The 2010 TELOS Conference
January 16, 2010
New York City
From Lifeworld to Biopolitics: Empire in the Age of Obama
In the context of a dramatic reorganization of the relationships among state, market, and society, the 2010 Telos Conference will turn its attention to competing accounts, both theoretical and empirical, of the new modalities of administration, domination, and power. Facing the authoritarian state and a politicized market, how does one “defend society”? Has the strong state and a repoliticization of society returned in the name of left populism in the United States? How does international power operate in new forms of empire? How will Obama’s foreign policy and the economic crisis affect the structure of global relations?
The conference will address the extension of politicized control into ever greater realms of social life. What theoretical tools are available? How can we trace the process historically? Classical Critical Theory of the mid-twentieth century described a “totally administered society” in which an elaborate bureaucracy combined with a “culture industry” in order to eliminate spontaneity. Yet some viewed the era of deregulation (and the paradigms of postmodernism) as a rollback of administration and homogeneity. Do we now face the return to the strong state and a repoliticization of society in the name of left populism in the United States? Or has it been the transition from the old mass media to the Internet that has reshaped the dynamic of politics and culture?
Meanwhile, the brief moment of a presumed single superpower and unilateralism is shading into an international disorder of multiple power conflicts among strong states, no longer confronted with human rights expectations or a democratization agenda. The resurgent control of society has taken on global proportions: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. How does international power operate in new forms of empire? Have “military-industrial complexes” been replaced by cultural hegemonies, defined by the spread of languages and religions? Do developments such as political Islam or Chinese nationalism indicate that “society” has been the hidden driver of state power all along? What about the shared “liberal” and “realistic” assumption that economic liberalization will produce political opening and democratization? Has state capitalism in the East responded better to the global economic crisis than market capitalism in the West?
Conference Registration Fee: $115, which includes a one-year subscription to Telos. For current holders of individual subscriptions to Telos, the registration fee is $55. Please add $50 to the registration fee if you will be joining us at the conference dinner. To register, visit us at www.telospress.com.