[OPE-L] The Marx International II Congress

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Fri, 30 Jan 1998 21:59:21 -0500 (EST)

Gerard and Dominique asked me to inform OPE-L subscribers of the
following. Thanks to Michael P and John for the "translation" into
unencoded format./ In solidarity, Jerry

Paris, September 30 - October 3, 1998
University de Paris-X Nanterre
Economic Section : Capitalism in Process
Call for Contributions

Proposals (a one page summary and a short bio-bibliography) must be sent
before April 15, 1998
to :
G. Dumenil et D. Levy
142, rue du Chevaleret
75013 Paris
or by e-email to :

We hope that this Congress will have a large and lasting impact.
The organization of the Congress is not finalized and suggestions
are welcome. Please provide the names and addresses of persons
who may be interested in receiving information about the Congress,
in particular those individuals who could present their work.

The main language will be French and simultaneous translation will
not be provided. However, papers and presentations in English are
also possible. Depending on interest level and the number of English
contributions that we receive, some workshops in English could be

Capitalism in Process

The economic section of the Congress will be open to a large number
of contributions in a variety of fields, but will attempt to focus
on a unifying topic. The theme of the economic section will be
capitalism in process. Traditional analysis concerning fundamental
concepts and mechanisms will not be excluded, but the primary emphasis
will be on the investigation of contemporary capitalism from a Marxist
or heterodox perspective.

The analysis of the transformations of capitalism and its contemporary
problems obviously stretches beyond the limits of economics. But the
work of Marxist and other heterodox economists have made important
inroads, as is obvious from an examination of their work. These efforts
must be pursued if Marxist economics is to recover its theoretical
foundations and maintain its uniqueness among other heterodox approaches.

One plenary session and approximately ten workshops will be devoted to
the economic section of the Congress. The topic of the plenary session
will be the criticism of neoliberalism. (Neoliberalism is used here in
the European sense of the term ; it can be roughly translated as
conservatism.) This topic fits squarely with the focus of the
transformations of contemporary capitalism, including economic crisis,
unemployment and economic policy. The class content of neoliberal policy,
its effects and possible Left alternatives will all be discussed.

Approximately three to four presentations will compose a workshop. The
structure of each workshop will be determined after an examination of
the proposed contributions taking account of their relation to particular
themes. It is clear that the organizing committee will have to be
selective. For a few workshops, leaders will be chosen among persons who
have made particular contributions in the form of published articles or
collections of works on the subject.

The issue of capitalism in process can be addressed in a broad variety
of ways :

(1) The transformations of capitalism :

The gradual evolution of the relations of production and corresponding
class patterns define a first theme. Are productive workers disappearing?
How can we interpret the rise of the middle class composed of such groups
as managerial and clerical personnel? How is the influence of capitalist
property relations exerted ? By which groups ? Within which institutions ?
By which specific policies ? Is neoliberalism the policy of finance ?

These issues are connected to a possible new stage in the development of
society called socialism. Are we still able to formulate an alternative
to capitalism ? What can we learn from the history of the socialist
countries ?

A third category of problems relates to the internationalization of capital.
What are the consequences of this process within both the countries of the
center and the periphery ? What is the relation of internationalization to
crisis and unemployment ? Is imperialism still relevant ?

(2) The contemporary crisis :

The evolution of capitalism is clearly conditioned by its ability to recover
from the present crisis and the features of this recovery :

*A first theme is the analysis of crisis, of its origins and its
developments. What are the mechanisms governing the origin of the
crisis in the 1970s and their relation to Marxist analysis ?
How should the international and national factors be balanced ?
What was the impact of real and monetary mechanisms ? How can we
explain the persistence of unemployment in Europe ? What can be
said about the debt crisis of the early 1980s ? What are the origin
and consequences of the crisis in the Asian countries ?

* A second theme is that of the possible outcomes for the future. Are
the first signs of a recovery detectable ? Is the U.S. somehow unique ?
Would such recovery be related to the reassertion of the basic capitalist
character of the world economy or instead to the transition toward a
new stage of capitalism ? Is the new course of capitalism plagued by
any specific weaknesses ? Is a collapse similar to the Great Depression on
the agenda ?

(3) The endurance of the explanatory power of Marxist analysis :

The soundness of the basic tools of Marxist analysis and the transformations
of capitalism are clearly connected. Do notions such as commodity or productive
labor, or the law of the tendency of the profit rate to fall, still have
explanatory value ? To what extent do traditional Marxist tools need to be
modified ? Do other heterodox approaches provide the key for a renewal of
the Marxist framework ?

(4) The theories of the firm and wage labor :

The Congress will provide an opportunity to explore the relationship between
Marxist analysis and the contemporary theories of the firm and wage labor
as well as the issue of property relations which links economics and the

(5) The preservation of the planet :

Recent developments concerning global warming raise the issue of the link
between the transformations of capitalism and ecology. Can capitalism
preserve the environment ? Can solutions to environmental problems be
found in a social system in which problems are basically addressed in
an ex-post fashion ? Are environmental problems related to crisis
and recovery ?