Reclaiming life. Existing and resisting in times of capitalist pandemic.
Historical Materialism International Conference. Barcelona 2021 (02-03 July)

Crisis has become the new normal. A civilisational crisis typical of an era of multiple catastrophes. The pandemic of the coronavirus and its improvised management has made evident the situations of inequality and social polarisation typical of the current neoliberal era and has brought to the surface, at the same time, many of the realities hidden by the consumerist fog and the oppressive routines of our daily lives.

The current crisis has revealed itself as a real crisis of social reproduction. The importance of care work and our condition as interdependent beings has become as clear as our unhealthy relationship with the ecosystem and a planet on the brink. In times of pandemic, the essential nature of those jobs that make life and public services sustainable has become as evident as the destructive logic of neoliberal globalisation and the voracity of the new logistical giants and platform capitalism.

It is well known that crises are turning points where threats and opportunities open up. Moments of lack of legitimacy of the established powers, but also of new attacks on rights and freedoms. Faced with the capitalist “pandemic”, now is the time to practice, demand and think about a politics of life, to prevent the changes to come to further consolidate the privileges of the minority.

In the first edition of the Historical Materialism Conference in Barcelona in 2019, nearly 700 researchers and activists from all over the world took part, making the meeting a transversal and pluralist space for critical and emancipatory reflection. A space dedicated to lively and dynamic debate, far from the daily rush, which broke down the walls between activism and academia and crossed the borders between areas of knowledge and social and natural sciences.

Unfortunately, health conditions do not allow us to organise a second edition on the scale of the first, nor in the format of open presentation of papers. However, given the changes we have experienced over the last year and the urgency of analysing the forms, mechanisms and devices through which capitalism is being transformed to adapt and deepen a new reality of more exploitation and misery, we have decided to hold a new edition of the Conference which, although in a smaller format, will allow us to bring together, from different fields of study and practices, the possibilities of carrying out new collective struggles and, ultimately, to propose a scenario of rupture and the creation of alternatives in political, social and economic terms.