Dr. Gavin Smith argues that the forms capitalism takes is best seen in terms of the dominance of specific power blocs, rather than as an expression of neoliberalism — either as a form of governance or as a kind of capitalist market ideology. He suggests that in the major social formations the conditions for the reproduction of finance capital have to be secured by the hegemonic strategies of this fraction of capital. As a result, we have seen a shift from a kind of hegemony whose ideological authority rested on expansion through a population configured as ideally homogenous, to a kind of hegemony whose ideological authority rests on selectivity and distinctions among the population. The intellectual task for a philosophy of praxis has three foci: assessment of the conditions of possibility, of the potentialities for popular mobilization, and of appropriate strategic actions — identifying key points of leverage.
Smith argues that selective hegemony induces a /politics of negotiation/ between and among distinct groups. But finance capital as a means for capturing surplus value (rather than producing it) produces surplus populations less relative than absolute. Here the conditions of the political economic apparatus offer no benefits in their current form so that only a counter-politics that rejects the principles of politics as normatively practiced can arise. The threefold foci of intellectual engagement are likely to be qualitatively different for interventions in these two forms of politics. Public intellectuals have tended to relate to the former; the question arises as to what kinds of research agenda would contribute to the latter.
*A reception follows at 6:00pm in the Brockway Room (6402).
This meeting is free and registration is not required.