Historical Materialism Conference

by Daniel Hartley

The journal, Historical Materialism, will be holding its annual conference this week in London, from 11th-14th November. This year’s conference is entitled ‘Crisis and Critique’. Here’s the overview:

Notwithstanding repeated invocations of the ‘green shoots of recovery’, the effects of the economic crisis that began in 2008 continue to be felt around the world. While some central tenets of the neoliberal project have been called into question, bank bailouts, cuts to public services and attacks on working people’s lives demonstrate that the ruling order remains capable of imposing its agenda. Many significant Marxist analyses have already been produced of the origins, forms and prospects of the crisis, and we look forward to furthering these debates at HM 2010. We also aim to encourage dialogue between the critique of political economy and other modes of criticism – ideological, political, aesthetic, philosophical – central to the Marxist tradition.

In the 1930s, Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht projected a journal to be called Crisis and Critique. In very different times, but in a similar spirit, HM 2010 aims to serve as a forum for dialogue, interaction and debate between different strands of critical Marxist theory. Whether their focus is the study of the capitalist mode of production’s theoretical and practical foundations, the unmasking of its ideological forms of legitimation or its political negation, we are convinced that a renewed and politically effective Marxism will need to rely on all the resources of critique in the years ahead. Crises produce periods of ideological and political uncertainty. They are moments that put into question established cognitive and disciplinary compartmentalisations, and require a recomposition at the level of both theory and practice. HM 2010 hopes to contribute to a broader dialogue on the Left aimed at such a recomposition, one of whose prerequisites remains the young Marx’s call for the ‘ruthless criticism of all that exists’.

You can register here, but you must do so in the next 24 hours! I myself shall be giving a paper on Thursday, entitled ‘Totality in Lukács’s Literary Theory’. The line-up looks fantastic: Alberto Toscano, Peter Thomas (whose book on Gramsci, as I’ve said before, is fantastic), Alex Callinicos, John Holloway, Sara Farris (a Weber scholar, who is currently translating Roland Boer’s Criticism of Heaven into Italian), Johan Hartle (a Lukács specialist, who has also recently published an important essay on the aesthetics of urban warfare)…the list goes on. Come along!