Barcelona 4-6 July 2024 | Nau Bostik

Class struggle and the construction of alternatives in the era of disaster capitalism.


In the third decade of the 21st century, Capital has already displaced a significant portion of surplus value and profit generation processes from the productive industrial sector to new sectors (speculative-financial, real-estate, tourism, private appropriation and concentration of essential goods – energy, water, telecommunications, etc.). This transformation in the organization of wealth appropriation is accompanied by immediate and disastrous consequences for the future of humanity: wars for the control of energy resources, dismantling of social rights, acceleration of ecological collapse, permanent stock market crashes, increased control and violation of rights through the digital traceability of our lives and bodies, etc. All of this shapes a new historical context of social instability, in which the far-right constitutes the political form best suited for capitalism to maintain order and the system’s permanence. 

In the current phase of capitalism, material production has been largely replaced by financialization and extractivism. While productive capital in the 20th century was interested in promoting consumption through wages and effective consumption, financial and extractivist capitalism is interested in fostering consumption not through wages, but through credit or indebted consumption, where interest-bearing capital multiplies. From the moment that consumption is promoted through credit, social rights that generate well-being are no longer necessary; the only thing required for consumption is personal indebtedness as a form of individualized self-reproduction of labour power.

Simultaneously, precarization of work relations and domination   through continuous indebtedness has deactivated, to a certain extent, the capacity of labour struggles in the workplaces. In this scenario of hegemonic transnational financial capitalism, the far-right and state authoritarianism takes shape as the politico-legal form that allows the system to achieve a triple objective: 1. Carry out an accelerated dismantling of existing social rights and democratic mediation institutions, that are now considered no longer necessary; 2. Build, within societies without collective structures of solidarity, new forms of social cohesion and unity based on the discourse of hatred against a common external and internal enemy (immigrants, countries, etc.); and 3. Shape a penal police state that harshly represses resistances that may arise from social unrest caused by the dismantling of rights while generating fear to prevent their reproduction.

Consequently, we enter a new hostile era in which building alternative political projects is increasingly difficult. It is in this situation that the objective of the third edition of the International Conference Historical Materialism Barcelona is to think about how to confront the current dynamics of capitalist accumulation and the rise of the far-right in its multiple forms worldwide, as well as to articulate social struggles and alternatives that ensure a dignified life for future generations.

We especially (but not exclusively) invite abstracts on the following conference themes: 

1. New dynamics of capitalist accumulation in the 21st century. 

2. Far-right movements, state authoritarianism, precarization, and racial capitalism. 

3. Digital capitalism, social control, and surveillance. 

4. New powers and forms of domination and political alternatives. 

5. Ecological collapse and planetary destruction. 

6. Public services, equality, and social rights. 

7. Geopolitics, neocolonialism, and war in the era of disaster capitalism. 

8. Social reproduction, care crisis, sexuality and feminisms. 

9. Culture and aesthetics to build utopias.