Living at the edge of capitalism: voluntary and involuntary exile

Denis O'Hearn (Binghamton University-SUNY)
Andrej Grubacic (California Institute of Integral Studies)
Start time:
23 June, 2015 at 14:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel includes case studies of groups who have self-organized outside of state structures and the accumulation regimes of capitalism. Possible examples include pirates, maroons, Cossacks, Zapatistas, shack-dwellers, urban communities, political prisoners.

Long abstract:

From the earliest proto-states, as James Scott has shown, groups of people attempted to escape from central control and to establish self-governed communities. As new regions were incorporated into the emerging capitalist world-system, the problem was not simply how to escape states but also how to escape capitalist relations and processes of accumulation that were bundled up with state control. Historical examples of escape include Cossacks, pirates, and maroons; contemporary examples include Zapatistas in Mexico and even political prisoners in Ireland and elsewhere. Structural escape has been identified in urban communities in Kingston, Jamaica and on the outskirts of large South American cities. Thus, "exilic spaces and practices" are made by people who are expelled from or voluntarily leave the spaces and/or processes of world capitalism. Our research questions include: How do they try to accomplish this? Who do they identify as "the enemy"? Do they practice mutual aid and solidarity in communities or organize mainly on a household basis? Are there rules of entry and exit? How are their practices located with respect to nation-states, the interstate system, and structures of world capitalist accumulation including property regimes? What kinds of bargains do exiles make with states and how does this affect their ability to sustain autonomy? Finally, how are outcomes affected by rhythms and developments of the capitalist world-system, including economic cycles, processes of incorporation and peripheralization, changing hegemony, the rise of new leading sectors and world-wide divisions of labor, and the changing presence and experiences of anti-systemic movements?