University of California, Riverside and IPSA’s Research Committee on Political Philosophy Conference, Riverside, California, November 14-16, 2019

Keynote Speaker: Kevin Olson, University of California, Irvine

IPSA’s Research Committee on Political Philosophy and the University of California, Riverside, are pleased to announced a conference on “Socialism after Populism.”  Populism is at the forefront of political controversy across Europe, North America, and Latin America.   At the same time, socialism has come again to have a surprising resonance in political debate – surprising, at least, in the United States, often claimed to be exceptional in its resilience to socialism’s appeal.  What we think we know about the movements and tendencies involved in these contemporary phenomena might seem to suggest to some observers that socialism and populism have little or nothing to do with each other.  In the US, the younger voters who are most sympathetic to socialism are also the most supportive of immigration, the focus of many populists’ ire.  And surely the racial and ethnic politics of much populism undermines the solidarity required for socialist policies.  And yet voices on the left insist that populism is actually essential to building a socialist program.  And equally insistent voices on the right use Latin American populists such as Venezuela’s Maduro as exemplars of the dangers of…socialism.  A central question for this conference will then be: In the midst of a nearly worldwide ascendance of populism, what is the path for those who remain committed to the goals of democratic socialism -- the widening and strengthening of social and economic relations characterized by solidarity, greater equality, and freedom?  Other questions would include the following:  Which is the more central issue for a progressive politics -- recognition of identity, or the redistribution of power and resources?  Is populism really a “political logic” or a mode of persuasion that is the necessary condition of building a progressive coalition? Is there a socialist theory or program that can successfully address the legacies of colonialism and racial hierarchy upon which much populism apparently feeds? Are Brexit and Trump signs of the past failure of the left to promote solidarity, freedom and equality?  Or are they indications that future relevance requires the left to adopt more populist ideals, strategies and policies – albeit ones proponents see as “inclusive?” The conference would invite approaches to these and related questions that are rooted in long-standing debates, in critical social analysis, normative concern and conceptual innovation.

If you are interested in presenting a paper at this conference, please send a 300 word-long abstract to the following e-mail address: by August 1, 2019.