The Political Economy of Qualities: The Erosion of Ethics and Values in an Increasingly Iniquitous Global System

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Swissotel Chicago, St Gallen 3
Hosted By: Association for Social Economics
  • Chair: Rajani Kanth, Harvard University

Ethical Economic Policy and Poverty in America

Ravi Batra
Southern Methodist University


This paper argues that there is a strong connection between ethical economic policy and poverty in a nation, especially in the United States. Economic policy is ethical when a nation’s real wage grows at least as fast as its productivity, and the tax system is progressive. From these criteria, the US economic system was unambiguously ethical from 1950 to the 1970s, when the rate of poverty fell at the fastest pace. However, following the regressive tax policy that began in 1981, poverty started to rise and by 2016 had become the worst in over 50 years

The End of Moral Philosophy and Extremism in the Arab Region

Fadhel Kaboub
Denison University


This paper argues that when the experience of the European Enlightenment was transplanted via colonial ventures into West Asia and North Africa (WANA), a superficial separation between State and Religion was imposed on a region that used to thrive and prosper under a (non-European) system that developed a set of moral and ethical standards that allows science, engineering, medicine, architecture, philosophy, literature, education, and the arts to blend together into the fabric of society alongside with state agencies, religious charities, and private businesses. The failure of the "West" to find a place for science and progress under the medieval powers of the Church led to the so-called secular model of governance, which in the context of the WANA region simply meant the disintegration of an entire social fabric that was governed by a decentralized system in favor of a top-down colonial and post colonial "secular" system that forced the creation of underground Islamist movements to push back against the eurocentric secular model. After decades of oppression, those movements have mostly devolved into naive revolutionary groups that are devoid of any moral, philosophical, Islamic, and governance substance. We are thus left with an entire region that is lost between the nostalgia of the glorious Islamic past and the modernist promise of the European Enlightenment. The paper argues that an alternative path to peace and prosperity is possible but it requires a return to moral philosophy, open intellectual discourse, and popular engagement in resetting society's priorities in order to ensure life with dignity for all.

Morality in a Global Culture of Oppression and Exploitation: The Example of the European Union

Wolfram Elsner
University of Bremen


“Fictitious capital” is estimated to have increased to $1.5 quadrillion. Considering a global GDP of $75Bn, a hypothetical real average profit rate on that amount would be historically low and shrinking. It is argued that this leads to a regime of resource and land-grabbing, and ubiquitous war. However, any war feeds back to those who brought it to the target resource-owning/“regime-change” countries, through refugees, counter-terrorism, and an atmosphere of fear and violence in the imperialist core. The EU has currently experienced large refugee streams, counter-terrorism, exploding racism, and upcoming pro-fascist governments and parties, both at their fringes and core. Parallel to a misuse of refugees to create chaos and shock, racist and pro-fascist parties and governments spread (Latvia, Poland, Hungary etc.), and pro-fascist third countries are actively made partners (Ukraine, Turkey). The EU thus has a leading role in dropping the conventional “western” political correctness – while the left is no longer considered to be a protest movement by the populations.

The Matter of Forty Acres and a Mule

William A. Darity, Jr.
Duke University


The foundation for economic reparations for black Americans has anchored on the failure to deliver 40 acres and a mule to the ex-slaves. This paper will explore the importance of land claims, particularly in the US and in India, when reparations has a core asset building dimension.

Reconfiguring Economic Democracy

Robert McMaster
University of Glasgow


This paper argues that economic democracy has to be rethought as a concept capable of articulating a vision of a more progressive and egalitarian approach to human development and poverty reduction in the 21st century. Existing approaches are confined to an outdated conceptualisation of the workplace. This paper argues for a more holistic approach to economic democracy, and argues that economic democracy can be viewed as a conduit to enhancing equity and therefore addressing issues associated with impoverishment.

Alternatives to EuroModernist Visions of Economy and Society: Morality as Anthropic Species-Being

Rajani Kanth
Harvard University


Economics, like other allied social sciences, is the Child of the Enlightenment, and carries the stigmata of that Great Involution in human affairs. In adopting Modernist premises it lost sight, ab initio, of the essentials of human anthropology such that it negates the very essence of our 'species-being', in its ontic and epistemic postulates. The resulting alienations are the story of this great Crisis of Late Modernism. This Paper returns us to the original anthropic templates of homo sapiens, wherein societal Morality resides.
JEL Classifications
  • H0 - General
  • P0 - General