Monday, 25 April 2011

CFP: Historical Materialism Conference 2011

Spaces of Capital, Moments of Struggle

Eighth Annual Historical Materialism Conference

Central London

10–13 November 2011

The ongoing popular uprisings in the Arab world, alongside intimations of a resurgence in workers' struggles against 'austerity' in the North and myriad forms of resistance against exploitation and dispossession across the globe make it imperative for Marxists and leftists to reflect critically on the meaning of collective anticapitalist action in the present.

Over the past decade, many Marxist concepts and debates have come in from the cold. The anticapitalist movement generated a widely circulating critique of capitalist modes of international 'development'. More recently, the economic crisis that began in 2008 has led to mainstream-recognition of Marx as an analyst of capital. In philosophy and political theory, communism is no longer merely a term of condemnation. Likewise, artistic and cultural practices have also registered a notable upturn in the fortunes of activism, critical utopianism and the effort to capture aesthetically the workings of the capitalist system.

The eighth annual Historical Materialism conference will strive to take stock of these shifts in the intellectual landscape of the Left in the context of the social and political struggles of the present. Rather than resting content with the compartmentalisation and specialisation of various 'left turns' in theory and practice, we envisage the conference as a space for the collective, if necessary, agonistic but comradely, reconstitution of a strategic conception of the mediations between socio-economic transformations and emancipatory politics.

For such a critical theoretical, strategic and organisational reflection to have traction in the present, it must take stock of both the commonalities and the specificities of different struggles for emancipation, as they confront particular strategies of accumulation, political authorities and relations of force. Just as the crisis that began in 2008 is by no means a homogeneous affair, so we cannot simply posit a unity of purpose in contemporary revolutions, struggles around the commons and battles against austerity.

In consideration of the participation of David Harvey, winner of the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize, at this year's conference, we would particularly wish to emphasise the historical and geographical dimensions of capital, class and struggle. We specifically encourage paper submissions and suggested panel-themes that tackle the global nature of capitalist accumulation, the significance of anticapitalist resistance in the South, and questions of race, migration and ecology as key components of both the contemporary crisis and the struggle to move beyond capitalism.

There will also be a strong presence of workshops on the historiography of the early communist movement, particularly focusing on the first four congresses of the Communist International.

The conference will aim to combine rigorous and grounded investigations of socio-economic realities with focused theoretical reflections on what emancipation means today, and to explore – in light of cultural, historical and ideological analyses – the forms taken by current and coming struggles.

Deadline for registration of abstracts: 1 May 2011
Preference will be given to subscribers to the journal and participants are expected to be present during the whole of the event – no tailor-made timetabling for individuals will be possible, nor will cameo-appearances be tolerated.

Friday, 22 April 2011

‘Liberalism: Slavery, imperialism and exploitation’







May 05, 2011, 7.30pm
At King’s College London, Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre, Strand Campus,
London WC2R 2LS

‘Liberalism: Slavery, imperialism and exploitation’

A panel discussion and book launch for LIBERALISM: A COUNTER-HISTORY with Domenico Losurdo, Robin Blackburn, and chair Stathis Kouvelakis.
Hosted by the KCL European Studies Department in association with Verso Books


‘Devastatingly exact in his dismantling of a Whiggish optimism, Losurdo thankfully avoids the historical dead-endism of postmodern critiques.’ Greg Grandin, author of FORDLANDIA

‘Anyone who thinks they know the history of liberalism will be surprised – and riveted – by this book. Every page is an experience.’ Corey Robin, author of FEAR: THE HISTORY OF A POLITICAL IDEA


In this definitive historical investigation, Italian author and philosopher Domenico Losurdo argues that from the outset liberalism, as a philosophical position and ideology, has been bound up with the most illiberal of policies: slavery, colonialism, genocide, racism and snobbery.

Narrating an intellectual history running from the eighteenth through to the twentieth centuries, Losurdo examines the thought of preeminent liberal writers such as Locke, Burke, Tocqueville, Constant, Bentham and Sieyes, revealing the inner contradictions of an intellectual position that has exercised a formative influence on today’s politics. Among the dominant strains of liberalism, he discerns the counter-currents of more radical positions, lost in the constitution of the modern world order.

In distinct contrast to the work of historians who seek to recast both liberal ideology and the British Empire in a benign light and defenders of liberal philosophy, LIBERALISM: A COUNTER HISTORY is an authoritative and provocative intervention into the current literature which will demand serious consideration and debate. The book is also a major philosophical contribution probing the inner contradictions of liberalism, including minority currents that moved to more radical positions.


DOMENICO LOSURDO is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Urbino, Italy. He is the author of many books in Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin. In English he has published HEGEL AND THE FREEDOM OF MODERNS and HEIDEGGER AND THE IDEOLOGY OF WAR.


ISBN: 978 1 84467 639 4 / $34.95 / £22.00 / Hardcover / 384 pages


For more information or to buy the book visit:

Marxism 2011 provisional timetable online

The provisional timetable for Marxism 2011, 'Ideas to Change the World', in central London from 30 June to 4 July, is now online here.

Crisis and austerity have exposed the insanity of our global system. Our rulers handed trillions of pounds to banks while billions of people across the planet face hunger, poverty, climate catastrophes and war.

Despite unprecedented wealth and technology we are told capitalism can provide even less for us than before.

But a world in crisis breeds an ideological crisis. Austerity has generated resistance. Revolution has shaken the Arab world. Students have shaken the ConDems. Millions are fighting back, questioning this crazy system and looking for alternatives.

Marxism 2011 will bring thousands of people together from across the world to discuss, debate and organise resistance. Don’t miss it.

Reminder: John Saville: commitment and history

John Saville: commitment and history
Friday 13th May

Meeting to mark the release of a new collection of essays in tribute
to Socialist historian John Saville jointly published by Lawrence and
Wishart and the Socialist History Society.
Speakers include Richard Saville, David Howell, Kevin Morgan, Steve
Jeffreys, Dianne Kirby and other speakers to be confirmed.

Time: 7.00 p.m. Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London
EC2 (opposite Liverpool Street Station). Admittance free. All welcome.


Saturday, 16 April 2011

Levellers Day 2011

37th Annual LEVELLERS DAY 2011
- Burford, Oxfordshire, Saturday 14 May
('Burford is, of course, in David Cameron's constituency....I suspect the procession will be a bit larger this year').

PAUL MASON, BBC Newsnight Economics Editor
BARBARA HARRIS-WHITE, Professor of Development Studies, Oxford
BILLY HAYES, General Secretary, CWU
with songs from
ANNE LISTER and more

The Levellers were a political movement during
the period of the English Civil War. They were ahead
of their time, with beliefs in democracy, religious
tolerance, and social justice. Levellers Day
commemorates a stand against dictatorship by
Leveller soldiers in 1649 and its suppression by
Cromwell. Over three hundred soldiers were locked
up in Burford church; three were executed as ring
leaders and buried in unmarked graves in the
churchyard. A plaque commemorating them was
placed on the church wall in 1979.

scratched on the font of Burford church by one of the
imprisoned soldiers, can still be seen.
Levellers Day was initiated by the Oxford Industrial
Branch of the WEA in 1975 to remember the
Levellers and their ideals and to update and relate
these to our own time through debate, entertainment
and any other way that makes the subject matter
inspiring, educational and enjoyable.
It’s held on the Saturday nearest to 17th May.
need to get there early on a Saturday.
Buses to Burford:
Stagecoach Oxford: 01865 772250
Swanbrook: 01452 712386
Whole day: £12/£8 concessions
After 1pm: £7.50/£5 concessions
Under 14s free
Tickets available online from or at the door.
See for more details.
Levellers Day is also on facebook and twitter

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Forthcoming LSHG events

London Socialist Historians Group Summer 2011
All at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House.

Monday 16th May 5.30pm [Pollard Room] Republicanism & anti-monarchism.
David Renton 'Horatio Bottomley: from republican to conservative'
Keith Flett ‘The anti-monarchist tradition in England’

Saturday 25th June 1pm [Germany Room] Ray Challinor- Socialist Activist & Historian.
Speakers include Stan Newens.

Jeff Webber at Bookmarks

From Bookmarks:

From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia
Jeff Webber
Tue 12 Apr - 18:30

Evo Morales rode to power on a wave of popular mobilizations against the neoliberal policies enforced by his predecessors. Yet many of his economic policies bare striking resemblance to the status quo he was meant to displace.

Based in part on dozens of interviews with leading Bolivian activists, Jeffery R. Webber examines the contradictions of Morales' first term in office.

Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC1B 3QE


Call 020 7637 1848 or email to reserve your place

Thursday, 7 April 2011

I love the sound of breaking glass

The new issue of International Socialism journal (#130), which focuses on 'The return of the Arab Revolution', also features two articles by LSHG regulars, both expanding on pieces arising from the 'Making the Tories History conference' and first published on this blog - David Renton writes on The Tories, Eton and private schools while Keith Flett has a piece entitled 'I love the sound of breaking glass: the London crowd, 1760-2010'. There is of course much else in the journal - for example see John Newsinger on the Bengal Famine of 1943-44.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Brixton Uprising '81

To mark the 30th anniversary of the 1981 Brixton Uprising there will be a special event held at:

Windrush Square and Brixton Tate library

Sunday 10 April 2011

Starting at 12 noon in Windrush Square and then from 1pm inside Brixton Tate library, the event will hear first hand witness accounts from members of the public on the Uprising, performances from special guests including LINTON KWESI JOHNSON, moving images and sound clips from radio and news archives, photographic stills on display and an opportunity for the public to relate their own testimonies of the Uprising to be recorded and archived by the Black Cultural Archive.

There will also be a discussion on how Brixton has recovered from 1981 and vision for the future.
To book for this event please email - to avoid disappointment please book by 6 April as places are limited.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Radical/ Far Left in Contemporary Western Europe

Political Studies Association
Labour Movements Group Workshop

The Radical/Far Left in Contemporary Western Europe

Queen Mary College, London
School of Economics and Finance Seminar Room
Thursday 26 May 2011


10.45 Welcome and introduction
John Kelly, Birkbeck College, London

11.00 Radical Left Parties in Contemporary Europe
Luke March, University of Edinburgh
Chair/Discussant: John Callaghan, University of Salford

12.00 The Southern European Far Left
Myrto Tsakatika, University of Glasgow
Chair/Discussant: tbc

1.00pm Lunch

2.00 The Radical Left in Germany: Die Linke
Dan Hough, University of Sussex
Chair/Discussant: tbc

3.00 The European Party of the Left
Richard Dunphy, University of Dundee
Chair/Discussant: Mark Wickham-Jones, University of Bristol

4.00 General discussion

4.30 Closing remarks

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Syndicalism, Strikes and The Great Unrest

Labour Heritage AGM
and joint meeting with Socialist History Society

Saturday, 9th April 2011, 2 – 5 pm
Bishopsgate Institute
230, Bishopsgate, City of London EC2M 4QA

Labour Heritage AGM will be held 2 – 2.30pm to be followed by speakers & discussion:

1911 – 1913. Syndicalism, Strikes and The Great Unrest

Gregor Gall
‘Radical Unionism – using the past to understand the challenges of today’

Gregor Gall is Research Professor of Industrial Relations and Director of the Work & Employment Research Unit at the University of Hertfordshire

Christine Coates
Trade Union Congress Librarian: ‘Illustrated gems from the TUC archives’

For further details contact: John Grigg 020 8743 4189,