Taking notes 37: Meritocracy, repression and Piketty’s apocalyptic asymptote

by Sanjay Perera
Much has been said about Thomas Piketty’s important and much talked about book. But not enough has been said about his nuanced wit and jibes at a system of meritocratic capitalism that is starting to merge with the hereditary accumulation and growth of wealth termed as patrimonial capitalism. But then it can also get quite serious. Continue reading Taking notes 37: Meritocracy, repression and Piketty’s apocalyptic asymptote

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India and the politics of ‘corruption’

by Anjan Chakrabarti & Anup Dhar Politics begins where the masses are, not where there are thousands, but where there are millions, that is where serious politics begins. — Lenin Think of all the people in Tagore’s Red Oleander, residing perhaps in post-independent India –– who did not have names and were identified as mere numbers, 21F, 79D, 84M, etc. — forming their own party with the assistance of Nandini, the female rebel protagonist (Ranjan — the other rebel protagonist had already been killed by the King) and challenging the King, the Gosain (clergy), the Adhyapak (professor) and a host … Continue reading India and the politics of ‘corruption’

Class and need: Social surplus and Marxian theorization of development

by Anjan Chakrabarti We know that there have been two paths of development, paths that are not always considered complementary to one another. The first and still the dominant path would contemplate economic growth as the basic indicator of capturing the increase in standard of living (either measured as GDP per capita or GDP per worker) which represents development of a nation or region; thus poor and rich countries are differentiated in terms of, say, the level of GDP per capita and resultantly, the path to development of poor countries lie in expanding the latter as fast as possible. High … Continue reading Class and need: Social surplus and Marxian theorization of development

Human Rights: A Marxian perspective

by Zoltan Zigedy For nearly three hundred and fifty years, human rights have been important, if not dominant, instruments in the endeavor for social justice. For much of this history, contestants have cited universal rights as marking their position on the field of struggle. It is equally important to notice that before the seventeenth century, social justice was more often than not contested in a language other than rights-talk. If Froissart’s Chronicles are to be believed, the Jacquerie of the French countryside and the English peasantry of the 1381 uprising knew no full-blown notion of universal human rights. Instead, they … Continue reading Human Rights: A Marxian perspective

Nightfall: Dimming of the dream and search for an alternative

by P. J. Laska Given the emphasis on imposing hegemony by military means, it is a splendid irony that ‘American Way of Life’ should share its acronym (AWOL) with the military term “Absent Without Leave.” — http://www.laetusinpraesens.org Ronald Reagan in the famous “Morning-in-America” speech that was part of his 1984 re-election campaign took credit for the improvement of the economy since his election in 1980.  By 1983 the inflationary spiral of the 70’s had been brought under control by Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volker, who was originally appointed by Carter and then reappointed by Reagan in 1983.  Reagan could also … Continue reading Nightfall: Dimming of the dream and search for an alternative

Anarchy and autonomy: Contemporary social movements, theory, and practice

By Jeff Shantz In an earlier article (Shantz 1998), written almost three years before the dramatic anarchist interventions during the Seattle WTO meetings of 1999, I suggested that theories of social movements were ill-suited either for understanding or even appreciating the innovative practices and ideas then being undertaken by anarchists in North America.  That article, and a series of follow-up articles, predicted the return of anarchist movements to a place of great importance within anti-capitalist struggles and offered the view that sociological movement analysis would largely be taken by surprise by the development (Shantz, 1999a; 1999b). Unfortunately, in the years … Continue reading Anarchy and autonomy: Contemporary social movements, theory, and practice

Structural crisis needs structural change

by István Mészáros When stressing the need for a radical structural change it must be made clear right from the beginning that this is not a call for an unrealizable utopia. On the contrary, the primary defining characteristic of modern utopian theories was precisely the projection that their intended improvement in the conditions of the workers’ lives could be achieved well within the existing structural framework of the criticized societies. Thus Robert Owen of New Lanark, for instance, who had an ultimately untenable business partnership with the utilitarian liberal philosopher Jeremy Bentham, attempted the general realization of his enlightened social … Continue reading Structural crisis needs structural change