Beyond Neoliberalism: China and Europe in the Global Crisis. A Chinese-Italian Symposion


Is the contemporary global crisis a crisis of capitalism? This question has been repeatedly asked since the beginning of the financial crisis by mainstream media, respected economists and even right-wing politicians. In this context it is difficult to remember that just 20 years ago these same actors proclaimed the “end of history”. Critical and radical thought was itself dominated by the notion  of neo-liberalism as a kind of “monological thinking”. Critics of neoliberal capitalism were mainly focusing on the totalitarian aspects of the cultural and political hegemonic discourse neo-liberalism itself had been able to build on a global scale. In many cases this lead to interiorize and reproduce the idea of the impossibility of “alternatives” to neo-liberalism and to overestimate the stability of global capitalism.

It was the emergence of the global movement against capitalist globalization between Seattle (1999) and Genoa (2001) that powerfully challenged this way of looking at neo-liberalism. In the following ten years we have lived through devastating wars as well as financial and economic earthquakes that profoundly changed our perception of neo-liberalism and globalization. Particularly in the wake of the global crisis that started in 2007, it is clear for us that the crucial task the left is confronted with is to move away from the mere critique of neo-liberalism to an attempt to think beyond neo-liberalism. This does not mean that the effects of neoliberal politics have disappeared, but that they are no longer able to constitute a coherent system. In other words neo-liberalism is not able to propose a way out of the crisis and a stable system of governance for global capitalism. The tensions that shape the global contemporary landscaper (so called “currency wars”, the crisis of the G8 and the contradictions of the G20, shifting geopolitical constellations) are part and parcel of this scenario.

At the same time, the current global crisis compels us to re-think or to go beyond some classical categories and analyses: for example, the dialectic between real and financial economy, the idea of cycles and stages of economic development, or the role of nation-States. In this context, to promote a symposium on China and Europe in Italy has several meanings. First of all, it allows us to displace the mainstream images of China, caught in a kind of permanent oscillation between protectionist phobia and Orientalism, instrumental attacks and traditional cliché. Therefore, our aim is to contribute to the shaping of a new gaze on China. Secondly, and according to this new gaze, we try to look at China as a laboratory. We consider Chian to be a laboratory of economic and political transition, of different forms of development and governance, of a peculiar character or an anomaly within the global market. Once it is considered as a laboratory, China raises crucial questions that we will try to discuss during the symposium.

Finally, this way of looking at China has for us a kind of methodological relevance. That is to say, we are convinced that a critical gaze on the Chinese laboratory can raise fundamental and maybe even unexpected questions on the Left in Italy and Europe. Starting from China, from its economic, social and political development as well as from its contradictions and from the recent waves of workers’ and strikes, we think it is possible to rethink the relation between struggles and development, the emerging composition of living labor as well as emerging new patterns, forms and institutions of governance. These could be the bases to open a permanent theoretical laboratory on the global transformations, and the potential alternatives beyond the crisis of neoliberal capital.

Bologna, January 14th, 2010
Facoltà di Scienze politiche
Ex Convento di Santa Cristina
Aula A, Piazzetta Giorgio Morandi 2


Section 1 h. 9.30-13

Greetings: Provost’s delegate for international relationship Carla Salvaterra

Introduction: Sandro Mezzadra (Università di Bologna)


Li Huibin (Central Compilation and Translation Bureau – Pechino)

Christian Marazzi (Università della Svizzera Italiana)

Qin Xuan (Renmin University – Pechino)

Alessandro Russo (Università di Bologna)

Section 2 h. 14.30-18.30

Zhang Shuguang (Beijing Normal University)

Antonio Fiori (Università di Bologna)

Liang Shifa (Renmin University – Pechino)

Benedetto Vecchi (il manifesto)









Comments are closed.