Capitalism is “back,” in more ways than one. Since the crisis of 2008, academics and commentators beyond the usual confines of the Marxist left have once again begun discussing capitalism as a system. Debates about class, exploitation, and inequality have assumed a prominence they have not seen in decades, exemplified in the media event surrounding the publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. Prompting these discussions is a capitalism that has “returned to form.”. Austerity, casualization and precarity, and naked class aggression—attributes of capitalism proper rather than merely its neoliberal variant—have intensified. The years since the crisis have suggested that neoliberalism was no mere interlude, but rather a prelude to the “new normal.” But how “new” is this normalcy? Aspects of capitalism in the Victorian era are back—and for now, here to stay. Although this is in no way unprecedented, they represent new challenges to Marxist inquiry.
HMNY 2015 seeks to examine these twin returns. What are the analytic challenges of these returns within capitalism? What have been the costs of the absence of Marxist answers? In what ways has capitalism returned to form, while continuing to present novel problems? And what does all of this mean for movements contesting capital?
The conference is part of an international project tied to the Historical Materialism journal and book series, published by Brill. The journal also sponsors conferences that take place in London, Toronto, Delhi, Rome and Australia. Please note: the HM conference is not a conventional academic conference, but rather a space for discussion, debate and the launching of collective projects. We strongly encourage speakers to participate in the whole of the conference.
HMNY 2015 will take place at New York University, in New York City, from April 24-26th. A preliminary program will be online soon.