New Times? Confronting the Escalating Crises of Global Capitalism

(Budapest, 26/27 May)

conference organized by

Karl Polanyi Research Center for Global Social Studies and the Committee on Global Transformations (IUAES)

in cooperation with

Working Group for Public Sociology “Helyzet”, “Capitalism Nature Socialism”

and “Focaal - Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology”, and “Focaalblog”

Since 1989, processes of neoliberal globalization, financialization, the erosion of welfare states, and the decline of ‘the standard labor contract’, have produced deepening inequalities and hierarchies, long time hidden under the mantra of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. Privatization, gentrification, dispossession, devaluation, and displacement have increased in a multitude of settings in spite of intermittent mass mobilizations, which were often seen as ‘middle class. The undermining of democratic possibilities has reinforced the super-exploitation of diverse groups in many places. Globalization, technological speed up, and the platformization of labor-markets are threatening ‘middle class’ jobs’ in North and South. Deepening exploitation of labor is increasingly intersected with aggressive rent taking by monopoly sections of capital and states. Issues of nationalism, racism, anti-semitism, and xenophobia, sometimes interwoven with waves of migration, have resurfaced, in tandem with the resulting authoritarianism. Accelerating climate change is being addressed in pro-capitalist ways, likely leading to further inequalities, displacements, and challenges to survival. Global imperial rivalries are intensifying and generating new cold wars and ‘global wars’, increasingly of a purportedly ‘civilizational nature’, like the Ukrainian calamity that is playing itself out on the EU border.

The late Immanuel Wallerstein predicted that politics in this ‘decisive era of the worldsystem’ will be ever more volatile as inescapable choices must be made about democratic or authoritarian solutions. Most of our problems are well known and anticipated, but narrow ideas about ‘proven causation’ and ‘concluding evidence’ paralyze any decision making on behalf of established interests, while national publics are being fed lies and deceptions, both by the technocrats and the ‘authoritarians’ and right wing populists. Crisis moments are steadily dealt with ‘unprepared’ and in fire-fighting mode. Left wing grassroots movements are specialized on small scale practical utopias but large-scale breakthroughs for the Left seem out of reach.

If this describes roughly where we are now, what can we expect next? Can we responsibly extrapolate and speculate? What sort of a global capitalism might we be inhabiting in thirty years from now? What can we discover as its likely core tendencies, elements, and relations? What modes of resistance are people experimenting with? What are the visions and opportunities to build a more equal and just society? Where is the new counter politics, where are the new counter movements? The conference will address such questions in roundtable format to enable as much discussion as possible.

Please see the detailed program in the PDF file attached.

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Conference program
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