Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Concrete alternatives to capitalism considered on campus

Mon Feb 08 12:49:00 GMT 2016

Attendees viewing a lecture at the Marx in the key of hope workshop

Attendees of the Marx in the key of hope workshop.


On Friday 29 January 2016, over 60 people gathered to discuss alternatives to capitalism.

The workshop, entitled ‘Marx in the Key of Hope’, was organised by Dr Ana Dinerstein and Harry Pitts from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences, with help from Nicky Stubbs and Lesley McKay. Ana and Harry received Academic-Led Collaboration funding from the South West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) to host the event.

The workshop brought together Marxist scholars and critics of capitalism with local activists involved in food projects, cooperatives and alternative currencies. It explored how to live, subsist, eat, share and work, against and beyond capitalist social relations.

The day started with welcomes from Head of Department Dr Joe Devine and SWDTC Collaboration Facilitator Rob Keegan. Following an introduction from the organisers, the first section looked at the city as a space of experimentation with a Bristol focus. Presenters included Stephen Hunt, from the Bristol Radical History Group, on urban farming initiatives in Bristol and Bath, Fabian Frenzel, from the University of Leicester, on struggles over the regeneration of Bristol’s Stokes Croft and Greig Charnock on urban space. The second session linked hunger and hope, with an extended presentation by Werner Bonefeld from the University of York. Fittingly, lunch followed. Bristol Skipchen provided a filling spread, using only free waste food- with delicious results!

The penultimate session considered cooperatives as an alternative way of organising how we meet needs together. Speakers included Alec Saelens from local media co-op The Bristol Cable, Sean Farmelo from Students for Cooperation, a network of student housing co-ops, Sarah Amsler from Lincoln education co-op the Social Sciences Centre and Dan Ozarow from Middlesex, who discussed the radical possibilities of co-ops as an anticapitalist alternative. The final session addressed to a recurring issue of the day’s discussions: the mediation of our relationship with the world by money. Ciaran Mundy presented an overview of the Bristol Pound, followed by a critical discussion of the limitations of new kinds of money by London collective Critisticuffs and University of the West of England’s Graham Taylor. Recordings of the day’s presentations will be available soon.