Welcome to the Portland Marxist Reading Meetup! To my mind, this group can be defined by contemplating these key questions: Have you ever wondered why we have an unplanned economic system based on profit instead of a planned economic system based on human need? Have you ever wondered why we are a society based on mindless, excessive, wasteful consumption instead of a society based on sustainability? Have you ever wondered why we have impending or materializing environmental and societal catastrophes (e.g., climate change, multi-eco system breakdowns, mass extinctions, poisoned oceans, fish depletions, water shortages, etc.)? Have you ever wondered why we have an overcentralized economy where the wealth of this world is distributed disproportionately to the top 1%? Have you ever wondered why we even have a hierarchal class structure? More to the point, have you ever wondered why we have SO much exploitation, homelessness, human rights abuses, poverty, food deprivation, and all around general mass suffering? I contend that you can find the answers to these questions and many such more in this reading group.
Reading and polemicizing orthodox Marxism is NOT my vision for this group – though I do hope we incorporate Marx and other orthodox Marxist material along the way (!) – but, rather, my vision for this group is to broaden out our scope to include a broad range of subject matter within the general arena of a Marxist (anti-capitalist) sensibility, which includes material that covers manifold anti-capitalism platforms, alternatives to capitalism (socialist, anarchist, syndicalist, humanist, etc.). So, why do I call it a “Marxist” Reading Group? I believe that Karl Marx was one of the founding fathers if not THE founding father of an alternative way of (economic) being, ALL alternatives (e.g., socialist, anarchist, syndicalist, etc.) to capitalism stemming from his extraordinary work. In this context, then, I decided to call this group the "Marxist” Reading Group not only because I think he came up with the core ingredients for an alternative to capitalism but because his incredible body of work influenced all other visionary anti-capitalism thinkers who came after. (And the other smaller but no less important agenda on my part is to recuperate his name and his vision take it back so to speak from capitalist interests who have demonized his name over the last century or so!).
Ideally, we include both academic and mainstream works for our readings and perhaps occasionally other texts, e.g., films, art work, literature, etc. During our meetups we will discuss our readings, which will hopefully not only stimulate thought and create more enlightened thinkers but perhaps even foster praxis!