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Call for Participation - Mayday School 2015: “How do we think about fascism today?”


Mayday School 2015: “How do we think about fascism today?” Organized by the Institute for Labour Studies (ILS)

Time: April 27th – April 30th Location: Stara mestna elektrarna - Elektro Ljubljana, Slomškova 18, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Call for Participation

In spring, an annual ILS international conference called the “May Day School” will take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia. We would like to inform you that we are offering grants for discussants at the conference. Full costs of the conference attendance (i.e. travel expenses, accommodation and main meals) will be covered by the ILS.

The concept of the event:

This year we will delve into the topic of fascism. We believe that contemporary social, political and economic situation urges us to address this issue anew. Namely, our social context is characterized primarily by the long-term effects of the global capitalist crisis that easily rival those of the Great Depression from 1929. Our current-day situation is, therefore, in some respects similar to the historic situation that gave birth to fascism in the first part of 20th Century. In Europe we are witnessing the electoral rise of right-wing parties with extremely reactionary, racist, xenophobic, chauvinist and anti-communist rhetoric. But the strengthening of racist and xenophobic tendencies is not limited only to rhetorical tropes of the right-wing politicians. These tendencies are institutionalized in the formal migrant and asylum policies of the EU and its member states. The implementation of austerity measures and “structural reforms” is backed up by authoritarian methods and a pretty drastic narrowing of the mechanisms of parliamentary democracy. Political decisions are becoming more and more the monopolized privilege of the narrow experts nobody voted for, while the rebelling masses of people are met with intense state repression. It is not even unusual, in such cases, for the most eminent European politicians to resort to the defamatory racist rhetoric about lazy hedonist people of the Mediterranean and to let go of our social and political rights in the name of a return to higher values. It is not unsurprising, then, that such climate gives rise and credence to parties which explicitly model their politics on historical Fascism – parties such as the Greek Golden Dawn, Hungarian Jobbik and Ukrainian Svoboda.

We would like to address the question whether any of these tendencies are evidence that our contemporary bourgeois societies are becoming fascist? Is the fascist threat today hiding in the political regimes, parties and movements that are reminiscent of historical fascism both in their symbols and rhetoric, as well as in their actions? Or is fascism to be traced to structural tendencies, contradictions and antagonisms that are at the root of contemporary capitalist societies? To properly address these questions we first have to ask what fascism even means. What is it, what are its socio-economic, political, ideological and historic characteristics? Only then can we answer the question of what is, if anything, fascist in our contemporary societies.

Grant submissions:

One of the prerequisites for appropriately tackling these challenging questions is that the public includes competent guests who are willing to actively engage in discussions. Consequently, we are accepting submissions from individuals from ex-Yugoslav countries who would like to participate at the May Day School as discussants.

Note that only individuals from ex-Yugoslav countries (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro) are eligible to apply as discussants.

Our particular interest in ex-Yugoslavia is a consequence of a peculiar political situation in the region. During the last decade, the neo-liberal policies have been imposed, aggravating the marginalization of this region and its social disintegration on many levels. The trend of re-traditionalization of public and private life also cannot be overlooked. These tendencies are directed not only against the common multi-ethnic life, but also against the emancipation of women and sexual minorities. The young generation has no experience of multi-ethnic co-existence from the days of socialist Yugoslavia.

In such a complex situation, the ILS focuses on cooperation with groups and individuals from ex-Yugoslav countries. We aim to contribute to the creation of networks of left-wing initiatives and organizations beyond national borders and ideological trenches. Simultaneously, we want to open a space for critical scientific discussions and an elaboration of new political practices that could meet the challenges of contemporary world.

The submissions should include:

1) a brief biography; 2) a short explanation of why you wish to participate; 3) a depiction of your theoretical/research interests; 4) references from the theoretical/academic field; 5) references from the field political activism; 6) a note on your previous attendance of/contribution to ILS events.

Due to budget limitations, we will only accept 20 submissions. The submissions will be either accepted or declined by the ILS programme committee according to the three main criteria: theoretical references, political references, and interest in, or engagement with, the critique of political economy in general and/or the problematic of fascism in particular.

The deadline for submissions is April 6th, 2015.

Submit your proposals to this e-mail address:

The applicants will be informed whether their submission was accepted or not until April 9th by email.

For the 20 recipients of the grants, ILS will cover the costs of participation at the conference. This includes the travel expenses, accommodation and three daily meals.

Note that the grant recipients are expected to attend all the lectures, panels and workshops at the Mayday school and actively engage in the discussions.


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