So far – it seems – socialism has not been successfully implemented on the local or national level for a longer period of time, but the ongoing crisis provides a chance the re-evaluate socialism as a feasible and reasonable alternative to the current social, economic and political order. High rates of unemployment and poverty in the southern countries of Europe and a triple crisis in the global south appear to be a fertile soil for socialist ideas that were more or less marginalized after the collapse of the communist countries in Eastern Europe. The recent success of Syriza and the rise of other left-wing movements in some countries are examples for these developments but also criticized by some for being not radical enough in their criticism of capitalistic policies.
In this workshop we want to discuss the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of socialism – in particular market socialism – and its justification besides the obvious failures of current capitalism. This implies the ethical, economic, social and political arguments for and against socialism, its goals and institutional design. During the last 200 years these topics have been discussed and in different ways been put into practice. What can we learn from these theoretical debates and the practices of socialist movements and experiments for today? What is the current status of discussion among (market) socialists?
The (future) role of the market plays a crucial role in such a debate: should it be abandoned all along or does it just need more regulation? That more regulation of some markets – in the banking and financial sector – is needed is nowadays supported by many that still believe in capitalism as the best way to organize the economy but the problem runs deeper. Are markets per se problematic and tend to produce injustice and exploitation? How can we reconcile the (socialist) goals of freedom, justice and equality with the existence of certain markets? Or do we need (some) markets to achieve those goals? Many argue that a market society – even with tamed markets – is contradictory to socialism, while others argue that without relying on markets socialism will never be a real alternative to capitalism.
This workshop wants to examine old and new debates about socialism and connect them with questions of the present and possible future of market socialism.
Possible topics include:
What economic, political or ethical arguments are in favor of (market) socialism?
What institutions are needed in socialism to be successful?
What role can and should the market play in socialism?
What kind of justice is the goal of socialism?
Is socialism a feasible alternative to today’s world order?
How can we move from capitalism to socialism?
Is socialism possible in one country or is it a cosmopolitan concept?
Papers are welcome from graduate students, and both early career and senior researchers, that address any of these and related issues. Please prepare a 300-500 words abstract suitable for a 30 minutes presentation. Please send you paper to Gottfried.firstname.lastname@example.org until June 1st 2015.
Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research
University of Salzburg