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Author Archive | Prabhat Patnaik

The Meaning of Financial Liberalisation

The term financial liberalisation is used to cover a whole set of measures, such as the autonomy of the Central Bank from the government; the complete freedom of finance to move into and out of the economy, which implies the full convertibility of the currency; the abandonment of all “priority sector” lending targets; an end […]

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Should the Left Become Social Democratic?

On a television channel on counting day, the panellists discussing the assembly election results were asked to offer advice to the Left, which had lost both the large states it ruled, one of them quite massively, on how it should reform itself for a future resurrection.  The overwhelming opinion among them was that it should […]

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Labour Market Flexibility

One of the most persistent demands of the advocates of neo-liberalism in India has been for the introduction of “labour market flexibility”, by which they mean the absolute right of employers to hire and fire workers as and when they please, without any let or hindrance.  The absence of such flexibility, they claim, has been […]

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Lenin and Keynes

At first sight no two persons could have been more dissimilar.  One was a Cambridge don, with more than one foot in the British government; a supporter of the Liberal Party, staunchly opposed to the Bolshevik Revolution; an aesthete and a member of the Bloomsbury Group; a life peer in imperial Britain, and a solid, […]

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The World Food Crisis

While the advanced capitalist countries are hit by an acute crisis of recession and unemployment, the developing world is facing, apart from the fallout of this crisis, an acute food crisis.  Hunger afflicts the developing world today with a virulence not seen in decades.  World food prices, not just in nominal but in real terms […]

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The Criminalization of Dissent

While there will be general agreement that the judgement in Binayak Sen‘s case represents a gross miscarriage of justice, most people will attribute it to the overzealousness of a lower judicial functionary, or, at the most, to the prevailing atmosphere in the state of Chhattisgarh.  If the trial had been held elsewhere, they would argue, […]

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Notes on Contemporary Imperialism

Phases of Imperialism Lenin dated the imperialist phase of capitalism, which he associated with monopoly capitalism, from the beginning of the twentieth century, when the process of centralization of capital had led to the emergence of monopoly in industry and among banks.  The coming together (coalescence) of the capitals in these two spheres led to […]

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The Currency War

Everyone is talking now of the “currency war” that seems to be breaking out among the world’s leading economies, each working for a depreciation of its currency vis-à-vis the others.  The effect of a currency depreciation is to enlarge the exports of the country undertaking such a depreciation and to reduce its imports, since its […]

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Economics, Ideology, and Imperialism

  Prof. Prabhat Patnaik, eminent Marxist economist, taught in CESP-JNU (Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University) over the last four decades.  He has been one of the most outstanding economists in India and a great teacher.  He has retired from JNU recently.  On the occasion of his farewell, the students of CESP […]

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The Paradox of Capitalism

John Maynard Keynes, though bourgeois in his outlook, was a remarkably insightful economist, whose book Economic Consequences of the Peace was copiously quoted by Lenin at the Second Congress of the Communist International to argue that conditions had ripened for the world revolution.  But even Keynes’ insights could not fully comprehend the paradox that is […]

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On the Allahabad High Court Verdict

There are three obvious problems with the Allahabad High Court judgment on the Babri Masjid issue.  Each of them in isolation is potentially damaging for the Constitutional fabric of the country; together they can cause irreparable harm. The first is the obliteration of the distinction between “fact” and “faith”, which represents a serious retrogression to […]

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FDI as a Means of Financing Development

Discussions on foreign direct investment (FDI) as a means of financing development often suffer from two different shortcomings.  The first, a very basic one, confuses real with financial resources.  The second does not distinguish between different forms of foreign direct investment.  The question of financing development is concerned with finding the real resources for increasing […]

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The Sacred Cow

The early years of the Left Front government in West Bengal in the late seventies had been marked by severe power cuts in Calcutta (as it then was) and elsewhere in the state.  One evening as “load-shedding” began, a little urchin in a slum neighbouring a high-rise jumped up and down clapping his hands, shouting: […]

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The Myth of the “Sub-prime Crisis”

Capitalism, like the proverbial horse, kicks even when in decline.  Even as the current crisis hit it, it gave an ideological kick by attributing the crisis to “sub-prime” lending; and so well-directed was its kick that the whole world ended up calling it the “sub-prime crisis”. The idea, bought even in progressive circles, was that […]

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The State under Neo-liberalism

Much has been written on the subject of the capitalist State in the era of neo-liberalism.  Two features of the “neo-liberal State” in particular have been highlighted.1  One relates to the change in the nature of the State, from being an entity apparently standing above society and intervening in its economic functioning in the interests […]

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The Structural Crisis of Capitalism

There is a very pervasive view that the current capitalist crisis consists exclusively of the financial crisis and, in so far as the financial crisis is now over, the crisis as a whole is over.  This, I believe, is erroneous, and this is because, like Bob Brenner, I also believe that the current financial crisis […]

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Socialism or Reformism?

I We live at a time when resistance to the inequities that exist in this world and the struggle for a better world are almost totally detached from any striving for socialism.  Climate change, imperialist aggression, forcible dispossession of peasants in the name of “development”, oppression of the tribal population, gender discrimination, and ecological degradation […]

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India: The Choice before the Maoists

The Maoist leadership claims that it had nothing to do with the Jnaneshwari Express accident that killed 150 persons.  I am willing to take their word for it.  But this also means that those who caused the sabotage, while nominally belonging to the ranks of the Maoists, were acting on their own.  Nobody commits such […]

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Capitalism’s Self-Destructive Spontaneity

Under the Gold Standard the values of different currencies were fixed in terms of gold, which meant that the exchange rates between those currencies were fixed.  Exchange rate movements therefore could not be used to enlarge net exports and hence domestic employment.  At the same time governments were committed to the principle of “sound finance”, […]

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