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Revisiting Neoliberalism and Democracy in a Time of Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 6:00am in

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Reflecting on the political implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Jürgen Habermas suggested that ‘existential uncertainty is now spreading globally and simultaneously […] There was never so much knowing about our not-knowing and about the constraint to act and live in uncertainty.’ Perhaps channelling the rhetoric of Donald Rumsfeld’s remarks in 2002 about the relationship between ‘knowns’ and ‘unknowns’, Habermas highlights the quotidian uncertainty arising from swelling popular recognition of cracks in the ideological hegemony of liberalism. Seemingly-perennial catastrophes and contradictions since the Global Financial Crisis and, more recently, the Global Coronavirus Crisis have seen mounting questioning and even rejection of extant ideological and institutional configurations – from both the Left and Right. Consequently, more so than at any other time since Francis Fukuyama’s gnostic diagnosis that the conclusion of the Cold War marked the ‘end of history’ – presenting liberal democracy and capitalism as constituting the apotheosis of human civilisation – liberalism appears to offer little succour to its advocates and in mainstream political discourse. The ideological closure offered by the extant order suddenly appears less certain, while the trajectory of global political economic processes is, in turn, unclear.

In this context, the status of ‘democracy’ and its relationship with broader political economic developments has come under increased scrutiny from many quarters. In particular, the pernicious impacts of four decades of neoliberalism on democratic norms and institutions, along with the need to devise substantive alternatives, have been the subject of a diverse and growing body of critical scholarship (eg. Brown 2019; Dardot and Laval 2019). Such noxious effects on democracy have been grossly evident in recent years. Most obviously, they have manifest in the rapid rise of far-right populist leaders and social movements around the world, combining the worst excesses of neoliberal economism with institutionalised authoritarianism and promulgation of exclusionary politics in a form of ‘authoritarian neoliberalism’. Indeed, it is hard to ignore the contribution of the political economic dislocation engendered by four decades of neoliberalism under successive US Governments in laying the foundations for the rise of Donald Trump and the broader Trumpist movement. In turn, Joe Biden’s frequent promises of a ‘return to normal’ – reviving many tried-and true neoliberal practices, and heavily surrounding himself with corporate interests while renewing attack on the political Left – does not instil much confidence in the prospect of a brighter, more democratic future, especially amidst the ongoing GCC.

However, even in such cases, the relation between neoliberalism and democracy is far-from-straightforward. Rather, it raises myriad questions that are pertinent for both scholars and progressive social movements – especially given the multiple, overlapping crises afflicting contemporary capitalism. How should the nexus between neoliberalism and democracy be understood? Why and how have advocates of neoliberalism sought to reconfigure democratic processes? How has the notion of ‘democracy’ itself been understood, institutionalised and restricted to liberal forms of representation under neoliberalism? Have the persistent contradictions and unequal outcomes arising from the GFC and ongoing GCC engendered a crisis in the legitimacy of neoliberal institutions despite neoliberal practices remaining central to state policy practice? Does the (re-)emergence of right-wing populist political forces promulgating nationalistic programs – both within and beyond the state – present a fundamental challenge to the global accumulation processes characterising neoliberalism? Conversely, are they ultimately compatible with one another in the form of an ‘authoritarian neoliberalism’? Does the current crisis-ridden conjuncture demonstrate that neoliberalism is inherently incompatible with democracy? Or should democratic processes and discourse be understood as more fundamental to securing the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism? What role, if any, should liberal democracy have in reconfiguring alternative post-neoliberal political economic configurations? Are alternative, more radical democratic forms possible and desirable?

Hot-off-the-presses, the latest issue of the Journal of Australian Political Economy – a special issue titled ‘W(h)ither Democracy? Revisiting Neoliberalism and Democracy in Contemporary Capitalism’, for which I had the privilege to act as guest-editor – offers one-step toward addressing such questions. The issue is divided into four sub-sections, with each featuring a series of articles focussing on a particular theme: (i) conceptualising the relations between neoliberalism and democracy; (ii) addressing how political economic configurations have been reconfigured under neoliberalism; (iii) examining the growing preponderance of authoritarian neoliberalism, militarism and the rise of far-right populism; and (iv) speculating about possible alternative futures, for better or worse. Finally, the volume concludes with reviews of four books recently published on the broad theme of the special issue. Collectively, these contributions – reflecting the diverse cultural, institutional, paradigmatic and political backgrounds of their authors – demonstrate that the relation between neoliberalism and democracy remains a complex area ripe for ongoing critical political economic research.

Conceptualising the relations between neoliberalism and democracy

Following my editorial introduction, the issue commences with a series of articles seeking to conceptualise the complex relations between neoliberalism and democracy. This is a fraught area for political economic research, with some scholars drawing attention to the de-democratising or anti-democratic character of neoliberalism, while others have highlighted how democratic processes have productively contributed to the neoliberal project. The opening contribution, from Quinn Slobodian, intervenes in this debate by comprehending neoliberalism less as a strictly anti-democratic ideology, than one accommodating diverse political formations towards its ends. Specifically, rather than favouring constraint of democracy per se, Slobodian examines the intellectual evolution of neoliberals in the public choice tradition toward deploying referenda as a means to secure ‘neoliberal secession’ from the perceived leftward drift of supranational integration.

Thomas Biebricher then takes a step back to explore how neoliberalism – both in theory and practice – has (re-)shaped and disfigured contemporary democracy. Critically analysing the thought of the public choice theorist, James Buchanan, Biebricher identifies two pernicious, if contradictory, influences on democratic processes engendered by neoliberalism. First, he notes how the latter has contributed to the constitutionalisation of particular policy areas, thereby removing them from direct governmental control. Second, he highlights the reassertion of the (white) individual and its narrowly understood freedom from external ‘intrusion’, which has stimulated further anti-establishment responses such as the rise of far-right populism.

The final piece in this section, by Evan Jones, adopts a longer-term perspective to explore the historical relations between liberal theory and democracy in Great Britain. A central plank of liberalism, and surely part of its pervasive appeal, is univeralism: liberal moral principles should apply equally to all human beings in all contexts. Jones, however, demonstrates that contrary to its universalist pretensions, the application of liberalism has always been highly selective and strongly correlated with capitalist class relations. Specifically, during the Nineteenth and early-Twentieth Centuries, liberalism promulgated socially harmful practices entrenching and deepening of capitalism, such as imperialist processes, subjugation and subordination according to race, gender and class, and suppressing individual rights relative to those of corporations.

Reshaping political economic configurations

Building-on the previous predominantly abstract discussion, the second sub-section addresses some of the more concrete ways in which neoliberalism has reconfigured political economic processes and the concomitant implications for democracy. Kyle Bailey opens with an insightful account questioning whether new models of ‘stakeholder capitalism’ – ostensibly putting people and planet before profit – offer a developmental path that genuinely deviate from neoliberalism. Drawing on a case study of Unilever and utilising from global economic, environmental and social governance, Bailey contends that ‘stakeholder capitalism’ does not represent a clear break with – so much as a shift within – neoliberalism. Indeed, it is critical of neoliberal ideology only as a means to re-legitimise and entrench the class forces and institutions driving global neoliberal restructuring.

The next article, by Elizabeth Humphrys, Simon Copland and Luke Mansillo, presents an original analysis of trends in contemporary Australian electoral politics. Examining empirical data across a range of indicators, they identify an anti-political drift, characterised by popular withdrawal and disengagement from conventional politics. This trend has profound political economic implications for addressing the most substantial problems confronting contemporary Australian capitalism, as policies of the scope and scale necessary to address looming challenges – such as climate change or future pandemic akin to COVID-19 – cannot be implemented by a fractured political class.

Philip Mendes then offers a critical analysis of the aims and outcomes of compulsory income management (CIM) schemes in Indigenous communities in Australia. Mendes demonstrates that CIM is politically disempowering and represents an exemplar of the extension of neoliberalism to the welfare state, in that it shifts the burden from helping and empowering those who have been disadvantaged by neoliberalism, to merely controlling them to reduce the economic burden on society. CIM thus represents a profoundly illiberal program of paternalistic management that has had, at best, mixed political economic effects on the communities involved.

Finally, Mia Shouha’s article shifts the geographical focus to explore how neoliberalism has reconfigured socio-economic, democratic and geopolitical processes in the South Caucasus. By analysing developments in post-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Shouha argues that there has been a cyclical causal relationship between territorial fragmentation and neoliberalisation. In conjunction with its detrimental socio-economic effects on citizens, the article demonstrates that neoliberalism has also perpetuated undemocratic governance and uneven regional development.

Authoritarian neoliberalism, militarism and far-right populism

The third sub-section considers some of the more authoritarian and violent political economic processes and outcomes engendered over the last decade or so by contemporary neoliberalism. The opening article by Richard Westra examines the constrained character of democracy under neoliberalism and shift of the later toward authoritarianism through examining the historical relations between capitalism and democracy. Westra demonstrates that there is no necessary link between capitalism and democracy; while the latter, where prevalent, remains circumscribed by, and subordinate to, the structural imperatives of capitalism. Neoliberalism has sustained this trend: fostering political economic decay and crisis, while entrenching governmental practices and inequalities that perpetuate such contradictions. More recently, many polities have also revealed increasingly authoritarian inclinations in seeking to institutionalise neoliberalism under the veil of democracy.

The following contribution, from Alison J. Ayers and Alfredo Saad-Filho, explores similar themes in analysing relations between the contemporary drift toward authoritarian neoliberal practices and the contradictory dynamics of contemporary capitalism. Specifically, Ayers and Saad-Filho trace the progression of neoliberal democracies into states of permanent exception, demonstrating that the multiple crises confronting neoliberalism have arisen organically from its internal tensions. Contemporary neoliberalism has increasingly turned to violent and coercive measures to contain the cracks and noxious socio-ecological implications produced by earlier efforts to secure the conditions for capital accumulation. This, in turn, has augmented its social costs, and undermined efforts to secure radical systemic change.

Underlining the importance of investigating political economic dynamics to comprehend contemporary authoritarian trends, William I. Robinson and César Rodríguez next relate the global drive toward militarisation, war and depression to the accumulation imperatives of capitalism. They demonstrate that these bellicose, often frightening developments have largely arisen as capital has sought new outlets for accumulation in the context of incessant global stagnation. Simultaneously, to counter and repress threats to the legitimacy of capitalism and the state in the face of unprecedented inequality and instability, increasingly violent means of containment have been employed to manage immiserated populations. This has cultivated the rise of a global police state and undermined the remnants of extant democratic institutions.

The following two contributions examine authoritarian neoliberal developments in specific geographical contexts. Bengi Akbulut, Fikret Adaman and Murat Arsel present a fascinating case-study of the configuration of such practices in Turkey, elucidating that a distinctive regime of accumulation orchestrated by the state has accompanied the authoritarian turn under Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). Focusing on the region of Artvin, they posit that this regime of ‘accumulation by dislocation’ relies not only on the expropriation of labour resources, but also on their dislocation and transformation for specific aims. Adam Fabry then considers the evolution of relations between neoliberalism and authoritarianism in Central and Eastern Europe, focusing on the far-right governments in Hungary and Poland. Specifically, Fabry demonstrates how the prior deepening neoliberal restructuring in these countries by centre-left government coalitions both produced harmful effects for the majority and laid the foundations for authoritarian neoliberal regimes. The resulting far-right governments have, in turn, sought to consolidate a new regime of accumulation by fusing neoliberalism with ‘authoritarian-ethnicist’ discourses and practices.

Alternative Futures

The final sub-section features a series of articles exploring the political economic implications of the trends explored in the preceding sub-sections. Is there genuine cause for optimism, or does the future appear bleak? The initial piece, from Geoff Dow, counsels the need for carefully traversing these two poles. In exploring the possibility for (re-)establishing social democratic principles of governance in Australia, Dow traces how neoliberalism has, since the 1970s, thwarted their potential extension, while arguing that populism is playing a similarly countervailing function today. The key strategic questions for further debate, however, remain whether these political economic conditions have fatally undermined the possibility of a rejuvenated social democratic project and, concomitantly, what lessons should contemporary proponents retain from previous experiments?

The next two articles consider the potential role of the degrowth movement in effecting more democratic political economic processes. As a movement encouraging transition away from a political economic system centred on perpetual growth, degrowth inevitably challenges many of the entrenched ideologies, interests and institutions informing neoliberal capitalism (Stuart et al. 2020). Thereby, it offers a potentially novel and important means to build socio-ecologically sustainable post-capitalist alternatives through extending democratic principles into processes of production, consumption and distribution. In exploring this possibility, the first article, by Samuel Alexander and Brendan Gleeson, examines the capacity of urban social movements to act as the principal democratic organising forces of a degrowth transition in cities. Positing the need for alternative, participatory democratic arrangements that negate the structural link between governance practices and unsustainable growth under neoliberalism, Alexander and Gleeson highlight the radical potential of a series of grass-roots social movements comprising a new ‘degrowth urbanity’. The following piece, by Alex Baumann, Samuel Alexander and Peter Burdon, builds on these insights to suggest that any democratic degrowth transition must commence by acknowledging and transforming the extant relations between land, housing and property rights under capitalism. They then consider concrete proposals for alternative land governance arrangements, focussing primarily on a strategy they label ‘Neighbourhoods that Work’ to secure just and sustainable degrowth.

The sub-section ends on a decidedly darker note with the important concluding contribution from Alex Waters. In contrast to the hope that social democratic or degrowth alternatives might emerge from the current malaise of global neoliberalism, Waters holds that neoliberal capitalism has been pushed beyond its limits by near-perpetual crises. Consequently, elites and reactionary social movements are advancing an alternative political economic arrangement to take its place – what Waters labels ‘techno-feudalism’. Building on the profoundly undemocratic and unequal political economic processes engendered by neoliberalism, this alternative is characterised by the ubiquitous presence of technology for social control by the rentiers and oligarchs owning the platform networks ubiquitous in modern life. Evidently, no progressive future will inevitably arise in a post-neoliberal world – without broad-ranging, radical social movements organising to counter the systemic logic of capitalism and extant political economic power relations, the years ahead will be gloomy indeed.

In this respect, the contributions to this mammoth special issue of JAPE ultimately demonstrate the need for the political Left to, as Slavoj Žižek suggests, embrace the ‘courage of hopelessness’. That is, in preference to relying on the deceptively optimistic promise of a guaranteed progressive future, it is necessary to acknowledge that ‘the light at the end of the tunnel is probably the headlight of another train approaching as from the opposite direction’ (xii). In the crisis-ridden conjuncture of contemporary capitalism, the widespread social disrepair and evisceration of democratic processes engendered by neoliberalism – already weaponised by the far-right, as evidenced by the recent armed insurrection in Washington – should be embraced and acknowledged in all its complexity as a crucial means to formulate a more radical, emancipatory alternative. In turn, rather than pinning progressive hopes on fixing the status quo through technocratic tinkering or fetishising ‘more democracy’ as our political horizon, scholars and activists should accept that the dire political economic processes we hope will not happen are immanent (if not already present), unless we summon the political resolution to act decisively and effect systemic change. To paraphrase Romain Rolland’s famous maxim, the necessary optimism of the will must be nourished by a substantial pessimism of the intellect.

I hope readers enjoy perusing through the articles featured in this issue of JAPE, and that they also contribute to developing a more intricate understanding of the magnitude of the challenges ahead in fostering a more progressive, democratic political economic future.

The post Revisiting Neoliberalism and Democracy in a Time of Crisis appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

CORE offsets its carbon emissions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 10:21pm in

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CORE is aware of the importance of protecting our planet from the effects of climate change and is committed to playing its role. We are doing so in two ways. Firstly, CORE staff are contributing to this goal by reducing their carbon footprint and working in environmentally responsible ways. For example, we promote virtual participation to events whenever possible. After travel, usage of electricity is the second largest contributor to CORE’s footprint. To find efficiencies in our usage in 2021 we will collaborate with CORE’s web developer, Bravand, to optimise the performance of CORE’s website and hosting solution and minimise the environmental impact of its servers.

Secondly, CORE has made it its policy to always offset the whole of its carbon footprint. We have committed to paying £70 per tonne of CO2 equivalent emitted, to account for the true social cost of emissions. We chose this price following estimates from different trusted sources. Gold Standard suggests a price between $62 and $123 per tonne of CO2 for a discount rate of 2.5%-3% in 2020. The IMF recommends a price of $70-75 per tonne for countries such as the UK to meet the pledges made in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Finally, the Greater London Authority (CORE operations are based in London) suggests a price between £65 and £90 per tonne for London to be a zero carbon city by 2050.

CORE calculates its carbon footprint by using the Carbon Footprint calculator. Our carbon footprint between 2013, the year of CORE’s inception, and 2020 was estimated at approximately 40 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This includes air travel by CORE staff, use of office space (mostly electricity usage) and website operation and hosting.

When determining how to offset CORE’s CO2 emission we were guided by the principle of a ‘value-driven’ model that accounts for the full environmental, social, and economic impacts of a specific project. In addition, the projects we are supporting should follow gender-sensitive design principles and deliver impact toward Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Guided by these principles we chose to support projects in the Gold Standard portfolio. Gold Standard is a non-profit foundation established by WWF and several other international NGOs that launched a best practice standard for climate and sustainable development interventions. We chose six of their projects to support, to ensure diversity in geographical location, gender balance and breadth of objectives:

Contributions to each project were made to ensure that each tonne of CORE’s CO2 footprint was paid at the £70 rate.

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2019 Errata

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 3:55pm in

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Whoopsie dinkles! It’s time, once again, to look at the year gone past, and issue corrections for any errors we discovered in comics published in 2019.

#1520; In which Armageddon awaits
In the interim, it has been conclusively proven that our society can, in fact, agree on one thing: sea shanties sung collaboratively on social media are great.

#1524–1600
Forgot to make or post these, whoopser dongles! Been a heck of a year, friends.

Wondermark regrets the errors.

(Previous years’ errata.)


Why is Economics Still so White?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/01/2021 - 6:17am in

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Diversity is fundamental in every discipline. Showcasing the work of a diverse range of academics encourages students to critically engage with the theories that they are taught. Diversity in the curriculum expands the scope of learning beyond the mainstream, introducing students to a pluralism of thought. However, the University of Manchester economics department continues to deliver undergraduates with an economics education that provides little diversity of perspective or authorship. The teaching of core module streams such as Microeconomics and Macroeconomics continues to be accompanied by textbooks that provide a singular perspective. Students are not often encouraged by lecturers to explore further literature through reading lists, and when they are, the resources are not representative of the full range of economic thought and authorship. The Post-Crash Economics Society (PCES) is campaigning to change this. We want our economics education to reflect the world around us. We would like to read texts by a multitude of authors, from different backgrounds, with different perspectives. Our economics education is lacking in dimension. A greater emphasis on diversity is simply the starting point.

Diversity involves factors such as ethnicity, race, gender and faith and strives to be inclusive to all peoples. These factors are important within the discipline of economics as they play a role in determining lived experiences, which in turn help shape perspective. Differences in perspective through greater diversity impacts economics education in several ways. Firstly, diversity entails a greater representation of academics from all backgrounds. Whether this be within the department or in the literature, it is essential for students to be exposed to the multitude of identities that economists embody. Secondly, learning from a more diverse foundation allows students to encounter a more holistic account of economics. This also involves introducing heterodox perspectives that counter mainstream economic theory. Finally, diversity necessitates addressing the colonial history of economic thought, and challenges the discipline’s Eurocentricity. By acknowledging the Eurocentricity of economics this can reveal the applicability of theory to real world problems, as certain privileged perspectives that underpin economics may not be relevant to addressing current economic issues. 

Economics in its beginnings was a discipline dominated by white men, with the foundations of economics rooted in a Western view of the world. However, little has changed in terms of inclusivity since the discipline’s inception, and this stereotype is still prevalent within economics. For example, in the most prestigious award that an economist can receive, the Nobel Memorial Prize, of the eighty one winners, only two were women and one was a black man. Whilst the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) boasts ethnic diversity among academics to be increasing over time in the UK, the share of ethnic minority academic economists has increased from 19% in the period 2012-2013 to 24% in the period 2018-2019, there are still broad differences in representation across different ethnic groups, with Black individuals still under-represented relative to their share of the UK population (Advani et al., 2020). Further, in the UK only about 15.5% of academic economists in permanent posts are women (BBC, 2017). 

Greater diversity  in economics is essential for a number of reasons. The representation of marginalised groups broadens the scope of alternative perspectives in economics, which can have impacts on the variety of academic research and policy recommendations. This allows for ignored, overlooked areas of study to be considered more deeply and brought to the forefront of the field of economics. With a majority of mainstream economists being white men, their identity feeds into the assumptions they build which are often partial and lead to discriminating outcomes. For example, women in economics are more likely to account for issues such as the exclusion of unpaid caregiving and domestic work  from GDP (see Folbre, 2012). This kind of research has strong implications when counting the true cost of unpaid female labour which can help instruct policy makers about future policy options. 

Moreover, the prioritisation of mainstream economic theory works to uphold a Eurocentric understanding of economics which prevents students from gaining a holistic understanding of the discipline.  The prominence of Eurocentrism in mainstream economics excludes diversity in practice – scholars, knowledge and theories from the Global South and the East are not provided with a platform to share their differing perspectives. This exclusion in turn leads to the reproduction of Eurocentric knowledge and prevents diversity in representation which further disincentives the pursuit and sharing of knowledge to those who have become sidelined by an unwelcoming discipline.

This year PCES’s campaign focus is on increasing diversity in the economics curriculum. We have been working towards this end in a number of ways. Firstly, we produced a programme, ‘Black Economists you Should Know’ ,over the summer that brought attention to several key figures in economics with Black heritage, who have been underappreciated within the wider field. This programme sought to shine some light on the extensive work of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. Following this, we co-hosted a decolonising economics workshop with the Diversifying Economics Network. We discussed the importance of breaking down Eurocentric narratives in the curriculum and how we might go about diversifying current economics curriculum. The attendees were prompted to discuss the legacy of colonialism in economics and discuss the implications on the state of economics today. Discussion also involved considering ways that the curriculum could be reformed in order to take into account marginalised voices.

Additionally, we are producing alternative reading lists as course companions for various economics modules, in order to supplement current reading recommendations. We have seen a severe lack of  variety within required readings, in that they are predominantly written by mainstream economists with little diversity of authorship. Our reading lists are compiled with literature on a wide range of heterodox economic theory from a diverse range of authors. These can be used to compliment economics student’s study, and also used by students from other disciplines to expand their knowledge of different economic schools of thought. Further, we would like to commission an inquiry into diversity across the Economics department at Manchester, which will highlight the proportion of female and ethnic-minority academics employed by the University . This will help students at the University see how well the department upholds multiculturalism, and whether it reflects the commitment to a diverse working environment. Such an inquiry will hopefully show the department that there is a need to improve representation of minority groups within the teaching staff.

We would like to encourage several changes that would promote diversity in the economics department and curriculum. Firstly, we believe that the department, especially lecturers, should review existing reading lists and ensure that these are representative of the various ethnic groups in the population. Additionally, we recommend the introduction of a history of economic thought module. We believe that a history of economic thought module that not only spoke on past economists, but also examined the political conditions that facilitated the conception of their theories would help students recognise the context of economic theory and decolonise their own understanding of economics education.

Recognising the need for greater diversity in economics is merely a starting point. Students ought to receive an education that is reflective of the world around them, taught by academics of all backgrounds, on theories from all schools of thought and in a way that evaluates critically the origins of mainstream theory. We are campaigning to see this change manifest in the University of Manchester’s economics curriculum and department. It is not sufficient to continue with past rhetorics: change is necessary, and greater diversity is essential to this change. 

Written by Ella Warren and Zenab Malik

To find out more about diversity in economics please check out these societies and pages:

Diversifying Economics Network: @diversifyecon on instagram, see:  https://d-econ.org/mission/ for their mission statement

Institute for New Economic Thinking 

https://www.ineteconomics.org/

Exploring Economics 

https://www.exploring-economics.org/en/

Rethinking Economics: @rethinkecon on instagram

/http://www.rethinkeconomics.org/

The Black Economists Network: @theblackecon_ on instagram

https://www.tben.co.uk/

References

Folbre, N. (2012). Valuing Domestic Product. Available at: https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/28/valuing-domestic-product/ (Accessed: 3 December 2020). 

Advani, A., Sen, S., Warwick, R. (2020). Ethnic diversity in UK economics. Available at: https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/15133 (Accessed: 3 December 2020).

Gittleson, K. (2017). Where are all the women in economics?. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41571333 (Accessed: 2 December 2020).

The post Why is Economics Still so White? appeared first on Post-Crash Economics Society.

Degrowth?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/01/2021 - 8:00am in

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Degrowth is on the agenda as a set of theories increasingly encountered in scholarly articles and books as well as activist journalism. Yet degrowth is a much maligned and misinterpreted concept and approach, and is especially difficult for economists to handle. Is that because using money to produce and exchange inevitably, intrinsically, leads to growth economies? Or, perhaps, economists find the non-monetary akin to nudity?

My 2020 was dominated by work on two recently published degrowth works — Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide by Vincent Liegey and Anitra Nelson and Food for Degrowth: Perspectives and Practices, a collection edited by Anitra Nelson and Ferne Edwards.

These books are complimentary. Exploring Degrowth offers an analysis of degrowth as an activist movement and theoretical explanations of degrowth. In a nutshell degrowth is about minimising the use of Earth’s materials and energy in all forms of production and human practices more generally, including matters referred to as ‘waste’.

Advocates have developed a range of terms to reorient attention and practices around degrowth values. A first principle of degrowth is to minimise inequities between people. For instance, ‘open relocalisation’ refers to forms of localising economies and regional autarky while encouraging the universal sharing of ideas and techniques for achieving sustainability.

In ‘frugal abundance’ simple living meets a communal cornucopia of ‘good life’ benefits. Frugal abundance highlights degrowth’s focus on diverse qualities in contrast to the highly comparative and competitive obsessions of growth economies associated with capitalism’s reliance on strongly quantitative criteria expressed purely and simplistically in money.

Theories constituting degrowth as a concept evolved during the latter decades of the last century in works by physical and social scientists, such as Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Ivan Illich, André Gorz and Serge Latouche. Yet degrowth only really took off as a movement this century, starting in France and spreading through Europe to become international. Current degrowth activists draw eclectically from the works of political philosophers such as Cornelius Castoriadis and John Holloway.

Even more concerned with practical matters, Food for Degrowth follows the model set by another collection, published in 2018, that I co-edited with François Schneider — Housing For Degrowth: Principles, Models, Challenges and Opportunities. Both international collections highlight chapters focusing on degrowth cases studies from four continents and key degrowth themes by activist scholars.

Degrowth elicits questions around settlement design, typically presenting as a citification and decentralisation debate. Food for Degrowth includes a chapter arguing that current growth plans for Melbourne preclude the possibility of a city that is sustainable and collectively sufficient even in the basic need of food, as such pointing towards decentralised settlements.

Food for Degrowth engages with care economies, community supported agriculture and First Nations food sovereignty. One chapter critiques circular economies while another introduces ‘belonging economies’. The part on degrowth networks evaluates collaborations, technologies and institutions to facilitate communication and multilevel food governance.

Exploring Degrowth delves into ways activists express and experiment with degrowth in their everyday lives as members of households, and of collectives and cooperatives, as protesters, and within a decentralised, horizontally organised network. We identify key political and practical challenges for the movement, and constructively examine a popular cluster of policies and practices strategically combined into a degrowth project, a degrowth future.

Among these holistic approaches to visions of sustainable and equitable futures are nonmonetary forms of achieving modest levels of collective sufficiency. Instead of a guaranteed minimum income within a capitalist economy, Exploring Degrowth argues for an ‘unconditional autonomy allowance’ to mobilise a postgrowth transition. Local co-governance and a direct hands-on-approach to what is produced, for everyone’s basic needs, in both human and Earth caring ways, substitutes for extensive trade, monetary calculations, market forces of supply and demand, and overriding concerns with profit and growth.

NOTE

Register to hear and engage with the co-editors of Food For Degrowth, Anitra Nelson and Ferne Edwards, and contributor Terry Leahy, at a free National Sustainable Living Festival Food for Degrowth online event at 4pm (AEST) 23 February 2021, hosted by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (University of Melbourne).

The post Degrowth? appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

"With you" Songwriting Track Breakdown: Ardour Recording Session Live Stream

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/12/2020 - 10:30am in

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This is a video from a live stream I did on YouTube, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here https://youtube.com/lorenzosmusic

While I was going over the final mix of our song "With you" I did a live stream on our YouTube channel to show the progression of the song from track to track.

I start from the simple midi track I wrote for the original idea of the song. Then I look over what the other guys in the band interpreted from that midi file idea through each instrument track they recorded as we shared our sessions back and forth on GitHub. This is a look at how all these ideas were put together to create the final landscape of this song.

This whole song was created using only open-source tools and software and written remotely using a method we created using GitHub for music.

The story about our connection to Bad Brains and Artist Shepard Fairey

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/12/2020 - 9:16am in

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In this clip from the art podcast I do on my personal website. I was talking to a photographer out in California named Thann Clark. 

We were discussing copyright, creative commons and sharing your work online. And it reminded me of the time when Shepard Fairey created artwork for a Bad Brains album that was similar to the artwork on our first EP from years earlier.

webcomic strip drawingShepard Fairey story in a webcomic by Tom Ray via tomrayswebsite.com

I put all of my artwork and music under a creative commons license so it's free to use and share as long as they give credit. And as we talk I share a story about a time that Shepard Fairey was accused of stealing my artwork.

Back in the '90s, one of the first album covers my band Lorenzo's Music did, was designed by the wife of a member who used to be in the band. She was a graphic designer. We were doing our first EP and she found this 1930s space-themed world's fair artwork from Chicago.

image of vintage poster artwork print blue on white backgroundVintage 1933 Chicago World's Fair Poster

It was a picture of a planet with a ring that swooped around it. And she was like, I want to design the album just like this! And I was like, that's fantastic! So she did.

Years went by, and then in the mid-2000s the band Bad Brains had Shepard Fairy do the artwork for the cover of their album "Into The Future".

"And I'm looking at it going holy crap! Did they use our album artwork? That's awesome!"

I was listening to the album and looking at the cover and all of a sudden I'm like, wait a minute?! I turned it upside down and realized that's the design on our first album!

image of music album artwork for CDsBad Brains and Lorenzo's Music Album Artwork

And I'm looking at it going holy crap! Did they use our album artwork? That's awesome! I thought it was cool and I posted it on the band's website.

Next thing you know, it got picked up on Reddit and then a bunch of music and tabloid outlets started posting the story. All of a sudden these headlines were saying, "Did Bad Brains steal this artwork?" and all this kind of stuff. And I was like, I didn't say that. I just pointed out it was the same artwork.

screenshot of music blog articleLorenzo's Music/Bad Brains news article

All of a sudden all of the people who like Bad Brains came out and they're just like hating on us!

And also this is what I didn't know. Shepard Fairey was actually going through the court case for the Obama hope artwork at the time and I had no concept that he was literally being sued for appropriating someone's photography and here I said this about him using our artwork. And everybody's like he's doing it again!

So Shepard Fairey actually called me on the phone! We had a really nice conversation about it and I said I just thought it was cool that Bad Brains had the same artwork as us. But yeah, we got bashed online because of that.

But also our listenership went up tons because of the exposure! We still got new band email list signups. So with the hating also brought people going, oh check out this band that's really cool! sort of thing.

- Tom

Happy Holidays!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/12/2020 - 7:58am in

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Happy Holidays to you and yours! I will probably be offline until early January.  

Novel Reading in 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/12/2020 - 7:50am in

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Following my annual practice, I have listed here my “novel” reading for 2020. This is a way of documenting what I get through in a year’s worth of reading on the commute to work, in the evenings after work, and while travelling outside of my “normal” academic reading – albeit there was no such international travel throughout the year. My use of the term “novel” reading is loosely adopted, as you will see from the list and, yes, it is inflected (but not infected) with COVID-19 elements as well as a slight spike in reading longer books and more numerous books in total.

  1. Steven L. Davis (ed.) The Essential J. Frank Dobie (Texas A&M University Press, 2019).
  2. Brett Christophers, The New Enclosure: The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain (Verso, 2018).
  3. Charles Bowden, Blues for Cannibals: Notes from the Underground [2002] (University of Texas Press, 2018).
  4. Bruce Pascoe, Salt: Selected Stories and Essays (Black Inc., 2019).
  5. Jeanine Cummins, American Dirt (Tinder Press, 2020).
  6. Charles Bowden, Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing [2009] (University of Texas Press, 2018).
  7. Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil’s Highway: A True Story [2004] (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014).
  8. Charles Bowden, Dakotah: The Return of the Future (University of Texas Press, 2019).
  9. Charles Bowden, Juárez: The Laboratory of Our Future (Aperture Foundation, 1998).
  10. Charles Bowden, Desierto: Memories of the Future [1991] (University of Texas Press, 2018).
  11. Albert Camus, The Plague [1947], trans. Stuart Gilbert (Penguin, 1960).
  12. Fernanda Melchior, Hurricane Season [Temporada de huracanes, 2017] trans. Sophie Hughes (New Directions Publishing, 2020).
  13. Emiliano Monge, The Arid Sky [El cielo árido, 2012], trans. Thomas Bunstead (Restless Books, 2018).
  14. Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness [1968] (William Collins, 2018].
  15. Angela Y. Davis, Women, Race & Class [1981] (Penguin, 2019).
  16. Carlos Fuentes, Destiny and Desire [La voluntad y la fortuna, 2008], trans. Edith Grossman (Random House, 2011).
  17. C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution [1938] (Penguin, 2001).
  18. Charles Bowden, Jericho (University of Texas Press, 2020).
  19. David Ireland, The Unknown Industrial Prisoner [1971] (The Text Publishing Company, 2013).
  20. Marlene Hobsbawm, Meet Me in Buenos Aires: A Memoir (Muswell Press, 2019).
  21. C.L.R. James, Beyond a Boundary [1963] (Vintage, 2019).
  22. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West [1985], intro. Philipp Meyer (Picador, 2015) [re-read].
  23. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Mexican Gothic (Jo Fletcher Books, 2020).
  24. Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses, The Border Trilogy: Volume 1 (Picador, 1992) [re-read].
  25. Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing, The Border Trilogy: Volume 2 (Picador, 1994) [re-read]
  26. Cormac McCarthy, Cities of the Plain, The Border Trilogy: Volume 3 (Picador, 1998) [re-read].
  27. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (Picador, 2005) [re-read].
  28. Cormac McCarthy, The Counselor (Picador, 2013) [re-read].
  29. Juan Rulfo, The Plain in Flames [El llano en llamas], trans. Ilan Stavans with Harold Augenbraum (University of Texas Press, 2012).
  30. Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba (Vintage, 2014).
  31. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha [1604], trans. John Rutherford (Penguin, 2003).

The post Novel Reading in 2020 appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Our top 5 posts of 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/12/2020 - 8:00pm in

Belinda Tracey

As another year draws to an end and the blog prepares for some downtime over the festive period, we wanted to take a look back at the blog in 2020.

We published posts on a wide range of topics including the impact of monetary policy on birth rates and on happiness, how speculative buying can drive cryptocurrency prices down, and of course the economic consequences of Covid-19 featured prominently. But house prices and robots were the most popular topics on the blog in 2020. In case you missed any of them the first time round, the five most viewed posts for the year were:

  1. There’s more to house prices than interest rates
  2. First-time buyers: how do they finance their purchases and what’s changed?
  3. What’s been driving long-run house price growth in the UK?
  4. Wir sind die Roboter: can we predict financial crises?
  5. The myth of full automation: the roboadvice case

We hope you enjoyed the blog in 2020. Happy New Year and we look forward to you reading our posts in 2021!

Belinda Tracey, Managing Editor.

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