Posts In Category

Political Theory

Numerous questions pose themselves for political economists about the crisis – enough (never waste a good crisis) to keep PhDs engaged for a generation. But in my view there are two big picture questions which modern comparative political economy needs to answer. One is why the epicentre of the crisis was in Wall Street and the City of London. The other is this: the crisis occurred as a result of failures in the main regulatory frameworks – the financial and the macroeconomic – which govern much of the workings of advanced economies. Why, in sharp contrast to the 1930s, have these frameworks changed little since the crisis? These questions raise major issues for our understanding of modern capitalism and its …

In the past couple of days, Germany and Canada have joined the group of countries that have declared that they consider the National Transitional Council (NTC) in to be the “legitimate representative” of the Libyan people. But what exactly does this mean? According to the BBC, the group of countries extending this recognition includes France, the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Gambia, Senegal and Australia. Russia and the United States have had meetings with the NTC and have also made similar declarations about the illegitimacy of the Gaddafi regime and about the legitimacy of the NTC (see previous post by Stefan Talmon on the US position in March). What are the legal implications, if any, of these …

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a talk given by Mike Bonnano, one of the Yes Men (self-proclaimed social justice pranksters famous for impersonating the CEOs of Dow Chemical, General Electric and similar corporate giants in the international media). Bonnano spoke about the need for a “post-ideological revolution” in which we rethink the existing inequalities in income and opportunity and return to the values we all learned when we were children: simple ideas such as sharing, respecting others, and fairness. These words stuck with me, and retained their salience as I listened, a week later, to Dr. Thomas Pogge speak on the topic of  “Globalization, Inequality and the State.”  Dr. Pogge is a renowned expert on …

On May 24, 2011 at the Nissan Centre, St. Antony’s College, the book “The Korean State and Social Policy: How South Korea Lifted Itself from Poverty and Dictatorship to Affluence and Democracy” was launched. This lively event brought together all five authors of the book: Stein Ringen, Huck-ju Kwon, Ilcheong Yi, Taekyoon Kim and Jooha Lee. Their goal was to explain the mystery of South Korea’s successful and smooth transition from authoritarianism  and poverty to an affluent stable democracy. The authors stressed the importance of governance under authoritarian rule, and explored it through the prism of South Korean social policy from 1945 to 2000. Mixed governance, or state’s collaboration with other actors was at the core of the presentation and …

On March 13th, 2007, the Bank of England issued a new series of bank notes. On the £20 note Adam Smith, the Scottish founder of the discipline of economics, replaced the composer Edward Elgar. If portraits on bank notes tell us anything about the spirit of their time, this seems to be a case in point. Smith’s portrait seems appropriate for a period in which the optimism about efficient free markets had reached a peak. But the cliché of who Adam Smith is, and the 18th-century scholar whom one encounters when turning to his writings in their entirety, are at a considerable distance. Of course it would be foolish to deny that Smith was an economist, if only because defining …