What is Money?

“Money is not a “mere voucher for unspecified utilities”, which could be altered at will without any fundamental effect on the character of the price system as a struggle of man against man. “Money” is, rather, primarily a weapon in this struggle, and prices are expressions of the struggle; they are instruments of calculation only as estimated quantifications of relative chances in this struggle of interests.” (Max Weber)

Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. University of California Press. (p. 108)

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Great academic opportunities: 7 calls for papers, 6 job openings, 5 summer schools, 2 postdoc and 2 doctoral positions

Dear the ES/PE community members, see below an abundant list of great and interesting academic opportunities:call for papers 7 calls for papers for conferences, 6 job openings, 5 calls for summer schools for PhD students and junior scholars, 2 post-doctoral positions and 2 doctoral fellowships in various topics in economic sociology and political economy, with March 31–April 20 deadlinesShare this list with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for papers:

Summer Schools:

PhD fellowships:

Job openings:

Post-doctoral positions:

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The Waste of the Progress

“Thy Kingdom Come” by Chester Arnold (1999)

The Waste of the Progress

While shelf life gets shorter and fashions rotate,
Consumption is a skipping rope to leap over a payroll date.
Acquire your duds, use and throw them away…
The Progress rolls down a slope anyway.
                                                                         
                                                                          (by Oleg Komlik)
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BITS & BRIEFS: Distorted antitrust regulations // Separating race from class in US // Prosumer capitalism and McUniversity // Effects of restructured corporations

Standard oil octopus

Standard Oil octopus, a cartoon by Udo J. Keppler, 1904

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The Burden of Nations: Debt and Compound Interest

The disappointing outcome of the G8 Okinawa summit regarding the initiative for debt relief for impoverished and indebted countries of the Global South, led President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo to proclaim in August 2000:

All that we had borrowed up to 1985 or 1986 was around $5 billion and we have paid about $16 billion yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion. That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditors’ interest rates. If you ask me what is the worst thing in the world, I will say it is compound interest.” (Jubilee 2000 news update, 18 August 2000)

About two years ago, I asserted that debt is a product of power relations, and elaborated a definition of debt and a neologismneoliberal pauperism‘. My intention then was to grasp the notion and depict the phenomenon of debt on an individual, family or community levels entwined in the broader context of a political economy:

Debt is a product of power relations which inherently exhibits capturing and dominating mechanisms of subordination, appropriation and exploitation in various societal, political and economic fields. Debt is degrading institutional tool which not merely controls and masters labor in advance, it also self- and socially estranging, and entangling the indebted person solely into the ropes of economistic valuation. Contemporary societies are burdened by the Neoliberal Pauperism which is a state of dragging-down indebtedness disguised as a fictitious “trickled-down” wealth.”

The point is that if we expand the analytical scope, the above articulation of debtor-creditor framework is essentially applicable to the relations of the Global North (industrialized “core” countries, international governance organizations, and western financial and corporate minotaurs) and the Global South (developing “peripheral” formerly colonized countries). If we look at the timing of this scene, the year 2000 – in the height of the “Globalization-End of History-Third Way” banquet – this implication is certainly valid, particularly when we read the conditions (known as “structural adjustment” programmes) set by the powerful G8 states, purely reflecting the neoliberal ideology: 

“We encourage those HIPCs [heavily indebted poor countries] that have not done so to embark quickly on the process by beginning to develop Poverty Reduction Strategies, in close cooperation with the World Bank and the IMF, and thus benefit from debt reduction.”

Ann Pettifor, the leader of Jubilee 2000 a worldwide public campaign devoted to this issue, commented on this shameful approach of the richest states:

“This will be known as the Squandered Summit. While the G8 leaders have enjoyed Japan’s $750 million hospitality, they have squandered an historic opportunity to cancel the unpayable debts of the poorest countries. They have squandered the hope of a fresh start for the world’s poorest people in this new millennium. Their failure to act on third world debt cancellation was the defining moment of the summit.”

Well, times apparently changed, locations probably too, but the essence of debt bondage and the mounting burden of indebtedness, in every aspect and level, remains the same — debt is a product of power relations.

Jubilee 2000 debt

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Probably the best “Acknowledgments” ever (2)

best Acknowledgments ever

That’s real and so truthful 🙂 and the fact that this “Acknowledgments” written by Talcott Parsons‘ grandson –  Jotham Parsons, makes this even more amusing…

“This enumeration of my indebtedness, together with much else that I have doubtless omitted, is more than sufficient to account for any virtues this study may possess. For the faults that nevertheless remain, I blame society.”  (Parsons 2004: x)

Parsons, Jotham. 2004. The Church in the Republic: Gallicanism and Political Ideology in Renaissance France.  CUA Press.

>> See here the previous “best Acknowledgments ever” 🙂 

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Social Classes in Medieval Imperial China

Su Xun (1009-1066), a renowned writer of that period, presents a direct testimony on social classes and feudal system in Medieval Imperial China:

“The fields are not the property of the men who till them, and those who own the fields do not work on them. The fields of the tillers belong to the rich. These rich men have extensive lands and vast properties; their estates join up one to the next, and they bring emigrants among whom they divide the work of cultivation. The lash and the rod used to urge on the levies of forced labor; their master treats them no better than slaves… He takes half of the produce: there is only one landowner to every ten cultivators, so that day by day the landowner accumulates his half and grows rich and powerful, while the cultivator lives from day to day on his half and grows poor and hungry, and there is no remedy.”

From: Grousset, René. 1953. The Rise and Splendour of the Chinese Empire. University of California Press. (p.182)

ancient Chinese agriculture

“Gardening” by Shen Zhou (1427 -1509)

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BITS & BRIEFS: Political Economy of Nazism // Post-New Left // Yanis Varoufakis on China // The Making of Digital Kenya

china_shanghai_night

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The Pretence of Knowledge

Economics

They pretend to know.
– Yes.
– Yet they don’t know.
– Correct.
– And they get paid for this?
– Paid well, too.
Man, I wanna be an economist!!!

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Great academic opportunities: 11 Calls for Papers, 4 Summer Schools, 2 PhD Fellowships and a Job

See below a list of great and interesting academic – mostly funded – opportunities:call for papers 11 calls for papers for conferences and workshops, 4 calls for summer schools, 2 doctoral positions and a job opening in various topics in economic sociology and political economy, with March 15 – 31 deadlines. Share this list with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for papers:

Summer School:

PhD fellowships:

Job openings:

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