Media from Historical Materialism 2016 (London)
In the Grundrisse, Marx diagnosed the effort to turn unsurpassable limits into transcendable barriers as one of capital’s defining features, that permitted it either to avert crises or to employ them to its own advantage.
Ecological critique and activism is increasingly identifying the endurance of capitalist imperatives as a limit of a different kind, a limit on the reproducibility of human livelihoods, a limit both to and of nature, which is not necessarily a limit to capital.
HM 2016 seeks to address from a multiplicity of angles the question of the relationships between the limits and barriers of capital and those of its human and non- human “others”. Or: its limits and ours, their barriers and ours. How does Marxist theory address the so-called ‘spatial turn’ and various geographies of capital?
We hope to investigate the theoretical and practical challenges to capital’s increasingly disastrous or desultory forms of crisis- management, from the COP21 agreements on climate change to the sinister responses to mass migration and civil war.
We hope that this theme of limits will not be taken simply in a systemic sense – as the limits to capital, or to nature, or to the capitalist state, etc. – but also in a strategic one, as an occasion to reflect on the limits (or barriers) of current socialist, communist and emancipatory political movements.
From public outcries against financial scandals to the rise of populist anti-elitism, are movements redrawing the limits of politics?