Call for papers

Final deadline passed:
December 10th 2017

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS: Erik Olin Wright, Kari Polanyi Levitt, Bhaskar Sunkara, Maristella Svampa, Neil Davidson, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Jason W. Moore, Johanna K Bockman, Klaus Dörre, Diane Lamoureux, Alain Deneault, David McNally, Anna Kruzynski, Clifford Atleo, Himani Bannerji, Christian Laval, Sue Ferguson, Caroline Shenaz Hossein, Alan Sears, Sherry Wolf and Pierre Dardot

After years of revolt and mobilization following the economic crisis of 2008, from Occupy Wall Street to Bernie Sanders, from the Maple Spring through Nuit Debout to the complex evolution of the Pink Tide in Latin America and the democratic socialism of Rojava, the domination of the capitalist economy has been questioned on numerous occasions. In order to pass from multiple resistances to a convergent offensive, it seems imperative to elaborate a real project of transition out of capitalism, building on the critical knowledge produced both at the university and in social movements. For the conference The Great Transition: Setting the Stage for a Post-Capitalist Society we invite anyone — whether they are activists, trade unionists, active members of political parties, students, researchers or professors — to reflect on this question along one of our three general lines of inquiry: critiques of capitalism, anti-capitalist transition strategies and post-capitalist models.

This gathering will strengthen ties between academics and anti-capitalist activists, bridging Francophone and Anglophone milieus. It will also be a space for those who are less familiar with anti-capitalist ideas, but who are curious to discover them. Finally, this event will be an opportunity to nourish and strengthen activist networks and their struggles.

1 – Critiques of Capitalism

Friday, May 18 – See list of sub-themes
This theme focuses on the different components of capitalist economies – debt and savings, social classes, control of investments, etc. – and will trace their evolution from the inception of the capitalist mode of production until today. What changes have occurred in the transition of ownership and corporation of enterprises? How has neoliberalism been reconfigured after the 2008 crisis?
This theme aims to develop our understanding of the diverse forms of oppressions and of resistance that structure our world, as well as the links between these different forms of oppression and the evolution of capitalism. What are the ways in which an intersectional strategy helps us take back the economy? Can anti-capitalism serve as a unifying principle for various struggles or do those struggles obey other logics? What are the links between racism, sexism, homophobia, and capitalism?
This theme will focus on the different forms of imperialist and colonial violence, as well as the links between those forms of violence and the global expansion of capitalism. How do imperialist relations structure our world today? In what ways do anti-colonial approaches and decolonizing movements inspire our critiques of capitalism and our emancipatory strategies?
This theme aims to help us better understand the links between ecological crises and capitalist accumulation, as well as what potential convergence between ecological and anti-capitalist struggles is possible. How can we go beyond sustainable development and green capitalism? What are the tools at our disposal to radicalize environmental critiques of capitalism?
This theme will focus on philosophies of emancipation and philosophical issues surrounding anti-capitalist criticism and struggles. How can we conceive of emancipation today? What are the philosophical tools at our disposal to critique capitalism and look for alternative social models?

In the first module, we will discuss the kind of knowledge that favors a critical grasp of capitalism, by asking among other things: What exactly is capitalism? What are its origins and the major stages of its history? What have been its recent transformations following the crisis in 2008? But we will also need to talk in detail about how it interacts with society and our natural habitat: How do we understand the intersection between gender, race and class issues? What specific and irreducible forms of oppression do we face? What are the instances in which forms of domination align themselves with power? What are the levers of imperialistic and colonial power today? What are, within the mechanisms of capitalist production, the profound causes of the ecological crisis? Can capitalism really become “green”? Finally, we must approach critical discourses in a reflexive fashion: What are the contemporary critical philosophies that can help us fight against capitalism and its logic? We invite submissions addressing, but not limited to, these questions that will animate the first day of exchange.

2 – Transition Strategies

Saturday, May 19 – See list of sub-themes
This theme aims to analyze the progress of the neoliberal offensive and the rise of populism on the right and the far-right in the last decades across the globe, as well as to find ways to fend off these currents. What are the links and tensions between those different movements on the right? What does their expansion say about the state of progressive politics today? Are notions such as populism relevant for the contemporary Left? What are the best strategies to fight both the neoliberal and the reactionary fractions of the Right?
This theme focuses on strategies to face the neoliberal State: What place do elections occupy in the emancipatory process? What is the state of Leftist political parties and governments in Europe, Latin America, and across the world right now? What links can be maintained between political parties and social movements?
This theme will focus on the issue of social movements and their role in the transition towards an emancipated society. What would it mean to see a revival of trade unionism today? Is a convergence of the different fronts in our struggle (economic, political, social) and its various sectors (community oriented, antiracist, ecological, anti-colonial, etc.) possible?
This theme will explore a diversity of initiatives that aim to break out of capitalism by experimenting emancipatory economic practices. How can social economies feed into anticapitalist and emancipatory futures? How are people and communities taking back work, enterprise, transactions, property and finance? How are they creating profoundly democratic and ecological livelihoods for people and the planet?
Building a counter-hegemony: critical discourses, cultures of resistance and popular pedagogy. This theme focuses on strategies to encourage the diffusion of our ideas and our vision of the world. What links can we maintain with the media, arts and education? How can anti-capitalist and anti-colonial practices and emancipatory horizons be promoted against hegemonic discourses?

The second module of the conference focuses on tactics and strategies that allow the anti-capitalist Left to gain power. How can we carry out effective struggles and assert ourselves against our neoliberal and reactionary populist opponents? How do we get the economic sector and political institutions to invest in and to accept our principles? What role can political parties play in stimulating and bringing together social mobilizations and linking them to a political program of anti-capitalist transition? How can parties and movements create spaces for strategic reflection on our struggles? How do we map economic alternatives? What role should social movements and popular education play in increasing our capacity to spread our ideas and act? We invite submissions addressing, but not limited to, these questions which are addressed in the five themes that compose this module.

3 – Post-Capitalist Models

Sunday, May 20 – See list of sub-themes
This theme reflects on the various struggles and past experiments that have proposed a concrete alternative to capitalism. What lessons can we learn from councilist struggles, the soviet episode, decolonial movements, self-management experiments in the wake of May 68 and popular uprisings in Latin America?
This theme focuses on utopias and models proposed as alternatives to capitalism, along with the various questions related to them. Do eco-territorialism and the commons represent a path towards emancipation on a large scale? In what ways do participative experiments and eco-feminism inspire our reflections on an emancipated society?

The third module focuses on attempts to overcome capitalism by developing a historical perspective as much as a critical outlook on the paths of the future. We here draw conclusions from the pivotal moments of the last two centuries: What lessons can we learn from the first socialist utopias, the councilist struggles, the Soviet episode, and self-management experiments in the wake of May 1968? What do past and present indigenous struggles and struggles of decolonization have to teach us? But we will also reflect on utopias and models that are currently seeking to break with capitalist logic. In this context we ask: How can we reconcile the improvement of living conditions and the limits of the Earth? How do we balance democracy and freedom with planning and the market? Do commons represent a path of broad-based emancipation? How can participatory experiences and eco-feminism inspire our reflections on an emancipated society? Could cities be the pivot of a radical social transformation? How do we overcome the global division of labor? How do we include indigenous struggles and anticolonial activism in the socialist project across the globe?

Editorial Policy

The editorial policy defines the criteria that guide the Editorial Committee in the planning of the conference’s content and the selection of paper proposals submitted to the group.
The Editorial Committee reserves the following rights :

  1. To solicit, accept or decline proposals based on the criteria mentioned below. In the case of a refusal, the authors of the proposals will receive an email specifying briefly the reasons for declining the paper;
  2. If we receive too many papers corresponding to our criteria, the Editorial Committee reserves the right to reject certain proposals based on the goals and priorities of the colloquium;
  3. To merge together similar proposals, in collaboration with the concerned persons;
  4. Suggest to the authors a reorientation of the proposed content;
  5. Fix the schedule and location of the activities.

Goals of the conference :
The planning of the content will take into consideration the three main goals of the conference :

  1. Promote anticapitalist ideas in Quebec;
  2. Strengthen the links between popular movements and the anticapitalist militant network in North America;
  3. Strengthen the links between academics and activist from the francophone and anglophones circles in North America.

Criteria for selecting the proposals submitted by the participants :
Every person interested in submitting a proposal is invited to select the module and theme for their intervention or their panel. There are three possible forms of participation that can be submitted to the Editorial Committee:

  1. Propose a complete panel that corresponds to a sub-theme identified by the editorial committee.
  2. Propose an individual presentation that falls within a sub-theme identified by the editorial committee.
  3. Propose a new activity (individual presentation or a full panel) that is related to a theme, but not necessarily to a sub-theme.

In the case of a new activity, the proposal should specify the theme and module that correspond to the new activity, as well as the name of the new activity. Individual proposals should comprise between 150 to 300 words and complete panels between 300 and 600 words, while specifying the nature of the intervention for each participant. They should also follow those criteria:

  1. The proposal must be submitted before the deadline with all required information;
  2. The proposal should address one or several issues raised in the description of one of the three modules (criticism, strategy, post-capitalism);
  3. The proposal is general enough to be of interest to a large public (around 30 people approximately, coming from both academic and non-academic circles);
  4. The proposal’s content is not already covered by another panel. In this case, the editors might suggest a fusion of similar panels;
  5. The proposal encourages gender parity in the participation of the main panelists (a panel of two presenters must include at least one woman);
  6. Proposals related to contemporary political debates, with a strategic importance for the current context, will be favoured;
  7. Proposals that integrate activists related to the issue will be favoured.

Constitution of the schedule :
While completing the schedule, the Editorial Committee will make sure that:

  1. A substantial portion of the overall content of the conference is accessible to a unilingual francophone public, to favour the achievement of the conference’s goal of popular education.
  2. The overall conference has an adequate representation of visible minorities;
  3. The conference aims for gender parity.