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Survival in the Wake of Crisis

Sirjjan Preet

By Sreeram Chaulia
Routledge, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 285, Rs. 850.00


Sreeram Chaulia brings out a new survival guide to the global economic crisis that goes beyond the economics of crisis and suggests political mechanisms for social survival and recovery from the crisis. He puts forth the idea of three ‘R’s—state ‘regulation’ of financial sector, state ‘responsibility’ towards society and ‘radicalism’ in the form of social movements against injustice. This book is a collection of his essays published in leading international and Indian dailies that touch upon the three ‘R’s of survival. Although these opinion pieces cover the crisis period starting from the crash of 2008 until the end of 2012, most of them pertain to the early phase of the crisis. Nevertheless, his analysis and prescriptions offer rich understanding of the politics of the global downturn and propose a vision for a responsible state that serves not only economic but also social good.   The book conducts a rigorous audit of the political systems of western countries and explores the nexus between the neoliberal states and the financial oligarchy to show that agents of the state have equated national and public interest with the commercial interests of the specific private enterprises. It indicates a direct correlation between inadequate financial regulation and the lingering of the downturn but falls short of proving this correlation using data and statistics. However, the book clearly illustrates how American and European government systems have been wary of indicting big financial firms for the fear of domino effects. Essays on ‘How Murdoch Worsened Obama’s Ordeal’, and ‘The Wall Around Wall Street’ are excellent manifestations of the fear and helplessness of the state in disciplining financial oligarchs. Regulatory environment is ‘politically gamed and unreformed’ and the state lacks political will, requisite legal instruments and institutional capacity to check the financial frauds and prevent anti-competitive oligopolistic behaviour by financial sharks.The author argues that robust regulation is the only ‘antidote to the free spirits of casino capitalism’ and the states must not hesitate to embrace it.   The book illustrates the role of indignados (the outraged) and mass movements (with special emphasis on the Occupy movement) while discussing the ‘R’ of radicalism. A number of essays in the book, particularly the one pertaining to Icelandic financial crisis, clearly demonstrate how radicalism of the population can prevent white-collar crimes and mitigate the bank domination of regulatory authorities. The author turns the focus to the waking giants of the developing ...

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