Deliberating Alternatives to Capital: A Critical Cosmopolitanist Approach

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: 419
Oral Presentation
Barry K. GILLS , University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
S A Hamed HOSSEINI , Sociology and Anthropology, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia
Critical analysis of ideological divisions in the broad Global Left, via the historical, ideational and practical roots of these differences is important, for a key reason: it can help us explain the Left’s past and present shortcomings and difficulties in creating viable coherent solutions to the multiple crises of the world capitalist system. Through such a critical historical analysis of the Left, we can explore some of the key practical and intellectual dilemmas that have caused divisions; e.g. grand debates or dilemmas such as reform vs. revolution (strategy);  local/national vs. world/global (scale); ecological vs. economic (value-interest); cultural vs. political (identity); individual vs. collective/communal (autonomy and society).

This paper outlines the principles of a new theoretical approach to studying ‘transformative ideological visions’ and “regenerative social counter-currents” that may significantly influence debate and practice around constructing new radical and democratic alternatives to existing systems of domination and hierarchy embedded in capitalist social relations. When dealing with transformative ideas and practices, a critical account of cosmopolitanism can be employed in two ways: (1) as a critical analytical framework, that helps us examine alternative ideologies to the social relations of capital, in terms of their capacity to create historical “moments and conditions” for other alternatives to flourish; and (2) as a normative framework, that can facilitate an accommodative relationship between rival transformative practices and political agendas. Such a critical account of cosmopolitanism requires a ‘dialectical mode of criticism’ that needs to be self-reflexively applied to our understanding of the cosmopolitan and its history. Nascent elements of such a critical cosmopolitanism already exist among some synthetic contemporary radical ideologies, such as eco-feminism and radical economic democracy, as well as some forces amongst the global justice movements, including within the World Social Forum, the Occupy movements, and in the recent anti-austerity social movements and popular uprisings.