India: Privatisation and the Constitution

Prabhat Patnaik

IN a recent report the People’s Commission on the Public Sector and Public Services has rightly drawn attention to the sheer un-constitutionality of the Modi government’s plan to privatise en masse the assets of the public sector. The constitution of the country is not just a set of procedures and rules for the governance of the polity. It expresses above all a certain social philosophy which is supposed to inform the behaviour of the various organs of the State and which constitutes the foundational beliefs around which the nation has come into being. This is particularly true of ex-colonial countries where the formation of the nation has been the outcome of an anti-colonial struggle that brought people together in an historically unprecedented show of unity; the social philosophy underlying the constitution of the newly formed nation-State provides the conceptual basis for this coming together.

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The Triumph of Financial Capital

Paul M. Sweezy

Monthly Review | June 01, 1994

U.S. stocks dive anew on fear of coronavirus
Image credit: “U.S. stocks dive anew on fear of coronavirus,” China Daily, March 6, 2020.

This article was originally a lecture presented at a conference organized by the Association of Graduates of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Istanbul, Turkey, on April 21, 1994.

The announced subject of this conference is “New Trends in Turkey and the World.” I shall not try to say anything about new trends in Turkey, partly because of my ignorance but more importantly because Turkey is very much part of the world, and in this period the mother of all new trends is global in nature. To understand what is happening in any part of the world, one must start from what is happening in the whole world. Never has Hegel’s dictum “The Truth is in the Whole” been as true and relevant as it is today.

In an oft-quoted passage written in 1936, John Maynard Keynes said:

Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a byproduct of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.

Keynes was presumably alluding to the situation that existed in the late 1920s in the United States, the world’s most advanced capitalist country. Today it has the ominous sound of a prophecy that was to be fully realized more than half a century later, in the 1980s and 1990s—not only in the United States but in the whole world.

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HM Online 2021: Struggles in the Education Sector: Casualisation and the Pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, the UK government has taken an ‘arms-length’ approach to the economic survival of Higher Education, providing no financial support and little guidance for workers in the sector. In the immediate term, this resulted in significant job losses in the sector, as university managers directed short-term cost-saving measures against casualised workers. It also led to a health and safety crisis, as university leaders were forced to maintain student recruitment figures in a context widely identified by scientific authorities as a “vector of infectious disease transmission”. Conversely, the state has taken an increasingly active role in certain areas of HE in a bid to further entrench right-wing neoliberal orthodoxies: Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, recently announced the government’s decision to route public funding toward STEM subjects, cutting funding for ‘high cost’ Arts and Design courses by 50% while pushing all universities to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

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HM Online 2021: States and Geo-Politics

Regimes of Extreme Permission? State-corporate repression and the realization of neocolonial accumulation in SE Asia
Joe Greener and Pablo Ciocchini, University of Liverpool in Singapore

Agency in the Periphery: the controversy between Marini and Cardoso in Geopolitical terms
Rafael Alexandre Mello, University of Brasília
Pedro Salgado, Federal University of Bahia and University of Brasília

Conceptualising institutional disobedience in a context of authoritarian neoliberalism: The Catalan case
Monica Clua-Losada, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA
Clara Camps Calvet, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Shaun McCrory, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA

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HM Online 2021: Crisis, Pandemics, and Right-Wing Populism: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Neoliberalism

Morbid symptoms: The political economy of authoritarian neoliberalism

Adam Fabry, Universidad Nacional de Chilecito, Argentina

‘The Crisis of Neoliberal Globalization and the Global Rise of Authoritarianism in the 21st Century’
Berch Berberoglu, University of Nevada, Reno, USA

‘A Model State of Authoritarian Neoliberalism? An Analysis of the Orbán Regime in Hungary’
Attila Antal, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Hungary

‘Authoritarian Neoliberalisms, Social Reproduction and Social Policy in Croatia, Hungary and Poland’
Noemi Lendvai-Bainton, University of Bristol, UK
Paul Stubbs, The Institute of Economics, Zagreb , Croatia

Neoliberalism and Authoritarianism: A Long-term Perspective from the Southern Cone of Latin America

Hernán Ramírez, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Brasil

Links to associated literature by panellists:

Antal, A. (2019). The Rise of Hungarian Populism: State Autocracy and the Orbán Regime, Bingley: Emerald Publishing. Available on: https://www.emerald.com/insight/publi….

Berberoglu, B. (2020). The Global Rise of Authoritarianism in the 21st Century: Crisis of Neoliberal Globalization and the Nationalist Response, London: Routledge. Available on: https://www.routledge.com/The-Global-….

Fabry, A. (2019). The Political Economy of Hungary: From State Capitalism to Authoritarian Neoliberalism. London: Palgrave. Available on: https://www.springer.com/la/book/9783….

Ramirez, H. (2019). Neoliberalismo e (neo)autoritarismo: Uma perspectiva de longo prazo a partir de casos do Cone Sul da América Latina. Available on: https://www.researchgate.net/publicat…
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Central Asia’s Neoliberal Tragedy: A Review

Michael Hudson

The Greanville Post | October 16, 2021

In the mid-1980s, Soviet officials saw a need to open up their economy in hope of achieving Western-style innovation and productivity. That was the decade in which Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were sponsoring the neoliberal pro-financial policies that have polarised the U.S., British and other economies and loaded them down with rentier overhead.

The Soviet Union followed a privatization policy far more extreme than anything the social-democratic West would have tolerated. It agreed in December 1990 to adopt the neoliberal blueprint presented in Houston by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to transfer hitherto public property into private hands.[1] The promise was that the privatisers would find their interest to lie in producing abundant new housing, consumer goods and prosperity.

The Soviet leaders believed that the neoliberal advice they received was about how to follow the path by which the advanced industrialised nations had developed and made their prosperity seem so attractive. But the advice actually turned out to be how to open up their economies and enable U.S. and other foreign investors to make money off the former Soviet republics, by creating client oligarchies of the sort that U.S. diplomacy had installed in Latin American and other puppet states. The Cold War’s isolation of the former Soviet Union gave way to turning its republics into prey for financial and natural-resource exploitation by U.S. and other Western banks and corporations.

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The Household and the State

Prabhat Patnaik

IDEAs | August 16, 2021

Simple analogies can be deceptive, even dangerous. An example is the analogy often drawn between the household and the state. Just as a household cannot “live beyond its means” for ever, and sooner or later its creditors not only stop giving loans but take away the assets of the household for defaulting on loan repayment, likewise, the state cannot “live beyond its means” for ever and go on borrowing ad infinitum; sooner or later its creditors stop giving loans and even attach its assets.

This is a very common argument. One has heard it innumerable times, from spokesmen of Bretton Woods institutions and from Finance Ministers’ budget speeches, providing a rationale for restricting the fiscal deficit. Since the fiscal deficit is a measure of the state’s additional borrowing, incurring a fiscal deficit implies that the state is “living beyond its means”, which would eventually bring it to grief, as happens with a household.

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Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

‘Wealth of Data, Poverty of Theory’

Michel Husson

Abstract

Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, provides a monumental database for the history of capitalism. But the author’s interpretation of these data is based on an inconsistent theoretical framework that constantly oscillates between two definitions of capital: either capital as accumulated drawing rights on the value created; or capital as a factor of production in the neoclassical tradition. Capital as a social relation is forgotten and the history of capitalism appears as an accounting mechanism.Keywords: Pikettycapital

Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has rightly been welcomed: it provides a monumental source of data on the history of capitalism and offers information that will be essential for all those economists who want to study its dynamic in the medium and long term. Piketty thus follows in the footsteps of such authors as Angus Maddison1 and Pierre Villa.2 We should also thank him for making all of these materials freely available.3

In this work we find data on income inequality across the world, and it would be no exaggeration to say that the ‘Piketty group’ (including people such as Anthony Atkinson and Emmanuel Saez) has supplied a significant part of the arguments raised by recent social movements (the indignados, Occupy Wall Street, and such like) and even one of their watchwords: ‘We are the 99 percent!’

The following comments will be no less critical for that reason, however, since Piketty’s theoretical framework is not at the same level as his wealth of data. In order to demonstrate this, we will above all be examining the two fundamental laws of capitalism that Piketty uses in order to read his data. The central line of march of this investigation is the idea that Piketty incoherently mixes up two definitions of capital, both as a ‘factor of production’ and as the whole ensemble of ‘drawing rights’ on income.

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How Mobsters Control U.S., UK, & Netherlands

Eric Zuesse

“Mobsters” are whatever the law says they are, but in some countries they are, in fact, simply the nation’s wealthiest people, who can and do pay whomever they have to pay (“consigliere”) in order to get the law to mean what they want it to mean. In other words: sometimes a mobster is anyone who no matter how harmful to society, can become and remain enormously wealthy and never go to prison for it, nor be executed for it. They are above the law, and are therefore the real rulers in the dictatorship where they happen to live. They engage in the most-premeditated of crimes, from which the largest numbers of people become (basically) murdered and injured, but can and do buy impunity, so that prisons contain only the relatively low-level (and usually poor) crooks, and also innocent people who simply couldn’t afford a decent lawyer. This is ‘justice’, in ‘democracies’. It’s not justice in any democracy.

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