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

Friday, June 26

SESSION 4

 

4a Thinking Beyond Capitalism in Philosophy
Session Chair: Igor Cvejić
4b Thinking Within and Beyond Capitalism
Session Chair: Peter Klepec
4c Ecological Perspectives in Late Capitalism
Session Chair: Iva Marković
Martin Savransky and Felipe Lagos
Against a Dead Present: Marx, Whitehead and the Production of Living Alternatives
Đorđe Pavićević and Ivana Spasić
Toward the Critique of the Project-Form, or, why is it Impossible to Think Capitalism
Chris Saltmarsh
International Inaction on Climate Change
András Schuller
Ideology of Utopia
Robert Pfuezner
Contradictions of Education. Pedagogy Between Class Reproduction And Social Transformation
Hrvoje Jurić
Biocapitalism
Sebastian Neubauer
On the Foundations of Louis Althusser’s Life-Long Attempt to Think Beyond Capitalism in Early Modern Political Thought
Tia Glavočić
Derationalization as Opposition to Capitalism: Is it Possible?
Jelena Đurić
Toward the Ecological Economy
Cristian Lo Iacono
Interstitiality: Towards a Post-Althusserian Idea of Transition
Stevan Salatić
The Incentives Argument and the Difference Principle – “Rawls-Cohen” Trilemma

Martin Savransky and Felipe Lagos
University of London / University College London

Against a Dead Present: Marx, Whitehead and the Production of Living Alternatives

One of the central features of our political presents may arguably be characterized by the
overwhelming reproduction of economic and social situations of deadlock– the locking
down, that is, of futures into dead alternatives that incorporate possibilities of
transformation only on condition that these remain mere extensions of present conditions
and modes of production. In this sense, the invocation of political, economic and social
’crises’ as well as natural or environmental ‘emergencies’ may be seen as a real abstraction
whose political effect is, paradoxically, that of preempting the critical emergence of living
alternatives by recourse to the urgency of the present. In this paper we argue that the
possibility of constructing live alternatives, that is, of new modes of production and
thinking, requires an acute attention to contemporary modes of abstraction and its limits,
as well as an experimental sensibility capable of fostering not only different abstractions,
but also a different manner of abstracting. In order to begin such an exploration, we will
articulate a dialogue between two thinkers whose works have, in different ways, been
singularly concerned with natural, scientific, social and political processes of abstraction–
namely, Karl Marx and Alfred North Whitehead. Concretely, by reading together some of
the many writings by these two authors on the relations between nature, history, science
and philosophy, we will seek to provide a critical understanding of the role of abstractions
in the formation and transformation of reality in order to make a contribution, however
provisional, to resisting the capitalist extension of a dead present, and to the possibility for
constructing a “beyond.”


András Schuller
ELTE, Budapest

Ideology of Utopia

Strange though it may appear, Louis Althusser, one of the most influent representatives of the post-war Marxism never worked out the details of his own Marxist philosophy, i. e. his own ‘practice of philosophy’. My paper is going to argue that the presumable reason for it is not only and not primarily historical but systematic. The lack of the Alhusserian elaboration of a Marxist practice of philosophy is due not only to the illusion of the Trente Glorieuses – according to which Marxism could appear to be needless as the vast majority of its traditional claims seemed to be fulfilled in Western Europe –, but to a performative self-contradiction of the Althusserian conception of the Marxist practice of philosophy itself. On the one hand, Althusser declares the transhistorical character of ideology including that of all sorts of philosophical praxis. On the other hand, he maintains that a Marxist philosophy as disclosure of the laws of social being cannot be ideological. By the analysis of this self-contradiction, I am going to show that a non-ideological Marxist practice of philosophy in its Althusserian sense proves to be not merely a utopia, but an ideological one: an ideology of utopia.


Sebastian Neubauer
Free University Berlin

On the Foundations of Louis Althusser’s Life-Long Attempt to Think Beyond Capitalism in Early Modern Political Thought

Thinking beyond Capitalism is a challenge that has a long and outstanding history in critical practices. The French philosopher Louis Althusser, who has in personal and theoretical terms a rather doubtful account, deserves the credit for discovering and exploring that thinking beyond capitalism means first and foremost to think beyond Capital’ (as reality, text and program). From this point-of-view, Althusser’s endeavors from the 1960s onwards mark, notwithstanding their orthodox tendencies, a remarkable contribution to the opening of the Marxist and critical paradigm. Regarding Althusser’s contribution, it has been much debated, if his attempts were successful, if his political positions were justified and if he judged the Marxist tradition rightfully. However, much less attention has been paid on examining how Althusser eventually managed to think beyond capitalism beyond ‘Capital’. Concerning this it is of sincere interest that Althusser spent – as his archives reveal – a great deal of work on Early Modern Political Thought, perhaps more than on Marx and the Marxist tradition. As he refers to Machiavelli as “the greatest materialist philosopher in history” and to Hobbes as “the first theorist of ideology”, there are strong indications that this almost completely unknown work has decisively contributed to his famous efforts to think beyond capitalism. Therefore, I aim in my presentation, first, to show that the Althusserian endeavor marks, from the point-of-view of the history of political thought, the crucial opening of thinking beyond capitalism. Second, I will demonstrate that Althusser’s theoretical interventions rely substantially on his readings of Early Modern Political Thought. Finally, I will reevaluate this Althusserian track and reflect on the potentials of Machiavelli, Hobbes & Co., who were the witnesses of this side of the creation of Capitalism and the Capitalist State, for making sound statements about contemporary capitalism.


Cristian Lo Iacono
University of Torino

Interstitiality: Towards a Post-Althusserian Idea of Transition

Louis Althusser’s aleatory materialism is receiving growing attention by contemporary critique, but the dramatic phase, between 1977-1980, from which it has sprung, poses large interpretative problems. Interstitiality, aleatority. suspension, de-socialization are some of the row materials of his late meditation. The category of interstitiality, in particular, is widely used in contemporary postcolonial studies, urban sociology, and anthropology, but is also a Marxian one, initially formulated to think the transition from the old to the new mode of production. Marx uses it to describe the “conditions” that have made possible the rise of capitalism. Marxism of the 20th century and historical experience lead us to abandon any deterministic and teleological model to think beyond capitalism. For this reason it is worth to examine Althusser, who, after reflecting on the crisis of Marxism in the late 1970s, and after being confronted with the failure of social projects directed by the State, elaborates the elements for an “aleatory” conception of historical passages. Interstitiality allows us to think of the passage not as transcendence, nor as development of “innate” potential (beyond the pair transcendence/immanence), but as an “activation” of elements of an ontology of the present.


Stevan Salatić
University of Banja Luka

The Incentives Argument and the Difference Principle – “Rawls-Cohen” Trilemma

The debate about justified incentives between liberal egalitarians and analytical Marxists is located in the centre of this paper. Strict and lax readings of the Rawls’s difference principle is the main subject of the dispute between these two theoretical schools – liberal egalitarianism (Rawls, Dworkin…) and analytical Marxism (Roemer, Van Parijs, Cohen…). The main question is: “Can we characterize one society as just (in a sense of justice) in which talented receive incentives for their work?” On the one side, liberal egalitarians consider that the basic structure of society is only subject of justice, while analytical Marxist demand the existence of one sort of “the ethos of justice” (individual behavior that is consistent with justice principle). G.A. Cohen believes that we can characterize one society as just, only if all its members behave in accordance with the ethos of justice. In that society there is no need for providing incentives for talented. Talented individuals may ask for incentives from the society only if they work some hard job that contain special burden and require special prize. The main aim of this paper is to show in which cases we may give incentives to the talented and at the same time provide justice in that society. The argument for the freedom of choice of occupation (Rawls – Cohen trilemma) is also in the centre of analysis.


Đorđe Pavićević and Ivana Spasić
University of Belgrade

Toward the Critique of the Project-Form, or, why is it Impossible to Think Capitalism

Starting from Boltanski and Chiapello’s idea of the “project-driven city” as the latest addition to the plurality of grammars of justification operative in complex societies, and the one most specific to contemporary capitalism, this paper intends to explore the generalization of what may be called the “project form” and its implications for intellectual work. It will be argued that the problem cannot be reduced to simple commercialization, i.e. the imperative that research be oriented towards profitability, as such demands are rather easy to identify and criticize. A more insidious constraint, seriously hampering reflection, is the very logic of project which functions in terms of “deliverables” whereby intellectual work is increasingly construed as a rationally planned process that regularly produces sets of predefined and precisely scheduled outcomes.


Robert Pfuezner
University of Jena

Contradictions of Education. Pedagogy Between Class Reproduction And Social Transformation

The current crisis of capitalism and the resulting crisis of education as one of the most important systems of (not only ideological) reproduction show the need of alternative pedagogies. The discussions about “sustainable”, “transformative”, “socialist”, or “solidary” education deliver multiple ideas and concepts for an education beyond capitalism. But it seems that many of the concepts are trapped in idealist ideologies, or in illusions of educational productivity. To discuss the possibilities of a non-capitalist pedagogy we have to deal with at least two main problems. The first is the problem of analysis. For pedagogues it is often difficult to analyse their role in the reproduction of social classes (and other structures of inequality like race or gender). But a clear analysis of the complicity of education in the perpetuation of capitalism is crucial for the development of a real alternative. The second issue is concerned with the problem of different time frames. Teachers have to deal with children and their actual needs and hopes. Although it is evident, that a comprehensive development of children is not possible under current social conditions, pedagogues cannot sacrifice children’s’ present to an uncertain post-capitalist future. They have to empower them to come through in a capitalist present. These two challenges and their implications for an education beyond capitalism will be discussed in the presentation.


Tia Glavočić
University of Zagreb

Derationalization as Opposition to Capitalism: Is it Possible?

One of the main theoretical concepts of Max Weber’s social theory is rationalization, which is depicted as basis for emergence of capitalism. In his famous work, Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber claims that certain ideas of protestant theologies introduced the idea of rational means for economic gain as a way of dealing with questions of salvation and consequential anxiety. Those rational means triggered the process of rationalization, which later became completely separated from religious roots that produced them. Rationalization is a significant feature of the modern society. Weber suggests that rationalization is governing through calculations, and “disenchantment of the world” is a direct result of this process. For him, bureaucratization is the paradigm of the process of rationalization, and the main characteristic of bureaucratization is a faceless rule of law. It is the most rational form of social organization and it is superior to all other forms of social organization. Moreover, bureaucratization is a social structure which is very hard to break. Weber was afraid of the all-encompassing and unstoppable “iron cage” of rationalization, and he believed that the expansion of bureaucratization could not be stopped. George Ritzer sees McDonaldization, not Weber’s bureaucracy, as the paradigm of rationalization. McDonaldization is a process in which the fast food restaurant operational principle is spreading through more and more segments of the society, and it is a direct continuation of the process of rationalization. The key features, or aspects, of McDonaldization are efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. Ritzer also adds the fifth aspect, the irrationality of rationality, which refers to irrational consequences of rational systems. In his explanation of the consequences of rationalization, Ritzer uses Weber’s term “iron cage” and says that it will be very difficult to avoid rationalization and that its influence will continue to spread. Weber believed that the opposition to rationalization is possible only on the individual level, and Ritzer has a similar view. This paper tries to present examples which show that the reversibility of rationalization is possible, and that the opposition to the process of rationalization can be achieved on a level higher than the individual one. Traveling, communication, housing, and food production are highly rationalized spheres of the modern society, but the examples of CouchSurfing, Web 2.0, and Ecovillages show there is a possibility to derationalize these spheres of life, and that collective efforts dedicated to that purpose exist. Is it possible to avoid the traps of the iron cage? How successful this opposition can be, and what does it tells us about the possibility of a reversible process, about derationalization?


Chris Saltmarsh
University of Sheffield

International Inaction on Climate Change

Despite having known of the reality and devastating severity of climate change for decades, the international community is persistently incapable of taking meaningful action to tackle it. The onset of anthropogenic climate change is undoubtedly a crisis of fossil fuel-dependent industrial capitalism, but can the same be said of our inaction?

I identify states, corporations, and local communities and individuals as three categories of actors with either the responsibility or potential to take effective climate action, and analyse the barriers which have limited them in doing so thus far. I argue that neoliberal capitalism has played a significant role in inhibiting these actors from taking either cooperative or individual action against climate change.

Capitalism prioritises the pursuit of private profit, meaning that powerful corporations will continue to both exploit fossil fuels (as long as it remains profitable) and dissuade states from action, too, as the viability of alternative energies, like fracking, are determined by their profitability, rather than environmental sustainability.

Despite many individuals and local communities wanting to practice sustainability, they are politically and economically disempowered by capitalism, making it difficult to pursue movements, projects or lifestyles which can have a significant effect on climate change and inspire further action.


Hrvoje Jurić
University of Zagreb

Biocapitalism

It seems that neoliberal capitalism is an ultimate step in epochal reformulation and/or factual destruction of freedom, equality and solidarity, including different forms of communal, social and political life based on the idea of the public and the commons. However, mechanisms of (neoliberal) capitalism attack and destroy not only socio-political life, but also the life and the life forms in a basic, biological sense. Enormous exploitation of the natural environment as a mere “resource” is only one and most visible dimension of this process, while the “invisible” consequences of capitalist instrumentalization of biosciences and biotechnologies still are not recognized in their full monstrous potential . According to Vandana Shiva, “Through patents and genetic engineering, new colonies are being carved out. The land, the forests, the rivers, the oceans, and the atmosphere have all been colonized, eroded and polluted. Capital now has to look for new colonies to invade and exploit for its further accumulation.” With a little help of biopolitical theory (Foucault, Agamben) we should try to articulate such tendencies as “biocapitalism” and to describe its main features by following the line of objectification, commodification, commercialization and privatization of life on the examples from the fields of biomedicine and ecology.


Jelena Đurić
Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, Belgrade

Toward the Ecological Economy

The issue of the economy alternative to capitalism stems from the evidence of increased deepening of the ecological crisis and simultaneous worsening of the humanity status. An orientation to profit as the ultimate value, that is based on the concept of growth, became crucial problem for the environment. So, modern “myth of progress” has been deconstructed even in the form of “sustainable development” as it continues to ruin the natural environment (and traditional cultures as well). By identifying itself with technology it opened the Anthropocene era, which is defined as the ecosystem change induced by human activities. However, these activities are predominantly technological and, as such, they disregard traditional cultures and human values, which respected ecological principles and held humans as part of nature. In its own way, the Anthropocene era abolishes discontinuity between nature and culture and constructs a system that unifies them. The concept of Anthropocene prepares us for Gaia phenomenon, but what is its real content, and could the “anthropos” answer to demands of the new-emerging “great narrative” of this new era? It is crucial to bear in mind that ecological crisis is not only the matter of resources, but also the matter of human subjectivity that should be transformed.