Or a conference about revolutions past, present, and future, at least.
Co-organized by several faculty of Northeastern Illinois University and my friend, activist and author Danny Postel, The Past and Future(s) of Revolution: A Global Exploration will be held March 9-12 at Northeastern Illinois University.
It looks to be a fascinating four days.
Postel’s role in the conference has been a major one, and the significance of the accomplishment grows when one considers that he works full time as a communications coordinator at Interfaith Worker Justice.
He is also an accomplished author in his own right.
Beyond his many interviews and essays with philosophers and scholars, Postel is the author of Reading “Legitimation Crisis” in Tehran: Iran and the Future of Liberalism. This slender collection of essays, published by Prickly Paradigm Press, is a worthwhile read that contests the image of an undifferentiated and fundamentalist Iran often portrayed in the mainstream media and seeks to bring a different image to Western audiences.
Postel opens the book with an analysis of the paucity of attention given by the American left to Iranian students and others striving for a more open and democratic society. This lack of notice becomes more remarkable when contrasted with the far more vigorous and sustained struggle many on the left have waged for decades on behalf of people in Central America battling for many of the same causes.
This essay is significant because of its carefully constructed argument-to his credit, Postel notes that almost all writing and advocacy on this issue has come from the American right-his explanation for the behavior, and his challenge to those who would advocate for a better world not to segregate their concerns based on geopolitical analyses.
The essay to which the title refers talks about the rock star status German philosopher Jurgen Habermas received during a tour in Iran earlier in the decade. Again, Postel effectively contrasts the reception of Habermas, who developed the concept of the public sphere, with that in America, where Habermas taught for years one quarter at Northwestern and often sat alone in his office during office hours.
Although the essays take different forms and tackle a range of subjects, they are underpinned by Postel’s commitment to democratic, free and just societies in which open dialogue and intellectual discourse flourish. He also, through his work and his example, is advocating for an actively engaged and supportive role that people who are not on the front lines can play in freedom struggles through their witness and their words.
Add in Postel’s nearly unparalleled ability to convene conversations-one of our fellow Sunday night hoopsters half jokingly said he has a “network that’s bigger than Sprint”-and one can see the political and moral concerns that coalesced with the organizing skills to conceive and bring the conference to fruition.
Postel spoke yesterday about the conference on the radio show Worldview. You can listen to the conversation here.