Taking on the Right
***The CFP is now closed.*** See below for programme and registration info.
Facebook Event details here
Organised in collaboration with the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Committee and Socialist Register.
The HM conference is not a conventional academic conference but rather a space for discussion, debate and the launching of collective projects. We therefore discourage "cameo appearances" and encourage speakers to participate in the whole of the conference. We also strongly urge all speakers to take out personal subscriptions to the journal.
All queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract submissions: https://conference.historicalmaterialism.org/index.php/hmlondon/hm15
Deadline: EXTENDED TILL 13 JUNE 2018 Midnight GMT
There is no escaping the resurgence of far-right racisms, nationalisms, populisms and fascisms across the globe. From Trump’s America to right-wing nationalist politics in Europe and Brexit in the UK; from the erosion of social democracy in its Scandinavian bastion to the rising popularity of authoritarian nationalisms in the Middle East; from deepening autocracy in Turkey to the often unchallenged influence of a belligerent Israel; and from the exercise of imperialist global power by financial structures and institutions across the Global South to right-wing nationalist revanchism from India to Russia – the rapid expansion and interlocking of these phenomena suggests that something dramatic is taking place. Yet concrete analyses and political responses from the left are lagging behind the juggernaut of contemporary reaction.
The aftermath of 11 September 2001 consolidated and intensified the colonial marriage of racism, xenophobia and far-right politics. Austerity and the prolonged impact of the 2008 global financial crisis has encouraged right-wing populisms. They have gathered support by blaming the centre for the collapse of traditional politics and castigated its (very limited) reforms in the field of human rights and equality, thereby promoting a nativist backlash against ‘minority rights’. The buds of fascism are showing in Germany, Italy and central European countries like Poland and Hungary where fascism had been publicly rejected since the end of the Second World War. International powers fuel war in Syria and destabilise countries such as Libya, whilst refugees from the region provide convenient scapegoats for all social ills. Elsewhere, from Charlottesville to Sofia, violent neo-fascists and neo-Nazis reclaim a street presence and impact that would have been roundly condemned and resisted two decades ago. Now, it finds succour with Trump’s patronage and thanks to superficial claims for free speech. Across the globe, the limited gains of reformism have been rolled back and replaced by a renewed immiseration of the working classes and the denigration of women, racialised others, the disabled, non-gender-conforming people, the dispossessed and the different.
Whilst, amongst some, such a state of affairs might encourage melancholia and withdrawal, for others it cries out for a radical left response. There are, however limited, seeds of hope to come from principled resistance to right-wing fascisms, nationalisms and populisms. The left must unify those who are threatened and those who are committed to resisting the right in solidarity, whilst transcending factionalist disagreements or a facile but politically naive and counterproductive left populism. This requires a renewed commitment to concrete analyses that challenge, oppose and dissect the cancerous growth of the contemporary far right: what are the class compositions, cultural resources, psychic structures and gender logics of its various manifestations? How is it anchored in the racism, authoritarianism and imperialism of the early twenty-first century world-order? What do the analyses of fascism, racism, nationalism and right-populism tell us about new articulations of the relationship between ideology, hegemony and political economy? No less important are, of course, the challenges for an effective resistance. What strategies for combatting the far right have proved productive – what can be learnt from countries where it has been kept in the margins? What are the potentials and limitations of militant anti-right politics, antifascisms, left populism, resurgent reformism and other forms of ‘progressive’ politics in the present moment?
Drawing on a century of Marxist antifascist and anti-right-wing theory and practice, this year’s Historical Materialism conference seeks to elicit discussions about how to confront, challenge, expose and take on the far right. Can classical Marxist theories provide guidance during the present moment? How would they have to be updated and revised in the light of unfolding developments and changed circumstances? How can we rethink the conditions for a radical left strategy that would avoid sectarianism and work towards the mass mobilisation of subaltern classes around an anticapitalist project? Are there new dimensions of fascism, racism, sexism, homophobia and contemporary nationalisms that today require new and different as well as restated responses? What are the scope, limits and key characterising features of this latest articulation of right-wing politics? Are we seeing versions of ‘populism’ or a more problematic ‘dark side of liberal democracy’, as some claim?
This is HM 2018’s core theme, and we welcome papers on:
• The relation of the new fascisms, populisms and nationalisms to the capitalist crisis, and to the crises of representational regimes.
• The relationships (and contradictions) between fascisms, nationalisms and populisms and neoliberal capitalism, branding, media and the cult of the entrepreneur and/or hard-headed technocrat.
• The historic and contemporary role of social-democratic and centrist parties in resisting – or appeasing – the far right.
• The new vectors of race and nationhood, and new relationships between antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-black, anti-migrant, anti-disability and anti-gender and sexually diverse politics.
• Changing forms of imperialism, and their connections to austerity, capitalist crisis, dispossession, primitive accumulation, and the global colour line.
• New media and technologies, and aesthetic and perceptual regimes nurturing the far right.
• Far right, ‘authoritarian’ or ‘populist’ movements and regimes in the global South, from India to Turkey.
• The history and politics of antifascist movements, strategies and theories, and their relevance in the 21st century.
• The psychosexual and gendered bases of fascism — especially in light of the role of ‘Men’s Rights Activism’ in the new reactionary movements.
• The implications of new fascisms, nationalisms and populisms for climate politics, conservation, climate-induced migration, the militarisation of climate control, and other environmental struggles.
At the same time, the conference will include particular streams that will both extend the issues of combatting the new right whilst looking at particular agendas within their politics and theoretical contestations. In addition, as always, HM is open to proposals for panels and papers on any subject within the purview of Marxist and left radical thought and politics, including critical sociology; economics and the critique of political economy; cultural, literary and aesthetic theory; political science and theory; history and historiography; philosophy; law; science studies and any other relevant discipline.
We have 6 Streams running this year:
3 Sexuality and Political Economy Network: Combatting the Right: Sexual Violence, Discrimination and Oppression and Left Responses
6 Work, Workers’ Inquiry, and Class Composition (in collaboration with Notes from Below)
We welcome proposals for papers or panels. Both should be made at: https://conference.historicalmaterialism.org/index.php/hmlondon/hm15 on the proforma provided.
• All paper proposals must include the names of all proposer(s), e-mail address(es) and titles and abstracts
• Panel proposals must include the names of all participants, e-mail addresses and titles and abstracts
• The closing date for submissions is midnight GMT on Friday 13 June (FINAL EXTENSION).
• If submitting to a stream, please specify which one.
A Note for Paper Proposers
We ask that, as far as humanly possible, you make yourselves available for the whole of the period of the conference, from the Thursday afternoon through to the Sunday evening for two reasons:
1) Unlike many traditional academic conferences - where sometimes speakers only turn up for their session and then leave - we are trying to create a different space with the HM Conference: we are trying to create an international public sphere of Marxist debate, discussion and exchange, and this means that we would like all participants to actively engage with the conference as a whole and all its sessions;
2) We cannot possibly accommodate every participant’s preferences, personal obligations etc with such a large conference. This means that we need to be able to schedule your panels in a manner that makes sense for the conference as a whole and, if necessary, to reorganise panels due to late cancellations, no-shows, emergencies and so on.
Last minute cancellations and no-shows – especially for reasons other than medical or real personal emergencies - are an absolute nightmare for the organisers. We therefore ask you, before you submit an abstract, to make all necessary arrangements with regard to teaching, childcare, travel etc to be sure that you will indeed be able to participate.
We encourage submissions from comrades from abroad and can provide paperwork for visa applications where necessary, but we ask that these requests be made as soon as you receive your acceptance notices, not left to the last moment.
We are also very open to preconstituted panels (preferably with no more than 3/4 speakers), including discussions/launches of new books, but we reserve the right to reject certain abstracts in such panels (i.e. these are not “take it or leave it” as a whole) and to reconstitute the panels in different ways where necessary.
We also expect that all participants will behave in an exemplarily comradely manner, including with conference helpers (who do their best in sometimes difficult circumstances). Vigorous and robust debate is to be encouraged but we will not accept sectarian or ad hominem polemics.
Registration is necessary and must be done here: https://conference.historicalmaterialism.org/index.php/hmlondon/hm15/schedConf/registration