The richest 10% of people own more than 80% of global wealth, and the 10 richest men have six times more wealth than that of the poorest 3.1 billion people combined.
These vast inequalities in wealth reflect how society is split into two classes: the capitalist class who get their wealth through owning industries and corporations, and the working class who rely on wages or benefits to buy what is needed.
Full residential cost (including accommodation and meals Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) is £100; the concessionary rate is £50. Book here or send a cheque (payable to the Socialist Party of Great Britain) with your contact details to Summer School, The Socialist Party, 52 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7UN. Day visitors are welcome, but please book by e-mail in advance.
E-mail enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Class Divide and the Role of Trade Unions
Historically trade unions were voluntary organisations set up by the working class to enable them to get as good a deal as possible in selling their skills and energies to employers, while at the same time not having the aim or ability to transcend the class divide they were (and are) a player in. But what about circumstances in which workers decide it is not in their interest to be part of trade unions, as many do these days? Do they lose by this? And what about ‘political’ trade unionism where unions manage to get themselves involved not just in trying to protect or improve the pay and working conditions of their members but instead are used as vehicles for campaigning for various reforms of capitalism or even for Trotskyist-style revolution? What should the Socialist attitude be towards such activities by trade unions?
Class Consciousness and the Socialist Revolution
Friedrich Engels summarised the life’s work of Karl Marx as a mission ‘to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation.’
This talk will start by exploring the concept of working-class consciousness as used by the pioneers of modern socialism in the 19th and early 20th centuries. What did they mean by class consciousness and what importance did it have in their vision of the socialist revolution? How does class consciousness arise and what is the role of the working-class party in its development? Does the absence today of widespread class consciousness despite the presence of the material conditions necessary for socialism call into question the validity of the Marxist analysis of society? It is hoped that the talk will stimulate discussion around questions such as the following:
- Is there a difference between socialist understanding and class consciousness?
- How is capitalist ideological hegemony over society maintained?
- Can working-class consciousness develop on a mass scale while the material base of capitalist society remains intact?
- What significance do our answers to these questions have for the theory and practice of the Socialist Party?
Let Them Do Yoga! – Inequality, Mental Health and Social Revolution
This talk will explore one of the less obvious ways in which capitalism and the class divide impacts negatively on humans. As the profit system turns the screw we are faced with huge and growing mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety.
How much of our this is down to the individual’s biology, and how much is social/political? What does inequality do to our psyches? Why are humans so apparently sensitive to class divisions? And does this provide insight to why inequality is so apparently resistant to political reform?
How will the global collective trauma of COVID play out? And what about the looming existential crisis that is the climate emergency?
Once taboo, we are now encouraged to parade our mental health like some fashion accessory. Are there other ways to regain wellbeing than lunchtime meditation or a friendly chat with HR? Are we just accommodating to the pressures of being both worker and consumer under capitalism?
Or are we seeing signs of humanity growing up? Is our mental environment a key battleground? How might mental well-being influence class consciousness? And what could we reasonably say about mental health inside a future socialist society?
Saturday game night – TAKE ON THE CAPITALISTS!
Hosted by Carla Dee
A game of Monopoly normally starts with everyone having the same amount of money, unlike real life. This evening, we’ll see what Monopoly is like with added class divide. One player begins with a much bigger pile of money than their competitors, who start with just a few notes each. How long before the ‘capitalist’ has three hotels on Mayfair, or can they be beaten at their own game?
Class Or Classless Society?
Hosted by Ste Finch and Paddy Shannon
An interactive session to help develop ways to put the case against class society and in favour of a classless socialist world. What are the most effective approaches when explaining the class divide, particularly when speaking with others? What aspects of the class struggle are easiest to relate, and relate to? And how best can we promote the idea of a class-free society? This workshop is an opportunity to brush up on your debating skills and hear what others have to say.
How Middle Class Are You?
Regardless of the economic reality of the class divide, there’s a widespread assumption that a middle class has characteristics and interests of its own. What is this belief based on, and how does it persist? If we go looking for the middle class, we’re likely to learn that reaching this status hinges on having a particular type of job or getting paid a certain amount of wages, or even whether we’d rather go to a musical or to a gig. This talk will examine different attempts to classify the middle class, and to what extent it can be defined into existing.