The devastating economic impact of the great lockdown

Demand for energy is plunging in the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, and governments have only a limited ability to cushion the blow

The IMF this week gave a stark depiction of the devastating impact of what it is calling “the Great Lockdown”, in its latest World Economic Outlook. The world is heading into a much worse decline than in the financial crisis of 2008-09, with global GDP shrinking by 3% this year, the IMF believes.

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The politics of Nation Branding: Collective identity and public sphere in the neoliberal state

Nation Branding is broadly conceived of as an apolitical marketing strategy that targets external markets to establish and communicate a specific image of national identity. However, in this article, it is argued that Nation Branding displays characteristics that make it constructive to analyze in terms of an implicit cultural policy. The main point is that Nation Branding is essentially an inner-oriented, cultural-political measure that targets the citizens of the national state, characterized by conservative, transformative and transferring political agendas. On the background of an analysis of these characteristics, it will be argued that Nation Branding may work in a self-defeating manner and endanger democratic processes.

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Machiavelli’s republican political theory

The author argues that the interpretation of Machiavelli’s political theory is to be prominently a republican one, escaping its commonly simplified and stereotypical interpretations, which reduce his theoretical legacy to so-called ‘Machiavellianism’. The article claims that while elements of ‘Machiavellianism’ do exist in all of his books (especially in The Prince), they do not define the core line and purpose of Machiavelli’s political theory. This article presents how Machiavelli followed the legacy of republican Rome and of the medieval and Renaissance city-republics of Italy (including Florence) in developing his republican conception. Furthermore, it is argued that the theory of the humours – used as a basis of his interpretation of republican tradition – resulted in the anticipation of modern liberal republicanism in Machiavelli’s legacy. His statements that conflicts of interests among different humours/classes/estates were not only unavoidable but were also useful in enacting good laws, did anticipate modern pluralism. The author argues that the theory of the humours served Machiavelli as the core background he used in differentiating the main forms of political orders: monarchy/principality, republic, and lizenzia (institutionally, a republic, but effectively, an imbalanced quasi-aristocratic rule). The criterion Machiavelli used was the quality of relations existent among those humours, in the sense that only the republic secured the satisfaction of the needs and interests of all humours, and insofar represented a well-balanced, healthy body politic. Machiavelli’s intention was to offer ‘practical lessons from the study of history’ through comparison of the ‘ancient events’ of the Roman republic with the ‘modern events’ of the existing lizenzia in Florence, so that a real republican order be (re)established in the Florence of his days.

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Immanuel Wallerstein and World-systems theory

A towering intellectual, pathbreaking and inspiring thinker, and preeminent sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein passed away.

Wallerstein lived a deep commitment to justice, scholarship and change. He has written dozens of remarkable and award-winning books, and hundreds of influential papers and shrewd commentaries. His superb, eye-opening and powerful World‑Systems Analysis has transformed the way we understand history, capitalism, colonialism, liberalism, social sciences, and the present turbulent times.

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Read also: World-systems analysis: an introduction

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Elements of a political economy of the postgrowth era

Planetary boundaries are either being approached or already crossed, and there is no evidence for an absolute decoupling of GDP growth, resource use and greenhouse gas emissions. How economic and social systems may be reembedded into environmental limits in the absence of growth is a crucial issue within and beyond economics. This paper outlines some of the elements and analytical steps that may turn out useful for formulating a political economy of the post-growth era. The point of departure of the paper is the ecological critique of neoclassic economics. Subsequently, it revisits Marx’s Critique of Political Economy and its potential capability of unifying the monetary (or exchange value) with the matter and energy (or use value) aspects of production and consumption patterns. The following section considers the regulation approach that was originally tabled for the institutional analysis of different growth strategies within the historical development of capitalism. However, the notion of “institutional forms”, in particular, may also give hints of how the social structures of an economy without growth may be understood. Using the analytical toolbox developed in the previous sections, the last section outlines some of the general features of a “global steady-state” economy highlighting the centrality of the provision of sustainable needs satisfiers and the role of one particular institutional form in the transition from a growth to a post-growth economy: that of the state.

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Capitalism and Mental Health

A mental-health crisis is sweeping the globe. Recent estimates by the World Health Organization suggest that more than three hundred million people suffer from depression worldwide. Furthermore, twenty-three million are said to experience symptoms of schizophrenia, while approximately eight hundred thousand individuals commit suicide each year. Within the monopoly-capitalist nations, mental-health disorders are the leading cause of life expectancy decline behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the European Union, 27.0 percent of the adult population between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five are said to have experienced mental-health complications. Moreover, in England alone, the predominance of poor mental health has gradually increased over the last two decades. The most recent National Health Service Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey illustrates that in 2014, 17.5 percent of the population over the age of sixteen suffered from varying forms of depression or anxiety, compared to 14.1 percent in 1993. Additionally, the number of individuals whose experiences were severe enough to warrant intervention rose from 6.9 percent to 9.3 percent.

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Shifting the economic system onto a sustainable path

For most of the last 30 years there has been strong economic growth in the rich world and yet unemployment has remained stubbornly high while the gap between rich and poor has widened. According to traditional economic thinking, this should not have happened. High rates of growth should have created lots of new jobs, for a largely stable population, and spread the wealth around more evenly, especially as it was supplemented by more open trade and less market regulation, two other economic foundations praised by traditional economists for their beneficial impacts. Instead, average standards of living have stagnated or declined in much of the OECD and only the rich have become richer.

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The Fascist Nature of Neoliberalism

Capitalism is based on a false logic in which all facts and ideas are reduced to a consideration of their ‘feasibility’ within the capitalist system. Thus, all mainstream economic and political theories, including those such as Marxism which are supposed to offer an alternative vision, have been stunted and utopian ideas are completely sidelined. In order to constantly work out the feasible, you have to hang on to pseudo-factual concepts: nationalism; a constant drive for efficiency; the idea of nation/state; corporatism; managed markets; business ethics; governance; and so on. Capitalism is reduced to the management of the economy by states that fight each other and marvel at the independence of finance.

The Fascist Nature of Neoliberalism offers a brief, provocative analysis of this issue with special reference to the most visible executioners of its will: the much-misunderstood managerial class. This group simply happens to hold power, and hence visibility, but they do what everybody else does, and would do, all the time. This is because capitalism is an intellectual outlook that thoroughly directs individual actions through fascist and non-fascist repression. This book argues that the only way to escape capitalism is to recover individual intellectual and sentimental emancipation from capitalism itself in order to produce radical solutions. This volume is of great importance to those who study and are interested in political economy, economic theory, and philosophy, as well as fascism and neoliberalism.

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Complexity in Economics

The understanding of the evolution of real-world markets through time – that is irreversible – requires a shift to Complexity in economic thinking that might favor the adoption of

  • A non-anthropocentric approach to economics
  • A social ontology that is rooted in actual experience in the markets
  • A new approach to the rationality of economic agents
  • An evolutionary approach based on the coexistence of laws and change
  • An ontological indeterminism that rejects a necessitarian approach to real-world economies
  • An epistemological fallibilism that rejects absolute truths
  • An endogenous approach to norms and ethics

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Economics becomes more precise and rigorous — and totally useless

Nowadays there is almost no place whatsoever in economics education for courses in the history of economic thought and economic methodology. The standard view among mainstream economists is that students shouldn’t think about what they are doing, but just do it. This is deeply worrying.

A science that doesn’t self-reflect and asks important methodological and science-theoretical questions about the own activity, is a science in dire straits. The main reason why mainstream economics has increasingly become more and more useless as a public policy instrument is to be found in its perverted view on the value of methodology. How did we end up in this sad state?

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Read also: The Methodology of Polanyi’s Great Transformation

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