Reflections on Capitalism

Reflections on Capitalism

June 22nd – 27th 2015

A week of lectures, round tables and open discussions including the 2nd International Conference of the Group for Social Engagement Studies

Thinking Beyond Capitalism”, 24th – 26th June

The events are organized by the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory and the French Institute in Serbia, in cooperation with the Center for Ethics, Law and Applied Philosophy (CELAP) and Center for Advanced Studies in Southeastern Europe (CAS – SEE). All events are open to the public.

How is it at all possible to make sound statements about contemporary capitalism? How does one adequately diagnose the current state of the economy? Clearly there is no consensus whether the financial crisis which culminated in 2007-2008 should be seen as a symptom of the structural crisis of neoliberal capitalism only, or of capitalism in general. Moreover, one should keep in mind that the term ’crisis’ is itself laden with different ideologems. The talk of ’crisis’ implies the existence of a superior prior state of capitalism, free of any crisis, and that we are now witnessing an extraordinary phase which is alien to the ’normal functioning’ of the system. Should we understand the crisis merely as the means for restructuring the existing system, or as the beginning of an irreversible demise of the current mode of production? Is it possible that the crisis has actually enabled the exact preservation of the status quo, and has prevented any change? Or was the crisis, on the contrary, the crucial catalyst for the politicization of the otherwise depoliticized actors within late capitalism? We are thus simultaneously exposed to various institutional-reformist suggestions, more or less grounded apologias, and identifications of fundamental contradictions within the capitalist reproduction process.

In The Communist Manifesto Marx argues that capitalism is a social order which arises and subsists in the form of a critique of all alternative orders and subjective dispositions. Capitalism has proven more radical than its competitors: it has destroyed the ancien régime, has rendered all societal bonds flexible and has constantly revolutionized the means of production. It is a system in which ’all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned’. To what extent, then, is it even possible to formulate a critique of such societal system, a system that has managed to incorporate critique itself? Can one stage a revolution against the ’revolution’ itself? If capitalism thus emerges as the actual constitutive framework of our thought, how do we begin to think beyond capitalism?

The conference and side events are organized with the support of the Serbian Ministry of Education, Scientific and Technological Development, Institut français de Serbie, Goethe Institute, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation for Eastern Europe, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, ERSTE Stiftung, The European Fund for  the Balkans, Singidunum University, The European Fund for  the Balkans, Cultural Center of Belgrade, Balkan Trust for Democracy and Fund for Open Society.

Confirmed speakers for the Reflections on Capitalism include: Anselm Jappe (Collège international de philosophie, Paris), Alex Demirovic (Universität Frankfurt am Main), Catherine Samary (Université Paris Dauphine),  G. M. Tamás (CEU, Budapest), Gérard Duménil (Université Paris 10, Paris), Kristen Ghodsee (Bowdoin College, Brunswick), Laurence Fontaine (CNRS, Paris), Maeve Cooke (University College Dublin), Mladen Lazić (University of Belgrade), Simon Susen (City University, London), Toni Prug (Queen Mary University of London), Ugo Mattei (University of California, Hastings College of the Law / Università di Torino), Wolfgang Merkel (WZB, Berlin Social Science Centre), Rastko Močnik (University of Ljubljana), Yann Moulier-Boutang (Université Technologique de Compiègne) and others.