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In Search of Ethical and Political Mechanisms

Anubhav Sengupta

Edited by Sunanda Sen and Anjan Chakrabarti
Orient Blackswan, New Delhi, 2014, pp. XXXVI 432, Rs. 925.00


This review of the above mentioned title must begin on an unusual confessional note. It must be declared that I read this book as a student of social science in general, neither with the focus nor with acumen of a student of economics or development studies, to whom this book is broadly addressed. So it is a ‘guilty’ reading as Althusser’s was, in reading Marx’s Capital. I am however confident that such a reading is justifiable in so far as the issues the book is dealing with are no longer and must not be only concerns of economics. Neo-liberalism must be put on trial not only as an economic phenomenon but as a political ideology infiltrating tissues of social, political and even moral being. Also legitimacy towards such a reading may be drawn from the subtle political project that the book initially commits to. In the words of one essayist in the volume, Theotonio Dos Santos, the new social relations born out neoliberal, market driven economy ‘…cry out for the search for ethical and political mechanisms that are more conscientious and explicitly human to run modern society’ (pp. 46).   Evidently, in the articulation of Santos, the verdict is out; let us see how the trial has proceeded. The book is divided into four sections, each investigating systematically one of the components of economy under neoliberalism. The first section which includes two articles deals with the relationship between state and market on the axis of development. The second section, with three articles, focuses on trade regime and associated structural changes. The following section, containing five articles, critically investigates the rise of finance economy and its relationship with development. The six articles from the last section analyses labour in the backdrop of increasing demand of labour flexibility from the corporate and duly supported by states across the globe. Let us, however go first where the money is i.e., the third section detailing the working out of the economy under a regime of deregulation in favour of market.   Sunanda Sen’s two articles taken together is a perfect critical introduction towards an understanding of today’s economy which has moved away from welfare regime to deregulated finance economy phase. The deregulated finance has opened up a chapter of capitalism which is marked by increasing flow of finance towards an uncertain market in securities and related hedging operations. The market fundamentally changes ...

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