October 5, 2006 – Robin Blackburn: “Longevity, the Birth Rate and Class Struggle”

Wednesday, October 4 / 12 PM / Oakes Mural Room
The Haitian Revolution as an Episode in the History of Philosophy

This presentation in the Wednesday colloquium series (see page 3) will argue that the great slave revolt in Saint Domingue in the 1790s led to the formulation of a far more radical rejection of racial slavery than had appeared in abolitionist thinking up to this point. “The success of the Haitian Revolution in 1804, and the frustration of Napoleon’s attempt to restore slavery,” Blackburn writes, “had large implications for the whole Atlantic world.”

Thursday, October 5 / 4 PM / Oakes Mural Room
Longevity, the Birth Rate and Class Struggle

This lecture will look at the financialization of the new life-course, and at the prospects for a stark shortfall in pension provision rooted in the characteristic flaws of commercial organization and corporate sponsorship. Blackburn discusses financialization in the context of fundamental new demographic patterns explored in his forthcoming book Age Shock: How Finance is Failing Us.

Robin Blackburn is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and Visiting Distinguished Professor at the New School in New York. Long associated with the New Left Review and related projects, he is one of our period’s most important scholars writing in the Marxist tradition, and one of the world’s foremost historians of new world slavery. He has also written on labor politics, student politics, welfare, finance, and the future of socialism; his collective work includes coauthored work with Perry Anderson, Alexander Cockburn, and others. His recent work has had two major strands: a historical dimension focused on slavery, abolition, and colonialism, and a sociological dimension focusing on the financialization of the life-course and the economic challenges of an aging society. Underlying both is a concern for the ways in which property and the market shape social relationships and, conversely, how socioeconomic arrangements do–or could–constrain the market. The work on aging, pensions, and finance—particularly his politically charged and highly innovative work on pensions and their possible contribution to the building of a socialist project—has been acknowledged by many as opening up a new and important arena for transformative politics. His books, published by Verso, include The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848 (1988), The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (1997), Banking on Death or Investing in Life: the History and Future of Pensions (2002), Age Shock: How Finance is Failing Us (2006), and The Rise and Fall of New World Slavery, 1492-1887(forthcoming 2007). Robin Blackburn’s visit is an event in the year-long lecture/seminar series in the final year of the Rockefeller-funded Other Globalizations program at the Center for Cultural Studies.