Capitalism’s Discourse on “Development” Prabhat Patnaik

Capitalism’s discourse on “development” which has become quite influential all over the third world in the neo-liberal period proceeds as follows: (i) “development” must consist in shifting the work-force from the traditional (petty production) sector which is overcrowded with low labour productivity, and hence constitutes a repository of poverty,  to the modern (capitalist) sector which has much higher labour productivity. (ii) For this shift to occur, the modern (capitalist sector) must be allowed to grow as rapidly as possible, for which all impediments to capital accumulation must be removed. (iii) Even if, in the process of the modern (capitalist) sector’s…

The Importance of Dissatisfaction Prabhat Patnaik

In a slave society, one can argue, the interest of the slaves lies in keeping the slave-owner happy, for otherwise he is likely to flog and whip them mercilessly which would cause them great agony. Likewise in a caste society, one can argue, the interest of the dalit lies in being as inconspicuous as possible, in not “polluting” the upper castes through his presence, for otherwise he is likely to be beaten and lynched. Such behavior however appears “rational” only if we adopt exclusively a perspective that accepts the system that sees no possible existence outside of it. The same…

A Dangerous Period Prabhat Patnaik

For over half a century after the second world war, fascism had ceased to be a serious political force anywhere. There were no doubt many authoritarian, even murderous, regimes, and military dictatorships, especially in the third world, often installed through CIA-backed coups against progressive nationalist governments, and enjoying the tacit support of the U.S. But these must be distinguished from fascist regimes, which rely on mass political mobilization by arousing hatred against some hapless minority. For people of my generation, and several succeeding ones, the main contest appeared to be between liberalism and socialism. There were I believe, two major…

The Growing Income Inequality Prabhat Patnaik

Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel have just written a paper as part of their work for the World Inequality Report discussing the movement of income inequality in India. And their conclusion is that the extent of income inequality in India at present is greater than it has ever been at any time in the last one hundred years. Their estimates go back to 1922 when the Income Tax Act became operational in India. The share of the top 1 percent of the population in total income at that date was around 13 percent. It increased to 21 percent by the…

Financing Education Prabhat Patnaik

The Draft National Education Policy unveiled by the central government puts forward a bizarre line of reasoning. Education, it is argued on the basis of a long-held and honourable belief going back to the Kothari Commission, should have an annual expenditure of around 6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product; we have come nowhere near this figure even after so many years and cannot do so on the basis of government effort owing to our stretched budgetary resources; hence, to realize this target, which most right-thinking persons in the country would accept, we must draw the private sector into the…

NPAs: All talk and no action C. P. Chandrasekhar

The media are full of it. Viral Acharya, a recently inducted Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has declared publicly that resolving the problem of bank stress resulting from large non-performing assets (NPAs) on their balance sheets is the RBI’s priority, taking precedence over measures such as interest rate reduction to spur growth. The issue here is not just one of preventing bank insolvency, but of keeping the credit pipe open. Banks burdened with NPAs are likely to be less willing to expand their loan books, and if interest rates are too low, banks may be unwilling…

The Question of Farm-loan Waiver Prabhat Patnaik

The question of farm-loan waiver that is being demanded by the peasantry is much misunderstood. Such a waiver, it is argued by critics, would vitiate the credit-culture in the country: people would stop repaying loans henceforth in expectation of waivers on them. Since the UPA government had waived farm-loans a few years ago and now again there is a demand for a farm-loan waiver, peasants, they contend, are getting into a habit of not paying loans and demanding periodic waivers instead. Somebody, it is further added, has to bear the burden of the loan after all; and if the peasants…

Communalism and Working Class Struggles Prabhat Patnaik

Comrade B.T. Ranadive used to reminisce that in pre-independence Bombay (as it was then called) there would occasionally be impressive workers’ strikes at the call of Communist-led trade unions which were powerful in the city at that time, at which Hindu and Muslim workers would stand shoulder to shoulder. Not surprisingly however, given the colonial context, these strikes were not always successful, and, when that happened, they would often be followed by communal riots. This cycle, of unity followed by horrendous disunity leading even to communal riots, was an expression of contending forms of consciousness among the workers: a budding…

The Post-Neoliberal Conjuncture Prabhat Patnaik

The question of an alternative to neo-liberalism has now come on to the agenda not just as a matter of speculation or as a mere abstract means of mobilizing people against neo-liberalism, but as an urgent practical issue. This is because, for reasons I shall discuss shortly, neo-liberalism as we have known it till now has reached a dead-end. Sections I and II below discuss these reasons. Section III examines the fall-out of the crisis of neo-liberalism. Section IV discusses critically the alternative to neo-liberalism being attempted by Donald Trump in the U.S., and Section V suggests the outline of…

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…