On February 17, Bryan Palmer delivered the talk, “The Left in Our Age of Diminishing Expectations,” that is now available for viewing here.
What is the state of the left in our current conjuncture? On the one hand, popular mobilizations and contemporary sensibilities certainly suggest widespread opposition to inequality, racism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, and other oppressive practices that the left has always opposed. On the other hand, right-wing populism and its overt embrace of white nationalism, material perks for the rich, and an unmistakable backlash against organized labour, women, and gays figures decisively in the politics of our time.
Is the left winning or losing in the struggle for a political resolution of the many and varied ways in which its entrenched opponent, capitalism, is worsening lives for billions of people around the globe? Is capitalism even considered the enemy anymore, and if not what are the consequences of this for those who embrace what they consider progressive politics? This talk addresses the price we are all paying for the absence of a left in our current age of declining expectations, when settling for a lesser evil has become, for so many of us, second nature.
Bryan D. Palmer is an historian of labour and the left. Radicalized in the 1960s, he left Canada to live in New York City, attend classes at Alternate U, work in Students for a Democratic Society, and protest American imperialism. He subsequently completed a PhD and taught at Simon Fraser, Queen’s, and Trent (where he was the Canada Research Chair in Canadian Studies), lecturing as well in Brazil, China, and throughout the United States and Europe. The author of more than 25 authored, co-authored, and edited volumes, Palmer’s books and articles have been translated and republished in Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, French, Italian, and Greek. He writes regularly for left-wing publications such as Canadian Dimension, Jacobin, and the Socialist Register.
Sean Carleton, co-editor of Dissenting Traditions: Essays on Bryan D. Palmer, Marxism, and History, introduced the event.
What is a tertulia? A tertulia can be described as a literary and artistic social gathering or philosophy café where participants talk about big thinkers, artists and ideas. This winter, Tertulias Fredericton has put together a series on activists and social movements that have shaped our lives and allowed us to imagine a better future.
March 3 – Nina Lakhani, environmental justice reporter with The Guardian, on her book, Who Killed Berta Cáceres? Dams, Death Squads, and an Indigenous Defender’s Battle for the Planet (Verso).
March 10 – Harsha Walia, migrant justice activist and executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, on her book, Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism and the Rise of Racist Nationalism (Fernwood).
March 24 – Basil Alexander, Assistant Professor of Law, University of New Brunswick, on Dudley George and the Ipperwash Inquiry.
March 31 – Caroline Ennis, organizer of the 1979 Tobique Women’s March to Ottawa, on how she and other Tobique women organized to stop gender discrimination in the Indian Act.
April 14 – Jason MacLean, Assistant Professor of Law, University of New Brunswick, on Greta Thunberg, #FridaysForFuture and the Lessons of Youth Climate Activism.
Tertulias Fredericton is supported by the NB Media Co-op, publisher of videos of the Tertulia talks, the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network, book publishers Fernwood, Between the Lines, Verso and Canadian Scholars | Women’s Press as well as the Tobique River Trading Co.
For more information, visit Tertulias Fredericton on Facebook or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.