Where and How? - Capitalism and its Critics

APR 05. 2017  nyomtatási kép

Jürgen Kocka, German historian and social scientist held an open lecture on the 8th of May organized by the Institute of Advanced Studies Kőszeg.

Attila Pók (senior researcher of iASK) was the moderator of the evening

The lecture entitled "Capitalism and its Critics - A Long term view" attracted visitors both from the town of Kőszeg and those on behalf of the Institute. During the more than two-hour lecture and the discussion that followed, the German scholar presented a historical background from the banking houses in Florence over the Wall Street arriving at the specific - state capitalist - market mechanism of China. 

Besides the historical overview, issues and concerns of current global capitalism were also raised. For example, how pauperization of the middle class undermines democratic structures in the world. What will be the way forward when global trade has taken over? For what reason has information become the most demanded "product" in the modern global market? How and from which classes will the next social order be built up?

On the 9th of May, Jürgen Kocka held a seminar for the students studying at iASK and the Kőszeg Campus of the University of Pannonia.

Jürgen Kocka - German historian and public intellectual

A university professor in Bielefeld and  the Free University Berlin and former president of the Social Science Research Center Berlin (2001-2007), Kocka is a major figure in the New Social History. He has focused his research on the history of employees in large German and American businesses, and on the history of European bourgeoisie.

From 1992 to 1996 Kocka was the founding director and is to date a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam. Since 2008 he is vice president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.  As a Visiting Professor he teaches regularly at UCLA.From 2000 to 2005 he was President of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (CISH), the most important world wide organization of historians.

Inspired by the methods of Ernest Labrousse, he  analyzes social processes of German society in a global context from the perspective of modernisation, industrialization, and the creation of modern Europe.

Kocka was a leader of the Bielefeld School of the "new social history' that in the 1960s and 1970s introduced a vast range of new topics in historical research. In the 1960s and 1970s it stressed structures and processes over actors and events. It emphasized analytical approaches close to the social sciences rather than by the traditional methods of historical hermeneutics.  Social history was both demanded and rejected as a vigorous revisionist alternative to the more established ways of historiography, in which the reconstruction of politics and ideas, the history of events and hermeneutic methods traditionally dominated.

Kocka participated in the German Historikerstreit in the late 1980s, alongside Jürgen Habermas in opposition to Ernst Nolte. Kocka contended against Nolte that the Holocaust was indeed a "singular" event because it had been committed by an advanced Western nation, and argued that Nolte’s comparisons of the Holocaust with similar mass killings in Pol Pot's Cambodia, Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union, and Idi Amin's Uganda were invalid because of the backward nature of those societies.

His publications include: Unternehmensverwaltung und Angestelltenschaft am Beispiel Siemens 1847-1914 (1969); Facing Total War. German Society 1914-1918 (1984); White Collar Workers in America 1890-1940 (1980); Les employés en Allemagne 1850-1980 (1989); Arbeitsverhältnisse und Arbeiterexistenzen. Grundlagen der Klassenbildung im 19. Jahrhundert (1990); Vereinigungskrise: Zur Geschichte der Gegenwart (1995); Industrial Culture and Bourgeois Society. Business, Labor, and Bureaucracy in Modern Germany (1999); Das lange 19. Jahrhundert (2001); Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern Germany (2010) (Japanese transl.2011); Arbeiten an der Geschichte. Gesellschaftlicher Wandel im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (2011). His most recent book is Capitalism. A  Short History.(2016). Hereby  the link to an excerpt: presentation will summarize the main points of this book.