Dissecting capitalism: Season II
YSI webinar series on dissecting capitalism
April 2022 - August 2022
Season II of the series aims to further explore the tenets of capitalism over time & examine its influence on the global economy and social classes.
Welcome to Season II of "Dissecting capitalism: Its past, present and future"!
This project aims to organise 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, and the devastating war in Ukraine along with decades-old wars in the middle-east and Africa, economists and social scientists have started to study capitalism with different ontological lenses and empirical data. 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, we question the strengths and limitations of capitalism 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.
With several channels of discussion on various platforms amongst people of all backgrounds, it has become a common endeavour of the economists and social scientists to attempt to "rethink" or "dissect" capitalism 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.
More information on Season I
12 Aug 2022
Neo-liberalism and the Abridgement of Freedom
This session of the webinar series will feature Prof. Prabhat Patnaik. He is is former professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India and currently Professor Emeritus of the same. Abstract Neo-liberalism entails the coexistence of globalized capital, including finance, with a nation-state. In such a scenario the nation-state is compelled to accede to the demands of globalized finance for fear that otherwise the "confidence of investors" in the economy will be undermined and finance will move elsewhere en masse causing a crisis. This is why all political parties in a country that dare not look beyond a neo-liberal regime pursue more or less the same economic agenda, which means a substitution of the sovereignty of the people by the sovereignty of globalized finance, and hence an abridgement of democracy. Speaker's Bio Prabhat Patnaik is a highly respected Indian political economist known particularly for his advocacy of measures to directly improve the lives of the poor. He was born in 1945 in Orissa, on the eastern coast of India and after initial schooling in his home town, he moved in 1957 to Daly College, Indore, a public school in central India, on a Government of India Merit Scholarship. Thereafter he obtained a scholarship to study at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, where he completed BA (Honours) and MA degrees in Economics. He joined the Faculty of Economics and Politics of the University of Cambridge, UK in 1969 and was elected a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. In 1974 he returned to India as an Associate Professor at the newly established Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (CESP) at theJawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. He became a Professor at the Centre in 1983 and continued till his retirement. His specialization is Macroeconomics and Political Economy, areas in which he has written a number of books and articles. His books include Time, Inflation and Growth (1988), Economics and Egalitarianism (1990), Whatever Happened to Imperialism and Other Essays (1995), Accumulation and Stability Under Capitalism (1997), and The Retreat to Unfreedom (2003). Also he has been the editor of Social Scientist, which under his stewardship has become a highly effective vehicle for progressive ideas and fertile research. He was part of a high-power task force of the United Nations (U.N.) to recommend reform measures for the global financial system. Chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, the other members were Belgian sociologist Francois Houtart and Ecuador's Minister for Economic Policy Pedro Paez. He regularly writes his blog on the IDEAs and several opinion articles on newspapers, including, The Indian Express, and Frontline. Format Prof. Prabhat Patnaik 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: Season II 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. More information on Season ILearn more
1 May 2022
Capitalism and climate change: An Asian perspective
The introductory session of the webinar series will feature Professor Jayati Ghosh. She is a Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA. Abstract The inequalities and institutional structures of global capitalism are preventing humanity from preventing climate change or responding adequately to its ferocious effects. I consider how this is playing out in developing Asia and what can be done about it. Speaker's Bio Jayati Ghosh taught economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for nearly 35 years. She is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA. She has authored and/or edited 20 books and more than 200 scholarly articles. Recent books include “The making of a catastrophe: Covid-19 and the Indian economy”, Aleph Books forthcoming 2022; “When governments fail: Covid-19 and the economy”, Tulika Books and Columbia University Press 2021 (co-edited); “Women workers in the informal economy”, Routledge 2021 (edited); “Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women’s Work in Globalising India”, Women Unlimited, New Delhi 2009; co-edited “Elgar Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development, 2014; co-edited “After Crisis”, Tulika 2009; co-authored “Demonetisation Decoded”, Routledge 2017; She has published more than 200 scholarly articles. Prof. Ghosh has received several prizes, including for the 2015 Adisheshaiah Award for distinguished contributions to the social sciences in India; the International Labour Organisation’s Decent Work Research Prize for 2011; the NordSud Prize for Social Sciences 2010, Italy. She has advised governments in India and other countries, including as Chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Commission on Farmers’ Welfare in 2004, and Member of the National Knowledge Commission of India (2005-09). She was the Executive Secretary of International Development Economics Associates (www.networkideas.org), an international network of heterodox development economists, from 2002 to 2021. She has consulted for international organisations including ILO, UNDP, UNCTAD, UN-DESA, UNRISD and UN Women and is member of several international boards and commissions, including the UN High Level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs, the Commission on Global Economic Transformation of INET, the International Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT). In 2021 she was appointed to the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All, chaired by Mariana Mazzucato. She writes regularly for popular media like newspapers, journals and blogs. Format Prof. Jayati Ghosh 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: Season II 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. More information on Season ILearn more
29 Jul 2022
Indian Capitalism from the Field
This session of the webinar series will feature Prof. Barbara Harriss-White. She is the Emeritus Professor of Development Studies, Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College , Oxford University and a Visiting professor at JNU. Abstract While Polanyi argued that a society dominated by market exchange – market society – was a dehumanised contradiction in terms, both Marxist and neo-classical economics have modelled the logics of capitalism and of markets in pure terms. But pure markets and capitalism only exist in the forms of these models. Much effort has been expended on analysing ‘actually existing’ capitalism and ‘real’ markets which are found to be suffused with the institutions/ structures/ relations/politics which provide historical character. How have field studies help us to cope with the tensions between the general and the specific? This lecture will offer some reflections on this question. Speaker's Bio Barbara Harriss-White is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies, Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College , Oxford University and a Visiting professor at JNU. Since 1969 when she drove from Cambridge to New Delhi, she has studied aspects of the Indian economy through fieldwork – on agriculture and its markets, on many dimensions of deprivation, on small town India, latterly on the economy as a waste-producing system and on the state. She has published widely : latest books/special issues (2016) Middle India And Urban-Rural Development: Four Decades Of Change (New Delhi, Springer); (2019) (with Lucia Michelutti) The Wild East: Criminal Political Economies In South Asia (London, University College London Press – open access; (2020) (with Ajay Gandhi, Douglas Haynes and Sebastian Schwecke) Rethinking Markets In Modern India, (CUP); (2021) (with Sukhpal Singh and Lakwinder Singh, Agricultural Market Reforms And Farmer Protests In India In The Context Of Agrarian Crisis In South Asia (Millennial Asia Special Issue 12(3)). She supervised 40 PhDs and 40 post docs, directed Oxford’s Queen Elizabeth House and was founder-director of Oxford’s Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme. Restricted during the covid years, she has been active in Teachers against the Climate Crisis, a group of university teachers working out of Delhi. Format Prof. Barbara Harriss-White 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: Season II 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. More information on Season ILearn more
20 May 2022
Government and grains
The full title of the lecture is Government and grains: re-examining the historical relationship between nation states and economic security This session of the webinar series will feature Prof. Shailaja Fennell. She is Professor of Regional Transformation and Economic Security, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge. Abstract The provision of grain by national governments is a legacy long-rooted in the history of the nation state in Asia. The national struggles that ensued in the twentieth century provided a new context for the privileging of cereal policy as national governments saw feeding their populations as a feature that distinguished them from colonial and therefore uncaring administrations.The result of government policy managing the supply of food grains through agricultural subsidies is the subject of heated debate in recent decades. While advanced capitalist countries are vociferous in demanding free trade with regard to food products from developing countries, they are fiercely protective of the livelihoods of their own farmers. This talk will contrast the emphasis on descriptions of hunger and death associated with famines, is contrasted with the narratives of productivity of food production, to show that there was unsubstantiated equivalence between food availability and economic security. The presentation will then move on to discussing an alternative framework where there is an longstanding emphasis on sustainability of agro-ecological zones instead of short-term thinking based on notions of comparative advantage. It concludes that such a framework is more effective for understanding the divergent pathways of capitalist accumulation and farmer impoverishments that uncomfortably coexist in many Asian economies today. Speaker's Bio Professor Shailaja Fennell is Professor of Regional Transformation and Economic Security, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge. Her research has focussed on institutional reform and collective action, food production and rural development; gender norms and gender gaps in development interventions, and provision of public goods and the role of partnerships. She has led on international research programmes in Asia and Africa: on TIGR2ESS, a UKRI funded research programme (2018-2022) to study how to improve crop productivity and water use, identify appropriate crops and farming practices for sustainable rural development in India: , on MillNeti, a sister research programme (2019-2021) that is focussed on advancing biofortified millets to reduce iron deficiency of people living in Ethiopia and The Gambia; on an ASEAN funded project (2019-2021), leading a core team responsible for designing the framework, commissioning experts, and compiling the latest research to deliver the first ASEAN Development Outlook that focuses on policies to ensure inclusion and sustainability in South-East Asia. She is co-founder of the Forgotten Crops Society (established in 2021), a professional association across academia, corporates and civil society to advance research and development for all major, under-researched, and forgotten crops so that food security is achieved, and livelihoods are improved. Format Prof. Shailaja Fennell 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: Season II 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. More information on Season ILearn more
27 May 2022
The Laws of Capitalism
This session of the webinar series will feature Prof. Katharina Pistor. She is the Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law at Columbia Law School and director of the Law School's Center on Global Legal Transformation. Abstract Why is capitalism, a system that is coded in law so resilient to legal governance? In an attempt to solve this problem, I identify three laws of capitalist law: Individual entitlements; legal arbitrage; and decentralized access to the centralized means of coercion. Understanding how these laws operate individually and how they interact with each other, I argue, is critical for reforming this system to address the weakening of democratic self-governance, but also the challenge of climate change. Speaker's Bio Katharina Pistor is the Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law at Columbia Law School and director of the Law School's Center on Global Legal Transformation. Her work spans comparative law and corporate governance, law and finance, and law and development. Her most recent book is "The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality" (2019), Princeton University Press. Format Prof. Katharina Pistor 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: Season II 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. More information on Season ILearn more
26 May 2022
Expulsions: The Rise of Extractive Logics in our Economies and Societies
This session of the webinar series will feature Prof. Saskia Sassen. She is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at the Columbia University, New York City. Abstract Among the strong patterns of the post 1980s period in so called Western Economies is a mix of economic and political vectors marked or shaped by extractive logics. We can find such extractive logics in entities as diverse as mining and facebook. The rise of such extractive logics is partial, but sufficiently powerful to have altered key features of our economies and societies. For instance, when mass consumption was the shaping sector of our economies (until about the 1980s) even the nastiest corporations wanted the sons and daughters of their clients to do better than their parents, so they would consume more. And they often supported government initiatives that transferred money to households directly or indirectly. This began to change with the privatisations, deregulations, and rise of finance and financialization in the 1980s. One way of understanding this better is to emphasize the extractive character of the leading economic sectors. Thus, for instance, how did Google make its first billion so fast and so unencumbered by all kinds of traditional constraints? one factor was that it got information about all residents for free and then sold it to business sectors. In my reading, this is one instance of what I refer to as an extractive logic. A second aspect I want to emphasize is the extent to which our major categories of analysis do not help us to track the trajectories of that which is expelled. To a large extent, these categories were developed when mass consumption was dominant and more and more people and households became part of that mass consumption logic. But since the 1980s this dominance of mass consumption weakened and other logics became dominant. One case is the financialization of a rapidly growing range of material and immaterial elements in our political economies. Speaker's Bio Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chairs The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. Her recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press 2008), A Sociology of Globalization (W. W. Norton 2007), and the 4th fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy (Sage 2011). The Global City came out in a new fully updated edition in 2001. Her books are translated into twenty-one languages. She is currently working on When Territory Exits Existing Frameworks (Under contract with Harvard University Press). She contributes regularly to OpenDemocracy and The Huffington Post. Format Prof. Saskia Sassen 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: Season II 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. More information on Season ILearn more
- South Asia
Sattwick Dey Biswas
For questions, the Project Organizers.