Upcoming seminars at Salford on Nicos Poulantzas and on May 1968

News from Peter Bratsis at Salford about two events they are organizing this semester, one on Nicos Poulantzas to be held on Sept. 24th and one of May 68 to be held on October 31.   

Centre for Contemporary History & Politics,  September 24th, 1 to 6pm, Room 106, Crescent House

Forty Years of Political Power and Social Classes

Nicos Poulantzas’ Political Power and Social Classes was first published in France in May of 1968.  The subject matter of the book combined with this fortunate timing made it an overnight sensation.  This initial success combined with Poulantzas’ subsequent debate with Ralph Miliband made the English translation of the book, published in 1973, a major event at that time for Marxism and contemporary political and social theory.  The work continued to be a key theoretical touchstone for the remainder of the decade. 

Although Poulantzas’ subsequent works, particularly State, Power, Socialism and his essays on the transnationalization of the state and class, continue to be widely available and are enjoying popularity with those who study globalization and the increasingly authoritarian character of the neoliberal state, among other topics, Political Power and Social Classes, an infamously complex text, has remained out of print for more than twenty years. The purpose of this seminar is to examine the arguments and reception history of Political Power and Social Classes, to explore the relationship between this initial work and Poulantzas’ subsequent writings, and to identify those concepts and schemas that still hold analytical value but are not widely known or in use at this time.  

Speakers will include Peter Bratsis, Salford, Bob Jessop, Lancaster, Mabel Thwaites Rey, Buenos Aries, Constantinos Tsoukalas, Athens.  

For further information please contact: Dr Peter Bratsis (Tel: 0161 295 6555 or email: P.Bratsis@salford.ac.uk


May 68: Toward the Naming of the Event 
A one-day seminar at the University of Salford (Manchester) Friday 31st October 2008, 9:30-5:30pm (venue to be determined) 

Supported by the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and the European Studies Research Institute 

Confirmed speakers: Oliver Feltham (American University of Paris), Stathis Kouvelakis (King’s College, University of London),), Nina Power (Roehampton University, London), Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths College, University of London), Peter Bratsis and Carlos Frade (University of Salford). 

Aptly referred to at the time as ‘la brèche’ (breach, rupture) and ‘éclatement’ (explosion, outburst), yet forty years later the “May ’68 events” have still to be named. Indeed today we are still waiting for the political nomination of these opaque events to be completed. But we are not merely waiting; we are eager to come to grips with this excess and therefore to pursue the related tasks of politically unfolding its consequences and philosophically operating its contemporary articulation with ruptures produced elsewhere and thinking the re-emergence of new possibles and thus the very possibility of a true politics.

In keeping with these Badiousian premises it seems appropriate that this seminar on May 68 address political subjectivities and recurrent fidelities and be in particular focused on the extremely precarious and feeble character of the political subjectivities which sustained the May 68 events and on the intertwined links between previous and future events and fidelities. Did such precariousness announce the astonishing weakness of present political subjectivities? This subjective lack is of course no different in essence from the inherent weakness of any loyal political subjectivity; yet contemporary fidelities would seem to be more easily corrupted in our times of nearly absolute rule of the servile and greedy human animal, why? Why is it seemingly so difficult nowadays to uphold the emancipatory injunction ‘persevere, remain faithful, do not give up in your desire’? Why faithful, dedicated and proud devotions to a vocation, e.g. in education or in health, have been subjugated and ruined with such an apparent calm and easy? 

But these are only one set of questions. After all the recently proclaimed wish to liquidate the heritage of May 68 proves not only that the trace of May 68 remains, but more tellingly that such obliteration is necessitated to construct the full, unified body of a morally cum economically rearmed France, which would thereby regain its status at the head of Europe, but this time, as the current EU policies on immigration show, of a retrograde Europe, morally rearmed through fear and economics. Even more important in the current circumstances are therefore the questions to do with identifying the actual positivities, the subjective productions, and thus the possibilities for opening a new sequence of emancipatory politics which can rely neither on the trodden forms of organized mass politics nor on the loosely knit, if wishfully proclaimed, movement of the multitudes. What are the actual possibilities for developing new political subjectivities, for kindling new political desires able to make a present out of the possible? What are the implications of previous events and fidelities and how may they be brought to or re-emerge renewed in our presentless present?


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