2005 CFP

The 7th Annual Conference of the Marxist Reading Group

"Grave ReMarx: The Accumulating Dead"

Featuring: Warren Montag and Marc Neocleous

March 24-26 at the University of Florida

How has Marx's promise of a spectre haunting Europe been explained away, ridiculed, or destroyed, and at the same time how does Marx himself haunt our thinking and rethinking of the present world? Rather than a revolutionary class haunting the world, today the left lingers on an always familiar political ground and appears stagnant by its own struggles, failures, and deaths. This conference seeks papers that either explore the ways in which the spirit of revolution has been kept alive through its critique of the monstrous side of capitalism, or interrogate circumstances in which that same spirit has itself assumed a monstrous or ghostly face. 

This conference acknowledges that capitalism constantly threatens life and tends to reproduce it as monstrous. Indeed, in the global context, daily life becomes a desperately lived struggle as capital continues to undermine, deform, and destroy all forms of life. The presence of the monstrous in capital permits a discussion of the destructive forces of capitalism, and the attempts of the left to resist and rise above such destruction on all fronts, such as economics, politics, and social/spatial relations. We implicitly ask how narratives of the monstrous conjure the spirit of marxism, Marx, and the revolutionary struggle. 

Mark Neocleous is the author of the most thorough Marxian critique of the concept of (the) police, as well as of key books on Fascism and the nature of the state and its administrative apparatus. Neocleous' recent work explores the deep roots of Western conservative thought, with especial reference to the work of Edmund Burke. Targeting the poor and the working class in its formative period, Burke's metaphors on the monster nurtured--and still nurture--capitalism's imaginary and fears. Furthermore, conservative tropes such as Burke's paved the way for a truly monstrous treatment of the working poor by both capital and the state based on widespread appeals to security. Neocleous' filigreed discussion of conservative narratives expose hermeneutics, literature, and narratives in general as a decisive political territory of class struggle. Dr. Neocleous is a Senior Lecturer at Brunel University and a member of the editorial collective of the journal Radical Philosophy. He is the author of Imagining the State ( 2003); The Fabrication of Social Order: A Critical Theory of Police Power (2000); Fascism (1997); and Administering Civil Society: Towards a Theory of State Power (1996). 

Warren Montag's work moves between the political thought of philosophers from the seventeenth and eighteenth-centuries and the critical theorists of our own era. Both Spinoza and Althusser have figured particularly in his writing, as has the question of philosophy's relation to literature. Besides a forthcoming book on Althusser, he has written Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and His Contemporaries as well as The Unthinkable Swift: the Spontaneous Philosophy of a Church of England Man. Professor Montag's editorial credits include The New Spinoza, In a Materialist Way: Selected Essays by Pierre Macherey, and Masses, Classes, and the Public Sphere. His essays have appeared in such notable volumes as Ghostly Demarcations (ed. Michael Sprinker), a collection of responses to Jacques Derrida's Specters of Marx. He is professor of eighteenth-century British and European literature in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Occidental College.

Prospective papers may address (but are not limited to) the following:

The police and the monster (or policing monstrosity)
Dead utopias
Apocalypse and survivors
Spaces of interaction between living and dead
Philosophy and death
Ghosting identities—selves vanishing, bodies remaining
Haunted by Melancholy? How should the left deal with the "weight of the dead"?
Problems of Order: Order is the classical conservative trope. Yet, does not the Left's sheer rejection of the subject relate to the recurrence of defeat and
divisiveness? How should order be conceived from a leftist perspective?
Literary representations of the dead
Specters of capital
Monstrous classes
Spirits armed and unarmed
Fascism & the aesthetics and politics of death
Labor and the living dead
Monster as biopolitics
The weight of the dead
Terror and monstrosity
Administering monstrosity
Categorizing life: Monster, barbarian, swarm, multitude
Repression/Consumerism as a way of channeling anxiety
What is not yet comes as repetition (announces itself as a specter)
Does the future come already dead?
Reification and death
Commodity fetishism and the monstrous
Memories and mourning
Ghostly remainders
Death and defeat
Marx and the living dead
Subjective and political consequences of alternative
ways of representing the dead: Ghost, Saint, Domestic
Voices from the past/voices of ancestors
Ghostly mediations
How can we have a vision/taste of the future without being haunted or possessed?
Police noir