Liberalism and Socialism: The Twisted Path to Reconciliation

Fred Siegel’s talk, “Liberalism and Socialism: The Twisted Path to Reconciliation,” was delivered at the 2011 Telos Conference, held in New York City on January 15–16, 2011.

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Dead and Buried Utopia? Communicating Communism’s Identity in 21st Century: The Portuguese Communist Party’s Role Today

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2011 Telos Conference, “Rituals of Exchange and States of Exception: Continuity and Crisis in Politics and Economics.”

This work results from the development of a Master’s thesis for the Master in Communication Sciences, at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto. My thesis was under the theme “The Communication of Communist Ideology after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Limitations, Disruptions and Opportunities. The Portuguese Case: The Image of the Portuguese Communist Party in the 21st century.” Our main question is whether communism is recognized as being valid today. The thesis is based on a theoretical and methodological approach on the identity, historical background, and validity of certain vectors related to communist ideology in today’s society. The object of the work is the communist ideology, mainly the European communism and the Portuguese Communist Party. A second part of this research work is complemented with a study of the party’s image made after conducting a survey of 600 students from the University of Porto.

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The Changing Forms of Contracting in a Society of Transnational Networks

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2011 Telos Conference, “Rituals of Exchange and States of Exception: Continuity and Crisis in Politics and Economics.”

Whereas the new millennium brought with it a focus on “collision rules” within global governance and corporate governance, the economic crises emerging out of 2008 turned the focus to the failure of regulatory practices. The current crises challenge not only a neoliberal hegemony but the New Deal/Great Society coordinating state model as well; as we have moved not only beyond a society of individuals to a society of organizations. We live now in a society of transnational network contracting and corporate governance practices. This society of networks can no longer be clearly associated with traditional conceptions of state, market or civil society/public versus private. Amidst this crisis, emerging legal challenges can no longer be coped with by institutions and ritualized routines of laissez-faire liberalism, social liberalism, or neoliberalism. This paper redirects focus to an increasingly disembedded style of contracting amidst multi-polar and multi-rational regimes of conflict regulation/dispute resolution. In doing so this paper starts from the prism of contracting practices and rituals: arguing that an understanding of how the discourse of “governing contracts” is continually and irreversibly implicated in the evolution of a network of heterarchical private relationships and public institutions.

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On Subjectivity and the Risk Pool: Autonomy as “Lost Cause”?

This paper was presented at the 2011 Telos Conference, “Rituals of Exchange and States of Exception: Continuity and Crisis in Politics and Economics.”

Slavoj Žižek poses more than a few heavy-gauge questions in his In Defense of Lost Causes. Foremost among them, at the beginning of chapter nine: “The only true question today is: do we endorse this ‘naturalization’ of capitalism, or does contemporary global capitalism contain antagonisms which are sufficiently strong to prevent its infinite reproduction?” (421). This vast question—as well as its possible answers—develops in many ways out of the discussion in the previous chapter of the book, in which Žižek approaches Alain Badiou’s concepts of subtraction and the Event with his usual copious verve, as well as with substantial concern that Badiou’s “subtraction” means that one might have the capacity to stand “outside” the “state form,” but only in a way that is “not destructive of the state form” (402). Žižek thus concludes that Badiou has

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Carl Schmitt and the Metaphysics of Decisionism

This paper was presented at the 2011 Telos Conference, “Rituals of Exchange and States of Exception: Continuity and Crisis in Politics and Economics.”

When we consider the metaphysical foundations of our world, we must make a basic choice between a universal conception of metaphysics and a relativist one. This choice commits us to either of two possibilities for world order. With a universalist conception, world order will evolve through a gradual establishment of one universal metaphysical structure that will establish its universality everywhere. With the relativist conception, world order can only consist of a set of agreements and rituals that can be established between a number of separate spaces, each of which is organized according to its own metaphysical structure. The choice for one or the other of these perspectives is consequently a fundamental one that will have far-reaching consequences for our conception of politics in a global context.

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