Enlightenment and Engagement in "Dark Times": Notes on the Contribution of Richard A. Falk

The following are my remarks delivered at the Panel in Honour of Richard Falk in New Orleans on 18 February 2010 at the International Studies Association’s 51st Annual Convention. The remarks review the theoretical and practical contributions of one of the world’s leading scholars of international studies and international law, and reflect on Falk’s conception of the role of the intellectual in American and global political life.

The full text (102KB PDF) can be downloaded here

Photographs of the event can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ipeguy/sets/72157623464282694/

The Global Organic Crisis: Paradoxes, Dangers and Opportunities

The capitalist world has experienced its deepest economic meltdown since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Paradoxically, whereas the earlier period saw the breakdown of liberal capitalism, the rise of fascism and Nazism, and the Soviet alternative to liberal capitalism (the Soviet Union), today neo-liberalism and capitalist globalization still remain powerful, and apparently supreme, on the stage of world history. Despite the financial implosion on Wall Street and its “near-death experience” for financial capitalism and the G8’s somnambulant political leaders, few coherent left alternative programs have commanded sufficient political organization or popular support to mount a serious challenge or to pose credible alternatives.

So what arguments can progressive political forces use to begin to mobilize transformative resistance in ways that can give credibility to new forms of politics and society? We start with the simple observation that appearances can be deceptive and indeed this is to be expected in the present politically paradoxical global conjuncture. This conjuncture corresponds, in part, the Chinese character for crisis, a character that combines moments of danger and opportunity. It is linked to the fact that the current global political situation involves far more than a crisis of capitalist accumulation since it is pregnant with the following paradox: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

The full version of this article has been published online by Monthly Review. To access the full text, click here.