Dissecting capitalism: Its past, present and future
YSI South Asia Webinar on Capitalism
October 2021 - December 2021
This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.
This project aims to organize a webinar series on the dominant ideology/economic system - capitalism. In our living memory, the financial crisis was first to remind us of the limitations of existing socio-economic system built upon the capitalistic foundations. With the beginning of the 2020s and the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a change in the general consensus amongst economists and social scientists regarding capitalism. During this once in a century pandemic, the financial markets have continued their historic rise, in the presence of rising poverty, inequality and systemic disarray around the world. The dominant socio-economic system is somewhat failing to respond adequately to any large-scale crisis. As a result, the strengths and limitations of capitalism are questioned more than ever.
It has become a common point of discussion whether the current capitalist society is the best economic system for all. Another point of discussion is the reforms needed for capitalism to ensure socio-economic welfare or great thinkers and philosophers like Karl Marx right about the doom of capitalism.
With several channels of discussion on various platforms amongst people of all backgrounds, it has been a common phenomenon to make the attempt to "rethink" or "dissect" capitalism in order to analyse the gaping flaws of capitalism in its present form and to suggest means of reform and transformation. This webinar series brings together distinguished scholars of economics, philosophy, social policy and law to dissect capitalism with their unique theoretical and empirical lenses.
The presentation(s) will be typically 45 minutes long, followed by 20-40 minutes of discussion and Q&As.
There are no upcoming events in this project.
8 Nov 2021
Globalization as a Threat to Democracy
The introductory session of the webinar series will feature Professor Daniel W. Bromley, whose lecture will be based upon his latest book: Possessive Individualism: A Crisis of Capitalism Abstract The principle of comparative advantage stands as one of the most enduring theoretical claims of contemporary economics. The practical application of this claim supports a regime of international trade that is now characterized as globalization. While most economists praise this situation and comment on the enormous gains in human “welfare”, the empirical reality is that globalization weakens the ability of national governments to confront uniquely local economic problems under the need to remain “competitive” in the global economy. Within trading countries, the presence of winners and losers from globalization weakens traditional civic bonds that hold nation-states together. Inequality of opportunities and outcomes further undermine collective commitments. Individuals then respond by a retreat into self-interested possessive individualism. While foreign military threats tend to strengthen the bonds of citizenship, economic threats from globalization weaken community bonds. As governments lose control of economic policy, political anger is magnified. Soon, authoritarian leaders emerge claiming that only a strong central authority figure can fix the problems, and this causes democratic norms to give way to authoritarian tendencies. This lecture will divulge on why globalization is a threat to democratic coherence. Speaker's Bio Daniel W. Bromley is Anderson-Bascom Professor of Applied Economics (emeritus) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work focuses on institutional economics, the philosophical foundations of economics, environmental policy, and international development. He served 44 years as the editor of the journal *Land Economics*. He is listed in Who’s Who in Economics, and is a fellow of several professional societies. He was a Visiting Professor at Humboldt University in Berlin from 2009-2014. In 2011 he was awarded a generous prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany in recognition of his contributions to economics in Germany and the European Community. In 2016 he received the Veblen-Commons Award from the Association for Evolutionary Economics. He has written over a 150 journal papers and book chapters, and he has written or edited seventeen books—including: (1) Institutions and the Environment, (2) Vulnerable People, Vulnerable States: Redefining the Development Challenge, (3) Sufficient Reason: Volitional Pragmatism and the Meaning of Economic Institutions, (4) Economics, Ethics, and Environmental Policy: Contested Choices. His most recent book is Possessive Individualism: A Crisis of Capitalism. Format Prof. Daniel W. Bromley will be speaking for the first 45 minutes. We will then be holding a Q&A Session. This session is part of the larger project: Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.Learn more
11 Nov 2021
Multidimenisonal Poverty around the world: Unmasking Disparities
This session of the webinar series will feature Dr. Sabina Alkire. She is the Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford. The full title of her lecture is Multidimenisonal Poverty around the world: Unmasking Disparities by Ethnicity, Place Gender. Abstract ‘Multidimensional poverty indices such as the global MPI measure deprivations people experience directly, and so they can be disaggregated by any variables for which datasets are representative. They also draw on microdata, including data on individual household members. This seminar will present the intuitive findings of the October 2021 global MPI report, and also point out, for those interested, how the disparities it reveals across ethnic groups and the gendered and intrahousehold analyses make use of these facets of the datasets. Biography Sabina Alkire directs the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford. Previously, she worked at the George Washington University, Harvard University, the Human Security Commission, and the World Bank. She has a DPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford. Together with Professor James Foster, Sabina developed the Alkire-Foster (AF) method for measuring multidimensional poverty, a flexible technique that can incorporate different dimensions, or aspects of poverty, to create measures tailored to each context. With colleagues at OPHI this has been applied and implemented empirically to produce a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The MPI offers a tool to identify who is poor by considering the range of deprivations they suffer. It is used to report a headline figure of poverty (the MPI), which can be unpacked to provide a detailed information platform for policy design showing how people are poor nationally, and how they are poor by areas, groups, and by each indicator. Format Dr. Alkire will be speaking for the first 45 minutes. We will then be holding a Q&A Session. This session is part of the larger project: Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.Learn more
13 Nov 2021
Compressed Capitalism and Late Development in India
We are delighted to announce that this session of the webinar series will feature Prof. Dr. Anthony P. D'Costa , whose lecture will draw upon his book, Changing Contexts and Shifting Roles of the Indian State, and his research article, Capitalist Progress and Moral Economy: Sustaining Employment in India’s Handloom Sector. To reduce confusion for non-YSI participants: The event will take place on Friday November 12, 11 pm Pacific Time, which is Saturday November 13, 12:30 pm Indian Standard Time. Abstract The economic reforms initiated three and a half decades ago are often heralded as the beginning of a “new’ India and the unleashing of massive capitalist development potential. This is not untrue as many indicators of business, technology, and growth rates would confirm. However, what this narrative excludes is the vast swath of India that is untouched by these changes in any meaningful way, even if official reports of declining poverty are to be believed. An alternative approach to understanding India’s development dynamics is to position it in the wider capitalist dynamic of the late twentieth century and suggest that late entry to capitalism entails a set of dynamics in India and generally in the Global South that departs significantly from the classical capitalist transition. Using the concept of compressed capitalism with close affinity to but not equated with uneven and combined development, I show that new technologies, mature capitalists, a relatively well-developed state co-exist with dispossession and displacement of people and the persistence of petty commodity production. The resulting inequality (and wealth polarization) in India in an expanding economy is thus not an anomaly but a reflection of systemic late capitalist dynamics that is beset with a development cul-de-sac. Speaker Bio Anthony P. D'Costa is an Eminent Scholar in Global Studies and Professor of Economics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In the last thirty years, he has taught at the University of Melbourne as Chair and Professor of Contemporary Indian Studies, at the Copenhagen Business School as the A.P. Moller-Maersk Professor of Indian Studies, National University of Singapore, and the University of Washington as Professor of Comparative International Development. He has written on the political economy of steel, auto, IT, and handloom industries covering India, Japan, China, and South Korea on the themes of capitalism and globalization, state, economic nationalism, development, innovations, industrial restructuring, employment challenges, international migration of professionals, and wealth and inequality. He has written or edited a dozen books, published numerous book chapters and journal articles, and lectured widely. He has received numerous fellowships, including the Fulbright-Hays, American Institute of Indian Studies, and Abe from the Japan Foundation, contributed to the research effort of multilateral organizations, and served on numerous academic and professional committees. Format Prof. Anthony P. D'Costa will be speaking for the first 45 minutes. We will then be holding a Q&A Session. This session is part of the larger project: Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.Learn more
18 Nov 2021
Designing a Pro-Market Social Protection System: A Literature Review
This session of the webinar series will feature Prof. Dr. Einar Øverbye, whose talk will center around his chapter in the Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, titled Disciplinary Perspectives. Abstract A worry that public welfare may serve as a disincentive to thrift is older than the welfare state. Whether or not this worry is well founded, how large eventual negative efficiency effects may be, or whether negative effects are offset by even larger (and usually more subtle) positive efficiency effects, is the core theme in the economic debate on welfare states. The basic underlying question is about economic efficiency, be it on a micro or macro level. The disincentive argument is simple and straightforward: if people get paid for doing nothing, it may reduce their motive to do something. The counterarguments are usually more subtle. For example, the notion that unemployment insurance acts as a Keynesian automatic stabilizer, since expenditures go up (and stimulate demand) in hard times and decrease (and make public spending contract) in good times. Another counter-argument holds that unemployment benefits allow the unemployed to search longer for optimal work, securing a better fit between the buyers and sellers of labour. These are two of a series of arguments about possible positive efficiency effects of welfare states. A rule-based welfare state - by dampening social conflicts and fostering predictability - can also create a more stable environment for investors. This may attract long-term capital satisfied with modest but safe returns, rather than “buccaneer capitalists” hoping for a quick- win-and-then-out-again profit. Some also see a welfare state as a strategy to get interest groups to accept open markets, by offering them social protection if they should end up as losers (Katzenstein, Garrett, Rodrik). Within this line of thought, a rule-based welfare state can be conceptualized as a credible commitment device through which anticipated winners of economic globalization dampen resistance among anticipated losers, and hence maintain an international competitive pressure on domestic producers to stay efficient (Moene). Further arguments to explore concerns positive externalities related to investments in human capital and health (Becker); the ability of mandatory protection systems to overcome market failures in insurance markets (Hayek, Barr); avoid free-rider problems (Friedman); and having fewer disincentive effects than the de facto counterfactual alternatives - which tend to be occupational welfare plus informal systems, rather than market-based individual insurance schemes. However, with regard to all of the above, the devil is in the design. Getting the incentive structure right within mandatory systems is a challenge. Clientilistic-type welfare states that can change abruptly due to the ideological or idiosyncratic whims of a ruler are unlikely to foster good incentives, predictability and economic growth (Banerjee & Duflo, Acemoglu). It is possible to design mandatory welfare systems that are superior to private alternatives, but it is also possible to design mandatory welfare systems that are more dysfunctional than private alternatives. Speaker Bio Einar Øverbye is Professor in International Social Welfare and Health Policy at Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway. He has worked in the field of social and health policies since 1986. Some relevant publications include: Disciplinary perspectives on welfare states (Oxford Handbook on the Welfare State, forthcoming); Dilemmas when implementing conditional cash transfers: Lessons for Ghana and the rest of us (with Jones Danquah, forthcoming in International Social Security Review 2022); The Evolution of Social Welfare Systems in Europe 1883-2013: From limited to broad coverage, and from fragmented to integrated systems, in An Analysis for An Equitable and Sustainable Welfare System [in China], Bejiing: Development Research Center of the State Council of the People's Republic of China 2015, ISBN 978-7-5001-4185-3; Extending social security in developing countries: A review of three main strategies. International Journal of Social Welfare 2005 (4) p. 305-314. Format Prof. Einar Øverbye will be speaking for the first 45 minutes. We will then be holding a Q&A Session. This session is part of the larger project: Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.Learn more
19 Nov 2021
The Law is an Anagram of Wealth
It is with great pleasure that we inform you that this session of the webinar series will feature Prof. Dr. Benjamin Davy, visiting professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, and at the School of Architecture and Spatial Planning, TU Wien University. Abstract The title of an Anne Clark record (2008) captures nicely how material wealth depends on the existence of a legal system. My lecture will focus on the relationship between land uses, land values, and land law. Classic economists already were aware that wealth cannot be enjoyed in a sustainable fashion without property rights and the effective protection of the courts. According to Marx (1894: 772), the different forms of rent have in common »the economic realization of landed property, the legal fiction by virtue of which various individuals have exclusive possession of particular parts of the globe.« The exchange value and use value of land emerge as a result of institutions which approve of the possible and profitable uses of the land. In von Thünen’s world, the highest bidder prevails with her best use of the land if this use is secure. Without a land right, there is no land value. Joan Robinson asserted that »the right to exploit territory is the archetypal form of property. The whole structure of a society is affected by the rules of the game in respect to land tenure and inheritance« (Robinson 1965: 283). But the rules of the game of land uses are neither simple nor free from bias: »What we call land is an element of nature inextricably interwoven with men’s institutions. To isolate it and form a market out of it was perhaps the weirdest of all undertakings of our ancestors« (Polanyi 1944: 178). References Anne Clark (2008) The Law is an Anagram of Wealth. Spv Recordings.Marx, Karl (1894/1991) Capital. A critique of political economy. Volume III. Introduced by Ernest Mandel. Translated by David Fernbach. London: Penguin Books.Polanyi, Karl (1944/1957) The great transformation. The political and economic origins of our time. Boston: Beacon Press.Robinson, Joan (1965) The accumulation of capital. 2nd edition. London, Melbourne, & Toronto: Macmillan. Biography Ben Davy is visiting professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, and at the School of Architecture and Spatial Planning, TU Wien University. He was professor of land policy, land management and municipal geo-information at the School of Spatial Planning, TU Dortmund University. Ben was president of the International Academic Association on Planning, Law, and Property Rights (PLPR) and the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP). Among his books are "Essential Injustice" (1997) and "Land Policy" (2012). Currently, he works on land reform, land use ethics, and the dignity of human and non-human animals. Prof. Dr. Davy's book: Format Prof. Davy will be speaking for the first 45 minutes. We will then be holding a Q&A Session. This session is part of the larger project: Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.Learn more
2 Dec 2021
John Stuart Mill's Imperialism, Protestant Work Ethic, & Global South
We are extremely lucky to have Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Anderson, Max Shaye Professor of Public Philosophy, as well as, John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women's & Gender Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She will be discussing her some of the core ideas of her upcoming book on the history of the Protestant work ethic through the history of economics, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. We welcome you to our special session co-organised by South Asia WG, and Philosophy of Economics WG! We are delighted to have Diana Soeiro, as the co-organiser of this session within our larger project! John Stuart Mill's Imperialism, the Protestant Work Ethic, and Its Implications for the 21st Century Global South Abstract John Stuart Mill was a pivotal thinker in the liberal tradition and a champion of workers in his economic writings. He was also an imperialist who dedicated his entire professional life to serving the East India Company. I argue that these positions are irreconcilable, and trace Mill's contradictions to tensions inherent in the Protestant work ethic. 21st-century neoliberalism amounts to a revival of the reactionary version of the work ethic that underwrote Mill's imperialism. But there was also a progressive version of the work ethic, which can be updated to address the challenges that workers in the global South face in today's neoliberal globalized economy. Biography Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Anderson, Max Shaye Professor of Public Philosophy, as well as, John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women's & Gender Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She earned her B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1981 and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University in 1987. She joined the Philosophy Department at University of Michigan in 1987. Professor Anderson designed University of Michigan’s Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program, and was its founding director for two years. She has won fellowships from the ACLS and Guggenheim Foundations, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and served as President of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association. She is the author of Value in Ethics and Economics (Harvard UP, 1993), The Imperative of Integration (Princeton UP, 2010), Private Government (How Employers Rule our Lives, and Why We Don’t Talk About It) (Princeton UP, 2017) and numerous, widely reprinted articles in journals of philosophy, law, and economics. She specializes in moral and political philosophy, social and feminist epistemology, and the philosophy of the social sciences. Prof. Anderson is completing a book on the history of the Protestant work ethic in philosophy, economics, and public policy, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. Format Prof. Anderson will be speaking for the first 45 minutes. We will then be holding a Q&A Session. This session is part of the larger project: Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.Learn more
9 Dec 2021
Why poverty is more than a lack of income: Thoughts from China
We are extremely lucky to have Prof. Dr. Robert Walker, who will be discussing on our understanding of poverty beyond income. Abstract Because economists, especially developmental economists, have been so important in shaping discussions about poverty, it has long been measured, and sometimes conceptualised, simply as a lack of income in relation to needs. Times change, and poverty is increasingly being thought about in multidimensional terms, both within policy and academic circles. However, there is little conceptual basis for the choice of dimensions that are measured. Moreover, policy attention remains largely focussed on the people in poverty who need to be helped and are often thought to be the cause of the problem. The political reality is different. Poverty exists because those who are not poor do not care about poverty or the people who experience it. Political attention needs to focus on the prosperous middle class. China has eradicated absolute poverty only to find that relative poverty remains. This talk considers whether the Chinese middle-class care enough about relative poverty to have anything done about it and concludes that it does not. And the reasons seem to have as much to do with psychology as with economics. Biography Robert Walker is Professor at the Institute of Social Management/School of Sociology, Beijing Normal University under China's 'High Level Foreign Talents' programme. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Oxford where he is also Emeritus Fellow of Green Templeton College and 2021 Shorenstein Fellow, Harvard University. He was formerly Professor of Social Policy at the University Nottingham and before that Professor of Social Policy Research, Loughborough University where he was Director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Academy of Social Sciences and was awarded an MBE by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 for his services to social policy research. In 2020 he was nominated for a Friends of China award by the Chinese Ministry of Education. His research interests are eclectic but include poverty, social security, children’s studies, media presentation, policy evaluation and research methodology. Format Prof. Walker will be speaking for the first 45 minutes. We will then be holding a Q&A Session. This session is part of the larger project: Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.Learn more
10 Dec 2021
Beyond False Dilemmas in Economic Policy
This session of the webinar series will feature Dr. Sanjay G. Reddy. He will be discussing false dilemmas in economic policy. Abstract The aspirations of the people of the developing countries for improved living standards seems to make continued, indeed increased, economic growth a necessity. At the same time, the growth process that is present in many countries is economically, socially, and ecologically inadequate if not harmful (for instance, because the growth that is taking place is often "jobless", and because it is often accompanied by ecological devastation). How should we think about the resulting conundrum and how to overcome it? What are the roles of national policies and of international arrangements in resolving the dilemma? How can sensible international arrangements help to foster and sustain suitable national policies? Being "for or against" growth, markets or globalization proves conceptually inadequate, when the question is instead one of what forms of growth, markets or globalization one should seek. I will describe the economic arguments for "dissolving" rather than resolving this false dilemma, and sketch the shape of an alternative. Biography Sanjay G. Reddy is an Associate Professor of Economics at The New School for Social Research. For more please visit his personal webpage. Format Dr. Reddy will be speaking for the first 45 minutes. We will then be holding a Q&A Session. This session is part of the larger project: Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future This series aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.Learn more
- South Asia
Sattwick Dey Biswas
For questions, the Project Organizers.