On the weekend of October 13 to 15 in downtown Toronto, the Spring Socialist Network will host its first-ever conference: Red October, a conference of socialist ideas in action.
The conference theme is inspired both by the ‘red hot labour summer’ we just had and the events of October 1917 in Russia–what came to be known as the October Revolution or “Red October”–when workers successfully took control of the state following months of strikes and protests. Spring’s conference takes place just under two weeks before the October Revolution’s 106th anniversary.
Why we are organizing Red October
The conference has three broad goals: 1) To connect with, and contribute to, the best revolutionary socialist traditions, from the Russian Revolution to the present day; 2) To create a platform for leading activists to share their insights and experiences; and 3) To develop our own collective sense of revolutionary politics, on a wide range of issues.
Taking place at the Toronto Metropolitan University Student Centre, Red October kicks off on the evening of Friday, October 13 with a roundtable discussion called “How can we build a fighting labour movement?” and brings together four leading labour and community activists in conversation about some of the biggest struggles of the past year:
- Andria Babbington is the first Black woman to lead a labour council in Canada. As President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, she has been at the heart of countless labour fights across the city, always showing up for rank-and-file workers.
- Sharlene Henry is a Unifor member and Co-Chair of the York South-Weston Tenant Union. She is helping lead a precedent-setting rent strike at her building, and shining a spotlight on the reality of Toronto’s housing crisis.
- Sarom Rho is a long-time organizer with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. In the last year, she has helped lead groundbreaking struggles with migrant workers and students, including the historic #StatusForAll movement.
- Laura Walton is the President of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU). Last November, the OSBCU’s 55,000 members led a successful strike that defeated Doug Ford’s Bill 28 and brought Ontario to the brink of a general strike.
The roundtable discussion aims to create a lively and engaged exchange among four leaders who rarely get the chance to talk at length with each other about what they learned in the course of leading such far-reaching movements.
On Saturday, October 14, Red October opens with a morning plenary, followed by three rounds of three talks each (a total of nine talks).
The plenary is called “Economic crisis, war & climate disaster: Why we fight for socialism” and features three Spring members explaining how each of these issues brought them closer to revolutionary socialism and why being an organized socialist makes their work more effective.
The remaining nine talks are organized into three themes based on active debates in the labour and social movements.
The first these is called “State & revolution” and includes these three talks:
- Imperialism: What it is & how to fight it
- Socialists & the fight for national liberation
- Russia 1917: From ‘prison-house of nations’ to socialist revolution
The second theme is called “Why the working class?” and includes these three talks:
- Capitalism’s gravediggers: The strategic & practical case for workers’ power
- Centering Equity in the fight for workers’ power
- The radical roots of Canada’s labour laws
The third theme is called “Socialists & elections” and includes these three talks:
- Can we vote our way to socialism?
- A socialist history of the New Democratic Party
- What is revolutionary organization & why do we need it?
All talks will be delivered by Spring members, followed by a period of discussion and debate among participants. You can see the full program, including speakers, at this link.
On Saturday evening, Red October will host “Nuit Rouge”–a cabaret-style social event featuring performances and music. The event will allow participants to relax and interact with one another after a full day of rich discussion and debate.
Red October concludes on the morning of Sunday, October 15 with the “Spring Labour Brunch”–hosted by Spring’s Labour Caucus. The Brunch will be a relaxed, informal strategy discussion among trade union and decent work activists about their work in the labour movement and what to expect in the months ahead.
With so many struggles facing working people–a planet on fire, a cost-of-living crisis, ongoing attacks on our public services, the rise of hate and the far right, and so on–we need to get organized, more than ever.
Getting organized means learning from the struggles of the past–what worked, what didn’t work, what could have been better–and applying those lessons to the fights we’re leading today. It also means raising our collective expectations about what’s possible. We want to do more than win this or that struggle; we want to win every single one of them.
And in the process, we want to build a movement for the long term that has the capacity to completely transform our world, from one based on profit, competition, war, and hate, to one based on human need, cooperation and collaboration, peace and justice, and love and solidarity.
Millions of people around the world are yearning for that world, and getting organized to win it. Join us at Red October, and be part of that historic fight.
Did you like this article? Help us produce more like it by donating $1, $2, or $5. Donate