This seminar of public lectures, film screenings and research workshops explores how contemporary capitalism, in its galloping escalation and capacity to assimilate and produce aspects of private life, works through contradiction as a mechanism of regulation and adaptation. In recent years, the dominant social model has verifiably stopped functioning in alignment with normality based on stability, welfare, growth and identity, all defined in the aftermath of the Second World War. Conversely, today this normalcy assumes an inscrutable and unpredictable state, devoid of expectation and a source of existential uncertainty. It is not just the future that has slipped from the social imagination; the present is fragmented and has withdrawn into itself, with this same present mimicked by forms, spaces and subjectivities of capital in all its permutations in such a way that contemporary time is just another mode of production in this total regime.
Therefore, this programme seeks to provide critical tools to illuminate this hijacked present and to re-imagine a landscape that is under transformation. In contrast to previous decades, the aim is to unravel the complexities, folds and forms of resistance in our era, not to think of the future as a utopia. The series, alluding to 17 Contradictions and the End of Capitalism (2014), a book by British geographer David Harvey, which explores how the neoliberal system is based on impossibility as a model of social reproduction, takes up the methodology of this study, employing contradiction to break away from the constant, serialised and homogenous time of contemporaneity.
Each of the six seminar sessions is put together in a double format: encompassing lectures, film screenings and public discussions on one side, and ongoing research workshops, readings and annual analysis on the other. It introduces a disruption to the core conditions of this paradigm, seeking to open dialectic possibilities in order to build a new present.
The first year will approach the following contradictions: the authoritarian impact of digital technology with Evgeny Morozov; the possibilities of art criticism as a tool for subjectivation and constitution with Franco Berardi Bifo; radical changes to employment and the new precarious class this gives rise to, with Tiziana Terranova and Trebor Scholz; the racial inequality as a persistent vector in social movements and care set apart from commodified values, conducted by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Yayo Herrero; the possible contours of a post-capitalist imagination, with Paul Mason; and, finally, the postcolonial subject and its perception as a historical actor at a time of immense inequality, on a socioeconomic level and in accounts and narratives, with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.