Saturday, December 12, 2009

Historical Materialism: 2nd North American Conference

Historical Materialism, Second North American Conference
January 14-16 2010, New York City

Opening Plenary Thursday January 14th, 7pm
Graduate Center
City University of New York
365 5th Avenue
New York, NY


Please join us for the second North American Historical Materialism Conference, beginning the evening of January 14th, 2010. Founded in 1997, the quarterly Historical Materialism (HM) journal is among the foremost publications of critical Marxist theory in the world, known for both its breadth as well as its intellectual rigor. Following upon successful conferences in London and Toronto, the New York City conference – the first ever in the US – will provide a lively space for scholars and activists to critically engage theoretical, historical, and practical issues of crucial importance to the movement for a world beyond capitalism.

The ongoing economic crisis continues to disrupt political and business establishments across the planet and inflict suffering upon millions in the form of mass unemployment and food shortages. Despite the popular expectations raised by a new presidency, U.S. imperial ambitions appear locked in place. The existential threat of climate change looms. Economic, political, military and ecological crises intersect as they intensify, making the world a much more dangerous place— but also one in which the space for theory and practice aimed at challenging capitalism, and exploring systemic alternatives, has grown.

The conversations between those who seek to both interpret and change the world have become more urgent. Some are attempting to piece back together the neo-liberal or Keynesian paradigms of the past, while others are re-discovering Marx – Marx the prophet of crisis, Marx the communist theorist, even Marx the materialist philosopher of nature, anticipating the ecological perils of modern capitalism. The need to innovate and critically engage with the traditions of Marxist thought has taken on a new importance.

In organizing the first US Historical Materialism conference we hope to open a space for critical, rigorous and boundary-pushing theory, to explore and provoke our understanding of capital and anti-capitalist alternatives with a critical eye to the traditions of the past, while confronting the crises and struggles unfolding around us.

Panels Include:
The Future of the Radical Left / Theories of the Developmentalist State / Witch-Hunting and Enclosures / Philosophy of Finance / Race and Labor / The Politics of Oil / Communism and Catastrophe / Women, Work and Violence / Theories of Exploitation / Ecology and Crisis / The Problem of Organization / Commons and Subjectivity / Capitalism, Slavery and the Civil War / Communization / Sexuality and Marriage / Fetishism and the Value Form / Marx’s Theory of Money / Post-Operaïsmo / Crisis Theory…

Confirmed speakers:
Anna M. Agathangelou, Stanley Aronowitz, Gopal Balakrishnan, Benjamin Balthaser, Banu Bargu, Deepankar Basu, Karl Beitel, Riccardo Bellofiore, Aaron Benanav, Jasper Bernes, Paul Blackledge, George Caffentzis, Dana Cloud, Patricia Clough, Gérard Duménil, Hester Eisenstein, Sara Farris, Silvia Federici, Robert Fine, Duncan Foley, Benedetto Fontana, Maya Gonzalez, Paul Heideman, Nancy Holmstrom, Matt Huber, Robert Hullot-Kentor, Andrew Kliman, Sabu Kohso, Michael Krätke, Tim Kreiner, Deepa Kumar, David Laibman, Neil Larsen, Paul Le Blanc, William Lewis, Geoff Mann, Paul Mattick, Michael McCarthy, Annie McClanahan, Geoffrey McDonald, Alan Milchman, Simon Mohun, Gary Mongiovi, Fred Moseley, Justin Myers, August Nimtz, Bertell Ollman, Melda Ozturk, Ozgur Ozturk, Mi Park, Nina Power, Nagesh Rao, Jason Read, John Riddell, William Clare Roberts, Heather Rogers, Sander, Anwar Shaikh, Hasana Sharp, Tony Smith, Jason E. Smith, Richard Smith, Hae-Yung Song, Marcel Stoetzler, Lee Sustar, Peter Thomas, Massimiliano Tomba, Aylin Topal, Alberto Toscano, Ben Trott, Ramaa Vasudevan, Antonio Y. Vázquez-Arroyo, Chris Vials, Marina Vishmidt, Joel Wainwright, Victor Wallis, Paul Warren, Evan Calder Williams, Ted Winslow, Christopher Wright

Conference supported by:
The Center for the Study of Work, Culture and Technology
SpaceTime Research Collective
Haymarket Books

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Progressive Marxism vs. Negative Marxism

There was a book launch session for Karl Marx and Contemporary Philosophy at the Historical Materialism conference in London on 28 November. Meade McCloughlan and Nick Gray gave papers responding to the book. Their papers can be found here.

Gray's response chracterizes my contribution, together with those of Moishe Postone, Chris Arthur, and Patrick Murray, as "negative Marxism," in the sense that the four of us stress the discontinuity between Marx's project and the modern project of enlightenment, especially as the latter is represented by Kant and Hegel. Alternatively, we are negative Marxists because we think Marx's critique of political economy is also a critique of Hegel, insofar as, according to our readings of Marx, Hegel's spirit is isomorphic with capital. On either version of the characterization, we set ourselves apart from "progressive" Marxists who see Marx as augmenting, radicalizing, or otherwise furthering the modern project.

I think this is an astute way of drawing what is perhaps the major line of demarcation in the field of Marxism/Marxology. Moreover, I'm happy to embrace Gray's nomenclature. Negative Marxism is hereby emblazoned upon my standard!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What are the technocrats supposed to be doing, again?

Dean Baker:

If Bernanke Did Not Know the Fed's Mission, Would That Be News?

Not at the WSJ, nor it seems anywhere else. Yesterday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke referred to the "our dual mandate, which is growth and inflation." In fact, the dual mandate is full employment (defined as 4.0 percent unemployment) and price stability. Presumably Bernanke had unemployment in mind when he said "growth," but it striking that he would not use the right term. The two are of course not synonymous.

Here's a better explanation of the dual mandate than the Wikipedia entry Baker points to.

UPDATE: More grist for the mill here.