Moving Beyond Capitalism Working Group

The IIPPE Moving Beyond Capitalism Working Group (MBC WG) aims to bring together researchers from both Marxist and heterodox economic traditions to study, develop and critically apply appropriate political economy methodologies and frameworks for transcending capitalism. While the whole IIPPE political economy project has a Marxist presence at its core, the intent is to engage across the broad heterodox spectrum of theoretical and applied viewpoints about moving beyond capitalism that are being energetically debated in today’s rapidly changing world. In particular, the anti-capitalist debates and actions in today’s world include both those in various “socialist traditions” and others from various “anarchist traditions.” Further, from the very nature of its subject, the study of transcending capitalism must be interdisciplinary. This defines political economy as an appropriate tool, broadly defined to include insights and content at least from philosophy, sociology, anthropology, political science and economics. Neoclassical economics and its recent imperial reflections in some of these other fields is particularly unsuited as a tool of any genuine value.

It is impossible to discuss either theoretical or applied ideas concerning moving beyond capitalism today without being confronted with the issue of evaluating the social experiments in the 20th century that claimed to be building socialism and communism. The MBC WG considers one essential component of its work to be to study, discuss and debate these experiments, looking in particular for both positive and negative lessons from them that can inform our work today.

The IIPPE Moving Beyond Capitalism Working Group will address, along with other issues that present themselves as our work develops:

  • Current concrete discussions from different parts of the world on transcending capitalism.
  • The ideas of Marx and Engels on socialism.
  • Other ideas from the Marxist tradition on socialism.
  • Ideas on socialism from non-Marxist traditions.
  • Ideas on moving beyond capitalism that consider themselves non-socialist in nature, in the first instance those from or related to various anarchist traditions.
  • The issue of the process of moving beyond capitalism, that is, the issue of the transition from capitalism to some anti-capitalist system, both at a general level of analysis and for given concrete capitalisms.
  • As one important and historically posed part of the issue of the transition beyond capitalism, the issue of what is the role of the working class in that process (or more generally, who will be the agents of the transformation), again both at a general theoretical level of analysis and for given concrete historically contingent cases.
  • As a second important and historically posed part of the issue of the transition beyond capitalism, the issue of what role if any there is for a “vanguard party” in that process, including particularly, if there is a role, what the nature should be of a vanguard party, again both at a general theoretical level of analysis and for given concrete historically contingent cases.
  • A continually self-renewing study and debunking, particularly as related to concrete attempts to move beyond capitalism, of arguments used by the defenders of capitalism concerning the impossibility or undesirability of moving beyond capitalism.
  • A continual consideration of how we can link the activities of the MBC WG which, in the first instance are academic, and the skills and resources associated with those academic studies, to the specific needs of forces engaged in the concrete struggles to move beyond capitalism.
  • Positive and negative lessons to be learned from the different processes in the Soviet Union, China, Yugoslavia, Cuba and other countries that claimed (and in a few cases still claim) to have been moving beyond capitalism.

The initial goal of this working group is to facilitate the sharing of information and the interchange of ideas among academics or activists engaged in studying moving beyond capitalism. A first activity of this type will be to develop on its Web page a listing of relevant published and unpublished material, and then if the group desires, to go on to create some sort of appropriate channel for the interchange of ideas.

This working group is intended to contribute panels to IIPPE conferences, and hopefully eventually to conferences of other appropriate groups. Its first planned activity of the former type will occur at IIPPE’s 6th International Conference in Leeds in September, 2015.

Contact

To apply to join the IIPPE Moving Beyond Capitalism Working Group, email iippe@soas.ac.uk.