The UC Santa Cruz chapter of Union Salvadorena de Estudiantes Universarios (USEU) hosted this year’s student conference, one of the more *actually super radical* student conferences out there today in my opinion*.
I had the chance to listen to two really impactful undergraduate student presentations by Andy and Sam (on black Mexican identity and mujeres’ participation in FMLN elections) and to attend a workshop hosted by the Juventud FMLN titled, “Let’s Talk About Marxist Feminism.” While both the presentations certainly merit further praise and discussion, I want to focus on the latter workshop because of how impactful and important it was in my experience. In a university student climate where the petty bourge social climbers, men and white folks dominate so much space at conferences, this 1 hour workshop by two mujer scholars from SoCal was a breath of damn fresh air.
The small room was cramped with participants including mostly women, some cis men and non-binary participants. It was led by two companeras, grad students Nancy and Alexis (who I know is studying at UCSD). I noticed one of the facilitators had a worn copy of Silvia Federicci’s “Caliban and the Witch” so I knew we were going to be in for a dense conversation about capitalist development, feudalism, primitive accumulation, unwaged domestic work, the family form, etc. At least, I hoped.
The two facilitators did guide us through a number of these themes as well as outlining the Althusserean relationship between the economic base and superstructure through the imagery of the Arbol Social (pictured below) and eloquently tackled the gender binary and the gendered division of labor.
“The capitalist, authoritarian system is not evil because men rule it, but rather because, in itself, it is a system that enslaves the human being from the moment that the greater number are condemned to servitude so that a handful […] can enjoy all of the delights and enjoy all of the liberties.”
(Ricardo Flores Magon, Dreams of Freedom, 232)
One of my favorite parts of the workshop was how the discussion leaders would occasionally mention to participants in the most casual tone that USEU is an anti-capitalist organization, that they belonged to an anti-capitalist organization. Like I said earlier, given the liberal conference milieu, this workshop was all the more powerful.
It wasn’t without its limitations, like anything. In a post-workshop debrief with A, we discussed how prevalent misconceptions of Marxism are and how impactful it might be in a workshop of this nature to simply pose the question of, who is a worker? In a much longer time slot, this may totally be feasible.
All in all my conclusion is we need more workshops like this one in the student conference circuit!
*My reason’s for believing this would require a much longer conversation about institutionalization of racial and ethnic student orgs.