Call for Papers — Workshop on Marx, Law, and the Administrative State

Call for Papers

Workshop on Marx, Law, and the Administrative State

24–26 June 2021, Buffalo, New York

To be held at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy,

University at Buffalo School of Law

Co-sponsored by Legal Form 

How should Marxism, broadly understood, approach law, regulation, and the administrative state–conceptually as well as strategically? Socialists have always been of two minds when confronted with the specific dilemmas of administration and regulation. This is no truer than today, when neoliberalism has precipitated a crisis of the administrative state, which is ill-equipped to address financial disarray, environmental catastrophe, and a global public health emergency. It is clear that the neoliberal state’s strength in imposing market discipline upon an atomized society comes at the cost of limiting its capacity to respond to crises of capitalist social reproduction. Indeed, renewed contemporary attention to political economy has often been accompanied by calls for the repair or renewal of the administrative and regulative capacities of the capitalist state. But socialist opposition to the capitalist state has always been attended by trenchant critique of the bureaucratic form of regulation as well as an appreciation of the class character of the state–contradictory and indeterminate though that character may be. This can be found in Marx’s writings, especially following the Paris Commune. The critique of bureaucracy and bourgeois democracy receives its most passionate expression in the pages of Lenin’s The State and Revolution. And for the Frankfurt School, the “administered society” is a form of domination that corresponds all too well with the domination of capital.

We invite abstracts for a conference on Marxism, law, and the capitalist state. We are especially interested in proposals that are directly concerned with the themes described above, but proposals may also address a range of related questions. What are the strengths and limitations of regulation, bureaucracy, and administrative law from a specifically Marxist perspective? Can regulation provide an effective challenge to or bulwark against the rule of capital? Are alternative forms of regulation (outside regulation as administrative law) feasible within capitalist social relations? Beyond those social relations? What do these engagements with administration and regulation look like in specific contexts–for instance, employment discrimination, the environment, health and safety, housing, securities and financial regulation, or international law? Are there links between the value form of capital and the instrumental logic of the administrative state and its laws? How may analysis of the administrative state provide insights into debates about the construction of a post-capitalist, socialist society? Should previous critiques of bureaucracy (Marx, Lenin, the Frankfurt School, etc.) be reaffirmed, revised, or rejected? How does the theory of the “administered society” fare in light of neoliberalism’s persistence, despite decades of crisis?

To submit your proposal, please send a detailed abstract, of no more than 500 words, to by 1 September 2020. Authors of accepted proposals must submit a completed paper prior to the conference. Participants will discuss the possibility of publishing a collection at the workshop. Please note that our objective is to cover travel and accommodations for each workshop participant. However, this will be a small event with a limited budget, so it is unlikely that we will be able to accept every proposal. We aim to accommodate those who cannot travel, or who do not wish to do so. As such, in your proposal, please indicate whether you would be willing to participate via videoconference; consideration of your proposal will not be affected by your choice.