The Dangerous Times festival was a celebration of resistance and a chance for serious strategic debate
Shoreditch's excellent Rich Mix was given over to the Dangerous Times Festival last weekend which ended up being both a celebration of resistance and a serious examination of a critical moment in politics.
Dozens of workshops, talks, performances and film screenings took place on topics ranging from the future of the left, a political undressing of the fashion industry, NATO, Russia and the new cold war, feminism yesterday and today and a people's history of music.
Coming so soon after worrying election results the question of how to take on the right was on everyone's mind.
Danielle Obono from The French Left Party spoke about the interaction between economic crisis and racism in France and of the need for the left to defend immigrants and Muslims from racist attacks and explained how in France the right have built a social movement based on reactionary sexual politics.
Renowned playwright David Edgar exposed media distortions painting UKIP as benefitting from votes transefered from Labour pointing out that UKIP took 15% of votes from Labour and most from the Tories and the BNP.
In a debate on the future of the left Left Unity's Kate Hudson stressed the need for the British left to work with left forces across Europe and to unite against the main enemy. Chris Nineham from Counterfire argued that the left has to be ambitious and reach out on a mass scale – and not be afraid of popularising its message.
Author and historian Selina Todd introduced her new book 'The Rise and Fall of the Working Class', describing the shifting experiences of class over the last century, writer Louise Raw drew on the history of the Match Girls strike to set the scene for a discussion of women and austerity and Neil Faulkner revealed the truth about Gove's 'Great War' with readings from his 'No Glory' pamphlet.
There was culture too with Faithless guitarist Dave Randall's brief people's history of music ranging from pre-historic instruments to the classical music inspired by the French revolution, to the politics of Afrobeat. There was satire, subversion and general piss-taking from Jeremy Hardy, Steve Parry and Jen Brister.
Elly Badcock explored the possibilities of increasing links between the feminist movement and the anti austerity movement in 'Women and austerity: sticky floors and glass ceilings'.
Veteran anti-imperialist Tariq Ali answered questions on the crisis in Syria.
You can read tweets, pics and reports from the weekend and see videos of the sessions as they are uploaded on the Dangerous Times festival live blog.
It felt as though people left fired up about taking the kind of action that can really make a difference, including building the June 21 No More Austerity demonstration and the anti Nato protest in Wales. The event proved that when the left comes together it can be dynamic and inspiring and give people a sense of confidence about what we can achieve.
More articles from this author
- Making saving life a crime: the brutality of the Nationality and Borders Bill
- The billionaires and the race to the bottom: why Sage care workers are fighting on
- ‘Striketober’: the new militancy sweeping the US
- Welfare that makes you ill: the cruelty of the DWP
- Antigone: a shining example of disability-inclusive arts and thought-provoking theatre - review
- Women's liberation and the trans debate
- Stagecoach in Scotland: next stop, strike action - News from the Frontline