The blog provides a left-wing non-partisan perspective on socio-economic issues in Russia and throughout the world. The focus is on qualitative development of national economic systems and ensuring flexibility in economic policies to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Email: leftistobserver@gmail.com

ECONOMIC PRAGMATISM

It is a myth that globalization benefits all. It is being repeated to us over and over that global free markets bring all economies to prosperity. According to laissez-faire troubadours on corporate payrolls, increasing unemployment, debilitating de-industrialization, meager domestic solvent demand, imposed currency board restrictions, lack of cheap long-term investments do not matter to economic development. To many countries throughout the world, they say that as long as domestic markets are free of government interference and stand wide open to embrace their “bright” capitalist future (usually in the form of foreign speculative capital), their economies can one day have the honor of bearing the title of a developed nation. Then goes the fine print, which says that standards and timeframes for the nomination shall be determined by other developed countries.

This is akin to chasing your own shadow! Indeed, no matter how hard you try, they will always have the right to say: “Sorry, sport! You’re not up to the standard yet.” There have been so many developing countries that went through this “ordeal by free market” that I do not even want to spend time listing them here. These considerations bring some modern economists and politicians to the thought about resurrecting the national understanding of economic reality. As of late, the focus has been less on national economic systems, but on global markets. Westernization deliberately disguised as globalization has been hooking their victims’ economies up to multinational production chains with final products ending up on the store shelves in the developed world thus imposing on developing countries particular niches in the international division of labor, which make them utterly dependant on the foreign supply of inputs and the foreign demand for outputs.

In this situation, the national economic system is left unattended. In the avalanche of revenues from abroad, few bother to assess the national economic viability when the global economic trends change. And they do – quite dramatically at times. To my mind, this underlines not only the need for a revision of the economic discipline as such by re-introducing political economy, but also a need for more emphasis on national socio-economic issues by introducing national political economy. I may write an extended article about my vision of this specialized economic discipline.

It is hopefully needless to mention that it is the economic basis that tends to bring about changes in the superstructure. While the latter can affect the former, the prominence still remains with the basis. Thus, the existing political institutions, ideals, slogans, public figures, etc. have all appeared as a direct result of the way the current economic system is run. When it collapses, so does the legitimacy of the political elite. On the contrary, we are told that bourgeois democracy is the only way to economic prosperity. As a political economist, I view modern-day politicians as products of the modern-day global economic model, which now lies breathless by the sideways of economic development. No matter what they say or do, they are part of the system. They have all been born into it (please note that I do not imply the hereditary transfer of political power) and few will dare to leave it. Whether it is religion, national identity, outward threat or anything else that they use to justify their existence, it does not matter.

Considering the above, I cannot see any mainstream political party or movement nowadays that treats economic pragmatism as the core of their political platform, which should envisage both systemic sustainability and flexible methodology, i.e. the qualitative development of the national economic system rather than the mere enrichment of the corporate elites, who only talk about adjusting the mechanism – taking the entire system to a new level of development will simply put them out of business. They are never going to consent to that.


Boris Anisimov

PROPAGANDA ECONOMICS

I honestly hope that these global economic hardships will teach humanity a good lesson. While realizing the catastrophic effects of a global economic collapse, I, in a sense, welcome this crisis in hopes that it can wake us up to the nasty economic reality we are in. Corporate economists together with politicians and mainstream media are shouting their heads off convincing everybody that the dolce vita snatched away by the “financial crisis” is about to return soon – it is just around the corner. These are the times of propaganda economics when a bunch of highly-paid clowns tell the common folk stories about the free-market neverland in order to soothe them into complacency and inertness.

Under the watchful gaze from boardrooms and CEO offices, this charlatan circus hits the road each time corporate revenues stop rising. When things get really rough, some politician gets assigned to play Peter Pan in this show. His opening lines about refusing to grow up are apparently designed to convince adults that it is not yet time to wise up. And most end up remaining in childish delusions.

Any sensible economist – whose mouth is not gagged with employment obligations to transnational corporations and whose hands are not soiled from slicing up developing countries throughout the world – will agree that the path the world economy is on leads to greater social and economic dangers in the future. He or she would agree that the profession of an economist faces a serious conflict of interest these days, but corporate elites would like to remain silent about.

As a pharmacist finds it more profitable to sell painkillers rather than provide a cure, a modern economist is trained to ensure enrichment of his bosses rather than solve economic problems. Like a ravaging pack of wolves, they plunder entire countries by exploiting their weaknesses while long-term consequences of their decisions are ignored due to the irrelevance to the short-term profitability.

There must be a moral side to economics, but expecting morality from a businessman together with the economists on his payroll is akin to expecting loyalty from a hyena. This is especially true in hard times like today.


Boris Anisimov