Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Bureaucratic Society and Autonomy

Winter Symposium at Södertörn Högskola, Stockholm Sweden
March 23.-25. 2007

"I pulled the string of bureaucratization and I kept on pulling", Cornelius Castoriadis once summarized his intellectual development. From the beginning of his career as a radical political thinker in post-war France, the phenomenon of a new bureaucratic society arising in Eastern and Western Europe stood at the centre of his investigations. A large part of his writings was dedicated to the analysis of the one-party states of the Eastern bloc. The rise of a new class, with a particular interest in the bureaucratic rule of states, parties and enterprises appeared as a main obstacle for the project of individual and collective autonomy. Castoriadis never stopped theorising over the problems of bureaucracy and autonomy, throughout his political, philosophical and psychoanalytical writings. To him, autonomy meant to consciously create one's own institutions, something which could never be combined with bureaucracy, as this meant institutionalized inequality, i.e. heteronomy. The only political influence vis-à-vis the workers that could be justified for Castoriadis, was one that served to increase their consciousness and their ability to govern themselves.

Today, after the breakdown of the Soviet Union and the rise of what is known as global capitalism and global bureaucracies, we may ask whether Castoriadis analysis is still valid, or whether the project of autonomy faces new problems of a different kind. The problem of autonomy, its obstacles and possibilities needs to be scrutinised over and over again, from many different angles – political, sociological, philosophical, historical etc. Is the project of autonomy dead or doomed; or still viable in some form? What are its epistemological and metaphysical prerequisites?

We invite researchers, students, activists and others with an interest in these and connected problems to participate with papers, preferably in English, alternatively in a Scandinavian language, with summary and presentation in English. Registration: click here or mail to ingerids2 [a] . Participants with papers will be provided with lodging and travel costs according to the guidelines of the Nordic Summer University.


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