Marxist theory and the politics of occupy

Bates, D. (2015) Marxist theory and the politics of occupy. In: Political Studiies Association Annual Conference, 30th March-1st April, 2015, PSA, Sheffield.

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The Occupy Movement emerged in late 2011, and appeared to assume the status of a global phenomenon. Though there has been an extensive commentary in the popular media who have deemed Occupy to be the latest wave of anti-capitalist mobilisation, there has yet to be a comprehensive in-depth theoretically informed analysis of this movement.

This paper looks at the relationship between the ideological framing of Occupy and wider meta-theoretical considerations. Specifically we will assess the extent to which contemporary and classical theoretical approaches speak to the framing of Occupy. Do Marxist and post-Marxist, anarchist and post-anarchist theories engage with the concerns of Occupy? Does Occupy represent something new which cannot be captured through established radical political thought? And crucially, are there any possibilities of a meaningful dialogue between Occupy and Marxism? Clearly many Marxists did not hold out any hope for the possibilities of a dialogue. For example, Alex Callinicos maintains that Occupy’s failure to ‘maintain itself’ can be explained by
‘the absence of a sustained revival of working class militancy, which would give a social weight to the protest spectaculars offered by the movements. But the situation hasn't been helped by the domination of the anti-capitalist movement by "horizontalist" hostility to political parties and by unworkable (and ultimately undemocratic) methods of decision-making based on consensus.’ (Callinicos, 2013)

Is Callinicos right? Is there a better way of thinking about Occupy which reaches beyond the categories of classical Marxism? The paper will venture to provide a substantive answer to these questions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Dr David Bates
Date Deposited: 28 May 2015 11:09
Last Modified: 28 May 2015 11:09

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00