V.30: No. 1-2 January-February 2002 #344-345
Editorial note, p. 1
"Agrarian Crisis and Global Deflationism," Utsa Patnaik , p. 3
"A Revaluation of Valmiki's Rama," Sukumari Bhattacharji, p. 31
"A Novel Protest Against Globalisation," Subhoranjan Dasgupta, p. 50
"Implementation of Intellectual Property Rights Regime: The Justification Question," Notes/Ram Singh, p. 61
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Economics is perhaps the most imperialist-dominated subject. This is hardly surprising. If ideas are conditioned by their material context, and the dominant ideas are those that reflect the interests of the dominant classes, then this must be particularly true of ideas about the material context itself, i.e. economic ideas; in a world marked by the dominance of international finance capital, it is only to be expected that the dominant strand in economics should bear the imprint of its ideology.
An important part of this ideology (and the word is used here in the precise sense in which Marx had used it, as a contrast to science) is the view that governments under all circumstances must keep their budgets balanced (or at the most have a strictly limited deficit). This proposition which had been the gospel in an earlier period of hegemony of finance capital (which however had been of a different kind from its current progeny), had disastrous consequences in that period. Its theoretical vacuity had been exposed by the Keynesian-Kaleckian revolution in economics. (Indeed Joan Robinson, the outstanding Cambridge economist, with her characteristic bluntness, had called it the "humbug of finance"). This "humbug" in turn had been instrumental in the imposition of a generally deflationary policy everywhere, much to the liking of finance capital.
As finance capital in a new form has re-established its hegemony, deflation is back in vogue and the "humbug of finance" has once again become fashionable theory. The sociology of how the hegemony of the ideology of finance capital gets established in the discipline of economics, the myriad different subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which a host of brilliant young students, including from the third world, get coerced, year in and year out, into accepting it, is a fascinating inquiry in itself. That however is outside the scope of the current issue of Social Scientist. What the lead article by Utsa Patnaik establishes, after tracing the theoretical genealogy of the "humbug of finance", is the damage that deflation is doing to the livelihoods of millions of people. She does so with a wealth of data drawn from different parts of the world.
If ideology is purveyed in the garb of science in the realm of economics in the contemporary period, the term "science" itself
p. 2 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
becomes a dirty word in several other realms. The hegemony of globalized finance is associated with an assault on reason, which, even if unwittingly, creates the intellectual climate for the emergence of fundamentalism, communal-fascism, and other such tendencies. Terms like "secularism" and "rationalism" come under attack even from "sophisticated" intellectual quarters which, though themselves opposed to these tendencies, facilitate the thriving of forces such as Hindutva. This aspect is highlighted in the Haksar memorial lecture of the eminent historian Satish Chandra which we carry in the current number.
Sukumari Bhattacharji in her article on Valmiki Ramayana uses the text to establish the changes occurring in society in the period of roughly four hundred years bifurcated by the beginning of the Christian era. Rama's killing of Shambuka and rejection of Sita reflect a social order marked by the subservience of women and the lower castes. Both these developments in turn are associated with the accumulation of private property which gives rise to an emphasis on lineage and to a fear of miscegenation. The king now acquires a new role, as a guardian of the caste-system who ruthlessly puts down any Shudra challenge to Brahmanical domination, and as a protector of the order from the self-assertion Qf women. The concept of Ramarajya invoked in the modern context, it follows, has rather unsavoury connotations.
Finally we publish a note by Ram Singh on intellectual property rights, which examines a range of issues that do not normally figure in discussions on the subject. It argues for instance that the TRIPS regime has very weak philosophical foundations.
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