is a month long arts festival and teach-in. In bookstores, movie theaters, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and auditoriums, Red May stages conversations around topics and ideas that the corporate media excludes. To expand the boundaries of what can be said in public, we bring to Seattle the most exciting and imaginative thinkers on the left, both from within academia and from struggles outside it.
Some examples: J
odi Dean (Crowds and Party); Joshua Clover (Riot! Strike! Riot!); Kathi Weeks (The Problem with Work); Nick Srnicek (Inventing the Future); China Mieville (“Perdido Street Station”) Kshama Sawant (Socialist Seattle City Council Member); Asad Haider (Editor of Viewpoint) and many more. Over 40 interventions in 31 days. Take a look at our website for the complete list of programs.
What makes Red May unique? How is it different from conferences like Left Forum? For one thing, its breezy tone. Our panels are as serious as the next financial crisis but you’d never know it by their titles: Philanthropists vs. Teachers. Should We Love Our Work? Neoliberalism: Vampire or Zombie? Luxury for all. Dispatches from an Undeclared Civil War. Capital and the Carceral State: The Political Economy of Policing and Prisons. (Okay, last two titles sound like—and are—serious problems). Then there’s our every Saturday Marx-a-thon, part Marx-version of Bloomsday (instead of hopping bar to bar reading chapters of Ulysses, we hop with Das Kapital), part Situationist derive (by the sixth hour of drifting and talking, it gets pretty crazy). Finally, site-specific art events like RED LABYRINTH, which turned the deep red walls on the fourth floor of Rem Koolhaas’s Seattle Public Library into the labyrinth of capital complete with Minotaur and Ariadne’s Thread.
Think of it as a vacation from Capitalism. From the buzzwords America is particularly susceptible to. High Tech. Entrepreneur. The Gig Economy. If everything around us chants “There is no alternative to Capitalism,” if all we’re told is that History is over and it ends with us, don’t you think simple mental hygiene demands that we try to think outside of that box for (at the very least) one month a year? There are only two rules. First, riff on red. And second, assume for a month that the market is not the solution to the problems that the market creates.
How much does it cost to do the festival? It should probably cost $50,000 dollars. But we do it for $7000. The money we raise from you will pay for plane tickets, printing, space rental, and artists materials. Everything else is donated: website, graphics, lodging for speakers who waive fees. Like Blanche DuBois, Red May is dependent on the kindness of strangers
Please give us whatever you can afford so we can keep Red May going.
But also, take from us.
Take our branding, the design of our website, whatever you need to inaugurate a Red May of your own, because our secret goal is to invent a tradition, to inspire Red May Cleveland, Red May Cairo, Red May Seoul, Red May Lisbon, Red May Addis Ababa, Red May Shenzen, Red May Valparaiso. We want you to turn your city red for a month, to wear red accessories, to get caught red-handed reading Karl Marx, and (while the world maximizes human capital) to live prodigally in the red as if there's no tomorrow. We want you to occupy your own May, to make it the public home for Left reflection that’s been absent since the Occupy Movement was evicted from the heart of America’s cities.
It’s already started to happen: this is the second year of Red May Helsinki.
We can’t wait to hear where Red May breaks out next.