Consciousness in Europe in the Crisis

A Study Day of Reflection

Espace Niemeyer
6 Avenue Mathurin Moreau (metro station « Colonel Fabien », line 2)
75019 Paris

Languages: French – German

The workshop entitled “Consciousness in Europe in the Crisis: Germany, France and Greece between Resignation and Rebelliousness faced with Capitalist Domination” will by organized by Espaces Marx and transform!


After having raised hopes of a loosening of the stranglehold of neo-liberal dogmas, the crisis of the capitalist system seems to be giving birth to a renewed resignation. While on the one hand, criticism of the logics that had led to the crisis and the resulting damage to the peoples is widening and getting deeper, this development does not engender, for the majority of the population, any real challenge to the new capitalist regime or to capitalism itself.

We hope, through workshops, to open reflection on the state of political consciousness that can enable us to understand the mechanisms that mould resignation, as a basis for the development of the social and political movements.

Session I:  The relation of capitalism to opinion polls

In this first workshop we will confront the state of popular consciousness and its relationship to the capitalist system. On the basis of opinion polls carried out in these three countries, we will analyse the changes in the attitudes the populations have regarding the economic principles that dominate the present system: their portrayal of the stock exchange, finance, profits, shareholders, employers as well as of Europe. We will draw up a map of popular judgement of “the permanent crisis” into which capitalism seems to be plunging the peoples. We will try to understand the interpretation given by social groups and by individuals of the developments and reforms taking place, of the neo-liberal principles (the necessity for competition, the toughening of wage and social harshness, privatisation and commodification, the weakening of political sovereignty . . . ). We will take note of the modifications in the relationship of the populations with public institutions, the State, the political authorities.  For each of these issues, the enquiries will try to explain the way that criticism of capitalism redraws the relations between the subjective affiliation of the social class and its relations to the system.

Session 2: Relations towards alternatives in the enquiry

This is where we will see the compatibility between the data collected and the things that interest us. In a second workshop, we hope to analyse the direction through which consciences adopt alternative ways to those of neo-liberal capitalism.

Although they may sometimes be seen as positive in the abstract, alternatives based on pooled ideas seem to be faced with the problem of being carried out at a time when capitalism has acquired an unprecedented capacity to dissuade, to demobilise and to punish. The predatory logic that moves capitalism seems today to be able to challenge, within people’s consciences, any credibility to the possibility of carrying alternatives out. How do some groups, even in this context, succeed in forging a belief in the carrying out of subversive economic principles? Are we witnessing, in some counties, a crisis without social conflict? Stating from successful experiences of politicising the criticism of capitalism we will try to understand the pathways to action against the current hegemony. We will also discuss some experiments that aim at overcoming the underlying fragmentations (of populations, classes, groups of wage earners…) generated by the “de-civilised” logics of capitalism, the possibility of giving fresh value to “politics” by giving is fresh ambitions.

Session 3: Relations to capitalism and its alternatives in the scale of conflicts within firms

In this third workshop we will alter the scale to try and understand how revolt and resignation are created in the crisis situation at the micro social level within firms. The cases of wage negotiations, of long term strategic choices or restructuring of firms create situations in which the wage earners are directly confronted with the employer’s authority and to the arguments of market law. They enable us to understand how, in very different national configurations, an alternative expertise is forged and applied to serve other economic arbitrations. The analysis of crisis situations will, thus, have the objective of re-questioning what was gained from the analyses of the first two workshops at times when the crisis of capitalism becomes personally serious.


11 am to 7 pm

With contributions / participation of:

  • François Miquet-Marty, Director of a polling institute (Paris)
  • Christoforos Vernadakis, Director of a polling institute (Athens)
  • Joachim Bischoff, Economist and sociologist (Hamburg)
  • Richard Detje, Member of the research team that conducted two investigations in Germany
  • Florence Joshua, Researcher in political science (Paris)
  • Yann Le Lann, Sociologist
  • Vincent Koster, Doctor in sociology and expert – unionist advisor
  • Patrice Cohen-Seat, President of Espaces Marx
  • Elisabeth Gauthier, Espaces Marx / transform! (Paris)
  • Michel Laurent, LEM (PCF)
  • Michel Vakaloulis, Sociologist, University Paris VIII
  • and others


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