The Legacy of the Praxis Group: From Marxist Humanism to the Future of Social Democracy

Between October 10th and 12th, the Croatian city of Split and the Island of Korčula were the venues of a conference organized on the legacy of the famous philosophical group from the former Yugoslavia, "Praxis".

The conference gathered academics and experts discussing the legacy of the Praxis group in today's context. Praxis was a collective of thinkers from former Yugoslavia that had its inception in the late 1960s, publishing a journal of the same name developing a singular trajectory of humanist Marxist and socialist analyses in the context of the then non-aligned Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The journal functioned as a hub for exchanging critical perspectives between the East and the West from 1963 until 1974. The journal was accompanied by the affiliated summer school in Korčula, which was a space for the exchange of the aforementioned critical perspectives. Both the journal Praxis and the summer school in Korčula saw contributions and participation from prominent thinkers from all over the world such as Ernst Bloch, Herbert Marcuse, Jürgen Habermas, Henri Lefebvre, Lucien Goldmann among others.  

The conference was also visited by former members of the Praxis group, Ante Lešaja, an economist from Korčula who was one of the youngest members, as well as Žarko Puhovski, one of the last editors of the Praxis journal, before its termination in 1974. Professor Lešaja gave an introduction of the Praxis Group's archive, which he began reconstructing in 2011. The conference was also visited by former participants of the Korčula Summer School, a.o. Claus Offe from the Hertie School of Governance.

Building on the ideas of Praxis, the discussion at the conference unfolded into many different issues the Left and social democracy are facing today. Participants agreed that there needs to be a reclamation of language and terms that initially belonged to the Left but are being instrumentalized by the Right today.

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