Artificially Created Distress Utsa Patnaik

Without adequate preparation or thought, the monetary authorities and the government have taken a drastic step declaring as worthless over 86 per cent by value of the currency notes in circulation with the public. A prior large increase of lower denomination notes should have been ensured through banks and ATMs, so that overall money supply did not reduce and a normal level of activity could be maintained. This was not done, so effectively a very severe monetary contraction has been imposed, the purchasing power of the population has been suddenly taken away, reducing the level of economic activity and causing…

Why the Corrupt Rich will Welcome Modi’s ‘Surgical Strike on Corruption’ Jayati Ghosh

Narendra Modi came to power in India on a promise to end corruption. Halfway into his tenure, little seems to have happened to achieve this goal. The most obvious steps – such as taking a strong line on the known illegal accounts held in Swiss banks and tax havens, or ending the ability to hold shares without revealing your identity, or making funding of political parties transparent – have simply not been taken. People were beginning to murmur that the government had not lived up to its grandiose promises. So last week Modi did some more of the smoke and…

The Political Economy of Demonetising High Value Notes Jayati Ghosh

The Modi government is extremely adept at optics, at policy measures presented in a blaze of publicity that dazzles the public, rather than with the required attention to detail that might ensure their success. The latest announcement of the demonetisation of high value bank notes is of the “shock and awe” variety of measures. While presented as evidence of the government’s supposedly firm resolve to root out black money, in reality it will barely touch the problem of generation of black money, even as it is being implemented in a way that causes immense economic harm to ordinary people and…

Demonetization of Currency Notes Prabhat Patnaik

Narendra Modi went on national television at 8 p.m. on November 8 to announce that from midnight of that very date, i.e. in a mere four hours’ time, 500 and 1000 rupee notes would cease to be legal-tender. The justification advanced for this bizarre move was that it would strike at “black money”. An additional argument was thrown in, to the effect that fake currency notes used by “terrorists” would now cease to be effective; and some particularly enthusiastic supporters of the government even went to the extent of calling it a “surgical strike against terrorism”. I shall come to…

The Spontaneity of Capitalism Prabhat Patnaik

  The post-war restructuring of capitalism involving decolonization, the introduction of Keynesian demand management, and the institution of democracy based on universal adult suffrage, represented concessions made by the system to ward off the Communist threat which the enhanced prestige of the Soviet Union, the march of the Red Army across Eastern Europe, the sacrifices made by the Communists in the anti-fascist struggle all over Europe, and the Chinese Revolution had brought to the fore. True, the Yalta agreement had bound the Soviet Union into not supporting Communist ascendancy in Western Europe, in countries like France, Italy and Greece, in…

Marxist Theory and the October Revolution Prabhat Patnaik

Marx’s theory when it was first presented had a far more profound impact on intellectual life in Russia than anywhere else. True, in Germany the entire working class movement, far stronger than elsewhere (the German Social Democrats used to bring out as many as 86 daily newspapers in that country on the eve of the first world war), was directly influenced by Marx, but this is quite different from influencing intellectual life in general. By Marx’s own admission one of the most perceptive reviews of Capital had appeared in Russia; and Lenin attests to the fact that in the Russia…

The Leninist Conjuncture Prabhat Patnaik

The basic theoretical presumption underlying the October Revolution was that because inter-imperialist rivalry had unleashed an epoch of wars that forced workers of different imperialist countries to kill each other across the trenches, capitalism had reached a climacteric. It had become historically “moribund”, ushering in an era of social revolutions, which would not just be confined to the advanced capitalist countries but would also encompass the oppressed countries whose peoples too got dragged into these wars as “canon-fodder”. What could hold back such revolutions was vacillation on the part of some sections of the working class deriving from the pusillanimity…