Beyond Capital

Polemics, Critique and Analysis

Archive for November 2008

The Economic Function of Terrorism?

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And why not? At the time when a global recession is on its way, there is a need to increase public spending to revive the economy. And Baba Keynes himself told us once – “Pyramid-building, earthquakes, even wars may serve to increase wealth, if the education of our statesmen on the principles of the classical economics stands in the way of anything better”. What is better than a war on terrorism which never ends – it will lead to a constant militarisation, and an expansion of the security and armaments industries necessary for boosting effective demand.

Is this really a conspiracy theory?

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Written by Pratyush Chandra

November 29, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Financial Meltdown – A Last Resort?

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Finance Capital in general holds the whole economy and public saving to ransom, then why cannot its poor agents kidnap a child for ransom?

2 MBA students held for kidnapping teen
25 Nov 2008, 0341 hrs IST

NEW DELHI: In a shocking fallout of the financial meltdown, two part-time MBA students who had apparently lost heavily on investments in stocks and real estate decided to make good their losses by joining in a plot to kidnap a 15-year-old south Delhi boy. The operation went awry when the mastermind, a cousin of the victim, panicked and dumped him at Okhla from where a passerby brought him home.

Arjun Jhamb Verma, a Class IX student of Gyan Bharati School in Saket, was kidnapped on his way to school on the morning of November 20. By Sunday night, the south Delhi police had arrested the two MBA students along with four others, including the kingpin who is an electronics and real estate dealer. The others include an inter-state extortionist and his accomplice as well as a hair-stylist.

Both MBA students were pursuing their course through correspondence. Police said Piyush Jain (24) had enrolled in IMT Ghaziabad and also dabbled in shares. His close friend Rohit Chopra (24), who is doing an MBA from Ignou, is a property dealer in Gurgaon. He had apparently lost a lot of money due to the slump in prices of flats. Rohit had also invested in the stockmarket at Piyush’s insistence.

Rohit’s father is a general manager at a leading hotel in the capital while Piyush’s father is an established graphic designer with his own setup in Karol Bagh.

Courtesy: TOI

Written by Pratyush Chandra

November 24, 2008 at 10:49 pm

The Financial Crisis – The Crisis of Not Finding Barbarians?

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There is so much anxiety everywhere. Till recently the neoliberal world prospered by spreading insecurity and inculcating the feeling of ‘what comes next’ among the working class. This fragmented the class consciousness and competition thrived. Didn’t our good old Marx and Engels taught us the following?

“In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market…[T]he “organisation of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves… The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers.”

But Marx understood that competition among workers is essentially a representation of competition among capitalists. There is a theory of displacing crisis, anxiety etc, that gives a patient reason to survive. In economic theory it is called the theory of external markets. Capital and capitalists thrive only by externalising/selling/’exporting’ commodities, crisis etc, to labour and other nations (or capitalists)… Rosa Luxemburg stressed on this aspect in her understanding of imperialism. The crisis period is that period in the political economic life of capitalism, when this export meets with obstinate hurdles.

Economists tell us that the present crisis is due to an unrestrained financialisation that the neoliberal globalisation has triggered. But then, hasn’t this radical financialisation diminished every external space? As soon as externality is posed, we find it accommodated and submitted to the larger global structure. Then in the above perspective, this is the crisis and the reason for anxiety! For the time being, there is no place to ‘export’ crisis – this is the biggest crisis!

More than a hundred years ago, a prominent Greek poet C.P. Cavafy wrote the following which clearly presents what is happening today – a crisis of not finding barbarians!

– Why should this anxiety and confusion
suddenly begin. (How serious faces have become.)
Why have the streets and squares emptied so quickly,
and why has everyone returned home so pensive?

Because night’s fallen and the barbarians have not arrived.
And some came from the border
and they say the barbarians no longer exist.

Now what will become of us without barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.

(‘Waiting for the barbarians’ in The Collected Poems of C.P. Cavafy, Translated by Aliki Barnstone, WW Norton & Company (2006), p 29)

Written by Pratyush Chandra

November 18, 2008 at 4:04 am

ET Debates – Globalisation impedes labour mobility?

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The Economic Times

Anti-immigration laws are enforced not to stop but control new settlements and to legitimise the use-and-throw logic that characterises neo-liberalism. This increases labour vulnerability economically and politically — by differentially including the immigrants and ghettoising the local consciousness against them.

Throughout the world — in Maharashtra, in Assam, in the US, everywhere — the same ghettoised psyche comes coupled with the trans-politicisation of economy, which has relegated people to passive receptors of global mobility of capital.

Specific identitarian conflicts today are various realisations of the competitive ethic that underlies a market-oriented political economy. With the entrenching of this ethic in every corner of the society under globalisation, such conflicts are bound to multiply.

What the market does essentially is that it perpetuates fragmentation and individuation, thus posing every division in a horizontal competition. Even those conflicting interests, which could be resolved only by structural transformation, are preserved through their metamorphoses into competing groups and lobbies.

Arguably the greatest Indian philosopher, Muhammad Iqbal understood this when he said, “Fanaticism is nothing but the principle of individuation working in the case of group”. In other words, regional/national fanaticism that defines anti-immigration today is the product of individuation that competition necessarily poses.

Under neo-liberal globalisation, I agree, the “global village” has become a virtual reality. However, in this village citizens are reduced to “much as potatoes in a sack form a sack of potatoes”.

They are thrown into a large “stagnant swamp”, where they desperately try to save themselves and stand up in whatever way they can — even if at the expense of others. So anti-immigrant upsurge and its legitimacy are nothing but a vent to this desperation. It is a commodified deformation, in the socio-political market, of structural conflicts.

Hence, the question is not whether globalisation impedes labour mobility, but how through various means it impedes labour’s ability to challenge capital.

Written by Pratyush Chandra

November 4, 2008 at 7:48 pm

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