10 am Vicenç Navarro – The Hidden Political Causes of the Crisis This presentation will demonstrate the importance of the Capital-Labour conflict, and the victory of the former over the latter, as causes of the crisis, both financial and economic, that has determined the political crisis of the Western capitalist world.
11 am Ugo Bardi – The Eco-Social Transition to the Seneca Cliff The study of complex systems is a fundamental part of the scientific revolution of our times. From the study of the climate to that of socio-economic systems, we need to use new tools that go beyond the kind of ‘linear science’ typical of physics. Complex systems have their own rules: they are dominated by feedback effects and they always kick back; sometimes with a vengeance. To study these systems, we need to use tools such as system dynamics or agent-based simulations that tell us how the system may behave, although not necessarily how it will behave. Using these tools, we can discover a wealth of phenomena that are extremely important for understanding the world around us. One is what I call the ‘Seneca Effect’, which is another way of saying the system kicks back with a vengeance: far from perpetuating gradual trends, at any moment the system may collapse abruptly. When that happens with large systems, from planes to the stock market, many people can get badly hurt. The climate is one such complex system, as is the world's economic system. In the analysis of these systems we may also learn how to manage them, or at least stop thinking that we can force them to do what we want them to do! 12 noon Break
12.30 pm Miren Etxezarreta – The Dispossession of Everyday Life With the globalisation unleashed in the 1990s and the economic crisis that began in 2007, there have been profound changes throughout the world affecting the economy, society and the lives of citizens. The restoration of capitalism to overcome a crisis requires facing the multiple consequences of its internal contradictions. The restorative mechanisms of the rate of profit are recurrent throughout history: an increase in exploitation and new ways to exploit the workers and dispossess them of properties or rights. In each historical moment the forms of dispossession have varied. At present, capitalism needs to deepen its absorption of wealth in all spheres and in all possible forms. This leads to a new stage in which the absorption of the income and wealth of the population is intensified by other means than exploitation at work, forms that D. Harvey, following Marx’s ideas on primitive accumulation, has called dispossession. This presentation will try to expand a little on the concept of dispossession, illustrated by some concrete examples of how it is occurring in Spain in the twenty-first century.
1.30 pm Debate with Ugo Bardi, Miren Extezarreta, Yayo Herrero, Vicenç Navarro The Future of Economic Growth If there is a solid consensus unifying ideological divergences it is economic growth. No political party can hope to win elections unless it promises substantial GDP growth rates. Our entire social structure works under this prerequisite. However, economic growth depends on increasing consumption of energy and natural resources, which are themselves limited. This debate will focus on one of the strategic issues of the next decade: the possibilities of maintaining expansive economies in a context of accelerated ecological overshoot, and the implications this holds for social emancipation projects. Are energy-growth decoupling and the dematerialisation of the economy really a solution? Is a steady-state economy compatible with capitalism? Can alternative economic projects that do not aspire to perpetual growth operate within the framework of the European Union? Can we achieve a good life that does not depend on a continuous increase in our consumption?
BIOGRAPHIES Ugo Bardi Professor of Physical Chemistry at the Università degli Studi di Firenze, where his research is dedicated to sustainability and energy with a special interest in the depletion of mineral resources. He is a member of the international scientific committee of ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas). He is active in the dissemination of scientific results in sustainability and climate science on the blog Cassandra’s Legacy . Among his most recent publications are The Limits to Growth Revisited (Springer, 2011), Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet (Chelsea Green, 2014) and The Seneca Effect: Why Growth Is Slow but Collapse is Rapid (Springer, 2017).
Miren Etxezarreta PhD in Economics from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the London School of Economics. Since 2007 she has been an emeritus professor of Applied Economics at the UAB. Her field of work and research focuses on agricultural economy, economic policy and economic development. She is currently active in various social movements, and in particular the Seminar of Critical Economy TAIFA, which is devoted to promoting critique of conventional economics, training young economists and the critical dissemination of current economic issues through the publication of critical economy reports.
Yayo Herrero Anthropologist, social educator and agricultural technical engineer; Director of FUHEM since 2012; founding partner of the Garúa S. Coop. Madrid. She was coordinator of the CCEIM of the Fundación General Universidad Complutense de Madrid between 2009–12. She is a leading researcher in the eco-feminist and eco-socialist field at a European level and has participated in numerous social initiatives on the promotion of human rights and social ecology, a field in which she has published more than twenty books and numerous articles. Member of the editorial boards of Hegoa and Papeles, she was also confederal coordinator of Ecologistas en Acción between 2005–14.
Vicenç Navarro Formerly Professor of Applied Economics at the Universitat de Barcelona, he is currently Professor of Political and Social Sciences at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He is also a professor on Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA), where he has taught for 45 years. He directs the Program in Public and Social Policies sponsored jointly by the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the Johns Hopkins University. He is the director of the Observatorio Social de España (OSE). His areas of research are political economy, the welfare state and political studies. In his career he has advised the United Nations, the World Health Organization and numerous governments, including the government of Unidad Popular de Chile, the Cuban government (in its health reform), the Swedish social-democratic government, the Spanish socialist government, the Catalan tripartite and ‘d’entesa’ governments, as well as the US Federal Government. In 2014, he received the Stebbins Award, given to the best professor in the Public Policy Program at the Johns Hopkins University.