Event Date: 1 – 2 June 2017
Clattern Lecture Theatre
Penrhyn Road campus
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE
The Will of the People? Revolutionary Legacies, Reactionary Manipulations
Debates about the nature and value of democracy and of popular sovereignty have returned to the centre of political discussion in recent years and over the past year in particular. Right-wing or extreme right-wing groups claiming to champion ‘the will of the people’ have established themselves all over the world, from Venezuela to Finland, and have taken or consolidated power by various means in places as different as the USA, Turkey, Russia, the UK, and Poland. These recent re-appropriations of the phrase, however, cannot erase its revolutionary origins and implications. Popular sovereignty is indissociable from the effective formulation and imposition of the people’s will, and democracy remains an empty word unless it affirms the power of ordinary people to prevail over any form of privileged interest or ruling class.
This conference aims to address some of the central questions that have become so divisive in contemporary political struggles, and to review some of the most significant revolutionary sequences that sought to empower a genuinely egalitarian and inclusive collective will to political change – from the French and Russian Revolutions to recent mobilisations in parts of the Middle East and Latin America.
1 June 2017
Professor Peter Hallward (Kingston) – Opening Remarks
Dr Marisa Linton (Kingston) – Maximilien Robespierre: The People and their Politicians
Dr Lars Lih – All Power to the Soviets!: Marx Meets Hobbes
2 June 2017
Professor Yves Sintomer (University of Paris VIII; Harvard University) – Global Governance: The End of Popular Sovereignty?
Dr Jessica Whyte (Western Sydney University) – The Neoliberal “Dethronement of Politics”: Spontaneous Order and Submission
Dr Jeffery Webber (Queen Mary University of London) – The Time of Ploughmen, and the Time of Manure: Defeat and Renewal on the Latin American Left
Dr Olivier Tonneau (University of Cambridge) – From Economics to Institutions: The Constitution as a Political Platform: Robespierre and Mélenchon
This conference is made by possible by support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) project ‘Blanqui and Political Will’ and the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP).