The Crisis of the Crisis of Capitalism

Where is the coveted, prophesied, dreaded crisis of capitalism? Why has the economic turmoil that has recently afflicted Western democracies generated relatively little social protest and rather faint attempts to replace the apparently moribund socio-economic model? The alleged crisis of capitalism, Albena Azmanova claims, has been a catalyst in the metamorphosis of neoliberal capitalism – a transmutation that began well before the recent economic meltdown and in many ways triggered it. This has led to the emergence of a fourth historical modality of capitalism, which she calls ‘aggregative capitalism’ (after the entrepreneurial nineteenth-century capitalism, the ‘organized’ capitalism of the post-WWII welfare state, and the neoliberal, ‘disorganized’ capitalism of the late twentieth century). In this seminar Dr. Azmanova will trace the features of this new form of capitalism and the dynamics that activate it.

Albena Azmanova is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Political and Social Thought at the University of Kent at Brussels. After having participated in the dissident movements that brought down the communist regime in her native Bulgaria in 1987-1990, she took a critical stance against the post-communist regimes (which she has described as ‘dictatorships of freedom’). She subsequently studied European Law at the University of Strasbourg, did her doctoral studies at the New School for Social Research in New York, and taught political theory at the Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po.) in Paris. Her writing is dedicated to the re-engagement of critical social theory with the critique of political economy. Her most recent book – The Scandal of Reason: A Critical Theory of Political Judgment (Columbia University Press, 2012) affects a pragmatic turn within theories of deliberative democracy. She is a visiting scholar at Berkeley from January to April 2015.

Co-presented with the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science.