Capitalism and gender oppression were just two topics discussed at Ideas to Change the World: A One-Day Political Conference on Radical Politics event held at Langara on Saturday.
The speakers discussed crucial points related to their topics for 25 minutes and then the audience was given approximately 10 to 15 minutes to participate in a discussion and ask questions.
The Vancouver Socialists hosted the conference, which included speakers such as Langara instructor Bradley Hughes, women’s rights advocate Yusur Al-Bahrani and concerned citizen and socialism advocate Peter Hogarth. They spoke of issues and potential solutions related to capitalism, Marxism and gender oppression, the tar sands and the potential of the Arab Spring.
Addressing problems with the economic system
“We are going to be talking about the reasons this stuff happens,” said Hogarth, “and focusing on the underlying reasons to why it’s so hard to make changes [to capitalism].”
“There’s something wrong here,” Hogarth said, referring to the current economic system. “Is it always going to be this way?”
Hogarth approached the issue of food and shelter, the most basic and costly necessities of life, proposing that instead they should be a “free” product, paid for instead by taxation.
“We have the means to take bombs all over the world, I’m sure we can certainly take food all over the world [too],” said Hogarth.
“Can we imagine a world where these things [starvation and homelessness] don’t happen?” added Hughes.
The question of human priorities and media’s influence on the public mindset was also a focus of the conference.
Jen Paulsen, a fine arts student at Langara, attended the event to “gain some perspective” and see how Marxist ideas play out. “I thought it would be a good way to spend my Saturday,” Paulsen said.
The Arab Spring marks a cultural change
Al-Bahrani spoke of the revolutionary Arab Spring and Egypt, along with the oppression of gender in these parts of the world.
“It is very inspiring to see men and women fighting back,” said Al-Bahrani.
Even though there is an election coming up, Ideas to Change the World was not oriented around it. The event was meant to raise awareness and generate a dialogue of the world’s problems so that solutions might one day be found.
“We try to hold [these conferences] as often as we can,” said Hogarth.
The next event will be about social housing and will be held at Langara on March 27.
More information can be found about events and conferences put on by the International Socialists on socialist.ca.
Reported by Jes Cunningham