I’m honored to have been invited to deliver the 9th Annual E. L. Wheelwright Memorial Lecture at the University of Sydney in October.
The title of my lecture will be “Utopia and the Critique of Political Economy”:
In my 2016 E. L. Wheelwright Memorial Lecture paper, I want to present for discussion the thesis that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had a much more positive assessment and appreciation of “utopian socialism,” especially the work of Robert Owen, than we find in traditional, “scientific” interpretations of Marxism (emanating from both inside and outside the Marxian tradition).
I also intend to connect that debate over utopian socialism to the rich, long history of intentional communities in Australia, beginning with Herrnhut in 1853. Finally, I plan to argue that, while Marxian theory is not a utopianism (unlike, for example, neoclassical economics), it does have what I consider to be a “utopian moment,” which is based on the idea of ruthless criticism.
In my view, it is the twofold critique of political economy—the critique of capitalism and of mainstream economic theory—that needs to be recaptured and rethought, since it is particularly relevant to the debate about the causes and consequences of the crash of 2007-08 and the ongoing crises of capitalism in the world today.