Political Economy


People – as important to individuals as a society, are as much the driving force of any organisation as that of a nation. It is the people, as opposed to a certain emotion, that actually make the world go around. Every human action and reaction is either ‘for’, ‘by’ or ‘of’ the people, reference to democracy being irrelevant. The very basic need of all, is the one of real satisfaction of needs. Needs that are endless, overlapping and often conflicting; needs that may be important or selfish. People stir up politics the same way needs do to economics. And the struggle of each political system to fulfil their needs, prompted by economies or diseconomies is what we call ‘Political Economy’.

Since around the 16th century, when the term merely referred to the study of the conditions under which production or consumption was organized in nation-states, now stands for a branch of study encompassing elements of economics, political sciences, moral philosophy and sociology. Long been a subject of intellectual inquiry, Political Economy is a relatively young academic discipline. Even though ‘Economics’ by itself constitutes as a social science, the integration of human ‘thinking’ along with previously held ‘behaviour’ has paved way for fresh lines of thought giving the political aspect of general economics a very different outlook. Believed to have emanated as a reaction to ‘mercantilism’ in Europe, the term was restricted to practical theories and moral philosophies edging the promotion of governmental regulation of a nation’s economy.

Many conjectures and centuries later, warring economists have come to agree upon a definitive idea that the integration of economic and political objectives outside of theory is skirted by constant apprehension – of the homeland and of the alien countries. Be that as it may, it’s not only the economists who have been at war. In the years that ‘Political Economy’ evolved from being recognised as a mere retort to trade absolutism to its acknowledgement as an established framework, we fought our way through an epoch of almost relentless panic as which the modern world tried very hard to destroy itself and for all practical purposes: succeeded.

Continued analysis of the pre and post-catastrophe periods are greatly skewed towards the argument that military struggle can disturb the existing political economy in a country in turn making drastic political change possible. There is enough evidence to show that the unrest of war has been instrumental in probing a number of important inventions, the end result being ultimate superiority of select nations over others. The magnum opus that is enabling you to read this very article was a brainchild of the Cold War. However, the notion that the urgency of a war can lead to economic growth is no reason to ignore the horrible human tragedy that it is. Yet, even without certainty, the cold, hard economist in each of us propels over the fact that the superpower was not a product of greater peacefulness.

Amalgamating interests of politics and economics often make international relations replete with difficulty. We can draw so from the case of an existent global force and an emerging one. The US has been supporting the economic reforms involving the Asian giant due to a promising increase in trade between the two nations. But China’s resistance to domestic political liberalisation drew sharp criticism toward Uncle Sam especially after he was extended the ‘most-favoured nation’ trading status amid major controversy.

It is no secret that there is complex calculus involved as governments strive to intersect economic and political objectives, the above case in point is one of the clearer examples citing the emergence of an international political economy has been instrumental in marking the return of political economy to its roots as a holistic study of individuals, states, markets, and society.

– By Siddhi Parwani.
(Sub – Head of Department of Research, Writing and Photography)

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