Tag Archives: Political Economy

Identifying MacroStructual Trends in Asian Economies

This post recognizes the error in assuming that all Asian countries are undergoing similar socio-cultural-economic processes and placing diverse Asian countries on the same trajectory of development.

That said, when identifying and ranking important macro-structural trends in Asia, one must keep in mind the larger context of modernity within which these trends exist. The Asian nation-states are facing the structural, economic and socio-cultural trends so particular to modernity, namely globalization, contradictions of nationalism, and security problems that originate from the wrestling with conceptions of identity.

Asian nation-states are wrestling with neo-liberal globalization in this era of deterritorialized production and virtual capital, and trying to gain more economic security through inter-economic cooperation and alliances such as ASEAN and APEC. One example of inter-economic cooperation is the call for a Euro-style common currency. Yet, a trend particular to capitalist modernity is the creation of hierarchies of race, class and gender, and uneven development that tends to alienate and marginalize internal populations. Coupled with this is the fact that the core powers of the U.S., Western Europe and Russia have a vested interest in keeping Asia as semi-peripheral and prevent it from initiating a common currency, which would pose a definite threat to the current economic order of things. Therefore, they encourage foreign direct investment and neo-liberal development, and the U.S. specifically depends on China and Japan to finance its trade deficit. However, with Asian states slowly coming out of their financial crisis and looking for security in this era of increasing globalization, the trend is definitely towards more economic cooperation and integration.

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Immanuel Wallerstein – The Worst is Yet to Come

To quote him, ‘the worst is yet to come.’ I am not a doomsayer but Immanuel Wallerstein is a much respected economist, credited for World Systems Theory. I would usually stray away from predictions about economic matters but Wallerstein is absolutely correct that the crisis is not over–booms and bursts are inherent in the capitalist mode of production. And our political leaders are doing nothing that could prevent another financial collapse.

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Mixing Marxist Economics with Creation Theory

So I was looking for economics papers I had written during college and just found this piece in an email to a professor.

Adam and Eve used to live happily in the Garden of Eden, with all resources in pristine and abundant condition. However, one day, Eve was tempted by Lucifer (just another “angel” who has nothing better to do and bored with the peace on Earth) to pick a fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and eat it.

Eve was struck with an epiphany upon eating it; she realized that since she used her labor to pick the fruit, it belonged to her and thus, became her possession and private property. The original sin by Eve established the concept of private property and the Lord could not stand such an act of defiance by a woman. Angry at the disobedience that Eve had shown to Adam, the Lord decided to punish humankind by making humans (and especially those with a darker skin tone like Eve and Adam) toil hard for their subsistence and be exploited for their labor by a ruling class. The Lord was also mad at Adam for his effeminate behavior and inability to control his woman, therefore he decided that Adam did need some punishment, and thus, Adam was re-casted as a white man, stripped of his rich African heritage.

Since Eve was the one who sinned originally, all women were thereafter meant to bear children that would be reduced to mere commodities and women would not be paid for the work they did in the households. To make women especially obedient, the Lord made sure that if women were to realize their ultimate pleasure by sleeping with other women and not (RE)producing more labor for profit, they would be barred from holding any property together and their social relations would be unrealized. Even men were disallowed from sleeping with each other; they were supposed to be competitive and aggressive, out to conquer and acquire, not love and nurture. In other words, both the oppressor and the oppressed were in fact, oppressed (and dehumanized) by the superstructure of the Lord’s creation.

But there was a way out. Redemption meant going through the different modes of production, which would seemingly create new social relations after bloody revolutions, while retaining the same old system of exploitation time and again. Redemption meant the suffering of everyone, but especially that of women and people of color the world over. Clashes would take place over time; between master and slave, lord and serf, capitalist and proletariat, and yes, between men and women (and other), straight and gay (and other), till the Lord would take pity and make the working class realize themselves as one–not gendered, sexualized or racialized–but as the oppressed fighting the oppressor who insisted on mediated relations of class, race, sex, gender etc.

In the Last Judgment, the oppressors would be given a last chance by the now politicized and ruling proletariat to repent all they had done over history. Some capitalist oppressors, who are now in a state of advanced schizophrenia, will insist falsely that Lord is on their side and tells them what to do, yet it would be futile. The seven years of trials and tribulations will take place. Human relations would once again be unmediated and everything in nature will belong to everyone, owned collectively.

And if we add Hinduism to the whole mix, the world will be destroyed in the last stage of capitalism (monopoly capitalism), so the Gods will just say “whatever” and give birth to the cosmos all over again with a specific kind of big ‘bang.’

Now who wants to take the fruit from the tree and call it their own?

Alright, I wrote this when I was 20. If I had to write this now, Eve would probably be a transsexual Steve and there would certainly be a shift from the structural meta-narrative of Marxian economics to a more post-structuralist approach to economics.

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What the World Economic Crisis Teaches Us About Capitalism

This is a must-read piece from an editor of GegenStandpunkt in Germany, now translated into English.

Everyone knows that this is dangerous for money. The newspapers write that inflation is imminent, even a currency reform – where money is deleted after all. For rescuing the banks, money is deleted in the end. What does this once again reveal? Everyone knows that this is the most crazy money printing action that has ever been brought under way – and they all say at the same time that this is necessary. They say at the same time that an alternative would just be impossible. So they profess that finance is the true wealth of society: this stronghold of the equation that every piece of money is more money, which the banks administer, this power to draw advance of capital out of the sleeves, to create it, wherever there is an opportunity to make business, this power is the true wealth of capitalistic nations. This is what these nations depend on, or to say it in other words: with this radicalism, by which they now are rescuing their banks, the governments profess the reason of state prevailing here: they risk their own financial power in order to rescue the private one.

It is through the power of finance (financial capitalism) that capitalistic nations hold economic monopoly over the world.

The whole article is here.

For more on the economic crisis from a heterodox perspective, see URPE.

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The World Economic Forum – The Crisis

Anti-Wef Demo Davos 2009 by JUSO Schweiz.

The ‘leaders’ of the world gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) this past weekend to advance the failed and flawed concept of ‘free trade’ to generate economic growth for their respective nations. The forum ended in “we don’t know what to do but we must do something quickly…”
Who elected these guys?

In the next few weeks, governments will follow the good bank / bad bank policy in an effort to get the banking sector under control. That is a short-term fix till the next crisis of capitalism.

Europe is ripe with unrest. The Guardian reports on the following protests and ‘riots’ that may be part of a larger picture of growing resentment against ‘failed states’ (and here we define failed states as those who cannot take care of the basic needs of their constituents):


Upset at the government’s handling of the economic crisis, protesters in PARIS clashed with police last week, throwing bottles and overturning cars
Thousands of protesters held rare rallies throughout RUSSIA on Saturday, calling for the resignation of the government as the country continues to sink deeper into an economic morass
Fuelled by fears of rising job cuts, wildcat strikes against foreign workers spread through oil refineries and other energy facilities in BRITAIN on Saturday
Venting their fury at the way that the political class allowed the
country to slip towards bankruptcy, ICELANDERS all but stormed their Parliament a few days ago
Last week in LATVIA—where growth has been in double-digit figures for years—10,000 people, rioting over the country’s economic troubles, besieged the parliament and threw Molotov cocktails at police
Some 7,000 protesters gathered outside the LITHUANIAN parliament on January 16 to demonstrate against the government’s reforms, forcing the police to fire rubber bullets to dispel the mob

In China, 20 million migrant workers lost their jobs, which threatens social stability since these workers were already displaced from their rural lands due to development.

Crossing over the Pacific and in Brazil, the less publicized but largest gathering of anti-globalization forces called the World Social Forum was held where more than 100,000 people convened to discuss how neo-liberal globalization was destroying itself and and how it was imperative to define the world we want. The forum also concluded with mixed results. Does anyone else see a pattern here?

It sort of reminds me of immigration reform conference calls: a chaotic bunch of good people who have a lot of ideas but little desire to go maverick with implementing them. If we can’t deal with tiny things like immigration reform, there is little chance of dealing with the collapse of the U.S. economy given how incompetent American economists are due to the stifling of heterodox ideas in Economic Departments across the country. The BEST economists are not hired by the U.S. government or businesses — they end up mostly as failed lecturers or professors in the Ivory Tower. That’s part of the reason this country is in a crisis — a failure to listen to solutions outside of the ‘capitalist world order.’

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Marx Gets A Manga Makeover and More

While George Bush preached ‘market fundamentalism’ yet again at weekend the photo-op named the G-20 summit, the ‘leaders’ agreed upon further stimulatory spending to stabilize the financial system, and to ‘reform’ the IMF and World Bank as global financial instruments.

In the midst of this world recession precipitated by the U.S. housing crisis and poor economy that subsequently has quelled demand critical to the functioning of other economies that depend on American buying power, young disgruntled folk are taking another look at Karl Marx.

Reporting from Japan, the Times London:

Japanese bookstores expect a comic version of Das Kapital to become the publishing phenomenon of the year (Leo Lewis writes).

The manga comic, which goes on sale early next month and is expected to sell tens of thousands of copies before Christmas, plays into a growing fascination among Japanese workers with socialist literature and joins a collection of increasingly fierce literary critiques of the global capitalist system. A sneak preview of the publication given to The Times reveals that Marx’s central themes are relayed in the comic via a cast of suitably downtrodden workers. However, when Marx alerted economists to “the knell of capitalist private property”, he may not have imagined the phrase cropping up in one of the speech bubbles in a comic strip for commuters in Japan.

In Germany, sales of Karl Marx’s 1867 work Das Kapital have leapt 750 per cent this year. Much has been written about Karl Marx and the current crisis of capitalism (UPI, NDTV) Usually it is the young academics that read Marx and Engels and I sincerely do believe that everyone should try to read through some of what Marx actually wrote and not mere bastardized interpretations. On the Jewish Question is a particularly good critique of liberalism and a personal favorite — the Marxist Archive has an entire library on Karl Marx and other like-minded scholars.

Is the collapse of capitalism an inevitability? While Marx might have prophetically stated this in The Communist Manifesto, it is nonetheless important to step away from grand, universalizing narratives and dichotomies (i.e. bourgeoisie/proletariat) that do exist in his writings. Capitalism does sow the seeds for its own destruction but so does any other stagnant ideology. Marx did suggest that “men make their own history” and that capitalism wouldn’t fall till it had fully perpetuated itself:

No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore, mankind only sets itself such tasks as it can solve

Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

If we are to believe in the predictive qualities of Marx, we have a long way to go.

(Till global warming strikes at least…)

More articles

Marx and the Current Crisis of Capitalism

This Marxist Isn’t Laughing

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Cricket – Sachin Tendulkar and the Subaltern

I love the contradiction and irony of this.

Source: Times of India

We have the greatest batsman in the history of cricket on the one hand, making history yet again by becoming the highest run-getter in Test Cricket.

Juxtaposing that individual brilliance is the Sensex (Indian Stock Market) dipping below 10 K yesterday thanks to the US-led global financial meltdown.

Congratulations to the Master Blaster for succeeding where neo-liberal markets have failed; after all markets are not for ‘uniting’ peoples or nations, and building solidarity. However, employing the legend of Sachin Tendulkar is a win-win game for global capitalism even if the Sensex does not show it.

Such is the strength of the human spirit and national pride, that the Indian media called Sachin Tendulkar ‘King of the World’ and announced that 1 BILLION Indians are celebrating this proud moment. It was a moment of ‘national unity’ maybe even Pan-Indian unity, in the midst of a financial crisis that has bankrupted businesses, left thousands jobless and worried about their future. I can only speak for myself; sick, hungry and fasting all the way in the United States but up at 2am to see the historic moment.

I don’t know how the subaltern feels about Sachin Tendulkar and this historic moment. Tendulkar is the Mahatma Gandhi of Indian cricket — his story, his legend perpetuates the Indian space as a universal solvent or solution for caste divisions, religious differences and communalism. From an industrialized-nation standpoint, cricket is considered a ‘subaltern sport’ and mistakenly-so.

We can hardly call it subaltern in the world of corporate sponsorship and ownership. Cricket was part of the colonial seduction, the colonial paraphernalia of the British Raj and co-option by Indians was of the utmost importance to British empire. It was only through making Indians part of the game, making them consumers of yet another colonial product that an elitist sport, considerably a ‘gentleman’s game’ like cricket instead of kabaddi or gulli danda, became a national sport, a site for national glory.

As a legacy of British colonialism, cricket presents a strong critique of the term ‘post-colonialism.’ After all, how post-colonial can India be as a country if it has simply adapted a British sport and turned it into the national sport of India?
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