Visionary Struggles in the Twentieth Century and Why They Matter Today

We are confronted with the worst crisis humanity has ever faced. From the growing number of wars without end to the neo-liberal assault on workers’ living standards to the environmental threat to human life as we know it, capitalism has led the world to the brink. We need to drag it back. BUT HOW?

The twentieth century was packed with assaults on the established order and a desire to rearrange human existence in a way that made sense, if not profits. Under the banner of socialism, communism, social democracy, anarchism or a variety of other names, millions of human beings sought to create a “better” world. There were more failures than successes, but even the failures have much to teach us about how to do it better today. Some of the visions that inspired them will be the focus of the fourth World Peace Forum Teach In November 11- 13- the Remembrance Day weekend-  in Vancouver. Here we will look at examples of attempts- some successful, others not, to “bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old” as Ralph Chaplin wrote in “Solidarity Forever” in 1915. The conference will not be a history lesson but rather the application of experience to the creation of a strategy for TODAY!

We have identified four themes that will structure our program- Economy; Ecology, War& Peace and Culture. Within these four broad topics we plan to look at specific events, movements and, yes, visions that have moved people and inspired them to action. Under economy we will make a comparison of the Sit In Strikes in the Ford car plant in Flint, Michigan with Barcelona under workers’ rule – both of which took place in 1936 and 1937 and both of which had a lasting impact, all the more relevant in the recent experience of public sector workers in Wisconsin. Under ecology we will look at the origins of the so called ‘environmental’ movements of the 1970’s, especially Greenpeace which began in Vancouver, moving through Earth Day to the current crisis of climate change. The resistance of aboriginal peoples from Bolivia to BC will be part of this.  War and Peace will feature a session on Tipping Points 1973-1975 which will look at the defeat of the Chilean Revolution in 1973, victory of the Vietnamese in 1975, and the defeat of the Portuguese Revolution later that same year.  It will also feature a similar session looking at South Africa, Chiapas and Iraq. These experiences resonate today in the revolutions and counter-revolutions in the Maghreb and Middle East. Within the framework of Culture we will have sessions that explore the twenties cultural avant-garde movements of surrealism, constructivism, and others and their corruption into socialist realism in the thirties. We’ll also look at the evolution of current musical activism in a session called ‘From Bella Ciao to Manu Chao’.

We plan to look at movements from different places and times, calling upon our collective historical memory and the testimony of participants in current campaigns from Cairo to Wisconsin.

If you’ve been to a previous World Peace Forum Event, or if you haven’t, as long as you have imagined bringing ‘to birth a new world from the ashes of the old’, we hope you will plan to join us as we transform Remembrance Day  from a celebration of war into a vision of a peaceful, just and sustainable world.

World Peace Forum Teach In Program Committee

You can see selections from previous Teach Ins at WWW.PEACEFORUMTEACHIN.ORG and by following the links to Working TV and

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World Peace Forum Society

The World Peace Forum Society was formed in 2006 to bring together activists, academics and artists to work for a peaceful, just and sustainable world. We strive to make sense of the world we live and act in by looking at the roots of the present in the experiences of the past, and try to envision a direction for the future. Since 2008 we have organized an annual fall Teach-In and an alternative Remembrance Day cultural event.