Saturday, May 12, 2012
Arundhati Roy on Capitalism
Much of what Arundhati Roy says in Capitalism: A Ghost Story seems right to me, one instance is the recent efforts to curtail the mandate of UNCTAD Why would policymakers want to gag a past master of economic prophecy?. But it is not clear to me whether it forms a coherant narrative or gives hints of plans for action. Perhaps one hint is in her comment "But which of us sinners was going to cast the first stone? Not me, who lives off royalties from corporate publishing houses." It seems to me most of us are involved in making a living and try to ensure some security for our families and have to do with the existing conditions and opportunities. A recent report of Gabriel Parma's work by Duncan Green ‘It’s the share of the rich, stupid’: brilliant inequality stats + politics from Gabriel Palma reports "‘There are two opposite forces at work. One is ‘centrifugal’, and leads to an increased diversity in the shares appropriated by the top 10 and bottom 40 per cent. The other is ‘centripetal’, and leads to a growing uniformity in the income-share appropriated by deciles 5 to 9. Therefore, half of the world’s population (the middle and upper-middle classes) have acquired strong ‘property rights’ over half of their respective national incomes; the other half, however, is increasingly up for grabs between the very rich and the poor.........‘In Latin America the middle classes seek to defend their share of income with different forms of alliances with the élite (some more successfully than others). This is different to India, for example, where the administrative classes defend their position mostly via alliances with the poor (which gives them the political power to mediate in the different conflicts between the capitalist élite and the state)’. Vintage stuff." In other words, all of us outside the top ten and bottom 40 perecent are in some ways involved in maintaining the status quo.But this does not explain why many in the middle classes often both husband and wife (possibly except government employees)are working harder and longer than before or that change is not possible. It seems that with globalization and debt of poor countries, many are caught in a circle from which it is difficult to escape. Perhaps, cancellation of odious debts and considering alternaives like Is this the UN’s most powerful critique to date of finance-driven globalization? may be a start.