Even with an immense accumulation of wealth and growth, the modern economic system has failed to resolve crises in health, population and individual living standards, speakers said on Thursday, as they discussed the issues. criticisms and possible solutions at the third session of the Fourth Post-Colonial Superior Conference. Education conference, organized by Habib University (HU).
Opening the panel discussion titled “Repairing Savings”, Professor Aqdas Afzal from HU introduced speakers Sanjay Reddy from the New School for Social Research and Giorgios Kallis from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology in Barcelona.
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The panel began with discussions of the discipline of economics in terms of the age-old “iron law of wages” – a principle that asserts that real wages are capable of providing a living of subsistence. The only time, as Professor Afzal explained, this principle was violated was during the bubonic plague pandemic. Returning to the present day, the scholar asked the question: “Does this principle, in the age of Covid, hold true?”
Next, Kallis explained his work on the economic concept of degrowth.
“When I speak of decline or negative GDP [gross domestic product]I am often accused of speaking of a privileged place, “he said.” The concept is not in favor of slowing progress, but of understanding why indicators like GDP are universally accepted. We have to understand economic development in terms of its colonial inventors. “
He stressed that even when the former colonies were liberated, the movement of labor and resources did not stop.
“It just took the form of development and growth,” he added.
Criticizing the idea, he explained how growth and development were terms of the Western imagination.
The term GDP was coined in the 1930s and 1940s by economists after the Great Depression in America, he said, adding that saying that the European and American economies would be three times the size of what they were. today at the end of this century, was, in fact, akin to doom the rest of the world which was not yet developing economically.
Discussing Europe’s ever-growing economies, he proposed some measures to slow the massive accumulation of wealth by the former colonial masters. Shorter work weeks, a universal basic income and a carbon tax were some of the more radical policies he proposed.
Joining his academic colleague from New York, Dr Sanjay Reddy steered the discussion towards the practical steps needed to slow the world’s economic imbalance.
Ecological constraints must be kept at the center of any discourse on the economy, he said.
The professor explained the need to be aware of the limits of the planet in terms of capitalist developments.
In addition, he insisted on the economic concept of discounting – an economic principle which says that the current progress of societies can rule out future implications of growth.
As Professor Sanjay explained, it was perfectly normal for the capitalists to dump nuclear waste and participate in catastrophic climate change, as they ignore the future implications of these actions.
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At the end of the session, the professor addressed the question of linguistics.
“We have a list of words to explain the concepts of economic deceleration. Growth with distribution, community development, inclusive development, and now decrease. We must move in the direction of concrete actions,” he said.
The professor also insisted on understanding economies from political and collective perspectives and on the need to slow down already prosperous economies.
Posted in The Express Tribune, March 26e, 2021.