Thursday September 8, 5:30 – exhibit opening, film, panel discussion
Class Warfare in Philadelphia, Part 1- The Financial Sector
Class Warfare in Philadelphia is a five part series of educational programs that look at aspects of the current economic condition of America as reflected in Philadelphia. The last several decades have seen a steady increase in the attack on the middle and lower classes. Not only has the disparity between the rich and poor increased dramatically but the disparity between the rich and the superrich has undergone the same process. In the middle of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, the rich are getting much, much richer while everyone else sinks toward the economic bottom.
David Harvey in Enigma of Capital proposes that the crushing of labor in the 1980’s resulted in the freezing and decrease in real wages. Capital’s response to labor’s lack of ability to purchase was the creation of the debt (credit card) economy, the “ownership society” which created “no-doc” mortgages and the predatory lending practices that lead to the economic crises we are still in. While millions of properties have been foreclosed on and people evicted from their homes, these homes have been bought up by the rich as investments properties. Abandoned homes have been turned into vacant land which is also sold to investors. Financial institutions have gone from predatory lending to little lending. Public Sector Unions, the last bastion of unions since NAFTA exported industrial jobs, is under attack. Communities struggle with how to respond to all of this.
This is a frontal attack by the rich on the rest of us. What can we call it except Class Warfare? We are under attack and have not recognized it; we are headed back to the “Gilded Age” of the 1890’s. But the Gilded Age gave rise to the Progressive Age, the rise of Unions, and Social Welfare. We can learn from the past and create solutions to the present problems.
Each of the five programs will look at an aspect of the current economic situation. They will take place every other Thursday from September 8 until November 3. Each program will put the issue into historical context, look at the national picture and at what is happening here in Philadelphia. We will start each program with the showing of David Harvey’s animated lecture The Crises of Capitalism (11 minutes). Mr. Harvey, a Marxist scholar who heads CUNY’s Center for Place, Culture & Politics, describes not just the failures that caused the ongoing fiasco, but the failure of how we’ve explained it.
Program 1 – The Financial Sector
5:30pm – Reception and Opening of the Class Warfare Photography Exhibit
The current economic hard times Philadelphians and other Americans are experiencing share many features with earlier times like the Great Depression. In other respects, today’s problems are very different. During the Depression era, there was great interest in discovering how the hard times affected real people, which led to the rise of programs such as The Farm Security Administration, whose Photo Department became famous for thousands of images that profoundly changed how Americans looked at themselves and at the poor in their midst. This photography exhibition evoking today’s economic hard times will be a backdrop to the five-part series of educational programs called Class Warfare In Philadelphia.
7:00pm: The David Harvey animated lecture The Crises of Capitalism (11 minutes)
“If you watch just one funny and handsome Marxist critique of the financial crisis, make it the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce’s animated version of David Harvey’s RSA speech “Crises of Capitalism.” It’s been making the rounds this afternoon, and for good reason: Mr. Harvey, a Marxist scholar who heads CUNY’s Center for Place, Culture & Politics, describes not just the failures that caused the ongoing fiasco, but the failure of how we’ve explained it. “It’s crap,” he says. “You should know it’s crap, and say it is. And we have a duty, it seems to me, those of us who are academics, and seriously involved in the world, to actually change our mode of thinking.” Max Abelson
7:15pm: An Overview Panel Discussion on the On-going Financial Crisis, the Financial Sector and Predatory Lending
Irv Acklesburg is a lawyer who has practiced for 30 years with Community Legal Services. He is an expert in the areas of consumer credit, foreclosure defence, bankruptcy, and consumer fraud.
Sanford Schram teaches social theory and social policy at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Brywn Mwar College, and is an affiliate to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor.