Registration through this link.
The programme can be found here.
The conference will take place at two locations within Aarhus University.
Friday 7 October we will be in building 1441 (Tåsingegade) and building 1443 (Nobelparken); Saturday 8 October we will only be in building 1441. See the conference schedule for further details on where your panel will be held.
Food is available at several locations. On Friday, the canteen at Nobelparken will be open. On Saturday, we recommend the canteen at the Royal Library situated at the bottom of the tower across the street from Tåsingegade.
Wi-fi is available across the premises with Eduroam and AU-Guest.
For those who have pre-registered for the conference dinner, it will take place on Friday at 7 pm at Spiselauget (Skovgaardsgade 3, 8000 Aarhus C). There will be a set menu shared at the table including both meat and vegetarian options; a separate vegan option is also available, according to your selected preference at registration.
Replacement buses to Copenhagen on Saturday
For those travelling back to Copenhagen after the conference: On Saturday, there will be construction work on the tracks between Aarhus and Copenhagen, which means that replacement buses will be operating between Odense and Nyborg from around 17.00. It will still be possible to get back to Copenhagen, but it will take a bit longer. Unfortunately we do not have room in the programme to end before 17.00. Despite this inconvenience, we hope that you will stay with us until the end of the conference, or even consider it a good reason to stay an extra night in Aarhus, like we do. On Sunday, the trains are expected to run according to plan.
Titles and abstracts
- Yasmin Afshar: Does Social Conflict Lead to Progress? On Adorno’s Critique of Conflict Theories
- Bernd Bonfert: ‘None of This Would Have Made Sense to Do Alone’: Collaboration in Local Community-Supported Agriculture Networks
- Reinout Bosch: The Concept of Mode of Production in Pelle Dragsted’s Nordic Socialism
- Chiara De Cosmo: Historiography of the Future: Ernst Bloch and the Idea of Progress
- James Day: Theses on the Actuality and Inexistence of the Theory of Revolution in Western Marxism
- Derek S. Denman: Enchantments of Policing: Continuity and Contradiction in Cinematic Copaganda
- Manuel Disegni: Jews, Money, and The Capital. Modern Anti-Semitism in the Perspetive of Marx’s Critique of Political Economy
- Christoph Ellersgaard, Jacob Lunding & Anton Grau Larsen: From Bourgeoisie to Managerial Class. The Inner Circle of the Danish Corporate Elites 1910-2020
- Lucile Franchet: Flexibilisation Policies and Labour Market Structures in France
- Cooper Francis: Marx’s Roman Problem
- Heide Gerstenberger: The Separation of Politics and Economy: A Historical and Theoretical Conundrum
- Merethe Riggelsen Gjørding: Changing Minds, Changing Institutions
- Yacob Ellies Haddad: Marxism’s (In-)Ability to Understand Racism
- Till Hahn: Time’s Carcass: Abstract Time as Medium of Domination and the Long Death of History
- Louis Hartnoll: Historically Peculiar, Falsely Invariant: Adorno and the Theory of Class
- Rolf Hecker: Marx’s Critique of Capitalism during the World Economic Crisis of 1857
- Yngve Solli Heiret: The Uneven and Combined Development of the Norwegian State
- Emile Ike: The Dialectic of Labour Time and Free Time: Revitalising Objective Possibility as a Category for Immanent Critique
- Simon Nørgaard Iversen: Anarchist and Utopian Thought in Ancient Stoicism
- Niklas Zenius Jespersen: Produktionsmåder uden for den slagne vej
- Mathias Hein Jessen: Who Owns the Corporation? And Why Does It Matter?
- Mikkel N. Jørgensen: Your Border is a Fiction: Aesthetic Counter Historical Temporalities in Wendy Trevino’s Cruel Fiction
- Emma Kast: ‘Adam Bit the Apple’: Adam Smith’s Theory of Economic Original Sin
- Marie Louise Krogh: Spivak’s Persistent Critique
- Hedvig Lärka: Emerging Sovereigns: On Corporate Income Taxation as Social Form
- Lotte List: Critique of Crisis: Koselleck’s Schmittian Philosophy of History
- Jacob Aagaard Lunding & Anders Sevelsted: Economists, the Moral Elite, and the Social Question in Denmark (1852-1923)
- Ticiane Lorena Natale: Crisis of Value, Overexploitation of Labour and the Weakening of the Legal Form
- Thomas Noutsopoulos & Nikos Folinas: Marx’s Grounding of Historical Consciousness and History in the Labor Process
- Bertel Nygaard: History and the Formation of Marxism
- Sigurd M. N. Oppegaard: A Recent History of the Norwegian Taxi Industry: Platformization and Exploitation in the So-Called Norwegian Labor Market Model
- Peter Osborne: ‘Excessively Social’? Histories, Temporalities, (Geo-)Politics
- Peder Østring: Dismantling Fossil Capital
- Morten Ougaard: Marx’s Economic Theory and the Prospects for Capitalism: A Long-Term and Global View
- Irene Pace: Historicizing the Emergence of Danish Elite Gastronomy
- Bjarke Skærlund Risager: Territorial Stigmatization and Housing Commodification under Racial Neoliberalism: The Case of Denmark’s ‘Ghettos’
- Dominique Routhier: A Marxist Approach to the Concept of “the Digital”
- Morteza Samanpour: Historical Times and Temporalisation: Marx’s Theory of (Differentiated) Reproduction After the Grundrisse
- Frida Sandström: A Sensuous Reversal of Consciousness: Rivolta Femminile’s Deculturation of History
- Serap Saritas: Green Vs Old: New Deals And Social Reproduction
- Lotte Schack: Political Subjectivity in the Swedish Climate Movement
- Klaus Schulte: Necessary Work – Liberated Time: On Frigga Haug’s Program for a Mutual Reestablishment of Marxism and Feminism
- Esben Bøgh Sørensen & Markus Christian Hansen: Market Dependency or Capitalism? The Case of Danish Agriculture
- Asger Sørensen: Alienation and Human Nature: Recuperating the Classical Discussion
- Rune Møller Stahl: Contours of Marxist Understanding of Economic Ideas
- Ilona Steiler: Linking Time, Labour and Sustainability in Analyses of Global Digital Capitalism
- Victor Strazzeri: Can Defeat be Conceptualized? On Writing the Entry ‘Defeat’ [Niederlage] for the Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism
- Joen Vedel & Eva la Cour: Live Editing as Artistic Practice: Towards a Reorientation of Historical Time
- Troy Vettese: Elinor Ostrom: A Theorist of the Neoliberal Commons
Does Social Conflict Lead to Progress? On Adorno’s Critique of Conflict Theories
Does conflict lead to progress? In the bourgeois tradition of the philosophy of history, but also in the revolutionary tradition, this question was often answered affirmatively. In early modernity, Hobbes, and later Kant and Hegel, attributed to social antagonism the paradoxical engine of social cohesion in a divided society. Since it was no longer provided by a transcendent entity, social unity came to be understood as a human construct, to be asserted and legitimated each time. The secular discourses on progress derive, says Koselleck, from this necessity. In the 19th century, Marx and Engels carried on this modern heritage, making class struggle the truly rational social conflict – as opposed to capitalist competition, in which individuals act blindly, according to the laws of the market, as mere carriers of commodities. A century later, class struggle was no longer an evidence in Germany and revolution no longer seemed to be around the corner, as in the time of Marx and Engels. In 1968, Theodor W. Adorno and the sociologist Ursula Jaerisch published Anmerkungen zum sozialen Konflikt heute (“Remarks on social conflict today”), in which the fixation of social conflict as a social invariant by functionalist sociologists (Lewis Coser, Ralf Dahrendorf), as well as by dogmatic Marxism is called into question. Adorno and Jaerisch reveal that under the integrated society, conflicts generated by the fear of declassification and the brutalization of relations are indices of a disintegrating tendency. The link between conflict and progress is therefore called into question: social conflict not only causes suffering, but also leads to disintegration and potentially to barbarism (regression). In my paper, I would like to discuss Adorno’s provocative watchword “abolish conflict” in the context of the current conflict theories – in its liberal version, as well as in its radical democratic one.
‘None of This Would Have Made Sense to Do Alone.’ Collaboration in Local Community-Supported Agriculture Networks
Multiple systemic crises have shaken our global supply chains and demonstrated the instability of our capitalist food system. Calls for more resilient and sustainable alternatives have rapidly intensified, fuelling people’s engagement in grassroots practices such as community-supported agriculture (CSA). In CSA, small ecological farmers and local households share the costs and products of farming, allowing them to organise their food provision around short and sustainable supply chains independently of capitalist markets. Many scholars and activists praise the practice for offering a prefigurative vision for a future post-capitalist food system, whereas others criticise it for being limited in scale and social accessibility.
However, both sides of this argument rely on research that focuses overwhelmingly on the performance of individual CSA initiatives. We therefore know very little about whether multiple CSAs can tackle their shortcomings through collaboration, such as by expanding and institutionalising their alternative practices at scale. This paper aims to alleviate this blind spot. It investigates local CSA networks in Wales and central Germany through a dual theoretical lens of the ‘foundational economy’ and ‘food movement networks’, discussing their capacity for expanding and consolidating non-capitalist food system alternatives and identifying the challenges they encounter. Methodologically, the paper draws on semi-structured interviews with CSA actors and observation at network gatherings.
Ultimately, the paper shows that local collaboration enables CSAs to integrate and diversify their material supply chains (‘scaling out’), contribute to the politicisation of their communities (‘scaling deep’), and participate in municipal food councils to advocate for policy change and attract institutional support (‘scaling up’). It also reveals competitive tensions between neighbouring CSAs arising from their increasing local concentration, which constitutes a hitherto unknown challenge to CSA’s autonomy from capitalist market imperatives and points to the need for new collaborative strategies.
The Concept of Mode of Production in Pelle Dragsted’s Nordic Socialism
Pelle Dragsted’s Nordisk socialisme (Gyldendal 2021) was sold out on the date of publication and must be considered as one of the best-selling books on the concept of socialism in the last decade. In the book, Dragsted presents a concept of modes of production that is not based on the combination of productive forces and relations of production, but instead bases its concept on the way in which economic areas are managed. This methodological approach is the basis for Dragsted’s theory of the ongoing struggle between what he calls the democratic and oligarchic sectors. Through analysis it becomes clear that it is through the use of the concept of democracy as a prism for the understanding of society that an independent concept of modes of production is developed by Dragsted. The question therefore remains what significance the change in Dragsted’s concept of mode of production has for the development of his theory, including concepts such as capitalism, socialism and democracy. It will be shown that theorizing the democratic and oligarchic sector can only succeed on the basis of a narrowing of the concept of capitalism, in contrast to the understanding of the concept that is otherwise known from Marxist research. This in turn is done through the use of a discursive rather than structuralist method, which in itself leads to a discussion of the relationship between these two diverse theoretical approaches. The presentation will be based on an overall critique of Nordisk socialisme that the contributor together with Christian Gorm Hansen will publish with the publishing house Solidaritet in the autumn of 2022.
Historiography of the Future: Ernst Bloch and the Idea of Progress
Chiara De Cosmo
In the framework of Marxist projects, which aim to develop a non-Western-oriented historiography [see, for example, Tomba (2011; 2013), Bensaid (19961), Morfino (2013)], Ernst Bloch’s theory of time is widely explored. The category of “non-contemporaneity”, both in its socio-political and epistemological meaning, opens up plenty of considerations about the complex interweaving of different temporal dimensions in present time and powerful clues to escape from the traditional one-directional view of modern progress. By reading this side of Bloch’s philosophy, critics had also emphasized that the so-called Bloch’s “narrative thought” is far to be a mere account on the fragmentary nature of modern experience. Quite the opposite, Bloch sees the discontinuity as dialectically bound to the structural logic of present time, that is the logic of the capitalistic mode of production. In the framework of a society dominated by the capital, the idea of progress can only be understood as ideological – namely, it is the appearance of uninterrupted renewal that hides the actual repetition of always the same contradictions. The very notion of freedom and universal emancipation, which is at the real core of Enlightenment, has lost the concreteness of its finality by oppressing other cultures in an univocal horizon of progression. The aim of my intervention is to describe Bloch’s critique of progress, in order to show how he seeks to keep together the idea of universal freedom and the manifold ways to conceive it. According to my opinion, Bloch’s critical account on progress unfolds the theoretical lines of a renovated historiography strictly interrelated with a critique of capitalistic society. Moreover, by exploring his philosophical view, particularly as outlined in Differenzierungen im Begriff Fortschrifft (1955), it is possible to gain a view of history open to the concrete dimension of future.
Theses on the Actuality and Inexistence of the Theory of Revolution in Western Marxism
Via a series of theses, this paper will seek to outline the current limits of the theory of revolution in Western Marxism and ask a series of questions about the relationship between acuteness and potentiality, agency and automatism, repression and exploitation. The theses will be glossed by readings of a series texts both within and beyond Marxism and theories of communization (of, for example, the relationship between actuality and potentiality in Marx’s work itself, of Françoise Proust’s investigation of the “tone” of history in connection with contemporary uprisings, of Hans-Jørgen Thomsen’s magnum opus on the contingency of communism in the context of the exclusionary basis of Marx’s theory of history) to suggest the fractured, spectral grounds on which the theory of revolution is based. What, for example, is the relationship between the modalities of freedom and necessity in an historical materialism reconstructed after the critique of the political economy? Between the incessant and constitutive violence essential to the concept of capital and its dialectic with wage labour? If communism is the real movement that abolishes the present state of things, what is the status of non-movements? What does it mean to ask questions like these now, in Aarhus?
Enchantments of Policing: Continuity and Contradiction in Cinematic Copaganda
Derek S. Denman
This paper asks what happens if we interpret representations of policing in film as a shared cinematic universe. What continuities emerge between stories of the formal institution of the police and vigilantism, settler and imperial force, private security, and domestic violence? What contradictions become evident within logics and practices of policing, and how are these contradictions resolved, often cementing the role of police in political order?
The cinematic universe is a term most commonly used to refer to big budget, multi-movie franchises. A cinematic universe suggests a different aesthetic relation between films than the idea of a genre (or subgenre). Where genre conveys shared conventions and style, cinematic universes make world building primary. The aim is not to establish a common narrative structure, but to detail a condition of order that holds together despite its many tangents and tensions. The production of a cinematic universe constantly seeks to address emerging inconsistencies between films. Debates arise around inconsistencies, and the focus on these contradictions serves as either a moment of defensive rationalization or the basis of critique.
I suggest that police films hold together in much the same way, attempting to reconcile the production of racial capitalism with liberal imaginaries. Specifically, the paper considers how the seemingly unrelated films Training Day (2001), The Purge (2013), Bright (2017), and Vampires (1998), fit together to reproduce enduring attachments to police. By framing police films as a cinematic universe, I want to suggest that attachments to policing work not only through ideology but also through enchantment. Appeals to police as guarantors of safety and social welfare—despite mounting evidence to the contrary (Vitale 2017)—rely on immersion in a world in which force and pacification are subsumed by police stories of dramatic tension, humor, and moral triumph. The ideology that sustains policing today works less through reference to technocratic politics and more through a process of world building, whereby sprawling elements of police in cinema reveal new details and intrigues of making and enforcing imperial and capitalist order (Bargu 2019; Neocleous 2000).
Jews, Money, and The Capital. Modern Anti-Semitism in the Perspective of Marx’s Critique of Political Economy
Money is Jewish – says Marx in Capital vol. I – just inasmuch as commodities are Christian. The theoretical core of Marx’s concept of money can be traced back to his early essay On the Jewish Question. In retorting to Bruno Bauer’s rejection of Jewish emancipation, he observed that the modern subjectivity tends to represent its own inner split into bourgeois and citoyen as an external opposition between itself and the Jew. In so doing, the young Marx anticipated much later psychoanalytical explanations of anti-Semitism as a projection. In his late critique of political economy he came to show that, in the very same way, commodities must represent their inner split into use value (their concrete individuality as material goods) and value (their abstract universality as citizens of the republic of commodities, the market) in the form of an external opposition between themselves and money. That’s why he says (quoting Paul) “that all commodities … are in faith and in truth money, inwardly circumcised Jews”.
The “critique of political economy” doesn’t only deal with “economy” in the strict sense. It also provides an historical-epistemological frame for investigating the social formation and deformation of people’s consciousness (both ordinary and scientific). My aim is to show that Marx’s theory of capital entails a critical conception of modern anti-Semitism as a specific bourgeois form of thought, i.e. as a worldview which is necessarily and systematically reproduced within this sort of society. In particular I will focus on the very ancient connection of Jews and money and on the specific social meaning it assumed in 19th and 20th century (both in popular culture and in social and economic sciences).
The main point I intend to make is that Marx’s concept of money as a form of appearence of capital and the anti-Semitic economic understanding of modern society enlighten the genesis of each other. As true as it is that Marx provides a significant contribution to the historical explanation of modern anti-Semitism, as true it appears to me that a critical examination of the latter is needed in order to accurately determine what Marx’s problem was.
From Bourgeoisie to Managerial Class. The Inner Circle of the Danish Corporate Elites 1910-2020
Christoph Ellersgaard, Jacob Lunding & Anton Grau Larsen
Since Michael Useems (1984) seminal work on the inner circle, scholars have argued that a socially cohesive group integrating a segment of large corporations play a key role as the voice of the business community as a whole (Comet 2019; Heerwig and Murray 2019; Larsen and Ellersgaard 2018). This has led scholars to argue that both the composition of different fractions of business in the corporate core and the fragmentation of these elites has large repercussions in the efficacy of business power (Allen 1978; Barnes 2017; Benton 2019; Benton and Cobb 2019; Chu and Davis 2016; Mizruchi 1982, 2013; Murray 2012, 2017). However, the relationship between the overall development of capitalism within a nation state and the composition of the key group representing the capitalist class vis-á-vis the state remain unexplored.
To study this, we explore the changing social composition of the inner circle of the Danish corporate elite during the last 110 years. Using the Danish Equivalent of Who’s Who, Kraks Blå bog, we identify the corporate inner circle on a year-to-year level based on career and membership overlaps in corporations and business associations of the approximately 30,000 elite individuals biographies. We construct a network based on career and membership overlap and use a novel method to identify central individuals and affiliations in elite networks, k-circles, to demarcate the inner circle. We then use biographical data on e.g. gender, social background, matrimony, education, career trajectory and residence to describe the evolution of the inner circle as a social group and show how changes in this group is aligned with different concepts of control of the capitalist class.
We show how the class relations of the inner circle changes substantially. From being an almost exclusively capital based patrician elite – underpinning their career and membership ties with ties made in the local community and through intermarriage – having closed social networks tied to the Copenhagen mercantile community, the inner circle increasingly becomes also becomes based in the provinces, draw on technical expertise communities and with focus on production. As Danish society sees moves towards neoliberalism and a rise in large enterprises, the inner circle increasingly become based in economic expertise and return to the Copenhagen.
Flexibilisation Policies and Labour Market Structures in France
This work is part of my doctoral research on labour market flexibilisation policies in France. This project breaks from the mainstream literature and the claim that flexibilisation policies foster economic growth and lowers unemployment. As such, this research proposes a class relational perspective on flexibilisation policies. I define labour market flexibilisation as part of the transformation in social relations of production that have allowed the rate of exploitation to increase in many countries. Labour market flexibilisation is an important development in labour market policies, driven by the neoliberal imperative and in response to the 1970s profitability crisis.
This thesis therefore analyses flexibilisation of the labour market as a concrete capitalist class struggle to (re)produce an exploitable labour force. This work also proposes a conceptualisation of power and class as its aims at analysing power redistribution between capital and labour. The French case is analysed to highlight peculiar forms that these policies took in France, in particular the expansion of collective bargaining coupled to a decrease in union density.
Firstly, this work proposes a socio-historical analysis of the French labour market, crucial in understanding the peculiarity of the French flexibilisation agenda. Secondly, the quantitative data will be analysed to understand the greater macro-economic picture of French labour markets.
Finally, this work will contain a qualitative analysis, resulting from an interview process. The respondents are different types of employee representatives that have participated in collective bargaining in France during the neoliberal era. The interviews seek to investigate the dynamics of class struggle at work and the evolution of collective bargaining since the 1970s and link it back with the greater macro-level story the data and the historical analyses tell us. This aims at highlighting the ways in which French capitalism reacted to the 1970s profitability crisis through covert labour market flexibilisation policies.
Marx’s Roman Problem
Like Hegel before him, in whose writings we find an unexpected indistinction between Roman law and political economy, Marx is haunted by the question of ancient Rome. From his earliest manuscripts for Capital to his late ethnographic writings, we find Marx continually return to the relation-difference between ancient Rome’s dissolution of the “ancient community” and modern England’s dissolution of feudal relations. In both historical instances we are presented with “one fine morning” in which “free men stripped of everything but their labour power” are confronted by “those who held all the acquired wealth” in the form of “capital” — yet only one resulted in the capitalist mode of production. Drawing on Marx’s now well-known letters to the Russian populists, we will argue that for Marx, beyond any resonances of German Romanticism or its well-studied return as farce during the French Revolution, the problem of ancient Rome poses itself foremost within the philosophy of history. We will engage in a close reading of a few key moments in the development of Marx’s analysis of this transition in order to argue that it provides a hermeneutic tool towards understanding his multi-linear understanding of history, between the longue durée historical genesis of capital and the temporality of a global structure that naturalises and reproduces its own presuppositions. We will argue that it is through a deeper engagement with capital’s contingently Western European trajectory that our understanding of Marx’s philosophy of history can open onto a global horizon away from the platitudes of even a “combined and uneasy development” — or worse a “general historico-philosophical theory [of the marche general]” — towards an understanding that “the archaic or primary formation of our globe itself contains a series of layers from various ages.”
The Separation of Politics and Economy: A Historical and Theoretical Conundrum
The analytical concept of a separation between politics and economy, or rather, between state and market, is thought to grasp the very specific historical characteristics of capitalist societies. That this concept has helped to overcome Marxist orthodoxy is indisputable. I nevertheless suggest to revisit its historical and hence theoretical assumptions.
In the context of those historical processes which we have come to term bourgeois revolutions there occurred, indeed, a process of separation between the sphere of private appropriation and the sphere of political power. Its result, however, was not a separation of state and market but of state and society. Even if the formal separation of the state from society, i.e. from its capitalist class structures, was never actually achieved, the fact that this possibility is suggested by its institutionalized forms was central to the political legitimation of capitalism in bourgeois capitalist societies. But how about the relation between state and society in present day capitalist societies? And how about the relation of politics and economy?
Changing Minds, Changing Institutions
Merethe Riggelsen Gjørding
The practice of carcerality and the development of Marxist theories can be said to have a partially intertwined history. Antonio Gramsci, Marxist philosopher and leader of the Italian communist party PIC, got imprisoned in 1926 as he and the party were seen as a threat by the fascist regime. From poor conditions in prison, he scribbled down reflections over possible strategies for change. Angela Davis was already a great thinker within black Marxism when she got jailed in 1971. A global protest movement to free her and other political prisoners lucky had success, and Davis became and still is one of the leading figures within the collective prison abolition movement.
Realizing that we must liberate minds to liberate society, the (past?) curbing of the prison abolition movement within Scandinavia is striking. I will rearticulate some thoughts from the imaginative resources within the overlap of Marxism and prison abolition frameworks in a presentation that is not based on rigor theoretical research, but eclectically will carve out other ways of considering justice in touch with my own practice within restorative and transformative justice. Seeing that prisons in fact are obsolete, as Davis posed in 2003, what else can be done in? And how can Marxist thoughts assist us in envisioning these steps?
Marxism’s (In-)Ability to Understand Racism
Yacob Ellies Haddad
Based on my master’s thesis Thinking Otherwise: Antiracism in a Danish Context, I would like to develop a few ideas of the (in)ability of Marxism to understand of racism. Whereas Marxism has been accused of reducing everything to a question of the relations of production, the struggle against racism has been accused of making race the always-already meaningful explanation of exploitation. Gramsci’s notion of hegemony – as developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1985) and Stuart Hall (1986) – enables us to understand how race functions discursively as a power-inscribed way of establishing differences. From slavery and colonialism to Fort Europe’s treatment of refugees and immigrants, race creates a constant devaluation of certain social groups’ labor power. It is a color-coded commonsense that enables the “laws of motion of capitalist society” to function (Marx, 1992, p. 598). Racism functions through ideology, which is ideas that “have a center of formation, of irradiation, of dissemination, of persuasion” (Gramsci, 1971, p. 192). In
Denmark, the discourse of racism primarily functions through the discourse of the “non-western immigrant,” which enables the racist practices of the Danish government, such as the gentrification plans and the relocation of asylum seekers to outside of Europe. The discourse is connotated – for example in speeches of the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen – with neoliberal notions of “cultural differences” and “individual responsibilities,” which makes it difficult to challenge. As Georg Lukács (1980) argues, the ontology of social being can only be accurately understood together with an epistemology that connects thought and reality. I want to argue, that Marxist analysis can be “stretched” – to borrow from Frantz Fanon (1963, p. 14) – to appropriately understand racism, and possibly create a counterhegemonic project against it.
Time’s Carcass: Abstract Time as Medium of Domination and the Long Death of History
As early as in The Poverty of Philosophy, Marx remarks that under capitalism, the worker becomes “time’s carcass”. It is remarkable, though, that it is not the worker’s body itself which is turned into dead matter, but rather time itself. This paper will thus explore the meaning of time as reified through capitalist order, as well as as medium of reification and as agent of abstract domination through this capitalist order. I will argue that this material condition of time leads to the idea of an end (or death) of history as the final stage of liberal ideology, since temporality itself ceases to exist in forms different from the homogenous, linear, reified time of the workday.
My Paper will start with an analysis of the idea of time as pure intuition as presented by Kant in his first Critique. I will show that within this highest point of abstraction within bourgeois philosophy there is already a form of reification at play which aims at the suspension of time’s inner movement. I will further argue that, far from being the condition of pure sensation a priori, this form of time is materially produced by the order of the workday, thereby not just ensuring the production of surplus value but also installing an empty and homogenous time as means of abstract domination in which all history is reduced to the meaningless passing of contingent events and rendering all hope for true change futile.
Historically Peculiar, Falsely Invariant: Adorno and the Theory of Class
‘The withering of the class struggle is mirrored in [Adorno’s] critical theory as the degeneration of the materialist conception of history.’ (Hans-Jürgen Krahl)
For my contribution to this year’s DSMS annual conference, I propose to reassess the claim that Frankfurt School Critical Theory either abandoned or failed to articulate a theory of class and class stratification as an integral element of historical social analysis. First expressed as a tension among the members of the Institut für Sozialforschung and later codified in the work of Helmut Dubiel,1 the indefatigable claim has been that the empirical thoroughgoing ‘integration’ of the proletariat into the capitalist system, arising from and confirmed by the experience of twentieth-century fascism, caused Adorno and Horkheimer to fundamentally forego questions of class and class consciousness in their critical theory of society.
To contest this now widely-accepted and frequently-rehearsed reading, I will argue the unlikely thesis that for Adorno class not only remained important for his historical assessment of capital, but, moreover and in reverse, he attempted to articulate a theory that would centralise shifting historical dynamics into notions of class antagonism, class conflict, and class struggle. To advance this, I will return to and reconstruct several of the key theses of Adorno’s little-known confrontation with the sociology of conflict in ‘Remarks on Social Conflict Today’, co-written with Ursula Jaerisch in 1968.2 I will situate this text in the context of earlier essays – such as Adorno’s ‘Reflections on Class Theory’ (1942), Horkheimer’s ‘The Sociology of Class Relations’ (1943), and their joint work Towards a New Manifesto (1953) – and correspondence – such as that between Horkheimer and Henryk Grossman, and Adorno and Alfred Sohn-Rethel – in order to sketch what a theory of class in Adorno may look like. By foregrounding and rereading this late essay, I hope to contribute to the conference’s general theme by exploring Adorno’s theory of the historically peculiarity of the expression of class contradiction as well as his critique of the false historical invariance of structural antagonism.
Marx’s Critique of Capitalism during the World Economic Crisis of 1857
In the second half of 1857, and in the first three months of 1858, Marx’s method was heavily condensed. He did not enter the library of the British Museum, but transformed his modest home office into an analysis center: “I am working enormously, as a rule until 4 o’clock in the morning. I am engaged on a twofold task: 1. Elaborating the outlines of political economy [“so that I at least get the outlines clear before the déluge” (MECW 40, 217)] 2. The present crisis. Apart from the articles for the Tribune, all I do is keep records of it, which, however, takes up a considerable amount of time.” (MECW 40, 224.) Marx is working on his economic manuscript (“Grundrisse”). He also has laid three large record books, in which he collects material on the crisis in France, England, and Northern Europe. He evaluates the most important British daily newspapers. And he composes the weekly articles for the “New York Tribune”, some of them using the collected material.
On the one hand, Marx combined with a crisis situation the possibility of social changes; he expected a revival of the revolutionary forces. On the other hand, Marx acknowledged that the economic cycle did not extend over a period of five to seven years, but would take place “at more or less 10-yearly intervals” (Grundrisse, transl. by Martin Nicolaus, Penguin: 1974, p. 720) due to the development of the fixed capital. Marx thus looked for the causes of the crisis not in the money market, but in the production conditions which lead to an overproduction crisis. Thus Marx broke away from the idea of a direct coupling of crisis and revolution.
Thus Marx’s analysis gained in sharpness and clarity, and made him draw up a great six-book-plan of his work, from which he ultimately parted, saying that the most important thing was the analysis of the production and reproduction of capital in its details and in its totality. He consistently pursued this goal in his subsequent manuscripts and the publication of the first volume of the “Capital” in 1867. He could not finish his work, but when today talks about the crisis of capitalism (as now since 2008), everyone thinks on Marx, because he was the first to provide such a comprehensive and profound crises analysis – which is why the “Capital” belongs to the UNESCO world documentary heritage.
The Uneven and Combined Development of the Norwegian State
Yngve Solli Heiret
March 8 2016, the Brazilian headquarters of the partly state-owned Norwegian chemical company Yara International were occupied by 1200 women from the largest social movement in Latin-America, the Landless Workers Movement (MST), and the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB). Contesting the monopolization of Brazilian land by foreign capital, the occupation formed part of the movements’ broader struggle for a popular land reform which aims to redistribute land ownership according to social and environmental needs. Two years later, the Chilean offices of the fully state-owned Norwegian renewable energy company Statkraft were occupied by protestors from the indigenous Mapuche community who demanded that the ‘imperialist’ Norwegian state retire all its operations from Mapuche territory.
The Latin American occupants turn the hegemonic representation of Norway as an exceptionally democratic variety of capitalism characterized by cooperation, equity and social sustainability on its head. This presentation argues that the exceptionalism that pervades Norwegian (and Nordic) historiography is sustained by ‘state-centric’ assumptions that assume Nordic history to have developed within self-enclosed and discretely bounded territorial containers. Employing a historical-geographical materialist framework that takes seriously the historical production of state-territory, this presentation demonstrates that through the Government Pension Fund Global and the internationalization of large state-owned companies, the Norwegian state has become a multinational capitalist that obtains a significant share of its revenues from international ventures. From the vantage point of the Latin-American occupants, Norway looks more like an imperialist state than what Norwegian scholars refer to as a distinctive ‘democratic capitalism’.
The Dialectic of Labour Time and Free Time: Revitalising Objective Possibility as a Category for Immanent Critique
Capitalist society is characterised by the continuing drudgery of work in a world where the liberation from work is technically possible. This gap between the actual and the potential is growing deeper in the context of today’s capitalism, in which the application of science and technology to the production process is becoming increasingly common. Starting from this observation, this paper proceeds to revitalise a notion of objective possibility as a category for an immanent critique of capitalism, which ought to be distinguished from external and internal approaches to social critique. Drawing on Marx’s critique of political economy, Adorno’s sociological writings, and Postone’s reinterpretation of Marx’s critical theory, I argue that the task of immanent critique is to detect the structural contradictions immanent in capitalist societies and to reveal the historically determinate possibilities for social transformation that these contradictions give rise to. More specifically, I want to suggest that labour-saving technologies provide immanent standards for a materialist critique of contemporary capitalism. Due to the constraints of market competition, capital is structurally in need of increases in productivity, thereby compelling investments in advanced technology and machinery. This objective and immanent tendency renders the production of material wealth potentially independent from the expenditure of direct human labour, and thus enables a transition from socially necessary labour time as the capitalist value-form of wealth to a communist form of wealth that is measured in socially available free time instead. However, this objective possibility can never be realised under capitalist conditions, since the appropriation of surplus labour time remains constitutive of the capitalist production of value.
The dialectic of labour time and free time hence refers to the fact that capitalism constantly generates the objective possibility of another organisation of time and activity, yet at the same time systematically hinders that possibility from being realised.
Anarchist and Utopian Thought in Ancient Stoicism
Simon Nørgaard Iversen
Recent scholarship argues that according to ancient Stoicism, humans have a natural inclination for property ownership and for interacting as property owners. For some researchers, the ancient Stoics, therefore, display striking affinities with classical liberal thought, such as John Locke’s, on property relations. However, according to Peter Kropotkin, Zeno of Citium, Stoicism’s founder, was the most eminent exponent of anarchist thought in Antiquity. This supposed anarchist train of thought is most visible in Zeno’s now lost political treatise, the Republic. This paper will argue that a careful reconstruction of the content of this treatise lends support to Kropotkin’s remark and suggests that Zeno argued for the dissolution of a majority of the institutional structures of the ancient Greek City-State including property ownership. I will argue that the treatise, with a firm ground in Stoic metaphysics and ethics, presented a utopian vision of a future society, but also that intellectual diffidence among later Stoics would add uncertainty to the practicability of the treatise’s utopian claims. This might suggest a rift between early and later Stoicism concerning their political thought but to counter such a rendering of the intellectual development of ancient Stoicism, I will conclude my paper by intimating that Zeno’s anarchist and utopian ideas would remain an undercurrent in later Stoic thought and that there is little evidence for considering the ancient Stoics advocates for proto-Lockean liberalism.
Produktionsmåder uden for den slagne vej
Niklas Zenius Jespersen
Urkommunisme, antik produtionsmåde, feudalisme, kapitalisme, socialisme, kommunisme. Sådan beskrives traditionelt den slagne vej for menneskehedens udvikling ifølge den marxistiske tradition. Hvad end vi taler om de dominerende traditioner blandt erklærede marxister eller om marxismens borgerlige kritikere, så beskrives marxismen som at tilskrive menneskehedens udvikling en slagen vej langs evigt fremadskridende trappetrin af stedse højere produktionsniveauer.
Men hvordan blev denne forståelse af marxismen egentlig dominerende? Hos Marx og Engels finder vi den ikke, tværtimod nævner de både asiatiske og germanske produktionsmåder og åbner i deres skrifter op for en langt mere dynamisk og nuanceret forståelse af samfundsudviklingen. Et nærmere studie af den historiske empiri gør det da også hurtigt umuligt at opretholde ideen om at alle lande har gennemgået disse udviklingstrin eller blot at opretholde ideen om at udviklingen altid skulle havde bevæget sig gennem kontinuerligt højere niveauer.
Skal vi forstå den historiske materialismes teori, befri den fra fortidens dogmer og genetablere den som fundamentet for nye videnskabelige forståelser af, og opdagelser om, menneskehedens udvikling, så må vi først turde konfrontere den politiske manipulation som teorien har været udsat for og genfinde den historiske materialismes oprindelige frigørende videnskabelige metode. I dette oplæg vil vi udforske den historiske materialismes udvikling fra Marx og Engels oprindelige skrifter til dens senere udvikling. Ved at undersøge teoriens udvikling i lyset af magtkampene i først Sovjetunionen, og siden Kina og andre planøkonomier, vil vi spørge hvorfor og hvordan den videnskabelige teori blev reduceret til politisk dogmatik. Og ved at undersøge de stalinistiske diktaturers hegemonistiske kontrol over den socialistiske verdenslitteratur vil vi diskutere hvordan den kunne påvirke teoridannelsen hos selv antistalinistiske strømninger.
Afsluttende vil vi åbne for diskussionen om eksistensen af andre produktionsmåder ved kort at drøfte teorierne om asiatisk, germansk, bonde- og tributære produktionsmåder.
Who Owns the Corporation? And Why Does It Matter?
Mathias Hein Jessen
In recent years, there has been an upsurge in ‘active ownership’ of shareholders in order to force corporations to be more sustainable. However, the idea that shareholders ‘own’ the corporation not only does not make sense in any meaningful way of ownership, it is also inextricably linked with the ‘shareholder primacy’ and the ‘shareholder value maximization’ paradigm prevalent in dominant corporate governance theory and practice. This paper argues that it is not the shareholders that ‘own’ the assets and capital of the corporation, but instead it is the corporation itself. This distinction is crucial as it dismantles the (neo-)liberal myth that shareholders own the corporation which links the performance of management (agents) solely to the interests of the shareholders (principals) in what is called ‘agency theory’.
Proponents of sustainable ‘active ownership’ thus perpetuate the myth that shareholders own the corporation and thereby neglect the way in which the corporate form is inextricably linked to capitalism, exploitation and colonialism, and the way that shareownership ties individual lives ever closer together with capitalism and share price on financial markets. It also upholds the primacy of the shareholder to exclude workers, society and climate as those primarily exposed to the risks of corporate actions. The paper examines the intellectual movement to promote individual ownership of corporations, which also reveals the idiosyncrasies of liberal conceptions of ownership and corporate governance.
Your Border is a Fiction: Aesthetic Counter Historical Temporalities in Wendy Trevino’s Cruel Fiction
Mikkel N. Jørgensen
Contemporary critical aesthetics are beginning to take shape in response to the violence of borders and the discursive reproduction of border violence around the world (Brambilla & Jones 2019). Some forms of aesthetic production seek to unsettle historical narratives and imaginaries around the construction and necessity of borders.
In this presentation, I analyze the collection of poems Cruel Fiction (2019) by the American poet Wendy Trevino with a special attention to how the poems offer ways of critically engaging with the imaginaries and narratives around American bordering. In the analysis, I highlight how especially Trevino’s invocation of communal forms such as plural “We’s”, and her inclusion of personal memories of living in the US- Mexico borderland and historic revolutionary moments in Mexican-American history offers alternative radical historical border temporalities. Drawing on the border aesthetics tradition (Schimanski & Wolfe 2019, Schimanski Nyman 2021) and on critical utopian theory focused on history and memory as utopian acts (Abensour 2006/2008, Benjamin 1950/2007, Löwy 2006/2016, Rigney 2018), I argue that Cruel Fiction is uniquely connected to the political struggles against borders and immigration policies in the USA, and she forms this connection between poetry and political struggle in the figure of the commune as a form of inclusive communal imaginary.
The paper concludes that the communal imaginary is built on memories of past migration struggles, and imaginaries of the future to function as a place of open reproduction of identity, freed from the capitalist reproduction of oppressive border identities.
‘Adam Bit the Apple’: Adam Smith’s Theory of Economic Original Sin
Left-leaning demands for justice today often highlight the disconnect between hard work and adequate reward, or between reward and adequate work. These demands are exemplified by the Fair Trade movement, and the rallying cry “equal pay for equal work,” which seek to remedy this discrepancy. Indeed, the idea that reward does or should correspond to labor is so ubiquitous that it seems natural. But in all of these demands is an implicit notion of deservingness, which shares a troubling parallel with the classical liberal insistence that economic reward either is or should correspond to an individual’s value-producing labor and parsimoniousness. In this paper, I discuss how Karl Marx’s socially holistic method makes possible a critique of deservingness itself, beginning with his critique of what he calls Adam Smith’s myth of “economic original sin.” This is the origin story upon which classical political economists rely to justify wealth and poverty. Marx’s critique enables us to think about the tensions that arise when an individual’s labor serves as the marker of their basic economic entitlement. Simultaneously, essential questions about the relation between the individual and the social in capitalist society come into sharper focus.
Spivak’s Persistant Critique
Marie Louise Krogh
Whenever Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s interventions into the terrain of epistemic decolonisation is discussed, it is almost always in relation to her now (in)famous question-cum-assertion: ‘can the subaltern speak?’. In this paper, I offer a counter-reading of her work from the standpoint of another sentence, one that has been repeated across her oeuvre: ‘the persistent critique of what one cannot not want’. What I will try to demonstrate is that we might use this sentence to give form to her self-description as a ‘practical deconstructivist feminist Marxist’. Following this reading through and considering her engagements with Marx and the philosophical canon of the European Enlightenment, I argue that we find in her work the contours of an immanent critique of theory’s material embeddedness in global capitalism.
Emerging Sovereigns: On Corporate Income Taxation as Social Form
With the introduction of a global top up minimum tax, corporate income taxation (CIT) – long considered a sovereign matter – stand to enter the field of international law. This transition is propelled by a will on the part of OECD and G20 countries to collect on a world of hidden profit, sparked little over a decade ago through the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. Perpetuating both OECD deliverables and scholarly debate is the idea that international cooperation re-establishes tax sovereignty made nominal by aggressive tax competition. This article, however, will argue that tax sovereignty relies not on autonomous authority over territory, but on the co-formulation of those globalized legal forms which uphold the taxed subject and the tax sovereign alike. Read through Marxian social form theory – minding the constitutive role of the capital relation to CIT regimes – tax sovereignty is existentially driven toward the enlargement of those legal forms by which it is engendered. This article shows that historically, it was the global conflict between OECD and non-OECD countries, waged around the formulation of globally harmonized legal forms, that produced the infrastructure necessary for aggressive tax planning and is intensified today as international tax law warily takes shape. Finally, the article accounts for the global top-up minimum tax presently descending – armed with the design of a first of its kind, common consolidated global tax base to decide on the legitimacy of sovereign CIT measures – ready to tax a world of hidden profits from the top down. This article accounts for the global minimum top up tax not as savior but as imperial technique, wresting (further) control over the making of international tax law. As such, the top up minimum tax marks the apex of a historical, imperial conflict, spanning the last century.
Critique of Crisis: Koselleck’s Schmittian Philosophy of History
In a 1948 essay, Carl Schmitt wrote that German intellectual history of the 18th and 19th history was connected in a fateful sense with the words “critique and crisis”. Six years later, Reinhart Koselleck submitted his PhD thesis, informally supervised by Schmitt, under the title of those same words. In it, he developed a theory of modernity as a crisis originating in the Enlightenment concept of critique.
It is no secret that Schmitt was an important influence on Koselleck. Yet Koselleck’s later work on the methodology of conceptual history, and specifically his conceptual history of crisis, is often considered in isolation from his early theory of crisis, thus separating his historiography from his Schmittian philosophy of history. The common origin of the concepts crisis and critique in the Greek ‘krisis’, meaning decision or separation, has become a standard point of departure for conceptual discussions of crisis, while the question of how this decision relates to Schmitt’s decisionism has been widely ignored.
In this paper, I argue that Koselleck’s conceptual history of crisis is fundamentally molded on a Schmittian philosophy of modernity as crisis temporality. This philosophy of history is the metaphysical foundation for Schmitt’s conservative state theory. Through Koselleck, however, it is scientifically rehabilitated and displaced towards a ‘neutral’ history of the concept of crisis, rather than its theory. Furthermore, I argue that this is an important source for the tendency in leftist academia to diagnose our time as a ‘permanent crisis’.
Economists, the Moral Elite, and the Social Question in Denmark (1852-1923)
Jacob Aagaard Lunding & Anders Sevelsted
From the establishment of the ‘state science’ education in 1848, economists have formed a central part of the Danish moral elite, understood as the part of the elite that has, among other things, educational and organizational resources to influence the normative foundation of society. The paper conducts a career network analysis of data from the Danish Who’s Who in the period 1910-1923 to outline a prosopography (collective biography) of the economists as a group. It is shown that the economists in the Danish Who’s Who largely reproduced their class background and that they were engaged in society’s dominant organizations across sectors. In addition, five distinct career clusters are identified. The intellectual history conducted in the second part of the paper focuses on cluster four, comprising a new generation of scientifically revolutionary state economists. Particular focus is placed on Professor Harald Westergaard, showing how the new statistical methods he helped develop set the framework for the political debate on universalism in social policy, while his own social commitment crossed sectorial boundaries, as he was engaged in religious civil society organizations as a solution to societal problems.
Crisis of Value, Overexploitation of Labour and the Weakening of the Legal Form
Ticiane Lorena Natale
This research seeks to understand the transformations in Labour Law under a broader context that I call the weakening of the legal form. My hypothesis is that there is a crisis of value in the current stage of capitalism (exaggerated financialization and overexploitation of labour) which, consequently, is reflected in its predominant social form of social regulation, the legal form.
In fact, the prices practiced on the market do not correspond to the value; the overexploitation of labour further deepens this problem by selling the commodity workforce below its value. However, the expanded reproduction of capital is still taking place through the extraction of surplus value, depending on abstract human labour dimensioned by socially necessary labour time and, consequently, on the legal form (which establishes that all human beings are equal so that their labours are equalized). In this clash, the financialization of the economy presses for the dissolution of Labour Law (the right to the commodity of labour) with a view to Civil Law (private property law), but, in practice, it finds the opposite of the legal form: the denial of the subject of law and the overflow of the human condition from the productive sphere object of law not only to the sphere of circulation, but in all contexts of the existence of the working class. This is expressed by the Law’s difficulty in regulating social relations in a predominant way, with politics and religion coming into play (non-equivalent forms); and democratic rights that attacked worldwide.
With the diagnosis of the current phenomenon, it is intended to open space for a reflection on new forms of struggle for the emancipation of the working class. The method used in this research is historical dialectical materialism; the theoretical framework adopted is the Marxist Dependency Theory.
Marx’s Grounding of Historical Consciousness and History in the Labor Process
Thomas Noutsopoulos & Nikos Folinas
As it is well known, in the exposition of the labor process in Capital vol.1 Marx abstracts from every social-historical form and presents the general material conditions of every form of society, what he summarizes with the term “relation of natural metabolism”. However, it would be wrong to assume that history is absent from the labor process as this process is not ahistorical but trans-historical. In our paper we attempt to show the necessity of the concept of labor for the abstract, general grounding of historical time as well as the relevance of its abstract ends i.e., individual and productive consumption for the study of history. As far as the first task is concerned, we are going to analyze the way Marx conceives labor’s involvement for the emergence of consciousness of historical time, meaning the way labor associates in general past, present and future. As for the second task, we are going to discuss Marx’s prioritization of productive consumption against individual consumption as the basis of a materialist science of history. Based on the above, we purport that what is missing in Marx’s concept of the labor process is historicity, not history, a distinction which we are going to highlight by focusing on the notion of violence present in this process. Our reading helps one to develop a novel understanding of the general features of capital as a historical relation of production.
History and the Formation of Marxism
In the middle of the German November Revolution of 1918, Rosa Luxemburg recalled her studies of the French Revolution of 1789. Even in the dry account of the liberal 19th-century historian Mignet, the latter event emerged “like a Beethoven symphony intensified into gigantic proportions, a raging storm on the organ of the times” – unlike the timidities of the current German revolution.
The intensity of her engagement with the revolution and her sense of a plurality of times reveal a crucial, yet mostly under-acknowledged element of classical Marxism: the study of history. Marx, Engels and the early Marxists of the Second International persistently reflected on history, not just in the grand, sweeping narrative of The Manifesto of the Communist Party or in such approximations to conventional historiography as Engels’s Peasant War in Germany, but throughout their political writings and Marx’s critique of political economy. And the first generation of Marxist followed suit.
Thus, from its very formation, Marxism was conceived not just as a social theory, nor merely as a call to change the world. History – the study of concrete social relations in the past and the present – was a key aspect of Marxism, mediating between its concerns with theory and practice, adding empirical content and contradiction to them, allowing the past to serve as a reflective testing ground of current political strategies. In other words, conventional ideals of Marxism as a unity of theory and practice might be reconceived in terms of a triangular relationship between history, theory and transformative social practice.
Such is the main argument of my book History and the Formation of Marxism (forthcoming in the Palgrave Macmillan series Marxism, Engels, and Marxism). In this paper I want to elaborate on that line of thought, providing examples of early Marxist concerns with the French Revolution.
A Recent History of the Norwegian Taxi Industry: Platformization and Xxploitation in the So-Called Norwegian Labor Market Model
Sigurd M. N. Oppegaard
In this presentation, I map the recent history of the Norwegian taxi industry. With a few detours to the Middle Ages and 1800s, the presentation takes Uber’s effort to establish its business model in Norway in 2014 as a point of departure. This event provoked a taxi market deregulation that a few years later made it possible for multiple taxi platforms to find a foothold in the industry and develop into essential actors in the current market.
Drawing on concepts such as “surplus populations” and subsumption, and exploring the labor-capital relation in the Norwegian taxi industry, the analysis aims to understand the conditions under which platform work could emerge in the Norwegian taxi industry and within the so-called Norwegian or Nordic labor market model, that generally is presented as protecting workers from the same kinds of conditions as those the platforms offer.
The analysis shows that while the platforms have initiated a transformation of the taxi industry, their operations are based on the forms of exploitation that have been dominant in the taxi industry for a long time. Second, the so-called Norwegian labor market model was never a significant obstacle for the taxi platforms. It was rather the product and service market regulations that caused Uber when the platform first tried to begin operations in Norway. Finally, the analysis suggests that the emergence of taxi platforms as well as platform work more broadly in Norway depends on a segment of the labor force made superfluous by capital and excluded from generally well-regulated working conditions and welfare provisions that tend to characterize the Norwegian labor market.
‘Excessively Social’? Histories, Temporalities, (Geo-)Politics
A combination of recent changes in the global political-economic situation of capitalist societies and the dynamics of geo-political rivalries has exposed the wishful character of the liberal-progressivist interpretation of post-1989 capitalist globalization, along with that of its pseudo-Marxist ‘accelerationist’ avatars. At the same time, the apparent convergence of a disparate series of new theoretical discourses suggests their possible coalescence into something like an alternative, cosmopolitical progressivist paradigm. Post-Actor-Network-Theory ‘materialisms’, ‘earth’ and climate-change sciences (the Anthropocene), the study of pandemics and an emphasis on ecological sustainability point towards the development of a new metaphysical naturalism as the basis for an aspiringly ‘planetary’ politics.
This talk will offer some critical remarks on the main features (and some of the ironies) of this emergent neo-naturalist metaphysical-political paradigm – in Latour and Chakrabarty in particular – in the context of the increasingly powerful yet antinomical structure of Marxist discourse since the 1980s. Without a conception of the social as an ontologically emergent domain, it will be argued, the multiple temporalities of ‘history’ are once again doomed to be subsumed to those of ‘nature’ (‘the terrestrial’ or ‘the earth’) and the possibilities for rethinking the concept of politics foreclosed.
Dismantling Fossil Capital
In a rapidly warming world, the question of what to do with fixed fossil capital will have to be confronted sooner rather than later. Globally, there are over 7000 offshore platforms, which together with surrounding infrastructure make up a substantial oceanic built environment. If we are to have a fair chance of keeping global warming well below 2°C, a significant amount of these installations would have to be decommissioned, through the shutting down, dismantling and recycling of these structures.
Several aspects relating to capitalist value affect the emerging decommissioning industry, such as how the privileged position of exchange over use value inhibits increased circularity and shorter value chains, how value of past labour can be contained in old metal components, and how further labour engaged in recycling adds new value. Finally, the climate crisis comes with an imperative of unprecedented levels of devaluation of these structures.
Decommissioning is also affected by the uneven development inherent to capitalism, where trails from the offshore fossil industry lead all the way to South-East Asia and the exploitative practices of shipbreaking and beaching of drilling rigs and offshore vessels.
Making use of the mass and quantity of metals contained in fossil infrastructure has to be part of any programme that would set out to heal the metabolic rift between humans and nature in a carbon constrained world. Through salvaging the remains of fossil capital, new landscapes can be built from the ashes of the old. This double movement of destruction and creation also holds the prospect of creating new jobs with clear overlaps of skills of oil workers. Moreover, a planned phase out of oil and gas would strengthen the prospects of upscaling employment in the decommissioning industry.
Marx’s Economic Theory and the Prospects for Capitalism – a Long-Term and Global View
The paper focuses on Marx’ theory of the long-term tendency of the falling rate of profit (LTFRP), expounded in Capital Vol. III. The paper first situates the LTFRP in the larger context of Marx’s work and considers briefly the critique of the theory. It then stresses that the theory is about the tendency and importantly also about the counter-tendencies triggered by the LTFRP. The paper summarizes the countertendencies specified by Marx and considers their relevance of contemporary capitalism. Some of these are mobilized through the operation of capitalist markets but others are mobilized politically. Among them are the incessant drive to intensify the labour process and to raise the rate of exploitation, to develop the productive forces, to expand the pool of employable labour, inter alia through expansion to less industrialized areas, and to economize on the use of material resources. The paper discusses the prospects for these tendencies and relate them to the societal need to move dramatically towards sustainability. The conclusion is twofold. First, that over time some of these counter-tendencies will be exhausted, in particular when considering the planetary limits and the fact that capitalist growth is exponential. Second, that ongoing efforts to mobilize the other tendencies will lead to sharpening conflicts and competition between enterprises, classes and nations.
Historicizing the Emergence of Danish Elite Gastronomy
In this paper I first describe how Danish elites fostered the import of French culinary labour in the 1980s, creating a generation of mentors while also attracting the attention of the Michelin accolade. I then merge a population ecology perspective to a prosopographical study of Copenhagen’s Michelin starred scene between 1980 and 2020 from a point of view of organisational strategy and survival. The high-end culinary niche of Copenhagen rose in international visibility in the first decade of the 2000s, when the French regime was substituted by the New Nordic imagery building on the tension between localised and globalised food production processes. Once a fertile ground for family-led simpler businesses, the city’s prestigious food scene is now shaped by locally constructed corporations whose efforts rely on foreign tourism, ‘fluid’ labour turnover, and financial alliances spanning beyond the boundaries of gastronomy – where not of the Nordic region itself. The boundaries of localism seem blurred and commodified. The paper stems from my doctoral research – mainly – in the field of economic sociology, where I use 30 interviews with key actors (past and present) and data on corporate ownership of high-end restaurants to reconstruct a longitudinal understanding of core shifts in the scene at different levels of observation/analysis – professional, organisational, and lastly at the level of linkage between patronage and craftsmanship.
Territorial Stigmatization and Housing Commodification under Racial Neoliberalism: The Case of Denmark’s ‘Ghettos’
Bjarke Skærlund Risager
Exploring the relation between racialization and housing commodification, this paper retraces the recent history of Denmark’s infamous ‘ghetto’ policies targeting marginalized non-profit housing areas. I argue that this history has unfolded in the context of actually existing racial neoliberalism, understood as an evolving co-constitutive relation and process of racialization and neoliberalization. The past two decades have seen increasing political efforts to commodify non-profit housing areas, while marginalized areas have been subjected to increasing racialized territorial stigmatization. Due to the failure of these commodification efforts, however, existing research has mostly concerned itself with the discursive ‘ghetto’ stigmatization and not with the relation between these two processes. With the 2018 ‘Ghetto Law’, however, this relation is cemented. The law requires non-profit housing associations in socioeconomically marginalized areas with a majority of ‘non-western’ residents to significantly reduce their proportion of non-profit housing, primarily by selling off housing and land and by private new-build, in order to bring about social and racial mixing. In order to comprehend the emergence of this exceptional law, I argue, we must retrace the history of how processes of commodification and racialization have intensified and been intwined. I do this through a close reading of grey literature, primarily policy proposals, policy evaluations, and various bureaucratic documents.
A Marxist Approach to the Concept of “the Digital”
According to some scholars, one significant effect of the rise of planetary computation and AI is that data extraction and processing have become “a structural condition of capital itself”. But what does this imply? If we define capital in Marx’s terms as the self-valorization of value, how can we understand the role of data and “the digital” more broadly in the global capitalist economy? In this paper, I reconsider mid-century cybernetic thought and adjacent Marxist debates to develop a critique of contemporary media theories of digitality. I argue against transhistorical understandings of modern computation and propose instead a Marxist understanding of “the digital” as a historically specific form of capitalist time-management.
Historical Times and Temporalisation: Marx’s Theory of (Differentiated) Reproduction After the Grundrisse
Marx’s critique of political economy goes through fundamental transformations after the Grundrisse (1857). All the categories that distinctively express the unity of the reproduction process, that is, ‘circulation’ in the wider sense of the term, ‘total social capital’, ‘competition’, and the ‘world-market’ are all fully developed in the formative years of 1861-63, which are incorporated into Volumes II and III of Capital. No longer viewed as the social relationship of production in capitalist societies, capital is now understood as the processual-circulatory social form that ‘posits its own presuppositions’ world-historically, i.e., at the level of the world-market. In this paper, I will first and briefly demonstrate how the above categorial transformations led Marx to abandon the unilinear and teleological conception of historical time – more specifically, the evolutionist, progressive model of ‘genesis, development, crisis, and breakdown’ inherited from the Enlightenment era. Marx’s relationship to colonialism changes not simply because of ‘political-ideological’ reasons, as Kevin Anderson has claimed, but because of social-ontological reasons. Marx’s conception of historical time becomes ‘multi-linear’ because the reproduction of total social capital is conceived as the mutual interrelation of the circuits of accumulation based on the multiplicity of methods of surplus extraction that are simultaneous/contemporaneous with one another on the world-market. Slavery, for instance, was not an anachronistic residue from the past but synchronous with wage-labour. Drawing on the temporal and feminist readings of Capital, the central claim here is that the reproduction of global capital is intrinsically constituted by ‘social differentiation’, understood as the process of actively creating differentials of temporalities of forms of value across the social spaces of the world-market. The temporalisation of the world-market through the social mechanism of competition is the key to grasping how capitalism reproduces itself globally, including the histories of colonialism and new forms of imperial relations that no longer operates based on the exclusive dominion of the ‘West’ over the rest. Viewed from the standpoint of reproduciton, the value-form appears as the ‘totalizing’ social form that subordiantes all social relations to its own life-process, not by creating homogeneous (as the Hegelian readings of Marx argue) but rather heterogenous historical times. Towards the end of my paper, I will try to address the political implications of the multiplicity of historical times for Marx’s dialectical-practical critique of capitalism, especially with respect to the extremely stratified structure of today’s global capitalism as driven by the processes of financialization.
A Sensuous Reversal of Consciousness: Rivolta Femminile’s Deculturation of History
In their 1970 essay “Sputiamo su Hegel” [Spit on Hegel], the Italian feminist collective and publishing house Rivolta Femminilie (hereafter referred to as RF) refers an ‘Unexpected Subject,’ emerging self-consciously as a capacity that transforms life ‘completely.’ This is the process of ‘deculturation’: a reversed process of self-realization, against the social relations and cultural formations that dominates modern civilization.
In their critique of colonial culture, as much as of strivings toward a revolution without the emancipation of sexualized and racialized subjects, and children, RF describes deculturation to be taking place during ‘social’ maternity. As a self-criticism that turns consciousness ‘backwards,’ the child, who still isn’t ‘culturalized,’ is central to this process. The point is not to be ‘represented,’ what RF claims to be ‘compulsive,’ but rather to give way to ‘imagination.’ Hence, RF refuses representation in the present forms of culture, and rather seeks to “judge that transcendence itself.”
This paper seeks to engage with the notion of deculturation and its implicit critique of the transcendental subject in Hegel, Marx, and in modern aesthetics. Alike Adorno’s ‘de-artification’ [entkunstung] of art, the negative and ‘unexpected’ transcendence during deculturation gathers what RF calls “situations and episodes of historical feministexperience.” This fragmented polyphony, they argue, interrupts, modern civilization, so that acting becomes “simple and elementary.” In both cases, historical experiences are uttered against existing forms of representation, which questions the notion of praxis as it is known from early Marx: as opposed to a sensuous revolutionary detournement, ‘deculturation’ suggests a sensuous reversal. What does this make of the concept of history?
Green Vs Old: New Deals And Social Reproduction
Between 1933 and 1939, Roosevelt in the USA implemented a series of policies which are called as The New Deal. These, indeed, started a new era in terms of the shift of responsibility of social reproduction from private to public sphere. Social reproduction consists of reproduction of labour power, biological and generational reproduction in relation to mode of production, family and state institutions. In this sense, public benefits for children, elderly or unemployed as well as social security regulations of New Deal programme were of extreme significance. On the other hand, the New Deal was also a way to shape the social reproduction sphere in a way which contributed to gender, race and sexual orientation related inequalities. When we come to the current era, we hear a lot of discussion on Green Deal which aims to stop climate change with a collaboration of public and private sectors. While European Union Green Deal is substantially a growth strategy, critical voices demand for a Green New deal with common themes including but not limited to decarbonising and democratising the economy while ensuring a socially just transition. Nevertheless, except from Feminist Green New Deal demands, most of the discussion on the issue focuses on production related impacts of existing and future green policies. This paper aims to analyse social reproduction related outcomes of proposed Green New Deal policies with a historical dialogue on the New Deal. In this context, periodisation of social reproduction and crisis of social reproduction in the neoliberal financialised era are discussed.
Political Subjectivity in the Swedish Climate Movement
Many have argued that one of the major problems with the struggle against catastrophic climate change is the absence of a revolutionary climate ‘subject’, akin to the proletariat or feminist subject. Considering this discussion, in this paper I examine how Swedish climate activists see themselves as political subjects, drawing on Marxist-feminist work on subjectivity. In the climate justice movement, the Global North has been regarded as the main perpetrator of climate crisis with the Global South on the receiving end. Activists in the Global North have therefore tended to articulate climate justice as a solidarity issue rather than a matter of defending their own interests. However, recent years’ focus on generational justice has created a new victim position in the Global North.
Drawing on interviews and observations, I show how many activists situate themselves as privileged Westerners and hence as complicit in the climate crisis. However, for younger activists the child forms an alternative subject position. This position, with its connotations to innocence and vulnerability, allows activists to frame themselves and be framed as victims of previous generations’ CO2 emissions alongside Global South activists. Drawing on Edelman’s critique of reproductive futurism, I problematize this, arguing that the child is positioned as a non-political actor which limits the radicality of the visions of and demands for the future activists can put forward. I problematize this notion of childhood by drawing on the 1970s Children’s Power movement, arguing that the child can be both a politized and antagonistic subject position, necessary for challenging the current catastrophic system and imagining an alternative future.
Necessary Work – Liberated Time: On Frigga Haug’s Program for a Mutual Reestablishment of Marxism and Feminism
The lecture will focus on the historical materialist and practice-philosophical basis for the German Marxist-Feminist Frigga Haug’s claim, according to which the relations between the sexes and between different genders can, and must be, understood as an intrinsic part of Marx’s concept of relations of production. The theoretical challenge of the kind of innovative, mutual reestablishment of Marxism and Feminism, which Frigga Haug is working on, consists in understanding thoroughly and in fully appreciating, that the relations of production and property- and class-relations arising from here exist a priori as practically lived social relations between sexually embodied humans. As such, they are mediated through all kinds of ideological practices and forms of social conscience, respectively. At the same time, humans of all genders are, by means of their socially interrelated practices which are founded on, mainly, work and individual as well as collective psycho-physical reproduction, at all times involved the necessary metabolism with nature, which they are part of, due to their capacity as being the socio-biologically highest organized form of life on earth. Thus, relations between them are conditions of all kinds of production – and there are no relations of production independent of practically lived relations between sexually embodied and socially gendered human beings.
According to Haug, the reason for the historically persistent structural discrimination of women in various forms during the entire historical process since the two first divisions of labor is a separation between the production of the means of life and the equally necessary (re)production of life itself through all kinds of care. This applies from conception, birth(giving) and child rearing to accompanying assistance to the dying. The truly crucial separation occurs early in the development of human society, due to the fact, that surplus-production only can take place in the realm of the production of means of life: From here, questions of appropriation, right of disposal and societal distribution of the surplus product arise. Enter patriarchy! Consequently, we can, in the development of human social and individual relations ever since, observe an ever increasing subordination of the (re)production of life itself, ‘naturally’ inherent with, but also socially delegated to womankind, under the production of the means of life, increasingly, but by no means exclusively, carried out by men. In this way, patriarchy becomes the long lasting, both bone-hard but at the same time toughly flexible and adaptable structure of domination that hitherto has helped to cement the existing class relations at all times.
Capitalism in this respect came to constitute the most advanced bastion of patriarchy. With her real-utopic-gramscian Four-in-one-Perspective, however, Haug shows that and how, even under the current capitalist conditions, some counter-hegemonic breaches can be shot into the many branched walls of this fortress. Especially in its most advanced, high-tech-productive form, capitalism offers increasing opportunities to overcome patriarchy: This objective comes into reaching distance, when fighting wage-laborers successfully press for a radical reduction of average working hours and proceed to change the division of labor, especially as far as the almost automatic delegation of most forms of care work to women is concerned. In this way, some opportunities open up for more and more people of all genders to have the time, mental surplus and social elbow-space to engage in solidarity in the counter-hegemonic struggle for a fundamental societal change aimed at establishing both a non-profit, sustainable socio-economic order and the abolition of patriarchy.
Market Dependency or Capitalism? The Case of Danish Agriculture
Esben Bøgh Sørensen & Markus Christian Hansen
“Denmark cannot lay claim to be considered a commercial country as the term is usually understood” wrote British vice-consul Harry Rainals in a report on Danish agriculture in 1860. This is a noteworthy statement considering that between c.1830 and 1870 – the so-called grain-sale period – Danish farmers became more deeply involved in markets than previously. To Rainals, however, commercial agriculture meant British-style capitalist farming.
In this paper, we explore this difference between increasingly commercialised and capitalist farming respectively in the case of Danish agriculture. We argue that only from the 1960s did specifically capitalist imperatives penetrate and subsume Danish agriculture resulting in a rapid and total transformation of the sector. In less than a lifetime, the more than 200.000 mixed farms scattered throughout the country in the 1950s has been reduced to around 8500 huge full-time specialized industrial farms.
The Danish case demonstrates how market dependency and capitalist imperatives are non-identical. Although Danish peasant farmers became increasingly dependent on the market and exploited a growing (semi)proletarianized labour force throughout the nineteenth and first part of the twentieth centuries, capitalist imperatives were severely constrained by official agricultural policies and rural cooperative associations. To make sense of Danish agricultural development before the 1960s, we need to rethink the concept of market dependency as politically constituted and shaped by specific class formations.
In contrast to recent arguments within Political Marxist historiography to dispense with the concept of market dependency, we argue that it is well worth keeping if we pluralise the meaning of the concept and refrain from associating it with strong rules of reproduction. We suggest that future research of Marxist historiography should be attentive to the many forms of politically constituted and class shaped market dependency and the differential tactics employed by historical agents within these contexts from the early nineteenth century onwards.
Alienation and Human Nature: Recuperating the Classical Discussion
Following Marcuse’s interpretation of Marx’s Manuscripts, firstly I argue to distinguish between alienation, renunciation, reification and estrangement. Secondly, despite the complication due to the translation of a German language discussion into English, we should continue considering alienation the key issue to discuss rather than estrangement.
For the 20th century realized socialism of the Soviet-bloc, the problem with alienation was that if alienation is not intrinsically and exclusively linked to capitalist relations of production, why should we want to have socialism instead? Today, however, the desirability and legitimacy of private property are rarely contested, and I therefore propose to take seriously the Soviet-side worries.
However, instead of thinking of the critique of alienation and of political economy as mutually exclusive, with the inspiration from the Manuscripts, I take them to be two aspects of the same critique. As I argue, human being is understood as becoming alienated under capitalism mainly by being deprived of the product of work due to state enforcement of private property rights. Alienation is thus implied by capitalist exploitation and should be handled through politics, economy and law, i.e. as an objective social condition in need of change.
Hence, for Marx criticizing alienation implies criticizing the political economy of capitalism. When it comes to wage, this is the result of struggle between worker and capitalist, where the former is destined to lose. Basically, value is produced by the utility added through work. The worker produces the value, but in a capitalist society, the value is alienated to the capitalist where it is accumulated. The fundamental contradiction of Smith’s national economics is that it purports to contribute to the happiness of society, but in reality, it leads to the misery of the majority of society, the working class.
Contours of a Marxist Understanding of Economic Ideas
Rune Møller Stahl
The paper will outline the contours of a historical materialist approach to the study of the political influence of economic ideas and economic science, with a special focus on an understanding of the specific role of liberal economics in capitalist societies.
The paper will draw on insight from a broad range of theoretical sources internal and external to the Marxist tradition. Most important here will be Gramsci, and the neogramscian tradition, but other major resources include Robert Heilbroner’s work on the history of economic thought, Althusserian theories of ideology and the intellectual historical methodology from Ellen Meiksins Woods conception of ‘Social History of Political Thought’.
By integrating the study of the political influence of economic ideas into a materialist framework, the article hopes to allow for a study of economic ideas that does not, wittingly or unwittingly, consign a primary causal influence to ideational factors. Furthermore, the approach will allow for a novel understanding of the specific roles economic ideas and intellectuals play within national and international elites, as well as a more nuanced understanding of the different aspects of the legitimitating and ideological function of economic theory in modern societies.
Linking Time, Labour and Sustainability in Analyses of Global Digital Capitalism
The multiple and overlapping global economic, social and ecologic crises of recent years have dramatically highlighted the urgent need for wide-scale transformations. However, mainstream approaches to achieving sustainability, such as the SDGs or green transitions, mainly aim to tackle existing challenges for or within capitalism, rather than considering structural transformations (Selwyn 2021). Against this background, and following Lefebvre’s (2004) dictum that there is ‘a bitter and dark struggle around time and the use of time,’ in this paper I identify time as both a central battleground and key ingredient in addressing environmental destruction, social inequality and labour exploitation. Engaging with previous analyses of time and labour under capitalism (Thompson 1967; Postone 1993) as well as with Marxist eco-feminist theorizing (Brennan 2003; Harcourt and Bauhardt 2018), I aim to develop a better understanding of the current acceleration and appropriation of time in the global digital economy. The empirical focus is on the manifestations of these processes—the demands for flexibility, multi-tasking, self-responsibilization and the joggling of work and caring responsibilities—for female knowledge workers, which are contextualized within wider dynamics of extraction and commodification of time under ‘all-the-time capitalism’ (Nealon 2012), i.e., the subjugation of all spheres of life to market participation. Drawing on secondary research literature and auto-ethnographic experiences, I trace everyday strategies of saving, buying and spending time as time is turned from a free resource into valuable asset, highly priced and globally traded commodity but also class signifier. In conclusion, I suggest that the digital economy exacerbates and globalizes the inextricable links between time-use and labour and environmental exploitation, and that exploring alternative, socially and ecologically viable ways of working and living must be based on a critical analysis of global capitalist structures.
Can Defeat be Conceptualized? On Writing the Entry ‘Defeat’ [Niederlage] for the Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism
The paper raises the question of the role of historical defeats in the development of Marxist thought and whether a specific attitude towards defeat (and how to reckon with it) exists within the Marxist tradition and associated socialist movement. From Marx and Engels, to Luxemburg, Lenin and Gramsci, the major purveyors of the materialist conception of history all dealt with major defeats in their lifetimes; indeed, these defeats were often an inflection point in their intellectual production. The paper examines how these and other Marxist thinkers confronted defeat and asks whether the historical and theoretical insights of this survey might hold keys for emancipatory forces in a conjuncture – the last half-century – marked by major defeats: of the global left, the labour movement, of state socialism, etc. Finally, the paper also aims to present to conference participants the editorial principles and peculiar mode of work of the Berlin-based lexicon project it is being produced for, the Historisch-Kritisches Wörterbuch des Marxismus [Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism]. Given the collaborative and open-ended nature of this lexicon project, inputs from the discussion will serve as a basis for the reworking of the entry draft, due to be published in the HCDM’s vol. 10/I (Negation der Negation – Ökofeminismus [‘Negation of the Negation’ to ‘Ecofeminism’]). In conclusion, other possibilities to contribute to the HCDM project will be explored.
Live Editing as Artistic Practice: Towards a Reorientation of Historical Time
Joen Vedel & Eva la Cour
History writing has always been a place of struggle and filmmaking has long been part of it; both in terms of forming these struggles and being formed by them. Drawing from the different subjects of our individual artistic research projects – where we use video live-editing to express ‘geo-aesthetical discontent’ (la Cour) and ‘research the (im)possibilities in capturing historical events while they unfold’ (Vedel) – we depart in this presentation from a shared materialist investigation into the temporalization of History using moving images. As such, we will discuss our attempts to reorientate linear temporality towards new constellations between thinking and image, the archive and social processes, historical time and now-time, authenticity, authorship, and authority. What are the needs for temporal and relational forms of the image and image-practices at this time of crisis? Which aesthetics may a turn to temporal communalities enable? How can our different methodological strategies be used to challenge a historiographic concept of futurity?
In raising such questions we wish to contribute to new, much needed, conceptualizations of artistic practice not as an act of intention but as an act of relation; filmmaking not as an act of narrating a place or a community, but as an act of engaging situated conditions upon shifting grounds. The purpose of bringing about ideas of temporal communality, then, is to critically circumvent the historical and colonial legacy of more site-bounded desires of achieving communality – in artistic and filmmaking practices but also in a wider sense.
Elinor Ostrom: A Theorist of the Neoliberal Commons
Elinor Ostrom (née Elinor Claire Awan, 1933 in Los Angeles, d. 12 June 2012 in Bloomington), was an American political economist best known for her scholarship on ‘common-pool resources’. In 2009, she and Oliver Williamson won the Nobel prize in economics largely because of her magnum opus, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (1990), which forcefully refuted the commonsense notion of ‘tragedy of the commons’. That term, coined in 1833 by the economist William Forster Lloyd to explain poverty during the early industrial revolution, was popularized over a century later by the biologist Garett Hardin (1968) in an influential article of the same name in Science. Ostrom’s humbling of Hardin contributed to the shift in the 1990s where the environmental movement shifted from its Malthusian roots to a market-friendly neoliberalism. Ostrom was an unusual thinker in that her work has garnered admirers from across the political spectrum, but this is partially because the left overlooks the conservative foundations of her ‘commons’ framework. So far, however, only neoliberal scholars have studied Ostrom’s work and biography in any depth.
This paper seeks to rebalance the historiography through a critical engagement with Ostrom’s oeuvre. Instead of focussing on the 1990s when Ostrom wrote her most influential works, this intellectual history traces the construction of her framework back to the 1960s. It was in the quarter century prior to the publication of Governing the Commons that Ostrom began her collaboration with Vincent Ostrom (a prominent public choice theorist and constitutional scholar), defended suburban ‘white flight’ with arguments similar to those posed in her later work on the commons, and, finally, mastered game theory mid-career. These three elements would become the defining features of Ostromian environmental economics, which still exerts a powerful influence in the discipline almost a decade after her death.