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 2

 

2a Limits of Capitalism
Session Chair: Đorđe Pavićević
2b
European (Semi-)Periphery and its Discontents
Session Chair: Igor Cvejić
2c Re-conceptualizing International Relations
Session Chair: Gazela Pudar Draško
Toni Prug
Social forms of wealth and production beyond commodities and markets
Tamás Gerőcs
Re-industrialization in Europe’s Eastern Periphery
Sarrah Kassem
International Relations as Bourgeois Ideology: A Historical-Materialist Analysis
Martin O’Neill
Predistribution and the Path Beyond Capitalism
Ágnes Gagyi
Capitalism, Crisis and Countermovements in Contemporary Hungary
Miloš Sumonja
The Habermas-Streeck Debate: The Left and the European Union
Aleksandar Mijatović and Aneli Dragojević Mijatović
Change is The Only Thing That Matters (?): On the Impossibility to Overcome Neoliberal Capitalism
Мárton Szarvas
Cultural Politics as Class Politics: Trajectories of the Cultural Institutional System Through Socialist and Post-Socialist Semiperipheral Integration: the Case of Hungary
Panel: Crisis of the Capitalist and Imperialist International Order 
Tolgahan Akdan
Faultiness of the Revisionist Analysis of the Cold War
Aleksandar Stojanović
Exploitation and Value-Form Conception of Capitalism
Jana Tsoneva
“Onshore” Finance and Workers’ Subjectivities: the Case of Malta
Mustafa Türkeş
Unsustainability of the Current Capitalist-Imperialist International Order and the Regional Wars 
Haldun Gulalp
Modes of Accumulation and the Limits of Capitalism
Iskra Krstić
Thinking Beyond the Commercialization of Public Space in Post-Socialist Cities
Tetsuya Sahara
A Challenge to the Existing International Order: Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Eurasian Geopolitics 

Toni Prug
Queen Mary University of London

Social forms of wealth and production beyond commodities and markets

The capitalist mode of production prevails in vast majority of countries. In many of them, the wealth appears as a combination of an immense collection of commodities and other kinds of products; the individual commodity and other individual products appear as its elementary social forms. Since the commodities and its capitalist processes of production are somewhat understood, this investigation begins with other products and their production processes: public sector, household, and to a much lesser extent peer-to-peer production. While a large part of annual output in GDP terms, part of which can be classified as production, results from public sector activities in many countries (in 2011, 41.9% on average in OECD, 48% in EU-15), its products do not take the commodity form, with profits as the direct driving force lacking. Most of public sector products are distributed through allocation based on a certain criteria, aiming to reach end users equally, regardless of individual wealth. Through a reading of Marx’s work and an engagement with national accounts, presentation will propose to conceptualize those other products as outputs of various forms of non-capitalist production, with own economic forms, categories, driving logic and structural position and relation to the social reproduction as a whole. Despite often being of an egalitarian character due to its allocation principle, the emancipatory potential of public sector production is severely limited by its role in the reproduction of the capitalist mode of production. In order to open a way towards the construction of categories adequate for the non-commodity production, our investigation starts with the following: consideration of the historical specificity of social forms of non-commodity production outputs and its comparison with commodities; their relation with the dominant capitalist production; their role in the social reproduction as whole.


Martin O’Neill
University of York

Predistribution and the Path Beyond Capitalism

Can there be a market economy that moves comprehensively beyond the constraints of capitalism by means of the abolition of the distinction between social classes, overcoming the duality of workers and capitalists? James Meade’s proposals made in the 1960s for a productive system that combined elements of liberal democratic socialism with a ‘property-owning democracy’ sketch the possibility of using the comprehensive ‘predistribution’ of human and non-human capital to create a market economy in which everyone is both worker and capitalist, and in which the inequalities of contemporary capitalism have been abolished. Now, fifty years on, as we face the emergence of the form of massively unequal ‘patrimonial capitalism’, as described by Piketty and presciently described by Meade, it is time to revisit Meade’s proposals for how inequality can be overcome through the democratization of wealth. My paper will reconstruct Meade’s post-capitalist market economy, explain their connection to ideas of ‘predistribution’, and examine the possibility of a path from current conditions to a post-capitalist economic future.


Aleksandar Mijatović and Aneli Dragojević Mijatović
University of Rijeka

Change is The Only Thing That Matters (?): On the Impossibility to Overcome Neoliberal Capitalism

The growth of neoliberal capitalism turned free market into a mean for the distribution of rights and social participation. Instead of bringing society of equal chances for everyone, free market, as social and political dispositive of neoliberal governmentality, has led to enormous social differences and unjust distribution of capital. With the deepening of social differences, accumulated anti-capitalist social energy and affects bursts randomly in isolated riots, protests and demonstrations. For those temporarily mobilized social masses neoliberal capitalism is not the primary object they rise against. On the contrary, to those formations neoliberal capitalism does not threaten class, but other aspects of identity. It is not decisive any more to maintain or establish equality and solidarity, but to preserve or defend identity.
Various thinkers belonging to diverse theoretical standpoints, such as Z. Bauman, L. Berlant, B. Massumi, E. A. Povinelli, S. Žižek, argue for liquidations and dissociation of individual and collective subjectivity into remnants that resist symbolization or into unconceptualized affects. However, we will argue that along with the processes of dissolution, various anti-capitalist formations engender new forms of solidifications, by drawing new borderlines and by establishing limitations, as was showed by S. Mezzadra. We would like to question if those forms of new repressive collectivity, possessing many elements of national-socialism, are product of neoliberal capitalism or are they reality beyond capitalism. What exactly happened in the ages when ‘wretched on the earth’ replaced uprising for wages or worker’s rights with various forms of hegemony?


Aleksandar Stojanović
University of Belgrade

Exploitation and Value-Form Conception of Capitalism

In this talk I will present the distinction between conception of capitalism based on the notion of exploitation and value-form domination and explore its relevance for anti-capitalist practice and conception of post-capitalist society. First I will present the distinction as it is based on two different readings of the first book of Marx’s Capital and particularly value-form analysis from the first chapter: one coming from currents of traditional Marxism, like the Second Internationale, and the other from heterodox currents like Neue-Marx-Lekture or New Dialectics. In the second part I explore organizational consequences for anti-capitalist practice derived from the conception of capitalism as society dominated by value-form. I will show that these consequences are thoroughly different from the ones derived from the conception of capitalism as a society of exploitation, so that the later consist in equality based organizational logic and the former in decomodifying organizational logic. I will conclude that these different consequences stretch out to different conceptions of post-capitalist society.


Haldun Gulalp
Yidiz Technical University

Modes of Accumulation and the Limits of Capitalism

In the famous “Preface” to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), Marx’s formula for transition from one mode of production to another involves a measure of circular reasoning. Marx argues that capitalism will collapse when it has exhausted its capacity for further development – but we can only know that it has exhausted this capacity when it has collapsed. This imprecision has frustrated generations of Marxists who have predicted capitalism’s collapse at every major economic crisis, from which capitalism has then recovered. I propose an alternative perspective on the issue.
Capitalism developed through primitive accumulation, extensive accumulation (formal subordination of labor), and intensive accumulation (real subordination). The latter mode of accumulation, also called “Fordism,” generated the prolonged boom of the twentieth century, based on a welfare compromise between labor and capital. Fordism’s crisis at the end of the century led to “post-Fordism” (a return to extensive accumulation) on a global scale. Finally, with recent crises, capitalism has further retreated into “accumulation by dispossession” (renewed primitive accumulation).
Fordism and post-Fordism had social structural limits. Renewed primitive accumulation, however, has natural limits. If capitalism can only proceed by plundering and commodifying basic use values found in nature, then it is truly approaching its final limits.


Tamás Gerőcs
Corvinus University, Budapest

Re-industrialization in Europe’s Eastern Periphery

The purpose of this paper is to understand the changing form of dependencies in the context of semi-peripheral development in Eastern Europe. My research is part of a bigger project within the Budapest-based Public Sociology Group ’Helyzet’. In this group we apply world-systemic approach to analyze the evolution of local capitalist formation in interaction with other global social formations in a longue dureé perspective. Semi-peripheral position reflects on a structural asymmetry within the hierarchical structure of the international division of labor.

While concentrating on two forms of dependency: external finances and the newly emerging European division of labour, in my paper I analyze the specific form of recently emerging Eastern European capitalist development since the 1970’s until the global economic crisis. The 70’s mark a decisive turnaround in the development of global capitalism which did not leave the socialist states intact. International credit flows to socialist-economies resulted in heavy debt accumulation and contributed to the dismantling of the Comecon market, while from the end of the 80s, in parallel with the political transition, FDI inflow ‒ mainly through privatization and later due to the liberalization of capital market ‒ became the dominant form of external financing. The initial effect of joining the EU seems to be also financial since mounting currency-transfers contributed to the sustainability of a disadvantageous economic position with interaction to the forceful economic restructuring of the industrial core countries.

Does regional reindustrialization leads to a model of catching up with core economies? Or do we find reoccurring/self-reinforcing cycles of asymmetric dependencies that have been characteristic of historical capitalism in this region? I argue that the latter is the source of the recent industrial development. To test my hypothesis I focus on three forms of external finance: credit, FDI and financial transfers, and inquire about the role of the post-socialist state in the process of re-entering the capitalist world economy. I also present the latest development in the external (European) finances to the industrial development in Eastern Europe. More concretely, I argue that EU membership is not a classic form of development, but a reinforcement of the historically induced semi-peripheral position within the European division of labour.


Ágnes Gagyi
Eszterházy Károly College, Eger

Capitalism, Crisis and Countermovements in Contemporary Hungary

The paper responds to the conference call’s question on how to think contemporary capitalism, its crisis and potential anti-systemic forces, through localizing its perspective in a much debated case of contemporary European reactions to the crisis: the present Hungarian regime, and its countermovements. The aim of that gesture is not to provide an exotic case for a general question. On the contrary, it aims to contribute to the debate on capitalism, crisis and countermovements in general, through removing the bias imposed by North American and Western European dominance of academic and movement knowledge, and reconstructing the same question from another angle of the interconnected history of global capitalism. This move places elements of dominant critical conceptualizations of the present crisis, such as austerity, „the crisis of democratic capitalism”, or a new wave of populisms, into contexts where their reference is different – i.e. austerity worked as the requirement of post-socialist democratization, the golden past of democratic (welfare) capitalism recalled by Western narratives of neoliberalization was never present, and dynamics between state, modernization and populisms had a different history.

Together with Tamás Gerőcs and Márton Szarvas, I speak as member of the Working Group for Public Sociology „Helyzet” in Budapest, which reconstructs the formation of the present Hungarian regime as a moment of dependent development in long term global historical context. Relying on that collective analysis, the paper will show how, in the case of Hungary, recurrent transformations of a semi-peripheral integration into cycles of global capitalist political economy breed forms of political ideologies where both systemic and anti-systemic versions function as elements of global integration. Departing from approaches which dismiss such ideological forms as mistaken/imperfect in the Western sense, or, on the contrary, self-colonizing, I will present systemic and antisystemic ideologies of the present Hungarian regime as transnational constructs reflecting the real power dynamics and class relations in Hungary’s global integration.


Мárton Szarvas
CEU, Budapest

Cultural Politics as Class Politics: Trajectories of the Cultural Institutional System Through Socialist and Post-Socialist Semiperipheral Integration: the Case of Hungary

The purpose of this paper to analyze the aesthetic field in the state-socialist and capitalist environment between 1968 and 2014 in Hungary, as the social history of political and aesthetic self-reflection shaped by global forces. It analyzes the institutional system of the New Economic Mechanism, its transition from 1984, the emerging liberal hegemony and the new hegemony of the conservative understanding of the role of culture, as they related to systemic changes within the world system and Eastern Europe’s place within it. After 1968 the Kádár Regime, as the part of the New Economic Mechanism, changed the perception of culture. A utilitarian system was elaborated in which the economically sustainable pieces of art supported the less profitable but ideologically beneficial pieces. After 1984 the slow privatization and marketization of cultural institutions started and the understanding of culture changed. It was not perceived as one main factor of the reproduction of social inequalities anymore but as a consumable good. Since there was a lack of domestic capital which could be involved to the finance of cultural institutional system, endeavors happened just on the discursive level to make an independent cultural institutional system. From 2010 on, the new conservative government occupied all the chairs of the prominent institutions and put emphasis on the development of a new conservative taste system, while on the other hand it also promotes culture as part of the creative industry and with which comparative advantages can be gained. I will argue that changes in macroeconomic processes highly influenced changes within the cultural institutions, and the understanding of the role of culture within the society. I am going to show through the case of Hungary how cultural politics are utilized as class politics and its impact on a semi-peripheral social self-reflection.


 

Jana Tsoneva
CEU, Budapest

“Onshore” Finance and Workers’ Subjectivities: the Case of Malta

This is a paper on labour discipline in Malta’s online gaming industry. I focus on a specific articulation of what at first glance appear to be mutually exclusive “hegemonic” and “despotic” factory regimes (Burawoy 1979, 1983). The study tries to establish the reasons behind this unusual mix. The articulation in question is unusual because the literature on work and labour relations focuses on historical accounts of transitions and superimpositions of one managerial regime over another, presupposing radical breaks in time. What the Maltese case presents, though, is the emergence of a working environment that contains both hegemonic and despotic managerial regimes. I call this regime synthetic labour regime. I demonstrate the kinds of subjectivities engineered by the synthetic regime, where gestures of corporate care are tangled with insecurity, volatility, and arbitrary dismissal from work, amidst deployment of management techniques, such as compulsory lie detector tests blurring the boundaries between policing and work. This is an issue that I address through a re-reading of the Foucauldian notion of pastoral power. Further, I question the conventional assumptions of radical breaks splitting Fordist from neoliberal/post-Fordist capitalism by arguing that, far from being a radically new era, neoliberal capitalism represents the climax of modern capitalist rationality because it purges all modern impurities from workers’ subjectivities (such as the militancy and unionism from the welfare state period), rendering them in possession with an increasing number of presuppositions with capital.


Iskra Krstić
University of Belgrade

Thinking Beyond the Commercialization of Public Space in Post-Socialist Cities

Public space is by definition urban space accessible to the general public, whose use cannot be limited. For this reason it is considered to represent one of the “market imperfections” from the point of view of economy theory. Recently public space has fallen under pressure of commercialization, which threatens to rob public space of its main characteristics and eventually cause its disappearing. This pressure is especially strong in post-socialist cities, where all public goods are often interpreted by the political and economy elite as an unwanted and inefficient remnant of real socialism. The crisis discourse is also used since 2008 to further legitimize the privatization of public goods, including public space.

By annihilating the material results of political, social and economic orders that preceded the contemporary form of capitalism contemporary capitalism attacks the symbols and potential reminders of those orders. It is an effort to reduce and limit the framework of thought to neoliberal thinking patterns.

Public space is an important reminder of the alternatives, since it allows forms of social organizing that potentially escape the matrix of social hierarchies based on private ownership and instrumental interactions.


 

Sarrah Kassem
American University, Cairo

International Relations as Bourgeois Ideology: A Historical-Materialist Analysis

This paper applies a historical materialist analysis to the discipline of International Relations (IR), focusing on the recent debate between Neorealism and Neoliberalism (Neo-Neo debate). It asks two foundational and interrelated questions: 1) how are the material conditions and processes of neoliberalism dialectically related to the reassertion of mental conceptions of bourgeois ideology in International Relations?; and 2) how does the individual ontology of dominant IR theory, understood as the Neo-Neo debate, lead to the exclusion of class analysis altogether? These questions allow for the interrogation of the discipline and its boundaries, and understanding how these boundaries came to be. I use Marx’s understandings of historical materialism to contextualize IR’s ontology in relation to the material context and demonstrate how neoliberalism and the rise of finance capital are dialectically connected to the reinstatement, resurgence, and reproduction of bourgeois ideology through the Neo-Neo debate. The continued exclusion of class analysis and dialectics from IR, allows for IR’s continued existence and survival as a status quo discipline of bourgeois ideology. By criticizing the current ontologically individualistic state of IR, one directly calls the whole field into question. I thus advocate for a move away from IR and towards studying global politics.


Miloš Sumonja
University of Belgrade

The Habermas-Streeck Debate: The Left and the European Union

By revisiting Habermas-Streeck debate, and by analyzing recent developments in Greece and Spain, I argue, with Streeck, that the Left should reject EU-narrative and embrace the national state framework as its best chance to liberate space for pro-labour policies and new forms of internationalism. I point out that the revival of the Left came with the electoral victory of Syriza which, although rooted in Old Left, used the prevailing sense of national humiliation to gain popular support for confrontation with international financial institutions and Greek oligarchy. Rise of Podemos in Spain strengthens this argument, insofar Podemos is a new organization modeled on the Latin American tradition of patriotic Left. Against Habermas, I argue that ferocity with which EU attacked Greek government shows that its institutional framework is designed to enforce neoliberal dogma even at cost of disregarding democratically expressed will of people. I do acknowledge the pitfalls of inevitable alliance with the “deep state”, mainly the danger of the violent restoration of the old order in the name of national interest. Yet, that is the risk that the Left has to take because, as Chantal Mouffe rightly claims, the only choice we have today is between left and right populism.


Tolgahan Akdan
Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University, Ankara

Faultiness of the Revisionist Analysis of the Cold War

This paper attempts to make an analysis of the Cold War revisionism through which it is to make a critical appraisal of how revisionists interpret the Cold War struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. Scholarly debate over the origins of the Cold War between the orthodox and revisionists underscores the ideological motivation behind the behaviours of either the Soviet or the US leadership. Orthodox see the Soviet Union as an ideological state embarked upon immediate world domination, while treating the US as a pragmatic, reactive state; whereas the revisionists see the US as an ideological state embarked upon world domination through the pursuit of open door policy, while seeing the Soviet Union reacting in a pragmatic and defensive manner to the US imperialist actions. In this regard, it argues that the revisionists did not pay critical attention to the nature of the rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union and thus seems to fail in revealing what was at stake in the struggle between the US and the Soviet Union as the embodiments of their respective socio-economic systems. That is, they were stuck with a misleading question of who was the responsible of the break-up of the Cold War as a result of the very reactive emergence of it to the orthodox readings of the Cold War.
As a result, it suggests that the revisionist interpretation of the Cold War has made significant contributions to our comprehension of US post war foreign policy objectives, yet they seem to disregard the very character of the post war political struggle between the US and the Soviet Union since they evaluate the Cold War as a result of the US imperialist actions which in turn led them to disassociate this struggle from its essence as the struggle between rival systems of capitalism and socialism. Thus, they tend to interpret the Cold War struggle not from a systemic relationship in the sense that they ignore the fact that the very existence of the Soviet Union as relying on very different political, social and economic systems did pose an ontological threat to the capitalist type of social organization. In this regard, a rivalry between two antagonistic social systems is different from the inter-imperialist struggles. That is to say, if one maintains the revisionist line of thinking, then in fact there has not emerged a qualitatively different international struggle in the post-Cold War period, however the Soviet Union had disintegrated, since the US still pursues its, so to speak, open door imperialism. The only thing that had changed was the contender states that have contradictory interests against the US imperialist expansionism. However, this study concludes that one has to investigate the character and thus possible outcomes of the contradictions between the US-led West and the challenges posed to their regional and/or global hegemony. That is, though there emerged certain challenges to the US-led capitalist order in the post-Cold War period, these challenges seems to have not yet a systemic nature because the contender states do not pose an existential threat to the socio-economic system upon which US-centred international capitalist stands.


Mustafa Türkeş
Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University, Ankara

Unsustainability of the Current Capitalist-Imperialist International Order and the Regional Wars

This paper aims to examine the contemporary capitalist-imperialist international order and argues that though the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the US as the overwhelming powerful military state, a US-centred unipolar international order failed to sustain in the 1990s and thus there has not yet emerge a status quo in the international capitalist-imperialist order in the post-Cold War period. In this regard, this paper suggests that new centres of power have emerged in the 2000s, which in turn opened ways to a new epoch of a multi-polar international order. This new multi-polarity rests on the internal contradictions of capitalism, due to which they are intra-system rivalries. For the part of the US, the objective is i) to reproduce its already hegemony over Euro-Atlantic axis and ii) to complete the unfinished business of the post-1945 period of extending its hegemony over the entire planet for which beyond the traditional multilateral institutions, the US also appealed to new mechanisms of interventions such as “humanitarian interventions,” “the responsibility to protect.” Yet, one can suggest that these mechanisms of interventions exhausted its potential as the new multi-polar order becomes significant. One another objective of the US is to expand the free trade on the global scale. In this regard, besides the organisational mechanisms of World Trade Organisations, the US is also in effort to employ two important free trade frameworks (TTIP and TPP) though which, the US is on the one hand pursuing the opening of these markets to the American goods, but more importantly on the other hand it aims to expand the free trade rationale on the global scale. Against the US efforts, China is pursuing a multi-track trade policy, which includes efforts of deeper economic integration. Shanghai Cooperation Organization could be considered a part of these efforts. In such a global setting, the important thing is that it is hard to talk about a status quo on a global scale and thus there are open ended rivalries within the capitalist system. This in turn always keeps live the possibility of serious conflicts in different regional situations as the interests of the contender states come to contradict with the US and as the US failed to articulate these contender states to its multilateral initiatives as in the case of Syria and Ukraine. Yet because these rivalries do not have a contested alternative systemic nature and thus could be considered as competition between capitalist-imperialist structures, the US could seek certain possibilities of cooperation with the contender states, at the current conjecture of inter-imperialist rivalries, one can assume, the US has difficulty to find means to keep them within the liberal capitalist-imperialist international order.

The conflicts among imperialists played a decisive role in the transformation of the world through brutal wars as in the First and Second World Wars. Due to the lack of a counter hegemonic project against the US-led liberal capitalist order in global scale in the post-Cold War era, it is possible to argue that it is hard for these contender states to take radical steps to get out of the existing capitalist-imperialist order and thus directly face to face with the US. Here the most important question is that will it necessarily imply a United States “leadership” in one form or another? Or sooner or later will they stand up to the US and run the risk of challenging the very centrality of it within the capitalist system?


Tetsuya Sahara
Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Meiji University, Tokyo

A Challenge to the Existing International Order: Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Eurasian Geopolitics

Recently released US “National Security Strategy” underscores “strong and sustained American leadership is essential to a rules-based international order… The question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead.” How they lead, however, is problematic as the same document stresses “the United States must promote universal values abroad.” According to the document, the “universal values” are “democracy and human rights,” but at the same time, it showed no regret the devastating result of its aggression policies. It is clearly disclosed such lines as “The popular uprisings that began in the Arab world took place in a region with weaker democratic traditions, powerful authoritarian elites, sectarian tensions, and active violent extremist elements, so it is not surprising setbacks have thus far outnumbered triumphs.” It is as if it felt no responsibilities in bringing about chaos in the region of Middle East and North Africa. The two regions are no exceptional cases that saw devastation as a result of US imposition of “democracy and human rights.”

Since the end of Cold War, the United States have provoked a myriad of regional wars to maintain its control over the global politics. It made use of separatist movements often inspired by religious extremism to destroy the regimes that it deemed as its ideological enemies. It gave overt and covert support to separatists in dismantling socialist federal states in the 1990s. It armed and financed Islamists-Jihadists in destroying its unwanted regimes in Asia and Africa through the decades in the 21 century. The end result of this prolonged interventionist policy is the rampancy of global jihadis. So long as the US empire of “democracy” is unchecked, the global security will not survive for long.

As the US remains world superpower in terms of military, no single state can change its course. Therefore, the most probable and practical resistance to the US hegemony is to form regional cooperation among the state based on shared interests. The author takes up the case of Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an effective model to resist the US pressure and to bring about sustainable security and economic development. Contrary to the US inspired international institutions that requires shared values, the SCO is a more pragmatic and workable institution as it does not demand certain shared values as a prerequisite. It has no intention to intervene into domestic problems of the member states, and so far has no will to develop into a durable military alliance. Instead, it concentrates on particular common problems such as international jihadis, economic cooperation, and reduction of US military threats. If the SCO turns out to be more successful in the coming years, and accepted alternative model of international institution, the world will be proceed into the direction of multi-polarity and become more stable and sustainable one.