The deep, profound and continuing global economic crisis has prompted a global revival of interest in the work of Karl Marx as well as much greater militancy in European universities. One example of this was at a one-day conference that was organized by graduate students at the University of Tampere in Finland on 16 October 2009, which was called Economic Crisis and Marx’s Comeback. For details of this conference (in Finnish) and the podcasts of the lectures click here. The PowerPoint of my lecture can be accessed here (1.1MB PPT file) and a shorter version of the lecture may be downloaded here (33MB OGG file – can be played in VLC Media Player).
The conference was linked to wider trends: sales of Das Kapital have multiplied enormously, with Karl Marx reading groups sprouting on campuses throughout the world, whilst in Europe, campus protests have erupted across the continent, most recently at the University of Vienna.
The protests link a critique of capitalist development to an outcry against the so-called Bologna Process, which involves neo-liberal reforms to the higher education systems of the member states of the European Union.
As readers of this website will know, I am currently a Visiting Research Professor at the University of Helsinki, where earlier this year there were occupations of the administration buildings and similar protests to those in Vienna – opposing reforms which are being implemented within Finland to make its university system consistent with the Bologna process.
Many of the protests concern how Bologna involves a shift in the governance of universities towards North American models and standards in ways that will eliminate many of the progressive reforms and intellectual freedoms won in the aftermath of the 1968 protests.