Each spring the Left Forum  convenes the largest progressive gathering in North America in a rambling, lively confab unlike anything else in the United States. Originally established in 1981 as the Socialist Scholar's Conference, the event was renamed the Left Forum in 2005 after a split in the ranks forced a year's hiatus and a reconstituted organizing structure.
Continuing a tradition begun in the 1960s, intellectuals and organizers meet to share notes, perspectives, strategies, experience, vision and, of course, drinks! Last year's conference, led by the LF's energetic director, Seth Adler, saw a record 3,500 activists attending more than 300 panels and workshops. This weekend's proceedings, invigorated by the Occupy movement, are expected to beat these numbers.
This year, the Left Forum  will focus on the $64,000 question of how best to confront global capitalism: How can American leftists best support the many revolutionary struggles abroad that took root in 2011? How can the Occupy movement be sustained and nurtured in the US? How can new technologies help foster social change? What needs to happen for new chains of solidarity to bloom between workers in the West and their counterparts in the global South? Are democracy and capitalism mutually exclusive? Join an illustrious group of writers, thinkers and activists in this immensely important conversation about the fate of the earth.
Speakers include Medea Benjamin, Michael Ratner, Frances Fox Piven, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Wallace Shawn, Marina Sitrin  and Nation writers John Nichols, Laura Flanders, Michael Klare, Ari Berman and Doug Henwood.
Panel topics are, to say the least, wide-ranging: Afghanistan, the impact of tax policy on job creation and poverty, the significance of art in the Occupy movement, Neoliberalism and the blockbuster film, the future of Thorium-fueled nuclear energy, self-mobilization from Johnson-Forest to Global Occupy and the US role in Mexico's drug war are just a few of the many themes that will be taken up.
This video featuring Barbara Ehrenreich at last year's opening plenary gives a good sense of the breadth and depth of the conversations you'll find at the LF.
Taking place at on March 18 and 19 at Pace University  in Manhattan, the Left Forum , which is co-sponsored by The Nation, is the place to be for progressives this weekend. Check out the full, very extensive schedule , read up on the speakers  and register your spot  in the conversation.