Mayday in Slovenia
I just returned from Slovenia, where I had the privilege of giving a plenary lecture, as did Michael Lebowitz and David McNally. The experience went well beyond my wildest dreams. Some 16 years ago some economics students organized the Workers and Punks University. The staying power alone of this organization deserves great credit. I have no idea how well the Workers and Punks University operated in its infancy, but its work today is incredible. During the conference, the organizers held a press conference to announce the beginning of a new political party.
In the United States, such an event would have been ignored, except perhaps for a few snide comments. In Slovenia, from what I understand the press corps took the party seriously. Even more surprising, much of the reporting seems to have been relatively positive, according to what I was told. The goal of the party is to create an alliance with each of the states that made up Yugoslavia. The only other regions that were in attendance, as far as I know, where Croatia and Serbia. Unlike the United States where lasting regional resentment about our Civil War continue after a century and a half, I saw no sign of anything similar at the meeting.
In the sessions devoted to the strategy for the party people differed with one another, but they did so with respect.
Finally, the level of political and intellectual sophistication I saw was absolutely amazing. The young people were intensely interested in ideas, especially those relevant to building a new society.