Koledar dogodkov

Panel discussion – Primitive Accumulation in the Post-Socialist Transition and the EU Accession Period @ Stara mesta elektrarna - Elektro Ljubljana, Slomškova 18, Ljubljana
Apr 28 @ 13:00 – 14:30
Panel discussion - Primitive Accumulation in the Post-Socialist Transition and the EU Accession Period @ Stara mesta elektrarna - Elektro Ljubljana, Slomškova 18, Ljubljana

It is very symptomatic that the story of the great historical break of 1989 in Eastern Europe is usually articulated in purely political terms, often with obvious romantically-nationalistic overtones: winds of change have swept away old curtains and walls of the obsolete system, bringing about a second spring of nations that were at last able to breathe freely and democratically. Topics of the concurrent economical and social transformation are usually given much less attention and tend to be very briefly subsumed under the vague notion of ‘liberalisation’. In any case, all these transformations were also supposed to have a determinate final goal: the accession to the EU, which would gladly extend its hospitality to the newly independent neighbours and guide them in the task of constructing democratic institutions.

However, if we assume a more sober perspective it quickly becomes obvious that, given the new political and economic reality,  the absolutely crucial social ‘institution’ that the Eastern European countries certainly lacked was a proper capitalist class. The purpose of this panel is therefore to trace the patterns of socio-economic transformations in Eastern Europe between the collapse of Soviet Union and the accession of the new countries to the EU. What was the interaction between former state property, foreign capital and the newly emerging capitalist class? Did the latter truly emerge – as many perhaps were hoping for – smoothly and spontaneously, simply by the force of the newly unleashed entrepreneurial energy? Or did a shadier process take place, one much closer to Marx’s description of ‘primitive accumulation’, namely a process of violent expropriation?

This discrepancy between the harsh reality of the transition in Eastern Europe and the accompanying Western naivete is perhaps best expressed in the statement that a US treasury official gave regarding Russia as early as 1994: ‘We had a belief that the first generation of Russian capitalists would be nice guys, but they are ruthless motherfuckers.’

Panel discussion – A Socialist Alternative @ Stara mesta elektrarna - Elektro Ljubljana, Slomškova 18, Ljubljana
Apr 30 @ 13:00 – 14:30
Panel discussion - A Socialist Alternative @ Stara mesta elektrarna - Elektro Ljubljana, Slomškova 18, Ljubljana

From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, from Athens to Madrid, millions have mobilised and are mobilising against the dictatorship of capital, whatever its local expression might be. Although such massive protests and upheavals would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, with the onset of the great recession in 2008, it seems millions are saying, once again and in a united voice: ‘We have nothing to lose but our chains!’ History that was halted and buried by the epigones of the ruling class has escalated and made visible what will always determine the capitalist system of production: a class-divided society driven by werewolf’s hunger for surplus-labour.

Inspiring as these events are, they have yet to seriously challenge the accumulation of capital. In achieving such long-term goals, questions of a more steady organisation beyond occasional protests inevitably have to be addressed. It is crucial to conceptualise policies as well as organisational forms that will not only pose demands, but will also have the strength to achieve them. Michael Lebowitz put it succinctly when, criticising the old saying ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there’, he stressed that the contrary is actually the case: if we don’t know where we are going, no road will take us there.

It is precisely at this point that imagining and developing a socialist alternative is of crucial importance. This involves both practical and theoretical work, as it is equally important to envision such society or the goal we are trying to achieve, while at the same time working on the practical, organisational issues, that is, measures through which the goal can be achieved. One of the most urgent tasks at hand is to improve the living conditions of the working class and to effectively combat the austerity measures that are devastating it. This panel will tackle both these issues in envisioning the society in which full human development will finally be possible and in which mankind will achieve the ascent from kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.

Round table – Toward a European Left Strategy of Building a Socialist Alternative @ Stara mesta elektrarna - Elektro Ljubljana, Slomškova 18, Ljubljana
May 1 @ 18:00 – 20:00
Round table - Toward a European Left Strategy of Building a Socialist Alternative @ Stara mesta elektrarna - Elektro Ljubljana, Slomškova 18, Ljubljana

The European Union is often celebrated in the liberal commonsense discourse as a pacifistic project that finally brought peace, prosperity and brotherhood to modern Europe after centuries of wars between European nations or states. Furthermore, the EU is celebrated as a democratic project: immediately after the Second World War, at the very onset of European integration, the main ideological momentum of ‘democracy’ was antifascism; however, after the defeat of real socialism, the main ideological focus of the EU turned against ‘totalitarianism’ in an attempt to equate socialism with fascism.

The notion of the EU as an anti-totalitarian organisation reveals the purpose of contemporary European integration. In its opposition to both fascism and socialism, it betrays its liberal, more precisely, neoliberal bias spearheaded mainly against any kind of socialist or even Keynesian reforms. Mechanisms of preventing socialist ‘totalitarianism’ are constituent parts of the EU treaties (such as the Maastricht Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty), projects (the single currency project and the common market), pacts (such as the Growth and Stability Pact, the Six Pack) and the institutional framework notorious for its democratic deficit.

The crisis exposed the antisocialist and therefore antisocial bias of this kind of ‘union’. The common market policies are disabling the member states to compete in the common market in any other way than by suppressing the working classes. The single currency outsourced the monetary policies of the member states to the European Central Bank, which is not willing to play the role of lender in last resort whose main goal is to lower inflation, and thus pushes the member states into the cold hands of private financial markets. Its treaties and pacts are imposing a ‘straightjacket’ on member states. They are imposing fiscal rules on the one hand, while on the other they don’t provide fiscal transfers to guarantee convergence between the member states. And last but not least, the technocratic and authoritarian character of supranational institutions, which don’t even correspond to bourgeois democratic standards, are disabling the people and progressive forces to even slightly change these mechanisms. The dictatorship of the capitalist élites is perfected in this institutional framework.

The results of this kind of integration are of course no less than devastating. In the Union that pushed its member states into ruthless competition the wages of its working classes are being suppressed, its welfare state decomposed and once sacred social rights denied. Furthermore, the Union’s periphery, which was unable to catch up with far more advanced industrial production of the core, experienced drastic erosion of the productive base and finally fell into a debt trap. The expected miracle of the free market policies turned into a nightmare. States are diverging rather than converging, the tensions between the core and periphery are escalating, and the working classes are thrown into brutal exploitation and misery. The only profiteer in this story is – naturally – the European bourgeoisie.

Therefore, the EU is no less than a project of European capitalist élites aimed at imposing neoliberalism masked as ‘European integration’. To us, the anticapitalist left, this poses the following riddle: if the bias of the really existing European integration is neoliberal, how can we respond? Is it possible to change the institutional framework to function in favour of the working classes? Is a ‘good euro’ possible and if so, under which circumstances? And if it is impossible, how risky would it be to exit the euro zone and the EU? And finally: is a socialist Europe possible?

Študijski seminar – Sovjetska zveza in njeni kritiki @ ZSSS, Ljubljana
Feb 10 @ 17:00 – 19:00
Študijski seminar - Sovjetska zveza in njeni kritiki @ ZSSS, Ljubljana

Nosilca in izvajalca: Sašo Furlan in Tibor Rutar
Prijave in informacije: tibor.rutar@gmail.com
Termin: vsak ponedeljek 17.00 -19.00 (od 18. novembra naprej)
Lokacija: Knjižnica Mirovnega inštituta (Metelkova 6)

Na prvem, uvodnem srečanju bo predaval dr. Lev Centrih.

Na bralnem seminarju se bomo posvetili teoretski refleksiji enega najbolj razvpitih poskusov izgradnje kapitalizmu alternativnega družbeno-ekonomskega sistema v 20. stoletju – realno obstoječega socializma v Sovjetski zvezi. Te tematike se ne lotevamo le iz gole zgodovinske radovednosti, saj menimo, da nam ustrezna refleksija tega projekta lahko marsikaj pove tudi o sami naravi sodobnega kapitalizma ter o možnostih in pogojih njegove odprave. Dejstvo, da je nemara najbolj megalomanski poskus izgradnje socializma v zgodovini človeštva klavrno spodletel in za seboj pustil nič več kot restavracijo kapitalizma, kaže na neizmerno trdoživost, vztrajnost in dinamičnost družbeno-ekonomskega sistema, v katerem živimo. Hkrati pa priča o tem, da je izgradnja socialistične družbe, ki bi trajno nadomestila kapitalizem, vse prej kakor lahka naloga. Ustrezna analiza vzrokov za neuspeh preteklih poskusov izgradnje socializma je zato nujen predpogoj uspešnosti vsakršne socialistične prakse, ki danes ponovno poskuša odpraviti kapitalizem.

Seminar ne bo osredotočen na empirične študije zgodovinskega razvoja Sovjetske zveze, temveč na teoretske tekste marksističnih avtorjev, ki tako ali drugače poskušajo artikulirati bistvene strukturne poteze ter tendence in zakone, ki so določali in regulirali družbeno-ekonomski sistem v Sovjetski zvezi. Podrobneje bomo obravnavali tri marksistične teorije o družbeno-ekonomskem sistemu v Sovjetski zvezi: teorijo »degenerirane delavske države«, ki jo je postavil Lev Trocki in kasneje preciziral Ernest Mandel; teorijo »državnega kapitalizma«, ki sta jo razvila Raja Dunajevska in C. L. R. James; in teorijo »spodbijane reprodukcije« (contested reproduction), ki jo je na podlagi spisov Jevgenija Preobraženskega razvil Michael Lebowitz. Pri kritičnem soočenju omenjenih teorij ne bomo mogli obiti temeljnih tekstov samega Marxa, saj se vse te teorije posredno ali neposredno naslanjajo na njegovo teorijo vrednosti. Ravno pravilno razumevanje Marxove teorije vrednosti je namreč odločilni kriterij za presojanje o ustreznosti marksističnih teorij strukturnih potez družbeno-ekonomskega sistema v Sovjetski zvezi.

Edini pogoj za udeležbo je prebrana literatura. Ob prvem obisku prosimo, da mentorjema sporočite svoj e-naslov, ki bo dodan na seznam prejemnikov literature, ki jo boste obiskovalci seminarja prejemali sproti v e-formatu.


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