Sunday, August 22, 2010

Radical Political Thought (draft syllabus for the fall)

I still need to fill in a couple supplementary readings, but here's the basic outline of the class...
Course Description:
Radical political thought is a moving target. What seems radical in one setting or era may seem conservative in another. This course sets out from the hypothesis that what has marked radical politics, at least for some time, has been the effort to revolutionize culture, or to create and sustain a revolutionary culture (where ‘culture’ encompasses ideology, common sense, and everyday habits and practices, as well as art, literature, and popular entertainment). Culture has been the field of battle either because it is the weakest link in the chain of oppression, or, contrariwise, because it is the condition of the reproduction of the whole structure of society and the state. Culture war and cultural revolution are both the preparation for revolution and the means of securing and extending an accomplished revolution.
Our investigation will be divided into three sections. In the first, we will be concerned with the nature and strategy of revolutionary political thought and action, as these were articulated by the explicitly Marxist revolutionary movements of the first half of the 20th century. What makes a position or tactic revolutionary? What is the difference between revolution and reform? What is revolutionary theory, and what role does it play in political and social revolutions? In the second, we will turn to the neo- and post-Marxisms of the latter half of the 20th century, and will be especially concerned with the criticisms of humanism that emerged from the decolonizing movements, the feminist movements, and the movements surrounding the events of May ’68. In the third, we will come up to the present, in the guise of four figures of radical politics that are very much at play in the world of today: Chomsky, Foucault, Virno, and Tiqqun/The Invisible Committee.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CFP: Roundtable on Marx's Capital

2nd CFP -- note the 15 September deadline.

The Society for Social and Political Philosophy is pleased to issue a
for a Roundtable on Marx’s Capital

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, February 24-27, 2011

Keynote address by Harry Cleaver
Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of Reading Capital Politically

The SSPP’s second Roundtable will explore Volume One of Marx’s Capital (1867). We chose this text because the resurgence in references to and mentions of Marx – provoked especially by the current financial crisis and global recession, but presaged by the best-seller status of Hardt and Negri’s Empire and Marx’s surprising victory in the BBC’s “greatest philosopher” poll – has only served to highlight the fact that there have arguably not been any new interpretive or theoretical approaches to this book since the Althusserian and autonomist readings of the 1960s.

The question that faces us is this: Does the return of Marx mean that we have been thrust into the past, such that long “obsolete” approaches have a newfound currency, or does in mean, on the contrary, that Marx has something new to say to us, and that new approaches to his text are called for?

The guiding hypothesis of this Roundtable is that if new readings of Capital are called for, then it is new readers who will produce them.

Therefore, we are calling for applications from scholars interested in approaching Marx’s magnum opus with fresh eyes, willing to open it to the first page and read it through to the end without knowing what they might find. Applicants need not be experts in Marx or in Marxism. Applicants must, however, specialize in some area of social or political philosophy. Applicants must also be interested in teaching and learning from their fellows, and in nurturing wide-ranging and diverse inquiries into the history of political thought.

If selected for participation, applicants will deliver a written, roundtable-style presentation on a specific part or theme of the text. Your approach to the text might be driven by historical or contemporary concerns, and it might issue from an interest in a theme or a figure (be it Aristotle or Foucault). Whatever your approach, however, your presentation must centrally investigate some aspect of the text of Capital. Spaces are very limited.

Applicants should send the following materials as email attachments (.doc/.rtf/.pdf) to by September 15, 2010:
• Curriculum Vitae
• One page statement of interest, including a discussion of a) the topics you wish to explore in a roundtable presentation, and b) the projected significance of participation for your research and/or teaching.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of the selection process via email on or before October 15, 2010. Participants will be asked to send a draft or outline of their presentation to by January 15, 2011 so that we can finalize the program.