ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Profound Structural Flaws in the US Financial System That Helped Cause the Financial Crisis

We are now in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. This crisis is the latest phase of the evolution of financial markets under the radical financial deregulation process that began in the late 1970s. This evolution has taken the form of cycles in which deregulation accompanied by rapid financial innovation stimulates powerful financial booms that end in crises. Governments respond to crises with bailouts that allow new expansions to begin. As a result, financial markets have become ever larger and financial crises have become more threatening to society, which forces governments to enact ever larger bailouts. This paper analyses the structural flaws in the current United States financial system that helped bring on the current crisis.

When the Facts Change: How Can the Financial Crisis Change Minds?

This essay argues that pragmatism as a temporary prop to stabilise the crumbling financial system is distinct from pragmatism as a governing ethic. The emerging common sense worldwide and in India aims to be the latter. Yet, in the absence of sufficient grounding in a broad theoretical doctrine, this incipient pragmatism may be insufficient to dislodge the prevailing doctrine of neoliberalism and thus may, in fact, end up being a temporary reaction.

Steering Out of the Crisis

The global financial and economic crisis is of such magnitude that 2008 will probably be looked back upon as a turning point equivalent to 1945, 1971 and 1989. The silver lining is that the crisis has discredited many established ideas about how societies should run their economies, and the impact of this discrediting will last well beyond the recovery. The crisis provides opportunities for advancing a social democratic vision of a moral society, with more of a balance between economic democracy and political democracy, especially in finance; one in which states regain confidence to surveil markets, as in the Keynesian era. A three-stage programme to steer out of the crisis towards something better and very different from what has been followed under neoliberalism is set out. The first deals with the immediate crisis. The second with the restructuring of finance. The third - to which virtually no attention has yet been given - deals with respecialising western economies. Getting far with most of the items would require a step-up in multilateral cooperation.

The First Network Crisis of the 21st Century: A Regulatory Post-Mortem

The current financial crisis should be viewed as a network crisis, because due to a whole series of deregulation measures, financial reforms and technological and financial innovations, the world has become closely networked into a global market, with laws, and policies functioning within national boundaries. This essay points out that the increased integration of the global market today brooks no further postponement of major reforms. The risk is that if sound, transparent and effective regulation is not built into the international financial architecture to foster open trade in goods and services, emerging markets would neither have the confidence for investment abroad, nor would they have the confidence to open their markets to higher volatility and contagion risks. This crisis therefore is likely to trigger considerable changes in the way we think about the behaviour of markets and the proper role of regulation and governments, particularly in crisis management. What is needed is a dynamic, evolutionary, interactive, and holistic understanding of how complex markets evolve and mutate.

South Asia? West Asia? Pakistan: Location, Identity

While Pakistan's geographical location has not shifted in the last 38 years, there has been a marked shift in terms of its identity and associations. In the past, what is now Pakistan was closer to, and more part of, the larger south Asian or "Indian subcontinental" identity, but it has now "corrected its direction" (apna qibla durust kar liya hai). In some ways, the Pakistani identities of the Muslim and the south Asian/Indian are competing identities, often mutually exclusive. A secular India with a Muslim minority would not wish for a stronger Muslim south Asian identity while a Muslim Pakistan may not want to belong to an idea or union, in which it would be marginalised and subservient to a power which it sees as its nemesis.

Reframing Globalisation: Perspectives from the Women's Movement

This is a feminist invitation to rethink the nation-to-globalisation narrative that structures prominent approaches to India's post-independence history. Exploring the question from different vantage points, it argues that the long history of the women's movement in India from the 19th century onwards has been fundamentally international in scope within which the "nation" occupied a troubled position. The more recent challenges of caste and sexuality are further reasons to question a unidimensional conceptualisation of the present. The very pressing uncertainties besetting the future of the women's movement in India - and elsewhere - would be better appreciated within a "post-national" as against a "global" conjunctural analysis.

The Postnational, Inhabitation and the Work of Melancholia

Sri Lanka today is a postnational location, the uncomfortable home of a nation that never was, and never will be. If anthropology has been concerned with the particularity of "other" cultures defined as a "moral elsewhere" beyond the comprehension of universal reason, then anti-colonial nationalism has sought to claim a universality for the particularities of national culture. This essay sketches a preliminary description of the double loss imposed by the impossibility of the nationalist project, a loss that cannot be mourned in an ordinary way.

Nation Impossible

Given the impossibility of the nation-form as an enabling political arrangement of our times - after all, we have experimented with it for over two centuries - the work of imagination and the work of politics need to seek newer, pluralistic and enabling forms of politics beyond the nation-form. The thought of Tagore and Periyar offers us at least two premises to re-imagine politics beyond the nation-form. First, politics has to be a perennial contestation of different forms of power by acknowledging and addressing difference as the fundamental reality of the social. Second, a politics beyond the nation has to be based on a de-territorialised imagination that surpasses the territorial parochialism of the nation-form and embraces the world as a terrain of possibilities, alliances, and constraints.

Thinking through the Postnation

A well-known opposition in globalisation debates is "the national versus the postnational" in which the static nation, defined forever by symbols of identity produced in the now-irrelevant era of nation states, is counterposed to the dynamic postnational corporation, located everywhere and nowhere, resisting the parochialism of national pride and national symbols. The term "postnational" is developed here in a sense different from that promoted by corporations and the self-defined "global civil society", which conceives of it simply as spaces above and beyond the nation state. Moreover, in a world in which dominant discourses valorise "flows", "fluidity" and "translatability", the term postnational may offer us a vantage point that insists on location in the face of translatability, while simultaneously insisting that "location" is autonomous of the nation state.

The Practice of Social Theory and the Politics of Location

Concerned with the ways in which "globalisation" seems to be undermining "the politics of location", this essay argues that the latter is both possible and necessary. However, a contemporary politics of location must be articulated from a "postnational" standpoint that opposes the essentialisms of yesterday without being indifferent to place. Locations matter not because some places are superior or inferior to others but because places differ. These differences do not need to be celebrated, museumised or protected from contamination, but they must be allowed to survive. If social theory is partly shaped by its contexts, then "we" - no matter who we are or where we are located - are better off with a multiplicity of such contexts.

Postnational Location as Political Practice

Taking postnational location to be a form of political practice, this essay is a response to the emancipatory promise of a postcolonial nationalism turned grotesque and a postcolonial feminism gone awry. It outlines the complexities and tensions that transformed early feminist interventions against militarism and ethnic chauvinism in Sri Lanka, turning them into fragmented projects and programmes on "women's empowerment", "gender sensitisation" and the like.

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