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Marxist School of Sacramento

Listen to our past lectures

(...a bunch of our past lectures newly posted here!)

These are links to audio MP3 files. Some may take a while to load, so please be patient. Or, in some cases, there is some cross talk at the beginning where the microphone was turned on before the lecture actually started. We'll try to edit that out later.

Not Walking on Gas: A Neighborhood Success Story, December 20, 2012

Part 1: Presentation

Part 2: Q&A and discussion

The residents of the Avondale/Glen Elder Neighborhood, led by Constance Slider and Faye Kennedy, embarked on a  five-year effort to block construction of an 800 billion cubic foot natural gas storage facility under more than 700 homes, shops and schools.  The group achieved a stunning victory on July 12 as the California Public Utilities Commission voted 3-2 to squelch the project.  

A panel of the leaders of this grassroots effort discusses the complex network of support enabled this densely populated, impoverished south Sacramento community to prevail against powerful corporate interests.  See for more on the story.

Sasha Lilley, presenting her new book, Catastrophism, Thursday, November 15, 2012

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We live in catastrophic times. The world is reeling from the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, with the threat of further meltdowns ever-looming. Catastrophism, co-written by Sasha Lilley, David McNally, Eddie Yuen and James Davis, explores the politics of apocalypse—on the left and right, in the environmental movement—and examines why the lens of catastrophe can distort our understanding of the dynamics at the heart of these numerous disasters—and fatally impede our ability to transform the world.

Sasha Lilley is a writer and radio broadcaster who has previously spoken at the Marxist School. She is the co-founder and host of the critically acclaimed program of radical ideas, Against the Grain. Sasha Lilley is the author of Capital and Its Discontents: Conversations with Radical Thinkers in a Time of Tumult and series editor of PM Press’ political economy imprint, Spectre.

Catastrophism is available from PM Press.

Silvia Federici, Thursday, October 18, 2012, speaking about her book, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle.

Click here to listen to the talk
Click here to listen to the Q&A session

Silvia Federici is a feminist activist, writer, and a teacher. In 1972 she was one of the co-founders of the International Feminist Collective, the organization that launched the international campaign for Wages For Housework (WFH). Her presentation is riveting: she explores the concept that women's unpaid labor in the home is an unacknowledged portion of the "unpaid labor" which provide the profits to the capitalist class. Indeed, as Federici reveals, behind the capitalist organization of work and the contradictions inherent in “alienated labor” is an explosive ground zero for revolutionary practice upon which are decided the daily realities of our collective reproduction. Federici also discusses her earlier book, Caliban and the Witch, which outlines the way the witch-hunts of the late middle ages, the torture and murder of tens or hundreds of thousands of women--many of whom had been part of resistance efforts against feudal and early capitalist control, were necessary to bring about the social changes required to create a willing proletarian class. Revolution at Point Zero is available from PM Press.

James Kilgore, introducing his new novel, Prudence Couldn't Swim, Saturday, September  29, 2012

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White ex-convict Cal Winter returns to his home in Oakland, California, one day to find his gorgeous, young, black wife, Prudence, drowned in the swimming pool. Prudence couldn't swim, and Cal concludes she didn't go in the water willingly. Along with his prison homie Red Eye, Cal sets out to find out who did Prudence in.
Author James Kilgore has woven together strands of his own life----twenty-seven years as a political fugitive, two decades as a teacher in Africa, and six years in prison----into a heady tale of mystery and consequences. Prudence Couldn't Swim is available from PM Press. It is also available as an e-book.

Forum: "Capitalism and the Internet," May 17, 2012.

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Capitalism and the Internet. A panel discussion of "The Internet's Unholy Marriage to Capitalism," a panel discussion of the issues raised in the March 2011 Monthly Review article of the same name. We'll discuss Lauderdale's Paradox, privatization of the Internet, its current status and conditions imposed upon writers, with an esteemed panel of journalists:

Iain Boal: "West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California." April 19, 2012.

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Iain Boal, an Irish social historian of science, technics and the commons, presented the "West of Eden" project, a seven year joint research effort by the Institute of International Studies, Berkeley and the Mendocino Institute - using ethnography, oral histories, memoirs and archival collections - aiming to describe and to understand the origins, trajectory and legacies of the extraordinary burst of communal energies in the San Francisco Bay Area and its hinterland during the 60s and 70s. The fruits of the research were published by PM Press in March 2012 as West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California, available from PM Press.

Richard Becker: "Empty Homes and Homeless People." February 16, 2012

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Empty Homes and Homeless People. This presentation by Richard Becker focuses on the current U.S. housing crisis to demonstrate the "criminal absurdity" of the capitalist system. In 2010, there were more than 18.7 million vacant housing units in the country, while millions are homeless, or living doubled-up in overcrowded conditions.

Richard Becker is Western Regional Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition and is with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. For more on Becker's analysis of the housing crisis, see this article.

Terry Bisson and Rob McBride: "Occupying Radical History: Lessons of the Weather Underground for Today's Activists." January 26, 2012.

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Speakers Terry Bisson and Rob McBride discuss their experiences and present the just-published memoir of David Gilbert, Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond. Gilbert is now serving a life sentence for activities with the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army. Urged to write about his prison experiences, he chose to write instead about the history of the movement of the "white left" that led to the great anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Love and Struggle is available from PM Press.

Sasha Lilley: "William Morris, Romantic to Revolutionary." November 17, 2011.

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Lilley is a writer, journalist and radio broadcaster based in the Bay Area, host of the award-winning Pacifica Radio program "Against the Grain." She spoke about the book William Morris, Romantic to Revolutionary, by E.P. Thompson, republished by PM Press. (This book and Lilley's book,Capitalism and its Discontents, were available for purchase at this event.) The books are available from PM Press.

Forum: "The Crisis in Higher Education." October 20, 2011

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Higher Education Crisis: a panel discussion with faculty and student activists.
Manuel Barajas
, sociology professor, Sacramento State University: barriers to Chicano/Latino higher education in California;
Preston Rudy, sociology professor, San Jose State University: capitalist transformations of higher education;
Travis Silcox, English professor, Sacramento City College: California community colleges;
Kevin Wehr, sociology professor, Sacramento State University: budget positions, privatization, de-professionalization and union representation.

Chelsea Szendi Scheider: "A Brief History of Organized and Spontaneous Protest in Postwar Japan" September 15, 2011

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Use this player to listen to the Question & Answer session

Schieder is a scholar of modern Japanese history interested in how global protest culture of the 1960s has influenced contemporary political dynamics. She has contributed articles to Monthly Review on how the history of activism in Japan intersects with the present. At the time of this talk a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, she was writing her dissertation on the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s in Japan.

Terry Bisson and Kim Stanley Robinson: "The politics of science fiction and the left." May 12, 2011.

Use this player Hugo and Nebula-awarding winner Terry Bisson is formerly a Kentuckian living in New York; now he considers himself a New Yorker living in California. Davis, CA resident Stan Robinson is a winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards. His eleven novels include the bestselling Mars trilogy, and The Years of Rice and Salt. For his novel Antarctica, he was sent to the Antarctic by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers’ Program. Many of their books are available from PM Press.

David McNally: "Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance."  April 14, 2011

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Global Slump analyzes the global financial meltdown as the first systemic crisis of the neoliberal stage of capitalism. It argues that—far from having ended—the crisis has ushered in a whole period of worldwide economic and political turbulence. In developing an account of the crisis as rooted in fundamental features of capitalism, Global Slump challenges the view that its source lies in financial deregulation. David McNally is Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto. He is the author of five previous books on Political Economy. Global Slump is available from PM Press.

David Harvie and Keir Milburn: "Moments of Excess" March 17, 2011

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David Harvie & Keir Milburn are members of the Free Association collective "Moments of Excess." The Free Association/Leeds May Day Group is an "ongoing experiment" based in Leeds, Halifax, Minneapolis, etc. ( Dr. David Harvie is a Senior Lecturer in Finance and Political Economy at the University of Leicester in the UK. Keir Milburn is a Teaching Assistant in the Politics and International Studies Department at the University of Leeds. What is the relationship between intensive collective experiences — "moments of excess" — and "everyday life"? And can understanding these questions help us develop a new generation of struggle, allowing the past to "live in us," whilst preventing it from weighing "like a nightmare upon the brains of the living"? Moments of Excess is available from PM Press. It is also available as an e-book.

Sasha Lilley, "Capitalism and Discontents. Conversations with Radical Thinkers in a Time of Tumult," February 17, 2011

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Lilley is a writer, journalist and radio broadcaster based in the Bay Area, host of the award-winning Pacifica Radio program “Against the Grain.”

Patrick Bond: “Eco-socialism and Climate Justice Politics,” January 20, 2011

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Patrick Bond is a political economist with longstanding research interests and work in urban communities and with global justice movements in several countries. He is on the faculty of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. At the time of this talk, he was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

David Bacon "Rethinking Immigration," December 16, 2010

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Bacon is a photojournalist based in the Bay Area, who has devoted his career to chronicling the conditions, history and struggles of immigrant workers. See more at

Rob Weil: "Resistance and Revolution: New Developments in China and India." October 21, 2010

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In this talk, Weil focused on the Chinese worker upsurge, especially strikes by migrants, the antidisplacement struggles in India, the Maoist revolution going on there, and the repression campaign Operation Greenhunt. Weil is a senior fellow at the Oakland Institute and author of Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of “Market Socialism” (Monthly Review Press, 1996).

Minqi Li: "The Rise of China and the Demise of Capitalism" (May 21, 2009)
Part 1 (Lecture)
Part 2 (Questions & Discussion)

Presentation by Minqi Li, Asst. Professor of Economics, University of Utah. Given at the Marxist School of Sacramento, May 21, 2009. Taking the subject from his new book, Li tells us that historically the spread and growth of capitalist economies has required low wages, taxation, and environmental costs, as well as a hegemonic nation to prevent international competition from eroding these requirements. With the decline of the economic power of the United States, its current hegemonic role will deteriorate and the unprecedented growth of China will so erode the foundations of capital accumulation—by pushing wages and environmental costs up, for example—that the entire capitalist system will be shaken to its core. Minqi Li is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Utah.

"Great Speeches and Interviews: opposing conclusions on the events of 9-11-01" Paul Zarembka vs Popular Mechanics (Sept. 11, 2008)

Paul Zarembka, author of 9-11, an Inside Job? was recorded when he spoke for the Marxist School on September 11, 2008. In this recording, Professor Zarembka's presentation from the Marxist School is followed by a 2006 panel of editors from Popular Mechanics magazine, speaking against US involvement in the 9-11 attacks.
The program was aired on Access Sacramento/The Voice, Sacramento's cable/internet radio station.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: "Roots of Resistance: History of Land Tenure in New Mexico" (Dec. 20, 2007)
Part 1 (Presentation)
Part 2 (Questions & Discussion)

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz presented her new book Roots of Resistance: History of Land Tenure in New Mexico, published by University of Oklahoma Press. This is a new and revised edition of the 1980 UCLA publication, under the same title. The new edition has a new ending chapter and is updated throughout, with a new Preface by Simon J. Ortiz of Acoma Pueblo.

Alexander Saxton: "Religion and the Human Prospect" (Sept. 20, 2007)

Alexander Saxton is Emeritus Professor of History, UCLA. This talk focuses on "the debate about religion in the high science hierarchy." In his 2007 book, "Religon and the Human Prospect," Saxton surveys the history of religion and its part in human development. His special focus is religion’s potential role in preventing or enabling a global catastrophe caused by the demise of human ecology and rise of hi-tech weaponry. This recording has only one segment.

Ann Fagan Ginger: "How the Left Can Use the Law After 9-11" (March 18, 2004)

Ginger is a constitutional lawyer and executive director of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute. There are two segments to this presentation--Part 1 is the lecture; Part 2 is the Q&A session.