• 17 Oktober 2013 - 19 Oktober 2013
  • Zagreb
  • Venues:

    Ulica grada Vukovara 64, Zagreb

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,
    Ivana Lučića 3, Zagreb

  • Centre for Labour Studies Conference
  • Predicaments of the Left: Conjunctures, Strategies, Perspectives

  • The greatest crisis of capitalism since the Great Depression is – counting since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 – has entered its sixth year. Yet, despite high expectations in its early stages, the Left has not been able to politically capitalize on the crisis. During this period, protest movements have sprung up from the United States to Spain, from Iceland to Bulgaria, but with the notable exception of Greece, have thus far proven unable to significantly challenge the hegemony of the forces presiding over the perpetuation of the status quo. Neoliberalism has survived the prophets of its demise and intensified into what seem to be never-ending cycles of austerity, privatisation and ever more blatant attacks on labour.

    In the Western Balkans and much of Eastern Europe the crisis and the policies which are being implemented in response to it must seem like an eerie return to a very recent past. Many of the characteristics of the “transition depression”, which engulfed most former socialist countries in the early nineties, have now returned and seem to be establishing themselves as Eastern Europe's harsh new “normality”. Those who had sought refuge in the European Union are now finding out that that project itself is riddled with deep contradictions and structural asymmetries. The logic of integration through competition rather than leading to the “simultaneous rising of all boats” advertised by orthodox economic theory, has produced a deep center-periphery divide within Europe itself. Free market competition, in short, has resulted in precisely the kind of outcomes its principled critics on the Left had always claimed it would.

    Despite this, the Left remains weak and marginalised, nowhere more so than in the successor states of former Yugoslavia. The heavy weight of historical disappointment in the socialist experiments of the 20th century has long contributed to silencing any principled critique of capitalism in the region and Eastern Europe as a whole, while the perspective and promises of European integration provided the last instance of legitimation of capitalist restoration. The crisis may have revealed cracks in that edifice, but – as the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary demonstrate – without a resurgence of the Left these potential openings may facilitate the reemergence of forms of right wing radicalism long considered a thing of the past.

    The aim of this conference is to contribute to clarifying the causes of the current weakness(es) of the Left both in the region and Europe and investigate and debate the conditions, possibilities and strategies for turning around what amounts to a decades-long historical retreat.              

    Further information: http://www.rosalux.rs

    Find the programme and abstracts as .pdf on the right (Documentation)


Thursday, 17 October


18.00 – 19.30 Keynote lecture

Benjamin Opratko, Hegemony and authoritarian neoliberalism


Friday, 18 October


10.00-11.30 1st panel

Tomislav Medak, Civil society and political work – a few reflections on structural constraints

Danijela Dolenec, The commons as principle of socialist governmentality


12.00-13.30 2nd panel

Luka Bogdanić, How to losethe class struggle: The Italian Communist Party's metamorphosis

Anej Korsika, Dialectics of Movement and Party


16.30-18.00 3rd panel 

Dora Levačić, Feminism between paid and unpaid labour: political implications

Iva Marčetić, First we take the house


18.15-19.45 Keynote lecture

Mario Candeias, Molecular organisation and strategic dilemmas: Social mobilisation in the crisis


Saturday, 19 October

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

10.00-11.30 4th panel

Ágnes Gagyi, Hungarian politics in 2013: economic and social coalitions

Aleksandar Stojanović, Some notes on the historical dynamic of the Serbian political context and its consequences for building the Left


12.00-13.30 5th panel 

Vuk Vuković, Left organizations and parties: "Thinking small" vs. "Thinking big"

Jovica Lončar, Union organising: what is it good for?


16.30-18.00 6th panel

Ovidiou Tichindeleanu, From Oppositional Coexistence to Liberation in Eastern Europe

Madlen Nikolova, On the Bulgarian post-socialist Left


18.15-19.45 Keynote lecture

Panagiotis Sotiris, Greece: Social struggles, political crisis and the challenges for Left strategy