Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fail Again. Fail Better: Another Conference. And Another.





I have a boring suggestion.

Could the next venue for a 'radical' conference please be at the site of antagonism, at the site of a factory, office, corporate, or state-body occupation? Or how about its prestigious deliberations being presented at the participants' local bank branch? Or a 'job centre'/unemployment office? An 'event' rather than a cosily rarefied academic-rivalry non-event? A simple token of cross-fertilization, of connectivity? A little immanence. Or is the impossible still impossible?


Radical Philosophy Conference, Central London, 9 May 2009

Power to the People?

`Power to the people!’ was once a revolutionary slogan, but reference to government by the people and for the people soon became an empty cliché of the post-revolutionary status quo (see above - Citizen Smith as commentary on fidelity?). The people has become a notoriously ambiguous and contested term, for which numerous alternatives have been proposed: the proletariat, the workers, the masses, the soviets, the nation, the community, the multitude, the commons… And now? How might we assess the different conceptions of political change embodied in these often conflicting ideas? What is the political and philosophical significance of `the people’ today?

Plenary (chair: Peter Osborne, RP)
`They, the People’ - Gayatri Spivak (Columbia University, NY)

The General Will (chair: Peter Hallward, RP)
‘The General Will on the Street’ - David Andress (Portsmouth)
‘How Do the People Make Themselves Heard?’ - Sophie Wahnich (CNRS, Paris)

Urban Collectivities (chair: David Cunningham, RP)
‘Urban Intersections and the Politics of Anticipation’ - AbdouMaliq Simone (Goldsmiths)`Urbanism and the Post-Political’ - Erik Swyngedouw (Manchester)
Population & Biopolitics (chair: Stuart Elden, Durham)

‘Biopolitics, Diasporas and (Neo)Liberal Political Economy’ - Couze Venn (Nottingham Trent)
‘Feminist Strategies Revisited – Sexopolitics, Multitude and Biopolitics’ - Encarnacion Gutierrez Rodriguez (Manchester)

Class, Commons & Multitude (chair: Esther Leslie, RP)‘Crisis, Tragedies and the Commons’ - Massimo De Angelis (UEL)

£25/£10 unwaged
Registration and further details: matt.charles@blueyonder.co.uk
Cheques payable to `Radical Philosophy Ltd’ should be sent to: Radical Philosophy Conference, Peter Osborne, CRMEP, Middlesex University, Trent Park Campus, Bramley Rd, London N14 4YZ

Via IT.

---- Turin, 1920: factory occupation.



And Another ...

IMMANENCE AND MATERIALISM CONFERENCE

DEPARTMENT OF POLITICS> QUEEN MARY, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

CALL FOR PAPERS
Date: 23 June 2009>
Venue: Queen Mary, University of London>
Call for papers deadline: 22 May 2009
All papers and enquiries to:
s.j.choat@qmul.ac.uk

Keynote speakers:
Professor James Williams (University of Dundee)
Dr Ray Brassier (American University of Beirut)
Dr Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths, University of London)


The concepts of immanence and materialism are becoming increasingly important in political philosophy. This conference seeks to analyse the connections between these two concepts and to examine the consequences for political thought. It is possible, as Giorgio Agamben has done, to make a distinction within modern philosophy between a line of transcendence (Kant, Husserl, Levinas, Derrida) and a line of immanence (Spinoza, Nietzsche, Deleuze, Foucault). If we follow this distinction, then 'the line of immanence' might include Spinozist interpretations of Marx, Althusser's aleatory materialism, and Deleuze's superior empiricism. But what is the value of this work and is it useful to distinguish it from 'transcendent' philosophies? Distinctions between materialism and idealism are equally complex: Derrida, for example, might as easily be classed a materialist as an idealist. And where can we place more recent work like the critiques of Deleuze by Badiou and Zizek, or Meillassoux's speculative materialism?

Papers may wish to consider the following questions:

-What is materialist philosophy? How can it be distinguished from idealist philosophy, and is it useful to do so? Are all philosophies of immanence necessarily materialist?
-Is it legitimate or useful to make a clear distinction between philosophies of immanence and philosophies of transcendence?
-How have the concepts of immanence and materialism traditionally been conceived within political philosophy?
-What, if any, are the political consequences of pursuing a philosophy of immanence?


Paper titles and a 300-word abstract should be sent by Friday 22 May> 2009 to Simon Choat at s.j.choat@qmul.ac.uk, Department of Politics,> Queen Mary.>> Graduate papers welcome.

Via No Useless Leniency. [Graham Harman will be there with his new USB microscope, Levi Bryant with his bumber crop of cucumbers, and Dejan with 'his' latest trans-gender photoshop application ...].




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"How did the ideology of Enlightenment evolve in the 18th century France? First,
there was the epoch of salons, in which philosophers where trying to shock their
benefactors, the generous Counts and Countesses, even Kings and Emperatrices
(Holbach Frederick the Great, Diderot Catherine the Great), with their "radical"
ideas on equality, the origin of power, the nature of men, etc. - all of this
remaining a kind of intellectual game. At this stage, the idea that someone
could take these ideas literally, as the blueprint for a radical socio-political
transformation, would probably shock the ideologists themselves who were either
part of the entourage of an enlightened nobleman or lone pathetic figures like
Rousseau - their reaction would have been that of Ivan Karamazov, disgusted upon
learning that his bastard half-brother and servant acted on his nihilistic
ruminations, killing his father. This passage from intellectual game to an idea
which effectively "seizes the masses" is the moment of truth - in it, the
intellectual gets back his own message in its inverted/true form. In France, we
pass from the gentle reflections of Rousseau to the Jacobin Terror; within the
history of Marxism, it is only with Lenin that this passage occurs, that the
games are REALLY over. And it is up to us to repeat this same passage and
accomplish the fateful step from the ludic "postmodern" radicalism to the domain
in which the games are over."
-----Slavoj Zizek, Repeating Lenin.

3 comments:

Barrie Stretham said...

ho hum, Zizek wins again with his texts that supposedly keep it real, while still being text. Isn't the point that conferences and labor organization are not really the same thing? Z gets a lot of power out of pointing his finger at that obvious fact, but I still prefer people from both the academic and applied side who can understand their differences from each other rather than trying to pretend they don't exist.

Beckett said...

No Barrie, Zizek doesn't 'win again'; he simply reinforces his own reflexive impotence.

Are you attempting to argue above that conferences are labour-free and should be kept so while any serious efforts to undermine such a bourgeoise distinction are just 'pretentious'? Very convenient, but hopelessly unproductive and frankly unhelpful hereabouts.

Or are you just a troll?

Nate said...

I dunno, I would guess that the people acting at the site of antagonism in such a way as to make it a real site of antagonism would be bemused at best by the outbreak of such a conference, and that the conference's commencement would not enhance the site's being/acting antagonistic.