In Memoriam: Samir Amin

IDEAs network mourns the loss of the celebrated Marxist thinker Samir Amin, who was also a Member of our Advisory Board. Samir Amin’s razor-sharp intellect, penetrating analysis, strong anti-imperialism and conviction in the importance of third world solidarity as well as his deep and continuous commitment to progressive causes around the world, will continue to remain an inspiration for us. We publish below an obituary by Prabhat Patnaik. SAMIR AMIN (1931-2018) Prabhat Patnaik Samir Amin, the renowned Marxist thinker and economist, passed away on August 13 in Paris. Born in Cairo on September 3, 1931, to an Egyptian father and…

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 State of The Economy Prabhat Patnaik

Newspaper headlines over the last few days have highlighted three facts which point to the current abysmal state of the Indian economy. The first relates to inflation, where the June 2018 wholesale price index was 5.77 percent above that of June last year; this is the highest inflation rate witnessed since December 2013. The second is a burgeoning trade deficit: the trade deficit in June, at $ 16.6 billion, was again the highest for any month in the last five years. The third relates to the industrial stagnation that has set in: the growth in factory output in May (the…

Has there been an MSP hike for Kharif Crops? Prabhat Patnaik

Much has been written by now exposing the fraudulence of the government’s claims of a “historic” rise in the Minimum Support Price for kharif crops. It has been pointed out for instance that while the Swaminathan Committee had recommended that the MSP should be fixed at 50 percent above the cost of production C2 which includes rental on own land, a recommendation that the BJP in its 2014 election manifesto had promised to implement, the current MSP still falls way below that level.The claim that the government has fulfilled its campaign promise,made by the BJP and its subservient media, is…

The Proposed Abolition of the UGC Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government is bringing in legislation in the coming Monsoon session of the Parliament to abolish the University Grants Commission. The UGC has two important roles at present. One is the distribution of funds to colleges and universities; this will now be handled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The other role is a regulatory one, which will now be taken over by a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). This Commission however will have no funds to distribute. The proposed set-up will immensely increase political control over the academia. The fact that the distribution of funds will…

Why didn’t Socialism have Over-production Crises? Prabhat Patnaik

Socialism has collapsed over large tracts of the globe. Where it still exists, the economic regimes have undergone considerable reforms. Not surprisingly therefore the old socialist regimes are objects of much vilification these days. While capitalism, understandably, has a vested interest in promoting such vilification, the Left opponents of capitalism continue to remain too shell-shocked to counter it. There were to be sure serious problems with the earlier socialist regimes, which manifested themselves above all in a de-politicization of the working class whose class dictatorship they were supposed to represent. But at the same time it must never be forgotten…

George Soros on the Current Conjuncture Prabhat Patnaik

Billionaire financier George Soros has set financial markets aflutter by suggesting that a new world financial crisis is in the offing. In a speech he gave recently to a think-tank, he underscored the outflow of finance capital from the third world which is likely to catch these economies in a cycle of exchange rate depreciations and austerity. And he talked specifically of the European Union facing an “existential crisis” on account of three factors: its territorial disintegration as exemplified by Brexit, austerity, and the refugee crisis. The solution he offered for Europe was a typically Keynesian one which included a…

The Invisible Class Prabhat Patnaik

G.K.Chesterton has a well-known detective story involving Father Brown called “The Invisible Man”, where “invisibility” is supposed to characterize the postman: one is so used to seeing the postman come and go that one scarcely ever notices him. “Invisibility” in Chesterton’s sense however can get attached not just to an individual but to a whole class; and in our country, the peasantry undoubtedly is the “invisible class”. The peasantry has been called many things by many people, from “a sack of potatoes” to “an awkward class”. But it is above all an “invisible class” whose presence, and providing of essentials…

Trump Versus the Rest Prabhat Patnaik

Donald Trump’s leaving the G-7 summit without budging an iota on protectionism is indicative of the disunity among the leading capitalist countries on the strategy to overcome the capitalist crisis. Trump has decided that the U.S. would go its own way, by enlarging the fiscal deficit, not just for giving tax concessions to the corporates, which would have little demand-stimulating effect anyway, but also for increasing government expenditure which would have this effect, and at the same time by protecting the domestic market. These two strands of Trump’s strategy have to go together. In fact in the absence of protectionism,…