiny.
Lindsey German is a socialist writer and campaigner. She is best known for her involvement as an organiser of the Stop the War Coalition. She has written a number of books on Marxism, class, feminism, and history, including 'A People's History of London' (2012) and 'Material Girls' (2007). She has debated at the Oxford, Cambridge and Durham unions, and at various festivals. Her media appearances include Any Questions, R4 Today, Newsnight, Channel 4 News, and she has written for the Guardian, Independent and other media. She is a senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, and her PhD thesis was on class and feminism.
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**None of the views raised in this talk are the views of the venue Black Dog.
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