Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory
Wednesday, 24. June Thursday, June 25 Friday, June 26
SESSION 1 SESSION 2 SESSION 4
SESSION 3 SESSION 5

Thursday, June 25

SESSION 3

 

3a State, Authoritarianism and State Control
Session Chair: Rastko Jovanov
3b Anti-Capitalist and Feminist and Queer?
Session Chair: Tatjana Đurić Kuzmanović
3c New Perspectives on Debt and Economy
Session Chair: Sanja Milutinović Bojanić
Djordje Hristov
Debt, Control and the Nation-State
Carina Klugbauer
And Who Cares for Marx? An Actualization of Materialist Feminism
Marcello Barison
Money as Debt
Vedran Džihić
Democracy, Authoritarianism and Capitalism – Reflecting the Protracted Triangle and its South East European Paradoxes
Andrea Jovanović
Gender Relations in the 21th Century: Marxist Feminist Perspective
Marco Bresciani
Two Historians in Front of the Economic Crisis of 2007-2008: E. Hobsbawm and T. Judt Between Marxism and the Legacies of the 20th Century
Stefan Aleksić
(B)order Crossings
Andrew Ryder
Italian Autonomist Feminism and Social Reproduction Theory
Tamara Caraus
Debt Resistance – Beyond or Within Capitalism?
Lazar Atanasković
“State Politics” or “Politics of State”
Alex Cooper
Only Certain Activists Allowed: Neoliberal Policies, NGOs, and LGBTQ Rights in Serbia
Mariagrazia Portera
Is Capitalism in Our Genes? Competition, Cooperation and the Idea of Homo Oeconomicus from an Evolutionary Perspective
Michael Hauser
The Capitalist Revolution: The Left-Wing Restoration
Aaron Schuster
From Death Drive to Debt Drive

 

Djordje Hristov
University of Regensburg

Debt, Control and the Nation-State

The subject of my talk will be the relationship between what Deleuze called societies of control and the nation-state. Deleuze distinguished between two forms of repression, discipline and control, and argued that contemporary capitalism effectuated a transition from the former to the later. I will focus on two elements that establish this distinction: 1) organization through confinement and borders which prevails in discipline and 2) organization through debt and displacement of borders which prevails in control. Both of these elements secure the circulation of capital and therefore, as I intent to argue, both forms of repression are constitutive for the organization of the modern nation-state. At the same time, I will show that this joint constitutive effect of discipline and control is what places the nation-state into a permanent state of disorganization. This disorganization of the nation-state however should not be thought of as an end to the nation-state system (as is often proclaimed), but should instead show how the global, or what Deleuze called, axiomatic nature of capitalism, mobilizes capital against the state, only to reproduce and reorganize it under the dual conditions of discipline and control.


Vedran Džihić
University of Vienna

Democracy, Authoritarianism and Capitalism – Reflecting the Protracted Triangle and its South East European Paradoxes

Globalization has changed the world so tremendously, changing in parallel the political regimes, its self-understanding and modes of rule fundamentally. Both democracy and authoritarianism are being re-shaped and re-conceptualized. The same goes for capitalism. The notion of democracy is challenged on a global scale, the narrative about crisis of democracy is prevailing. The authoritarianism in its different forms seems to flourish. It presents itself as one new kind of “normalcy”, this time even incorporating the democratic formal procedures and partly also rhetoric of democracy into its core. In both cases, in authoritarian regimes as well as in democracies, global capitalism is an undeniable part of the regime’s “raison d’etre”. This is ruining the classical liberal assumption of exclusive complementarity between democracy and capitalism. Capitalism shows its promiscuous face and lies in bed with both authoritarianisms and democracy at the same time. Particularly in those regimes, which might be described as grey-zone-regimes, where particularly the countries of Southeast Europe belong, this promiscuity leads to new contradictions and paradoxes within the society. My contribution will depart from some general considerations about the relationship between democracy, authoritarianism and capitalism and will then focus on new contradictions and paradoxes in grey-zone regimes of Southeast Europe.


Stefan Aleksić
University of Belgrade

(B)order Crossings

As the world and EU crisis are getting more serious, we witness the transformations of mobility policies across the world and especially in Europe. Changes are being implemented in order to create spaces of increasingly deregulated economics. Borders, thus, present themselves as an ideal means of creating overlapping and conflicted jurisdictions or places without jurisdiction all. Although we always were aware that manifest level of European Union politics is different from its latent agenda, tendencies are showing that EU administration systematically moves toward exclusivisation of the space of „central“ EU states. Administration is changing administrative procedures, but the most important mechanism for strengthening the border of privileged states is actually their restructuring and their spatial dissolving across societies: borders are becoming not only spacial, they are becoming racial, cultural, social and aesthetic; they are not only on the border crossings, they are starting to emerge in urban centers and environments. These “inner borders” are being manned by institutions such as communal police, or even neighbourhood guards: all of them para-police or even paramilitary structures that enable the circumvention of limits (borders?) that are imposed for police. Far right movements certainly play a crucial role in defining these borders, especially when creating discourses or tropes of „unwanted“, „suspicious“ subjects (minorities, foreigners, gastarbeiters and similar). Also, it’s interesting to note that borders are becoming inscribed in juridical practices: at the same time, different laws are being applied to foreign investors and domestic population or different laws are being applied to domestic and foreign labours.

The aim of my presentation is to present the ways in which this restructuring of borders serves as a mechanism of reproducing class relationships. I will explain the ways in which borders are beginning to be written in juridical system, the ways in which nation states of EU are becoming class reservoirs and borders between them are being used as class barriers. Also, I will problematize the creation of spaces free from national jurisdictions and thus open to totally deregulated economy.


Lazar Atanasković
University of Novi Sad​

“State Politics” or “Politics of State”

In a classical Marxist theory, the state is represented as a point of intersection in which power becomes political. According to Althusser, state is the centre around which class struggle gravitates. The proletariat infiltrates state’s apparatuses only to destroy them. The end of the state is equated with the end of repressive power and the state is posited both as an absolute subject of political power, and as a desired object of social struggle – all of this because of a one almost metaphysical power: it emanates ideologies and possesses its ideological apparatuses. This is what Althusser spoke about before almost a half of the century – it seems that today it is possible to repeat this discourse, but only in a negative: by asserting that the state is not a sovereign in possession of its ideological apparatus, but is in itself a product of ideology. Thereupon, it may no longer be advisable to use the term ‘ideology’, because the state is simply imposed upon us in its positivity – we are then left with a ‘politics of the state’, which takes place before and after the state, and which leaves no room for discourse about ‘state politics’. Thus, state manifests itself as an unstable repository of administration, of normative and regulative apparatus, set in motion by the politics which are conducted in an infinitesimal field of rival practices – those which start their game long before the operability on the level of the state, and which are accomplishing their effects far beyond the reach of state.


Michael Hauser
Czech Academy of Sciences

The Capitalist Revolution: The Left-Wing Restoration

Our present moment is exceptional. Due to the capitalist restoration we are challenged to reconfigure the forms of resistance and even our conceptual patterns. Neoliberalism proves to be a kind of capitalist revolution aiming at the revitalization of the class power. The revolution established the class domination of the financial elite (Duménil, Lévy) and the decentralization and fragmentation of production (Harvey).

We can take a lesson from the Marx´s portrayal of a domination of “the financial aristocracy” in The Class Struggle in France. The society was administered as a joint-stock company and the societal development was inhibited.

My point is that there is the interrelation between the capitalist revolution and the conceptual patterns of the New Left. The Foucaultian decentralized concept of power or the floating signifier (Mouffe, Laclau) reflected the change in the mode of production. The decentralization move of the New Left (“there is no fundamental struggle but only a multitude of struggles”) virtually ignored the centralization of the class power and blocked it in no way. The closing stage of the class power centralization should induce the restoration of Marxist theory to reintroduce a conceptual hierarchy reflecting the dominance of one class.


Carina Klugbauer
University Frankfurt

And Who Cares for Marx? An Actualization of Materialist Feminism

What is the material base of women’s oppression? A whole political movement and mostly an
Anglo-American theoretical debate was concerned with this question from the 60s onwards.
Confronted not only with every day sexism which was still virulent in the New Left, but also with a gender-blind Marxist theory, Marxist or materialist feminists tried to figure out how the capitalist mode of production is entangled with gender relations. Recently, the debate received new attention under the label ‘carework’. Although the new research focus on the care economy looks still quite similar to the older debate, there are some significant differences in the way gendered work is conceptualized. While the academics of the 70s and 80swere engaged in explaining the dependent position of women within a capitalist society by a reformulation of Marxist theory in order to grasp the specific position of women within a capitalist system, the new debate abandoned Marxist categories altogether. Instead of explaining society as a
structured whole which is built upon a gender antagonism, the focus shifted towards the internal
division of work between women. The underpaid, sometimes migrant housekeeper carrying out the work the career women is no longer able to do becomes a problem between two women, instead of being seen as a problem concerning not only all women, but the gendered division of labor in general. But this moves the problem from the question of the mechanism of segregation along gender and class towards an internal problem between women by letting the capitalist relations untouched. I want to show why it is worthwhile to still concern oneself with Marxist and materialist feminism.


Andrea Jovanović
University of Belgrade

Gender Relations in the 21th Century: Marxist Feminist Perspective

The question of relation(s) between capitalism and patriarchy is old as the feminist theory (in the broadest sense) itself. Through many decades this theory has been trying to give different answers to it in order to build a comprehensive theoretical and practical explanation of these systems and their interpenetration. The goal stayed the same: find out what needs to be changed in order to make women liberation possible in its entirety. In this presentation I will try to outline some of the most important different perspectives of so called Marxist Feminist theory that has developed in the last two centuries. I will point out both to their mutual similarities and differences. The starting point is the hypothesis that in capitalism gender relations are also a form of relations of production and that neither of them can be understood without analyzing them altogether. The second part of presentation will be dedicated to investigating in which way capitalism has transformed during neoliberalism period and are Marxist Feminist theories capable of providing us with answers both to the new and the old problems women are facing today.


Andrew Ryder
CEU, Budapest

Italian Autonomist Feminism and Social Reproduction Theory

First published in 1983, Lise Vogel’s study, Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Towards a Unitary Theory, has received renewed attention since its republication last year. Vogel makes a compelling argument that many socialist feminists have relied on a dual-systems theory that maintains patriarchy and chauvinism as separate instances of cultural determination, without integrating them into the social totality of capitalist production and exploitation. I argue that Vogel’s work finds a complement in earlier analyses written by the Italian autonomist feminists, Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Leopoldina Fortunati, and Silvia Federici. However, Vogel’s notion of value creation maintains a more traditional perspective. While she subscribes to Louis Althusser’s concept of overdetermination and symptomatic reading, the Italians follow a reformulation according to the viewpoint of the worker’s experience, advocated by Mario Tronti and Antonio Negri. While autonomist feminism and social reproduction theory share a commitment to understanding reproductive labor – including housework, sex work, and care labor – as indispensable elements of the mode of production, they also depart from one another on questions of interpretation and practice, particularly regarding the application of the wage relation to domestic labor.


Alex Cooper
CEU, Budapest

Only Certain Activists Allowed: Neoliberal Policies, NGOs, and LGBTQ Rights in Serbia

As state socialism receded in the post-Yugoslav region during the tumultuous 1990s, a rush of international organizations and foreign intervention agencies came “to bring” civil society, human rights protections, and the like to the successor states. While bringing funding and capacity-building programs to the region, these organizations also brought strong ideologies influenced by neoliberalism. This paper explores how these organizations neoliberal policies affect the ways in which Serbian LGBTQ rights organizations form and operate. In using the example of the LGBTQ-rights community organization IDAHO-Belgrade, I suggest that neoliberal funders have emphasized only certain types of activism by only approving funding for organizations that follow a neoliberal NGO model. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted throughout 2014, I argue that IDAHO-Belgrade has been unrestricted in their activism due to their lack of neoliberal funders, unlike larger, well-funded LGBTQ rights organization. In being forced to follow a neoliberal NGO model, other LGBTQ rights organizations become trapped in only working on certain issues and in certain ways. I argue that this constrains the assistance available to the LGBTQ population in Serbia by placing boundaries on what is funded and what is not funded.


 

Marcello Barison
University of Rijeka

Money as Debt

How come that a huge part of the world economy is drowning because of sovereign debt? The anonymous mechanism that makes states and communities increasingly linked to debts is bigger and bigger, and out of control. It requires individual states to issue national laws increasingly drastic in abolishing the welfare of its citizens, which has determined again, after decades of development, the scenario of a Western world surprised and unprepared to tackle the specter of impoverishment, whereby a supposed economic necessity ultimately expropriates the sovereignty of States and of the European Union itself in favor of multinational financial institutions whose vertices are out of any democratic legitimacy. But where does this debt come from? Yet we all use money every day. Without money our lives would fall apart fairly quickly. But most of us never stop to think about how it comes into existence. Most of the time, any money that is created comes into existence as debt. Every dollar of the monetary base (or ‘narrow money’ or ‘high-powered money’) comes into existence with a one-to-one increase in the public debt, collectively owed by the taxpayers. Then, private banks use that base to create more dollars (in ‘broad money’) that come into existence with a one-to-one increase in private debt. This is the sense in which our fiat-money, fractional-reserve system uses debt-based money. Starting from a discussion of Keynes’ Treatise on Money the proposed paper is specifically intended to critically analyse the relationship between debt and money in order, on the one hand to demystify the intrinsic rationality of the debt-money system, and the other to determine if it is possible to envisage the adoption of an alternative paradigm.


Marco Bresciani
University of Rijeka

Two Historians in Front of the Economic Crisis of 2007-2008: E. Hobsbawm and T. Judt Between Marxism and the Legacies of the 20th Century

How intellectually to react to the economic crisis of 2007-2008 and its long-term backlash? What can we learn from the main twentieth-century political and social experiences, in order to make a new sense of the traditional cultures of the Left? In what sense, and to what extent, can the past help thinking the present?

In order to answer these crucial issues, this proposal will analyze the paths of the well-known historians E. Hobsbawm and T. Judt and their apparently similar, but actually different reactions to the crisis. First, I will focus on their respective books: How to Change the World (2011) and Ill Fares the Land (2010). Hobsbawm’s critical approach to the post-1991 world, shaped by his lifelong fidelity to Marxism and his persistent sympathy for the Russian Revolution, was connected to his catastrophic vision of the end of the both conflicting and collaborative dynamics between Capitalism and Socialism. On the other hand, Judt’s re-thinking of the social-democratic tradition, compelled by the global transformations of the social question, was inspired by his connections with the East Central European dissidents’ anti-totalitarian liberalism and by his critical approach to the engagement of the French intellectuals. Second, I will investigate their different interpretations of the “golden age” of post-1945 Europe (with special regard to the long-term impact of the crisis of 1929 and to the influence of Soviet Communism) and of the causes of its crisis. Third, I will show how, in spite of their common reference to Marx, late Hobsbawm’s and Judt’s historical visions – respectively combined with determinism and moralism – provide opposite ways of coping with the legacies of the 20th century and of criticizing the language of neoliberal economy within the Left.


Tamara Caraus
University of Rijeka

Debt Resistance – Beyond or Within Capitalism?

During the last years, waves of protests targeting capitalism and its neoliberal regime have been taking place around the world, like the Indignados in several EU countries protesting against austerity and unemployment or the Occupy movements as a response to the financial crisis, targeting financial elites. The previous wave of global protests, known by such names as Madrid 94, J 18, Seattle/N30, Washington A 16, Genoa 2001, Quebec City 2001, Porto Alegre 2002, etc. were against the G8/G20, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and other corporations and trade agreements. Within these protests, the debt resistance movements provide a targeting critique of contemporary capitalism and financial system – the debt dependency mechanisms. But what are the alternatives to debt based economy advanced by these movements? Is the envisaged debt-free society beyond or within capitalism? In order to answer these questions, firstly I will present briefly the cases of Jubilee 2000, Rolling Jubilee and Strike Debt! movements, reading their manifestos, declarations, etc. and examining the undertaken actions. Second, I will analyse the moral argument for debt resistance versus ‘one always has to pay his debts’ motive, pointing to the basic needs claim (one needs a loan to meet his basic needs), to shame and guilt induced by debt, to the existential threat to free citizenry caused by debt burdens, aspects that make the refusal to pay back a plausible act of resistance. Third, I will examine the alternatives to debt advanced by these movements which range from a debt-free society to a ‘debt with a human face’, that is, a financial system where debt is not a form of power and exploitation… within capitalism.


Mariagrazia Portera
University of Rijeka

Is Capitalism in Our Genes? Competition, Cooperation and the Idea of Homo Oeconomicus from an Evolutionary Perspective

Little in the study of human nature has been left untouched by developments in evolutionary biology. In the last few years a growing number of academic disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences have turned to the evolutionary approach: Evolutionary Economics, among these disciplines, is a thriving subfield of Economics, which adopts Darwin’s evolutionary ideas and concepts for the understanding of economic system and modes of production.

Evolutionary hypotheses such as the “selfish gene” idea, the ideas of “inclusive fitness”, “struggle for life” and “survival of the fittest” may suggest – and have actually suggested – that humans are rational self-interest individuals, doing what they can to increase their own reproductive chances or at least the chances of their close relatives (“inclusive fitness”). To put it differently, evolutionary theory seems to suggest that capitalism (in a broad sense) is a system that has co-evolved with humans and best fits our evolved psychology. Is this the whole story? Is capitalism “in our genes”?

In order to shed some light on these issues, I will proceed in two steps: a) First, I will discuss the methodological constraints and caveats that we should observe when applying Darwin’s theory to complex economic systems and modes of production; b) Secondly, I will briefly outline a few of the most recent hypotheses about human (supposed) competitive nature. I will suggest that conclusions such as “Capitalism are in our genes” or “We are born to be rational self-interested agents” are the mere result of a mystifying and misleading application of Darwin’s evolutionary theory to human socio-economic processes, mainly to justify a (Western) society based on selfish principles, but which is not naturally selfish in itself. Evolution seems to be the result of cooperative, not only (or not mainly) competitive processes, and the model of Homo oeconomicus, that is the idea that humans are rational self-interested agents always trying to maximize profit, is, also from an bio-evolutionary perspective, nothing more than a fictional exercise. As evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis said, “Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking”. Such a point of view could be even more interesting today, when protests against capitalism are growing around the world and people look for a more “human”, relational social and economic paradigm.


Aaron Schuster
University of Rijeka

From Death Drive to Debt Drive

The philosophical conception of the human being as a being whose existence precedes its essence, which is defined by its radical openness and fundamentally historical character was, for the twentieth century, part and parcel of an emancipatory project, aimed against all kinds of naturalisms and capture by identitarian politics. As opposed to having an intrinsic finality or substantial identity, human existence is always in the process of inventing itself, of becoming something other to itself, and is compelled to assume its abyssal freedom with all the risks and difficulties this entails. This paper will look at how, at the beginning of the twenty first century, that conception has been decisively reversed. Neoliberalism can be defined, from the perspective of philosophical anthropology, as a perverse exploitation of the “indetermination” of the human being, whose flexibility, capacity for reinvention, and underlying precarity are now marshalled in the service of the market. Paradoxically, the very openness mean to combat reification has itself become the object of reification, a vector for the reduction of the human being to a manageable and disposable thing. If the Freudian name for the libidinally unhinged or out-of-joint character of the psyche was death drive, I will propose that neoliberalism can be understood as a translation of death drive into debt drive, a transformation of the openness of the human being into a perpetual indebtedness.