Global Capitalism and the Worlds of Socialism

Global Capitalism and the Worlds of Socialism

Dr. Oscar Sanchez-Sibony, The University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
From - Until
26.04.2021 - 28.04.2021
Connections Redaktion, Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics, Universität Leipzig

The presentations of this conference propose analyses of socialist life and the socialist system that do not merely reproduce the oppositional narrative of capitalism’s “anti,” but rather look at the ways in which socialist projects reproduced, intersected or compared with global capitalism.

Global Capitalism and the Worlds of Socialism

We are well into a second decade in the global crisis of capitalism. This has prompted a widespread revival of the category within and beyond academia, and a series of ongoing debates about what capitalism was and therefore is. Nothing as thrilling seems to be happening in the study of capitalism’s other: the historical experience of really-existing socialism. This is peculiar, given the extent to which historical socialism has been understood for so long in implicit and often explicit relation to capitalism.

This conference proposes a critical look. Firstly, it affirms that the study really-existing socialism has to be carried out with a political economy in mind that does not replicate the triumphalism of the 1990s, i.e. the myth of a failing system outside of, antithetical to, and paradoxically subverted by the world of irrepressible global capitalism. Secondly, it questions the capitalism/socialism binaries that have sustained so much of our analyses. What was actually existing socialism in light of its engagement with capitalist markets and finance? How should we understand the development of systems of seemingly capitalist reform? What kinds of subjectivities were created in a socialist world of ubiquitous commoditization? Can categories of the analysis of capitalism be useful in the study of the socialist system and vice versa? Can traditional binary signifiers of socialist politics and identities (plan vs. market, collectivism vs. individualism, solidarity vs. exploitation, inefficiency vs. efficiency, etc.) be used productively in the study of socialism or should they be rejected altogether?

In the password-protected workshop space you may watch the video presentations of the papers as they come in. This will be followed by two live roundtable conversations over Zoom on April 26 and April 28, 10:00pm-11:30pm (HKT / UTC+8). You can join the conversation by registering below.



MONDAY, APRIL 26 - First Roundtable
Zoom, 10:00pm-11:30pm (HKT / UTC+8)

Discussant: Sven Beckert

The Socialist Pathways to the Transformation of Capitalism, or How the Soviets Won a Cold War at the Turn of the 1970s
Oscar Sanchez-Sibony, University of Hong Kong

The Happiness of Being Useful: Work in Late Soviet Socialism
Alexandra Oberländer, Max Planck Institute

Capitalism/Socialism: Beyond the Cold War Binary Conceptualization of the World
Karl Gerth, University of San Diego

The Queer of Communism: August Willich from Soho to Civil War
Andrew Zimmerman, George Washington University

Wage Labor, "Socialist" Commodities, and the Creation of Soviet Capitalism
Andrew Sloin, Baruch College-CUNY

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28 - Second Roundtable
Zoom, 10:00pm-11:30pm (HKT / UTC+8)

Discussant: Quinn Slobodian

Imagining Socialism in the Soviet Century: Is a New Master Narrative Possible?
Anna Krylova, Duke University

Value, Price, and Economic Reform in the Polish People's Republic
Brian Porter-Szücs, University of Michigan

The Economics of China's Reform: Policy Paradigm versus Academic Discipline
Isabella Weber, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

The "Law of Value" and Requests for Economic Reforms in the Socialist World in the 1960s
Felix Wemheuer, University of Cologne

Thinking Foucault through Yugoslavia: Socialist Banking, Neoliberalism, and Capitalism
Johanna Bockman, George Mason University
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