Thursday, May 20, 2010

Political-Economy or Political Economy

I saw Yaj Chetty's article in the Business section of the CT earlier in the week. He writes very well and manages to convey some of the big issues in our monetary system in clear and concise way. I am surprised that I never came across his work before. Always amazes me no matter how much time you research a field there are always people that don't make it onto your radar!

The one issue that I am noticing in many of the discussions of money, including Yaj's, is the lack of talking about it in a political-economic framework. This split between economics and politics persists in this way. The relationship that money has to a political system is undervalued or under-recognized. What does it mean to change our monetary system? Is this just an economic question? Or just a social rights question? What does it mean for our political system and how can we change the one without the other shifting? I think this kind of thinking dominates because we think we have perfected the political system and all that we need to do now is change the economic system. I think this is us falling into the exact same trap that this split has been set up to do - were we can debate economics as if it is a separate field, something that free-market ideologues have done really well at. Often the way that democracy is talked about reminds me of Fukuyama's famous article, The End of History, where he talks about our having reached the pinnacle of our economic framework. Is this really the best democracy we can design? 

I think this of course raises a much more complex question about what democracy means, what our current democracy does and how it came into existence. There is no way to really separate our monetary system and our political system. Our political system has in many ways been designed to support and reinforce our monetary system. Tweaks have been made that allow the monetary system to operate. This is where the real challenge comes, this is where the real political question rises. How do we create, theorize, advocate a new political system that enables a change in our monetary system? Can we really continue to live in a representative democracy that has been developed to enable capitalist economics with a decentralized non-sovereign monetary system? 

I am not sure that we can. I don't know what to propose yet in terms of what that would look like. But, my hunch is it is along the lines of network ideas - ideas of deliberative democracy via networks and that the economic system and monetary system will replicate this. This is where we have to head, the ending of this limited idea of space and sovereignty, of nationalism and hierarchy. These kinds of shifts are essential to our diversity and complexity of a global humanity.

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