The Puppet called 'Historical Materialism' Must Always Win
As previously mentioned by Leniency and I.T, it's the annual conference of the fine Historical Materialism journal this weekend, with as ever a very impressive list of speakers and topics, viz:
THEMES COVERED WILL INCLUDE:
APPROACHING PASSIVE REVOLUTIONS * ART AND CAPITALISM * ASPECTS OF IMPERIALISM * BASE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE * BEYOND GLOBAL VALUE CHAIN ANALYSIS IN COMMODITY STUDIES * BOLSHEVISM: YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW * CAPITALISM / KNOWLEDGE CAPITALISM * CAPITALISM AND ARCHITECTURE * CLIMATE CHANGE, SUSTAINABILITY AND SOCIALISM * CONTEMPORARY RADICAL THOUGHT AND MARXISM: AGAMBEN, HOLLOWAY, ZIZEK * EARLY MODERN CAPITALISM * ECOLOGICAL CRISIS AND MARXIST THEORY * EVERYDAY LIFE * FINANCE AND NEO-LIBERALISM * FINANCIALISATION AND CRISIS * FOOD CRISIS * FROM THE GRUNDRISSE TO CAPITAL * FUTURE OF WORLD CAPITALISM * HISTORICAL MATERIALISM AND LATE DEVELOPMENT * HISTORIOGRAPHY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MARXISM * INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS * IS TODAY'S CAPITALISM ACTUALLY-EXISTING BARBARISM? * LABOUR-PROCESS AND RESISTANCE * LATIN AMERICAN LEFT TODAY * LEARNING FROM ENEMIES AND RIVALS: SCHMITT, STRAUSS, WEBER * LIFE, POLITICS & CAPITALISM * MANY MARXISMS AND INDIA * MANY MARXISMS: KEY FIGURES * MANY MARXISMS: PROBLEMS AND POLEMICS * MARX AND FETISHISM * MARX ON WORLD ECONOMY AND WORLD POLITICS * MARXISM AND CINEMA: FILM NOIR AND NEO-NOIR * MARXISM AND METROPOLITICS * MARXISM AND PHILOSOPHY * MARXISM AND THE SCIENCES * MARXISM OUTSIDE THE WEST * MARXISM, FEMINISM AND WOMEN’S POLITICS * MARXISMS AND LITERATURE * MARXISMS AND RELIGION * MARXISMS AND SOUTHERN AFRICA * MARXISMS AND VIOLENCES: GENDER AND RACE * MARXIST THEORIES OF PRACTICE * MODES OF FOREIGN RELATIONS * MONETARY POLICY AND BANKING UNDER NEOLIBERALISM * MONEY * NEGATIVITY AND REVOLUTION * NORTH EAST ASIAN MARXISMS AND SOCIALISMS * ON THE CONCEPT OF SURPLUS POPULATIONS * PERSPECTIVES FROM ALTHUSSER * PERSPECTIVES FROM MARX’S ‘JEWISH QUESTION’ * PHILOSOPHIES OF REVOLT AND REVOLUTION * PHILOSOPHY IN THE EARLY MARX * POLITICAL CATEGORIES OF MARXISM * POLITICAL ECONOMY AND ECONOMICS TODAY * POLITICS OF THE PROMOTION OF GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS * RACISM, CLASS AND POLITICS * RESTRUCTURING, CAPITAL AND LABOUR * REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST * SEXUAL LIBERATION: HISTORICAL MATERIALIST APPROACHES * SITUATIONISM AT THE LIMITS: MUST WE BURN DEBORD? * SOCIALISM IN SEARCH OF AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM * STATE IN THE BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION * THEORIES OF CLASS * THEORIES OF IMPERIALISM * TIME, TEMPORALITY, HISTORY * TRANSFORMATIONS IN THE NEOLIBERAL STATE * UNEVEN AND COMBINED DEVELOPMENT: TOWARDS A MARXIST THEORY OF ‘THE INTERNATIONAL’? * US FINANCIAL POWER IN CRISIS * UTOPIANISM * VALUE: POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS * ‘WESTERN’ MARXISM AND THE ANTI-COLONIAL WORLD/INTELLECTUALS * WINDOWS ON EMPIRE: PERSPECTIVES FROM HISTORY, CULTURE AND POLITICAL ECONOMY * WORKERISM: A GENERATION LATER *
Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Gilbert Achcar, Talat Ahmed, Greg Albo, Jamie Allinson, Kevin Anderson, Ricardo Antunes, Giovanni Arrighi, Sam Ashman, Antonio Carmona Báez, Richard Bailey, Metin Bal, Colin Barker, Kate Bayliss, Pınar Bedirhanoğlu, Mike Beggs, Riccardo Bellofiore, Aaron Benanav, Ted Benton, Henry Bernstein, Cyrus Bina, Werner Bonefeld, Mark Bould, Pepijn Brandon, Peter Bratsis, Robert Brenner, Dennis Broe, Dick Bryan, Ergun Bulut, Verity Burgmann, Alex Callinicos, Paul Cammack, Mauro Farnesi Camellone, Al Campbell, Bob Cannon, Gavin Capps, Thomas Carmichael, Emilia Castorina, Maria Elisa Cevasco, Hsiu-Man Chen, Vivek Chibber, Alexander Chryssis, Martin Cobian, Peter Custers, John Darwin, Neil Davidson, Charles Davis, Chuck Davis, Gail Day, Tim Dayton, Roni Demirbag, Radhika Desai, Pat Devine, Paulo dos Santos, Peter Drucker, Jean-Numa Ducange, Gérard Duménil, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Timm Ebner, Bolivar Echeverria, Juliane Edler, Ersin Vedat Elgur, Katsuhiko Endo, Sara R. Farris, Lucy Ferguson, Don Filtzer, Ben Fine, Robert Fine, Bridget Fowler, Carl Freedman, Alan Freeman, Andrea Fumagalli, Cristina Morini, Lindsey German, Melanie Gilligan, Ruth Wilson Gilmour, Saroj Giri, Richard Godden, Maya Gonzalez, Jamie Gough, Peter Gowan, Kevin Gray, Nick Gray, Chris Harman, Barbara Harriss-White, Owen Hatherley, Cristoph Hermann, Andy Higginbottom, Mike Hill, Christian Høgsbjerg, Evren Hosgor, Nik Howard, David Jack, Elinor Jean, Oliver Jelinski, Nicholas Joll, Ismail Karatepe, Ken Kawashima, Paul Kellogg, Geoff Kennedy, Sami Khatib, Aykut Kilic, Donald Kingsbury, Nick Knight, Martijn Konings, Michael Krätke, Rick Kuhn, Ishay Landa, Tim Lang, Spyros Lapatsioras, Paul LeBlanc, Sergio Lessa, Alex Levant, Peter Linebaugh, Alex Loftus, Rob Lucas, Dennis Maeder, Matteo Mandarini, Christian Marazzi, Jonathan Martineau, Paul Mattick, David Mayer, Andrew McGettigan, Philip McMichael, David McNally, James Meadway, John Milios, Owen Miller, Andrew Milner, Dimitris Milonakis, John Molyneux, David Moore, Cristina Morini, Adam Morton, Zwi Negator, Susan Newman, Jörg Nowak, Benjamin Noys, Bertel Nygaard, Bridget O'Laughlin, Keith O’Regan, Sebnem Oguz, Ulrich Oslender, Ceren Özselçuk, Maria Cristina Soares Paniago, Leo Panitch, F. Papadatos, Juan Pablo Painceira Paschoa, Leda Maria Paulani, Simon Pirani, Iain Pirie, Nina Power, Gonzalo Pozo-Martin, Thomas Purcell, Diana Raby, Michael Rafferty, Geert Reuten, Paul Reynolds, Ben Richardson, John Riddell, John Roberts, Bruce Robinson, John Rose, Thomas Sablowski, Spyros Sakellaropoulos, Jorgen Sandemose, Saskia Sassen, Michael Sayeau, Sean Sayers, David Schwartzman, Alan Sears, Lynne Segal, Ben Selwyn, Sanjay Seth, Stuart Shields, Nicola Short, Joe Sim, Rick Simon, Subir Sinha, Panagiotis Sotiris, Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos, Kerstin Stakemeier, Guido Starosta, Marcel Stoetzler, Robert Stolz, Gaspar Miklós Tamás, Bruno Tinel, Peter Thomas, Massimiliano Tomba, Alberto Toscano, Greg Tuck, Mehmet Ufuk Tutan, Kees van der Pijl, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Carlo Vercellone, Danga Vileisis, Sherryl Vint, Satnam Virdee, Andriana Vlachou, Elisa Waeyenberge, Jeffery R. Webber, Dominic Wetzel, Adrian Wilding, Evan Calder Williams, Frieder Otto Wolf, Andrew Wright, Steve Wright, Galip Yalman, Iván Zatz
Below is the abstract for my paper, much of which will be an expansion of the arguments in my post on capitalism, the international style and googie into a grandiose attempt to systematise exactly what 'radical' architecture is at the moment, and more to the point, what is so very wrong with it. I reserve the right for it to have little to do with the abstract...
The Becoming Logo of Architecture - iconicity, regeneration and the artistic legitimation of neoliberalism
The idea of 'world cities' and 'cultural capitals' has for the last decade been an alleged solution to the problem of former industrial centres. As a sort of material embodiment of immaterial labour, the spatial representation of this move has often been through iconic, 'signature' buildings, as in the cliche of the 'Bilbao effect' induced by Frank Gehry's single-handed transformation of Bilbao from industrial port to centre for middle-class, 'cultured' tourism.
In terms of employment, what is actually provided by the 'effect' is typically insecure service industry work not fundamentally different from what might have been provided if a gigantic Mall rather than an art gallery occupied the same space. However this paper will focus in the main on the architectural forms that are created when an area becomes a 'cultural capital'. It will note that a kind of hyper-Modernism (rejecting the 'vernacular' forms of postmodernism, neoliberalism's original architectural representation) with a quickly grasped 'logo' like effect, is the typical building type. Architects like Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster, Will Alsop and others become their own logos, dropping seemingly random (but immediately comprehensible) structures on cities in order to transfigure them into places of cultural consumption rather than production.
This paper will begin by examining the possible forbears of this style in advertising - particularly in the architectural strategies of the likes of McDonalds in the 1950s, when roadside structures mimicked company logos in a futuristic spatial form - following on to discuss the ideology of creativity and culture and its effect on architecture, and finally how these frequently deliberately intangible buildings function after they've been placed in the cities in question. It will be argued that the 'iconic', signature building represents a kind of culmination and repudiation of architectural modernism, using a vaguely humanist rhetoric of art and inclusion as it empties it of all genuinely transformative social content.