April 20, 2015

Briefing: What is Neoliberalism?

History, assumptions, criticism and an evaluation from a theoretical perspective 

The Great Depression of 1929 has changed the way of economic thinking and the role of state on economy to a great extent. Keynes, at that time, objected to the supply driven classical liberal views and suggested that state must come up with an active economic policy response and intervene when and if there is a market failure. Between 1930s to late 1970s, Keynesian policies (state-led economic growth) and practices (import substitution) became the corner stone of economics. However, by 1970s there were several economic bottlenecks arising from oil shocks, inefficient production (mostly by state owned enterprises) as well as the gold standard. This has led to rise of the new laissez-faire economic thought which has been generally called neoliberalism.

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April 14, 2015

What Shapes the Direction of Capitalism?

Factors affecting the characteristics and direction of capital and capitalist development are important areas of discussion. Some views emphasise the class struggle and its effect on certain types of development while others underline inter-state relations as a departure point.
Focusing on the periodisation of the capitalist state form, Clarke, for one, argues that competition pressure on individual capitals and constant tendency to develop productive forces are main driving forces for over accumulation. They usually lead to development of world markets, generalisation of capitalist social relations of production, over-accumulation and uneven development of capital. To him, class character (and hence struggle) of the state is what is crucial since the subordination of the state to the rule of money and law confines the state within the limits imposed by the accumulation of capital on a world scale. He also admits that state’s ability to alleviate political impact of capitalist contradictions is closely related to the form of the international state system (and thus characteristics of capitalist production) whether it is a mercantilist, liberalist or an imperialist one.

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April 08, 2015

How Feudal State Has Evolved Into a Modern Bourgeois One?

The concept of state can be considered as an accumulation of different types of social and political as well as economic relations between different types of groups in a given society and time.
Many thinkers base their state analysis on two types; modern bourgeois state and feudal state. Gerstenberger, however, focuses on three historical state concepts; feudal state, ancien régime and bourgeois state.  He starts by identifying that whereas bourgeois state extended beyond Europe by way of colonization, this was not the case for the other two. This is a significant departure point  which define the limits of the analysis for each type of state. At the outset, Gerstenberger bases  her analysis of the feudal state on personal rule. There is no “state” isolated from concrete personal relationships and hence, she suggests, it is undesirable to use the term “state” for this type of organizations. Feudalism is the property of and directed at individuals realized via the use of armed force -which is superior to market and law-, sacral power and judicial power which are based on again personal rule. This personal rule is further legitimised, strengthened and facilitated by the church by giving the ruler a religious characteristic over its peasants. Gerstenberger also claims that in feudalism there is no such realm as economy which is separate from the practice of power or in other words politics. Economy and politics are not bound by a particular connection but rather linked through “a unitary reciprocal effect”.

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