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Daily Archives: August 9th, 2012

Walter Benjamin

THE PHILOSOPHY OF WALTER BENJAMIN CONFERENCE

Call for Papers:

‘The Philosophy of Walter Benjamin’

One-Day Conference, December 14th, 2012 – Goldsmiths College, University of London

InC – Goldsmiths Continental Philosophy Research Group

The work of the German-Jewish critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) spans a vast array of themes, ranging from the metaphysics of youth to the Paris arcades. His writings on Goethe and Scheerbart; Kafka and Baudelaire, as well as his work on the relationship between art and technology continue to fascinate and polarize in equal measure. His singular intersection of Marxian and Jewish thought is amply evidenced in the extensive correspondence with Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno, Bertold Brecht and Hannah Arendt, amongst others. Undoubtedly it is the sheer breadth of Benjamin’s interests that accounts for the enduring concern with his often fragmentary work across academic disciplines. That is to say, Benjamin is no longer a stranger at the Academy. Nevertheless, a central aspect of Benjamin’s work is all-too-often overlooked when his aesthetic and literary works are treated in isolation. The manifest content of Benjamin’s writing is never merely incidental: rather, it is shot through with a burgeoning philosophical project – from the ‘Programme of the Coming Philosophy’ (1917) to the ‘Theses on the Concept of History’ (1940). In this regard it appears that recent anniversary of Benjamin’s birth in 1892 warrants a re-appraisal of this legacy by asking the question: how can the various strands of Benjamin’s work be engaged to illuminate the unfolding of his philosophical position, and – vice versa – how does Benjamin’s philosophy illuminate other aspects of his thought?

This conference aims, then – on the one hand – to explore Benjamin’s thought in relation to the various philosophical traditions that inform his project (Leibniz, Kant, Schlegel, Lukács etc.), and – on the other hand – to ask how these influences continue to operate between the lines even where Benjamin is not explicitly concerned with the philosophical canon? In short: how are we to understand the philosophy of Walter Benjamin?

We ask potential speakers to submit abstracts of no more than 200 words to: sebastian.truskolaski@gmail.com by September 30th. The full programme will be announced in due course.

Originally published at: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/cfp-the-philosophy-of-walter-benjamin-goldsmiths-london-14-december-2012

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Michael A. Lebovitz

THE CONTRADICTIONS OF ‘REAL SOCIALISM’: THE CONDUCTOR AND THE CONDUCTED – BY MICHAEL LEBOWITZ

New from MR Press!

The Contradictions of “Real Socialism”: The Conductor and the Conducted

By Michael A. Lebowitz

“The profound understanding in this new book of why twentieth-century attempts at constructing socialism failed must be an essential element in the socialist renewal emerging amid the first great capitalist crisis of the twenty-first century.” —Leo Panitch, editor, Socialist Register

 “Lebowitz shows, theoretically and historically, that the socialism practiced in the Soviet Union and Central Europe was doomed. There is a lot to learn here.” —Martin Hart-Landsberg, professor of economics, Lewis and Clark College

 “One doesn’t have to agree with all the theses presented in Michael Lebowitz’s latest book in order to acknowledge that this is a major contribution to the international debate on socialism of the twenty-first century.” —Michael Löwy, co-author, Che Guevara: His Revolutionary Legacy (with Olivier Besancenot)

 “What would Marx have thought had he lived to see the Soviet Union? Nobody has interpreted Marx to greater advantage to answer this question than renowned Marxist scholar Michael Lebowitz, who explains why Marx would not have been pleased!” —Robin Hahnel, professor of economics, Portland State University

 “We need this well-written book to understand that socialism did not die with the fall of the Berlin Wall.” —François Houtart, Executive Secretary of the World Forum for Alternatives

 “Where fresh insights are rare, indeed, Michael Lebowitz provides a bundle of them. Although no one will (or perhaps should) agree with everything here, the book provides rich material for badly-needed discussion.” —Paul Buhle, author, Marxism in the United States

 “A riveting exploration of what can be learned from the first attempts to create socialist systems, specifically the period from 1950 through the 1980s. Required reading.” —Fred Magdoff, professor emeritus of plant and soil science, University of Vermont

 
From the author’s preface:

This is not a book for those who already know everything important there is to know about “Real Socialism.” For those fortunate souls who have inherited or adopted the eternal verities of particular political sects on the left, empirical footnotes that strengthen their claim to leadership are the principal tasks of scholarship. As a result, the central question about this book for them is likely to be, “Is he with us or against us?” In short, is this book good for the chosen?

I presume, however, readers who begin with questions rather than answers. What was this phenomenon known as “Real Socialism,” or “Actually Existing Socialism,” a concept created in the twentieth century by the leaders of countries in order to distinguish their real experience from merely theoretical socialist ideas? What were its characteristics? How was this system reproduced? And why did it ultimately yield to capitalism without resistance from the working classes who were presumably its beneficiaries?

Michael A. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and author of The Socialist AlternativeBeyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class (winner of the Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize for 2004), Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century, and Following Marx: Method, Critique and Crisis. He was Director, Program in Transformative Practice and Human Development, Centro Internacional Miranda, in Caracas, Venezuela, from 2006-11.

Originally at: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/the-contradictions-of-201creal-socialism201d-by-michael-a.-lebowitz  

**END**

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

‘The Lamb’ by William Blake – set to music by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw3VloKBvZc

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Glenn Rikowski’s MySpace Blog: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski/blog