While capitalism has become more destructive both to the lives of people and the health of the environment, it seems to most people an unalterable force of nature. Social democratic hopes of taming capitalism by neutralizing its harmful effects through decisive state regulations have been undermined by the globalization and financialization of capital. Revolutionary ambitions of smashing capitalism through a ruptural seizure of state power, a coercive dissolution of capitalist institutions and their replacement by an emancipatory alternative, lack credibility. Are these the only logics of transformation? There may be a different route that points beyond capitalism: eroding capitalism by building emancipatory alternatives to capitalism in the spaces and cracks within capitalist economies and struggling to defend and expand those spaces.
Erik Olin Wright was born in Berkeley, California, in 1947, grew up in Kansas, and was educated at Harvard, Balliol College, Oxford, and the University of California-Berkeley, where he received his PhD in Sociology in 1976. He has taught sociology at the University of Wisconsin since 1976 where he is currently C. Wright Mills Professor of Sociology and Vilas Distinguished Research Professor. His academic work has been centrally concerned with reconstructing the Marxist tradition of social theory and research in ways that attempt to make it more relevant to contemporary concerns and more cogent as a scientific framework of analysis. His empirical research has focused especially on the changing character of class relations in developed capitalist societies. Since 1992 he has directed The Real Utopias Project which explores a wide range of proposals for new institutional designs that embody emancipatory ideals and yet are attentive to issues of pragmatic feasibility. He was president of the American Sociological Association in 2011-12.
Come and join us for a lively discussion.
Doors at 7, talk begins at 7.30pm.