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Global Powers and Competing ‘Fixes’ in Central Asia


Transcript of the presentation by

Dr. Balihar Sanghera, Director of Graduate Studies (Taught),
Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Kent; George F. Kennan Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center 
December 1, 2017, Central Asia Program

Thank you for the invitation, and I should also thank Sebastian as well, and it’s a shame that he couldn’t be here today. But thank you for the invitation. It’s a pleasure to be here.

I should say this is a research that I’m involved in, in collaboration actually, with my co-researcher Elmira Satybaldiev, over there. So, we’ve been busy collecting data and analyzing the data. So, although I’ll be presenting, it’s very much a collaborative piece of work. And I suppose, because I’m presenting, all errors are mine in this case. It is a work-in-progress paper, so I do welcome your comments, criticisms, and any suggestions that you have.

Okay. So, why are we looking at Central Asia and why does it matter? And I think when we think about these kinds of issues, we are thinking about space. Why does space matter per se? And often, when we think about Central Asia, it’s usually framed around either geopolitical ends, in terms like “The Great Game” theory, or in more political economy terms, such as world-systems theory, where you have core nations and periphery nations, and in between that the semi-periphery nations. I don’t think these perspectives are, per se, wrong, I just think they’re decidedly one-sided and that they tend to neglect the nature of capitalism, global capitalism in particular.

The analysis tends to be primarily done at the level of politics, not really paying adequate attention to how capitalism, and particularly the crises and contradictions of capitalism, shape space. And very much, my paper is about trying to understand this. How does crisis of capitalism impact how space is shaped by a various group of powers who also happen to be capitalist powers?

So, this paper is very much trying to address that particular gap in that literature, which tends to get mixed out. I should also mention here that in addressing the contradictions and crises of capitalism, the state becomes a very important actor in this, because it’s the state projects and state strategies that help to regulate capitalism. And I’m gonna talk about that a bit later on. But the state plays a major role in how it constructs, construes both space, territory, and in doing so, helps to shape how capitalism is directed in favor of one nation as opposed to another.

In talking about how capitalism tends to get dry, how people just [inaudible 00:03:02] because they just think it’s just about economics. Well, yeah. It is about economics, but it’s also about political legitimacy. It’s about how states are able to mobilize legitimacy for it’s particular cause, for it’s particular strategy and project. And in doing so, it draws upon social, cultural imaginaries in order to achieve that political legitimacy. Of course, it also draws upon moral justifications as well. It’s not purely about might. It’s also about that this is somehow better for the world or for society per se.

I think we’ll argue later on. These strategies that the state employ are partly path-dependent. They are partly shaped, historically, by what happened before and also, by what other people are doing, what other countries are doing. So, they’re relational. They just don’t happen in a vacuum. They’re very much dependent on what other nations are doing in terms of their strategies, and what has also been historical.

And now, I’m talking about contradiction in capitalism, and forgive me. This may be a bit obvious to most of you. What are the contradictions in capitalism? So, apologies if this is a bit basic, bit too much sociology 101, but it’s perhaps worth reminding what are the contradictions in capitalism and the different forms that they take. These are structural. These aren’t merely discursive. These are things that occur whether we recognize it or not. So, for instance, currently there are four major ones, or four key ones, but there are many others.

Firstly, wages. Wage is both the source of cost as well as a demand. If companies try to reduce their costs because they wanna stay competitive, this will also impact the aggregate demand. So, these contradictions are things that happen together. These qualities, these elements are not something that is all. They’re both. They happen at the same time, and addressing one, you’re likely to aggravate the other. That’s why they are contradictions.

Capital. Capital is both fixed … In order to be realized, it has to be fixed into factories, into labor, into production … So, they have to be embedded in particular capacities, in particular productions. But at the same time, capitalists also want to dis-embed them in order to make them to [inaudible 00:05:58], so that they can find other ways of using capital for more profitable areas. So, there’s always this tension of embedding and dis-embedding capital. It’s this constant contradiction about how this occurs.

Money is both a medium of exchange nationally, which the state, the central bank has control over, but at the same time, it’s also something which is traded internationally, which the state has very little control over. And as I will show, the nature of currency plays a big part of this story about how global powers try to shape Central Asia.

Finally, the state plays a key role here, because on the one hand it is embedded within a capitalist state, a capitalist society in which it wants to valorize capital because capitalists themselves are disorganized, too fractured to organize capital themselves, the conditions in which capitalism can occur, so the state takes on the role. But yet, at the same time, the state also has to ensure a social cohesion. It can’t be too one-sided. If it does so, it does result in unrest and of course, skirmishes. So, it has to ensure both valorization of capital as well as social cohesion.

And the state, at any one moment in time, at any one period in time, has to strategize how it’s going to resolve these contradictions. Which elements is it going to prioritize? So, in terms of wages, is it about the cost side? Or is it the income side. In terms of thinking about money, is it going to put more importance to its exchange as international currency? Or one in which it has control over in terms of domestic one? So, these are dilemmas that each state has to engage with, and they try to resolve them, temporarily anyway, because these contradictions are, in themselves, irresolvable. So, you can only have temporary fixes, and you’re trying to address these.

Okay. So, what do I mean by “fixes?” I’ve been using this term. So, by fix, I mean how state projects and strategies and trying to resolve crises and contradictions and fixes themselves and come together in terms of regulating the regime of capital accumulation. So, this is what I mean by fix. It’s about how, at any one moment in time, state employs strategies in order to resolve these contradictions, and they take different forms. Different forms are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they do depend on each other. But at any one moment in time, particular fixes, or particular strategies or projects take on more priority than others.

So, let me give you three fixes that will become important later on in the talk. Firstly, what I call a spacial fix, which is one in which the state tries to invest in infrastructure and communication in order to give its capitalists access to market and to reduce costs. So, this is sometimes called a spacial fix. It’s very much about shaping territories in particular ways so that you build roads and railways.

Now, some of you more discerning audience will realize which of these fixes apply to particular global powers, and you get prizes if you can identify the right fix with the right global power.

The second fix, which I’ll call an institutional fix, is about how particular institutions are missing in particular nations, which inhibit growth, economic development. So, it’s about putting in, getting the right institutions, economic institutions, public institutions, whether it be the courts, whether it be property rights, as a way of trying to facilitate business and to make businesses grow. Also, in some cases, to develop the banking sector in order to facilitate business’s access to credit. And this is what’s sometimes called institutional fix.

And then, the third fix … I’ll call it the scalar fix, which is that the level of intervention that the state takes on can vary at different levels. Never just at the level of the national level. There’s also at the level of the local level, regional level, and a super-national level. Just think about EU, for instance. EU is a great example of how states get together, operate in various levels at the super-national level, but also operating at regional levels. For example, southern Europe, Greece, parts of Italy, in order to help its development. So, scalar fix means that interventions occur at different institutional levels, and never just primarily at one level, whether it be national or the local.

And what the state tries to do is that it tries to … Through these fixes, it’s trying to create what’s called a structural coherence in that there is some sort of logic behind how these fixes occur and how they operate. And they involve both material elements as well as discursive elements. A good example of this is … For example, in terms of discursive one, is China, the Silk Road Initiative. You know? It’s not nearly about [inaudible 00:12:38]. It’s also how it conjures up ancient history, you thought that the ancient Silk Road … It’s a discursive element to these structural fixes that are just as important as the material and economic ones.

So, social, cultural imaginaries play an important part of this, and never just merely economic, but at the same time, it’s never merely discursive. The success of these fixes, the structure coherence, depends upon the capacity of the state. The greater the capacity of the sources the state has, the more likely these fixes are likely to be met with success. But the process itself is likely to be fuzzy and messy. There’s no guarantee of success at all in that these are complex issues. Contradictions are, by themselves, irresolvable, so they are gonna be messy. And solving one contradiction, you’re likely to store up problems elsewhere in the system, and may not be able to prioritize adequately other contradictions that are coming up.

So, the process of fixing, the process of structural coherence, is one which is littered with compromises, failures … That’s why there’s obviously trial-and-error and imitations. But they are partly path-dependent, as I will show a bit later on.

United States, China, and Russia, are competing to fix Central Asia to address their own contradictions and crises in their own economies.

So, one of my key arguments here, right? And then we’re going into the analysis. So, I suppose I’ve got three key arguments here. The first argument that I wanna make is that the global powers, and here I mean … Primarily, I mean United States, China, and Russia, are competing to fix Central Asia to address their own contradictions and crises in their own economies. So, it’s very much about how they’re using Central Asia to resolve their own problems in their own economies.

Now, these fixes, as I call them, can be in conflict with each other, but they can also complement each other as well, and that’s something that will hopefully become apparent. What that also emerges is that, in talking about global powers and competing, what I do suggest is that these nation states don’t operate in isolation of each other. They very much operate within the world economy. They are dependent upon each other. It’s part of a capitalist system that they are engaging in. It’s not just varieties of capital as one set of literature called it, but very much, a part of a variegated capitalism.

The second argument that I will make is that what we are seeing through the lens of Central Asia, is a move away from neoliberal, uni-polar international order towards what has been sometimes referred to as the post-Western multi-polar order. And by looking at both China and Russia, and how they address their particular contradictions, and how they are meeting their challenges by shaping Central Asia, hopefully I will demonstrate this.

But this movement is by no means to suggest that we are entering an anti-Capitalist stage, or a anti-market stage, or even an anti-liberal stage, right? Far from it. All of these global powers are very much capitalistic. These are … They’re not offering alternative visions of capitalism, far from it. They’re very much a part of capitalism, which does then, lead to a critique about to what extent are they offering alternatives.

And the third argument that I’m gonna make is that the Central Asian states themselves exercise state craft and try to negotiate with the global powers to develop and to attract resources to meet its own challenges in their own economies. So, these Central Asian states are far from merely being puppets, or passive. They’re very much exercising agency of their own in trying to determine which global powers, which resources, and how are they going to use them to address their specific problems.

Now, in saying all this, as I said, hopefully, one will come out with what … These fixes by no means are addressing issues of larger crises if I can call it that. For example, environmental crisis, or crisis of solidarity within global solidarity.

So, how did we do this research? So, we had two research questions. The first one was, what are the major problems in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan? I’ll be primarily looking at Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. So, I know I’ve been talking about Central Asia, but it’s primarily through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan that I will be addressing the fixes. So, what were the economic problems in these two other countries, and what problems and projects did the international financial institutions tackle and fund?

Now, I’m primarily looking at international financial institutions as a way of looking into the global powers, because global powers … They don’t necessarily operate directly. They operate through other institutions, important institutions. So, for instance, the United States operates through IMF and World Bank. In fact, the State Department and the Treasury are board of directors of IMF and the World Bank. So, here, I’m talking about governance rather than just the government, how just … There are many institutions that global powers use in order to achieve their particular objectives. It’s never merely just through the cabinet. It’s through other mechanisms, what’s sometimes called governance, that they’re able to achieve their intended goals. So, it’s through the lens of these international financial institutions that I’ll be looking at how global powers shape the region.

And we interviewed almost over 15 types of financial institutions. The World Bank, I won’t read them all out to you. You can see them on the screen there. World Bank, IMF, Asian Development Bank, representing what’re called the US, western powers, and then, you had the Eurasian Development Bank, the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund, what I would say were representing the Russian side. And although we didn’t get a chance to interview the Chinese financial institutions, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, we did, nevertheless, manage to talk to a senior official within the Chinese embassy to get their understanding of how financial institutions were operating in the region.

We also consulted various reports published by the multi-lateral development banks to understand what kind of projects they were funding in the region. Okay.

And so, what were our findings? So, the first finding is … Well, should not be too surprising that the international financial institutions framed their economic problems according to their donors’ interests. Well, of course. He that pays the piper calls the tunes. Right? It would be a bit odd if they take the major donors’ money and do something different, especially if some of those donors also sit on the board of directors, as in the case of the US State Department and the US Treasury. So, and this is what we more or less found. And I will try to demonstrate this in the next couple of slides, but I’m just kind of giving you the summary of the findings first. So, very much framed how the problems … The strategies that the international financial institutions used very much aligned with their donors’ beliefs and values.

And the kind of fixes that the international financial institutions used, the strategies that employed, also very much aligned with trying to address problems and needs of the major donors’ economies. What? So, let me just say that again. So, the kind of fixes, the kind of strategies that the international financial institutions were using and developed and funded in the region, in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan very much directly, or indirectly, were benefiting the needs of the major donors’ economies. Okay? So, again as you would kind of expect given that the major donors are major contributors to these international financial institutions.

And so, now if you don’t get anything else in this paper, right, just take away this slide, just have that, and then I think you will understand, hopefully, what is going on. I’ll probably have to stand for this. It won’t necessarily be good for good recording, but nevertheless, I think it kind of helps. So, how to read this table, right?

So, you’ve got three … What are they called? Types of global powers here with different kinds of economic beliefs. Alright? So, you have the Washington Consensus, the Neoliberal Model, right? Then you have … Well, Russia’s trying to develop … Of course, this is something that the West have been employing since the break of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then, you have something that’s been, in the last five years, emerging in various shapes and forms, the Eurasian Economic Union, there. And then you have something that’s getting increasing attention. It’s the Belt and Road Initiative, also sometimes called the Silk Road Initiative. Right?

And so, these are the key ways, key models, key strategies, macro-strategies that are being used to shape the region: The Neoliberal Washington Consensus, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Belt and Road Initiative. All have their specific global powers as their main backers, right? So, whether it be the United States and Japan … Japan obviously is through the Asian Development Bank. Russia helps largely to shape and fund the Eurasian Economic Union, and of course, China, with the One Belt One Road.

And how do we … Going down here, the rows. So, the global powers, as I said earlier, operate through the financial institutions, governance. We’re not mainly talking about government, but governance. Various institutions are used to promote the interests of the global powers. Now, these international financial institutions then have particular fixes, particular ways of addressing problems that they feel to be important in addressing economic development and growth in the region. So, these fixes are ways in which they say, “Well, this will help to develop countries’ economies, so these are gonna be my fixes.”

So, these financial institutions draw and design these fixes, which then get realized through key projects. So, key projects that it promotes. So, fixes are not merely discursive. They’re also material, they require particular interventions, particular sectors to promote and this is what I mean by a key project.

And here, importantly is … Well, what are the effects of all this? What are the economic and political effects? Right? Which, hopefully then, goes back to this, because the global powers [inaudible 00:27:20] some of this, right? For there to be a positive effect for their major donors, okay? So, this is how we’ll be reading this table, okay? And what I will do, is I will go through each of these three columns, okay?

So, let’s start off with the oldest and the most-dominant fix and strategy, which is the Washington Consensus and the Neoliberal Model, operated through various international financial institutions, such as the IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. And the kind of fix that it had employed, by and large, is what I call an institutional fix. And what I mean by that, is it’s been trying to de-regulate trade and finance, right?

It’s very much about trying to liberalize markets. It’s trying to ensure that there’s a flow of goods and services going through the weeder because Neoliberalism is about a plan to de-regulate. It’s trying to ensure that the space becomes one of flows, of ease of access, of external actors coming into the market achieving natural resources or having access to consumer markets. It’s also about trying to ensure that the public sector is reformed, right? So, public sector reform, de-centralization … So, it’s not just merely about de-regulation, it’s also about de-centralization of the public sector to ensure that they’re more accountable, more transparent.

And in terms of the key projects that these fancy institutions have funded in Central Asia, largely fit for what we would expect, which is about helping small or medium-sized business to grow, investing, giving loans for them to set up … For example, credit loans. It’s about developing of the banking sector, which is an important part so that households and business can have access to credit. It’s about de-regulation of trade so that they can have access to said natural resources. But importantly, also, they can also acquire profitable quasi-monopolistic companies. So, America has a huge stake in Kazakhstan, Exxon-Mobil, and Chevron because it allows them to extract huge rent from owning these hydro-carbon resources. Now, this very much supports what I would call the Western or US hegemony, because it helps to re-produce capital that very much aligns with US interests.

Now, what we then have, partly as a result of dissatisfaction with this model over the years, and especially in the last ten years witnessed the 2007-08 crisis. Dissatisfaction with this model, and over time, one way or another, there’s been a construction, another imaginary, which is called the Eurasian Economic Union, largely advocated by Russia, supported through its financial institution, the Eurasian Development Bank, and the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund. Now, this kind of fix is very different. So, in the Washington Consensus, it’s about trying to create a border-less world, a de-territorialized world in which people come and go, capital flows across nation states. Right?

So, money that banks in Kyrgyzstan have conform for Washington, from New York, from London, yes. That’s what a de-regulated capital does, right? The Eurasian Union is [inaudible 00:32:14] primed to re-territorialize Central Asia, trying not to create a border-less world, but to create a border, a custom union in which its industries can excel and can thrive through economies of scale.

So, here, space is not merely a pure spacial flow, but it’s very much embedded place. It’s embedded in particular ties, particular institutions that will enable the member countries to benefit. And this is what I’ll call the scalar fix. And how does this occur? Well, this occurs through having custom union, trying to promote export-led industries, and importantly, a “dollar-free” currency regime, and this is very important because what we have here, under the neoliberal model is the dollar hegemony. The hegemony, the world currency, which allows America to … Not to undertake its structural adjustment policies to allow to have a budget deficit, a trade deficit and not to undertake any of its IMF structural adjustments. It can run up huge debts without having to worry about it. Why? Because other countries are willing to purchase US Treasury bonds.

This obviously gives America huge advantages, what’s sometimes called seigniorage advantages. It’s able to engage in two wars in the last ten years, 20 years, 15 years or so, right? And then, to have tax cuts et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, which no other country can possibly do because of the hegemony of the dollar. Russia and China recognize this. They recognize the unfairness of this system, and they wish to have a region, an economic block, which does not allow America to have the hegemony, the dollar hegemony. So, they are trying to create a “dollar-free” regime, what’s sometimes called de-dollarization. Not merely de-dollarization in the national economies within the country, but also, how intra-government exchange is. Loans, and paying off debts done through other currencies other than the dollar, whether it be the Renminbi or the ruble.

Okay. Now, clearly we can see what Russia wants to do with this is to counter the US hegemony, partly as through the customs union as well as the de-dollarization.

And finally, we have China’s model, which has occurred around the same time. Now, this one … it’s called a spacial fix, because what this is trying to do is trying to re-shape the landscape to re-shape the flows of trade to its advantage, from its Chinese factories to mature European factories at a much more speedier and less-costly ways, but also, to new markets. To the Middle East, to Africa, to South Asia. So, it’s trying to re-create the trade flows. So, yes. It has similarities with this in trying to ensure connectivity, but not really any connectivity, but connectivity, which ensures that China is able to address it’s particular crisis, crisis of over-accumulation of capital. That’s the crisis that China is facing, and the spacial fix, speeding up the flows through transport infrastructure is one of the ways it is trying to realize its goals, and that’s exactly what we see. We see a lot of investment into transport.

Again, very similar in terms of the need to de-dollarize the region and to de-dollarize the world, so a lot of its loans, agreements are in the Renminbi, not in the dollar. Right? Because it recognizes the unfairness of this system. And very much trying to counter the US hegemony. They’re not trying to counter capitalism, right? It’s not about that. They’re all very capitalistic in what they’re trying to achieve, but they want to ensure that they have some of their say as well, right? That the system is unloaded against other emerging powers.

Now, it was worth bearing in mind that these strategies didn’t just come out of thin air. They came as a result of previous crises. Now, what do I mean by that? Now, this … I said, if you could just remember this, that’s fine. Right? You don’t need to remember this. This is much more complex, right? But you’ll get the idea.

The crisis … The Neoliberal Model came for a more historical crisis, which was the crisis of the Atlantic Fordism, right? The post-war consensus that emerged from ’45 to the late ’60s. And then, you had the crisis, and that’s when you had the dollar coming out, no longer being fixed to the gold under Nixon in ’71. So, this … And the Atlantic Fordism was one where wages were seen as an income. What you have now under Neoliberalism is wages as a cost. Hence, the importance thus, given to competitiveness. So, these … So, Neoliberalism was seen as a way of addressing the crisis of Atlantic Fordism and in doing so, they’re fixing the regions that it will allow the West, the global powers to reproduce capital in its favor. For that I said, kind of here, giving access to natural resources, consumer markets, particular financial markets, that’s probably important there. And of course, also oil and gas or acquisition of quasi-monopolies that benefit America.

Now, in the case of Russia, what was its historical crisis? Well, shock therapy. That was devastation for the Russian economy. A lot of factories closed down, there was unrest in the country, and this was seen in many cases, as a disastrous economic problem that was self-inflicted as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. So, it is trying to address … The Eurasian Economic Union is trying to address a historical crisis of the failure of Neoliberal globalization, in particular, the rise of finance capital and how this tends to take on more importance than real economy. So, the virtual paper economy tends to be given more prominence under Neoliberalism than under other regimes.

So, what Eurasian Economic Union is trying to do is very much trying to invest in real economies, right? So, into manufacturing … it’s not merely about putting money into finance, which is what you had under Neoliberalism, but very much trying to invest in real manufacturing industries and innovation. Okay? And how will this benefit Russia? Economies of scale, right? So, you have export-led growth, very much what the [inaudible 00:41:23] countries did in the 1960’s and -70’s. You know? They operated behind a tariff barrier, which allowed their industries to grow. And what Russia is trying to do is trying to ensure that all the companies that are running at a loss can, over time, be rescued as a result of export-led growth.

And what’s the crisis that we get with China? China just has too much capital. It’s so rich. It’s doing remarkably well. It just doesn’t know what to do with its capital. So, a lot of its capital is used to purchase US Treasury bonds, to buy up real estate here in London, elsewhere, but this leads to other problems because capital needs to be valorized. Otherwise, it becomes de-valued, and that’s a crisis. So, what China’s trying to do, is trying to valorize capital by trying to invest in long-term projects which will hopefully, over time, will bring back some sort of returns. So, although these investments are long-term investments, they’re not merely short-term investments that’s gonna give out immediate returns, but long-term. So, they deferred strategies. It’s a deferred strategy, long-term strategy, as well as also trying to address, problem-solve declining profits. Okay?

So, hopefully what this crisis show you though, by me looking at these various crises, is to show how the strategies that these global powers have developed and advised are partly, as a result of that internal problems, internal contradictions and crises of their own capitalist economies, which they then are trying to address by trying to shape the region in particular ways, alright? Whether it be through de-regularization in the case of the Washington Consensus, or as a customs union in the case of the Eurasian Union, or the new transport infrastructure in the case of the Belt and Road Initiative.

So, one of my second set of findings … I probably won’t have enough time to go into this, but what we did find was that the nation states, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, weren’t indifferent. They weren’t merely just collecting money from these various international financial institutions, but very much tried to pay them off in order to get good terms for its own country. A ridiculous scenario for countries to have loans and debt that it need not have, or in terms that are unfavorable to it. So, they would play off international financial institutions in order to get the most competitive terms.

And what we also see is that the financial institutions themselves collaborate, right? So, although they are in competition with each other, there is a degree of complementarity between the various institutions, especially in funding major projects such as transport and energy. And I can just quickly show you this by this slide here.

So, you have the two countries, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and the kind of projects that the other financial institutions were undertaking.

So, clearly, the most important one for Western-led financial institutions was the financial sector and the small businesses and corporations there, as well as, also, public and energy infrastructure, which is also replicated to a certain extent by what some of the other financial institutions were also doing, right? So, these weren’t necessarily mutually exclusive in terms of how they’re investing, but the emphasis was slightly different.

So, in the case of Western-led financial institutions, with finance and the private sector. In the case of the Russian-led financial institutions, with the manufacturing and the export-led industries. Finance did play a role, but more towards the bottom, right? It wasn’t a top-priority as in the case of the Western-led financial institutions.

And again, we see a commonality here. That infrastructure goes across the region here. So, transport infrastructure plays more of a role in the Chinese model. Yes, it also plays a role in the Western one, but this one’s more about transport. This one’s also about … Not about transport, but it’s also about energy as well, right? So, there are a few complementarities going on in these fixes.

Okay, and finally, if I can just add, in terms of my critique here, what I’m arguing is that these are capitalist fixes. That although they are competing, although we sometimes think of Russia and China as operating an anti-capitalist agenda, far from it. I’m saying they’re not doing that at all. So, but then, what’s my critique of this? Well, my critique is that the kind of fixes that we need are for crises that none of the major global powers are addressing, that’s about environmental crisis. Okay? They’re singularly failing on this. They’re singularly failing on addressing issues of social justice. There’s huge inequalities within their own societies, the oligarchs, for instance, whether it be in Russia or in China. Or whether it be the one percent, or the [inaudible 00:48:16] one percent in America.

So, we need to think about another type of fix, which I’ll call the … Which political economists in working on the environment have called the contraction and convergence strategy, which is about ensuring that each person is allowed to have certain percentage of carbon dioxide emissions and no one person should be allowed to have more than the other. And if this is the case, then what we need to see is actually “de-growth” in the northern hemisphere. So, we need Europe and the West not to grow, but to de-grow, right? To contract. And for there to be slow growth or non-growth in the southern hemisphere if you are serious about addressing the major crises.

Yes, financial crisis has taken … Something that has become extremely … Have governized us in terms of how to address it, but as I said, it misses our attention about the major bigger ones.

So, [inaudible 00:49:37] a low-carbon economy. In addition to this, I think we also need to pay attention to the issue of social justice, about how to think about enterprises and businesses in a way that’s not capitalistic, that is more not-for-profit and organized by worker’s cooperatives. And if you think this is just a pipe dream, just think about Mondragon, the largest cooperatives in Europe, in the Basque country in Spain. Hugely successful, right? If you say, “This is not workable,” they work extremely well in Mondragon. It’s just that the state just doesn’t allow the conditions for it to be replicated elsewhere.

[inaudible 00:50:33] of how we think about work, right? Our work in which we share jobs, so it’s not just one person monopolizing a good job, but by sharing that job, right? We have extremely smart people but not enough jobs for them to occupy in. So, when you think about different ways about how we can get smart people to work in those good jobs, sharing them, as well as also sharing the good and bad tasks that go with those jobs. So, and then, that’s what I mean by another kind of fix, right? What we’ll call a social justice fix, that none of the global powers are doing.

And finally, if I can just then conclude on this, hopefully what I wanna try to suggest to you is that the global powers are very much about employing fixes to address weaknesses, problems, crises, contradictions in their own economies, not in the Central Asian economies. It’s very much about addressing their own issues, and that these fixes reflect a broader economic and political domination as well as contestation, and that this is giving rise, especially with China and Russia, to what can be called a counter-US economic hegemony. Not capitalism, but US hegemony. And none of the … As I said in the last slide, none of these are really addressing the bigger issue, the bigger crises that we are all facing, which is the environment and solidarity.

Thank you.


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