The Economics of Metonymy
Roilos, Panagiotis. 2009. The Economics of Metonymy. University of Illinois Press. WebsiteAbstract
Konstantinos P. Kavafis—known to the English-reading world as C. P. Cavafy—has been internationally recognized as an important poet and attracted the admiration of eminent literary figures such as E. M. Forster, F. T. Marinetti, W. H. Auden, George Seferis, and James Merrill. Cavafy's idiosyncratic poetry remains one of the most influential and perplexing voices of European modernism.Focusing on Cavafy's intriguing work, this book navigates new territories in critical theory and offers an interdisciplinary study of the construction of (homo)erotic desire in poetry in terms of metonymic discourse and anti-economic libidinal modalities. Panagiotis Roilos shows that problematizations of art production, market economy, and trafficability of erôs in diverse late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European sociocultural and political contexts were re-articulated in Cavafy's poetry in new subversive ways that promoted an "unorthodox" discursive and libidinal anti-economy of jouissance.
Shorelines: Space and Rights in South India
Subramanian, Ajantha. 2009. Shorelines: Space and Rights in South India. Stanford University Press. WebsiteAbstract
After a clerical sanction prohibited them from fishing for a week, a group of Catholic fishers from a village on India's southwestern coast took their church to court. They called on the state to recognize them as custodians of the local sea, protect their right to regulate trawling, and reject the church's intermediary role.In Shorelines, Ajantha Subramanian argues that their struggle requires a rethinking of Indian democracy, citizenship, and environmentalism. Rather than see these fishers as non-moderns inhabiting a bounded cultural world, or as moderns wholly captured by the logic of state power, she illustrates how they constitute themselves as political subjects. In particular, she shows how they produced new geographies—of regionalism, common property, alternative technology, and fisher citizenship—that underpinned claims to rights, thus using space as an instrument of justice. Moving beyond the romantic myth of self-contained, natural-resource dependent populations, this work reveals the charged political maneuvers that bound subalterns and sovereigns in South Asia.In rich historical and ethnographic detail, Shorelines illuminates postcolonial rights politics as the product of particular histories of caste, religion, and development, allowing us to see how democracy is always "provincial."
The Future of Political Science: 100 Perspectives
King, Gary. 2009. The Future of Political Science: 100 Perspectives. Routledge. WebsiteAbstract
This book contains some of the newest, most exciting ideas now percolating among political scientists, from hallway conversations to conference room discussions. To spur future research, enrich classroom teaching, and direct non-specialist attention to cutting-edge ideas, a distinguished group of authors from various parts of this sprawling and pluralistic discipline has each contributed a brief essay about a single novel or insufficiently appreciated idea on some aspect of political science. The one hundred essays are concise, no more than a few pages apiece, and informal. While the contributions are highly diverse, readers can find unexpected connections across the volume, tracing echoes as well as diametrically opposed points of view. This book offers compelling points of departure for everyone who is concerned about political science - whether as a scholar, teacher, student, or interested reader.
Rethinking School Feeding: Social Safety Nets, Child Development, and the Education Sector
Jukes, Matthew. 2009. Rethinking School Feeding: Social Safety Nets, Child Development, and the Education Sector. World Bank Publications. WebsiteAbstract
The global food, fuel, and financial crises have given new prominence to school feeding as a potential safety net and as a social support measure that helps keep children in school. 'Rethinking School Feeding: Social Safety Nets, Child Development, and the Educator Sector' was written jointly by the World Bank Group and the World Food Programme (WFP), building on the comparative advantages of both organizations. It examines the evidence base for school feeding programs with the objective of better understanding how to develop and implement effective school feeding programs in two contexts: as a productive safety net that is part of the response to the social shocks of the global crises and as a fiscally sustainable investment in human capital, as part of long-term global efforts to achieve Education for All and to provide social protection to the poor. School feeding programs provide an explicit or implicit transfer to households and can increase school attendance, cognition, and educational achievement, particularly if supported by complementary actions such as deworming and food fortification. When combined with local purchases of food, school feeding can potentially be a force multiplier, benefiting both children and the local economy. Today, every country for which we have information is seeking to provide food, in some way and at some scale, to its schoolchildren. Coverage is most complete in high- and middle-income countries indeed it seems that most countries that can afford to provide food for their school children do so. But where the need is greatest, in terms of hunger, poverty, and poor social indicators, the programs tend to be the smallest, though usually targeted to the most food insecure regions. These programs are also those most reliant on external support, and WFP supports nearly all of them. So the key issue today is not whether countries will implement school feeding programs, but how and with what objective. The near universality of school feeding provides important opportunities for WFP, the World Bank, and other development partners to assist governments in rolling-out productive safety nets as part of the response to the current global crises and to sow the seeds for school feeding programs to transition into fiscally sustainable investments in human capital in the future. 'Rethinking School Feeding' will be useful to government agencies and nonprofit organizations working in education reform and food and nutrition policies.
Energy: Perspectives, Problems, and Prospects
McElroy, Michael B. 2009. Energy: Perspectives, Problems, and Prospects. Oxford University Press. WebsiteAbstract
The book offers a comprehensive account of how the world evolved to its present state in which humans now exercise a powerful, in many cases dominant, influence for global environmental change. It outlines the history that led to this position of dominance, in particular the role played by our increasing reliance on fossil sources of energy, on coal, oil and natural gas, and the problems that we are now forced to confront as a result of this history. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is greater now than at any time over at least the past 650,000 years with prospects to increase over the next few decades to levels not seen since dinosaurs roamed the Earth 65 million years ago. Comparable changes are evident also for methane and nitrous oxide and for a variety of other constituents of the atmosphere including species such as the ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons for which there are no natural analogues. Increases in the concentrations of so-called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are responsible for important changes in global and regional climate with consequences for the future of global society which, though difficult to predict in detail, are potentially catastrophic for a world poorly equipped to cope. Changes of climate in the past were repetitively responsible for the demise of important civilizations. These changes, however, were generally natural in origin in contrast to the changes now underway for which humans are directly responsible. The challenge is to transition to a new energy economy in which fossil fuels will play a much smaller role. We need as a matter of urgency to cut back on emissions of climate altering gases such as carbon dioxide while at the same time reducing our dependence on unreliable, potentially disruptive, though currently indispensable, sources of energy such as oil, the lifeblood of the global transportation system. The book concludes with a discussion of options for a more sustainable energy future, highlighting the potential for contributions from wind, sun, biomass, geothermal and nuclear, supplanting currently unsustainable reliance on coal, oil and natural gas.
Public Sentinel: News Media and Governance Reform
Norris, Pippa. 2009. Public Sentinel: News Media and Governance Reform. World Bank Publications. WebsiteAbstract
The purpose of this book is to inform governance advisors about the vital role of the news media for governance reform. This book approaches the issue of news media and governance with three broad questions that it attempts to answer on the basis of quantitative data and case studies. First, a normative approach asks: What ideal roles should media systems play to strengthen democratic governance and thus bolster human development? Second, an empirical approach considers independent evidence derived from cross-national comparisons and from selected case studies, asking: Under what conditions do media systems actually succeed or fail to fulfill these objectives? Third, a strategic approach asks: What policy interventions work most effectively to close the substantial gap that exists between the democratic promise and performance of the news media as an institution?
War Stories: The Causes and Consequences of Public Views of War
Baum, Matthew, and Tim Groeling. 2009. War Stories: The Causes and Consequences of Public Views of War. Princeton University Press. WebsiteAbstract
How does the American public formulate its opinions about U.S. foreign policy and military engagement abroad? War Stories argues that the media systematically distort the information the public vitally needs to determine whether to support such initiatives, for reasons having more to do with journalists' professional interests than the merits of the policies, and that this has significant consequences for national security. Matthew Baum and Tim Groeling develop a “strategic bias” theory that explains the foreign-policy communication process as a three-way interaction among the press, political elites, and the public, each of which has distinct interests, biases, and incentives.
Matthew A. Baum is the Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications and professor of public policy and government at Harvard University. Tim J. Groeling is associate professor of communication studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars
Toft, Monica Duffy. 2009. Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars. Princeton University Press. WebsiteAbstract
Timely and pathbreaking, Securing the Peace is the first book to explore the complete spectrum of civil war terminations, including negotiated settlements, military victories by governments and rebels, and stalemates and ceasefires. Examining the outcomes of all civil war terminations since 1940, Monica Toft develops a general theory of postwar stability, showing how third-party guarantees may not be the best option. She demonstrates that thorough security-sector reform plays a critical role in establishing peace over the long term.Much of the thinking in this area has centered on third parties presiding over the maintenance of negotiated settlements, but the problem with this focus is that fewer than a quarter of recent civil wars have ended this way. Furthermore, these settlements have been precarious, often resulting in a recurrence of war. Toft finds that military victory, especially victory by rebels, lends itself to a more durable peace. She argues for the importance of the security sector—the police and military—and explains that victories are more stable when governments can maintain order. Toft presents statistical evaluations and in-depth case studies that include El Salvador, Sudan, and Uganda to reveal that where the security sector remains robust, stability and democracy are likely to follow. An original and thoughtful reassessment of civil war terminations, Securing the Peace will interest all those concerned about resolving our world's most pressing conflicts.
Domínguez, Jorge I. 2009. La política exterior de Cuba (1962-2009).Abstract
Ha sido presidente de la Asociación de Estudios Latinoamericanos…muchos libros publicados fuera de Cuba supuestamente sobre su política exterior se dedican en su casi totalidad al estudio de la de otros países hacia Cuba, omitiendo un estudio serio sobre la política exterior de Cuba. Por el contrario, los capítulos de este libro presentan la política exterior de Cuba como un instrumento normal de un Estado que se defiende, promueve sus intereses internacionales, y busca ejercer un papel protagónico en el ámbito mundial. Y, sí, Cuba fue sujeto, no simplemente objeto, en sus relaciones internacionales y ese comportamiento merece estudio.
The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial
Temkin, Moshik. 2009. The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial. Yale University Press. WebsiteAbstract
What began as the obscure local case of two Italian immigrant anarchists accused of robbery and murder flared into an unprecedented political and legal scandal as the perception grew that their conviction was a judicial travesty and their execution a political murder. This book is the first to reveal the full national and international scope of the Sacco-Vanzetti affair, uncovering how and why the two men became the center of a global cause célèbre that shook public opinion and transformed America’s relationship with the world. Drawing on extensive research on two continents, and written with verve, this book connects the Sacco-Vanzetti affair to the most polarizing political and social concerns of its era. Moshik Temkin contends that the worldwide attention to the case was generated not only by the conviction that innocent men had been condemned for their radical politics and ethnic origins but also as part of a reaction to U.S. global supremacy and isolationism after World War I. The author further argues that the international protest, which helped make Sacco and Vanzetti famous men, ultimately provoked their executions. The book concludes by investigating the affair’s enduring repercussions and what they reveal about global political action, terrorism, jingoism, xenophobia, and the politics of our own time.
Selected for the long list of the 2009 Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University. 
Patterson, Orlando. 2009. A Job Too Big for One Man. WebsiteAbstract
IN the year since his election, as he has since he first appeared on the national stage, Barack Obama has embodied the fundamental paradoxes of race in America: that we live in a still racially fragmented society; that we share a public culture with an outsized black presence, but that in the privacy of homes and neighborhoods we are more segregated than in the Jim Crow era; that we worship more fervently than any other advanced nation, in churches and synagogues that define our separate ethnic identities and differences, to gods proclaiming the unity of mankind. Why are we this strange way? Is President Obama the ultimate expression of our peculiarities? Has he made a difference? Can he? Will he?We became this way because of the peculiar tragedies and triumphs of our past. Race and racism scar all advanced nations, but America is peculiar because slavery thrived internally and race became a defining feature of personal identity.Slavery was quintessentially an institution of exclusion: the slave first and foremost was someone who did not belong to and had no claims on the public order, nor any legitimate private existence, since both were appropriated by the slaveholder. The Act of Emancipation abolished only the first part of slavery, the master’s ownership; far from removing the concept of the ex-slave as someone who did not belong, it reinforced it. The nightmare of the Jim Crow era then extended and reinforced the public slavery of black Americans right up through the middle of the 20th century.At the same time, the status of blacks as permanent outsiders made whiteness a treasured personal attribute in a manner inconceivable to Europeans. Whiteness had no real meaning to pre-immigration Swedes or Irishmen because they were all white. But it became meaningful the moment they landed in America, where it was eagerly embraced as a free cultural resource in assimilating to the white republic. In America race had the same significance as gender and age as defining qualities of personhood.The great achievement of the civil rights movement was to finally abolish the lingering public culture of slavery and to create the opportunities that fostered the black middle class and black political leadership. This was a sea change. But Mr. Obama, by virtue of his unusual background as a biracial child reared by loving, though not unprejudiced, white caregivers, is acutely aware that the crude, dominating racism of the past simply morphed into a subtler cultural racism of the private sphere—significantly altered though hardly less damaging.Seeing blacks as culturally different—a perception legitimized by the nation’s celebration of diversity and identity—permits all kinds of complicated attitudes and misjudgments. Their differences can be celebrated on playing fields, dance floors and television, in theaters, hip-hop and cinema, and not least of all in that most public and ambivalently regarded arena of mass engagement: politics. But in the disciplined cultural spaces of marriages, homes, neighborhoods, schools and churches, these same differences become the source of Apollonian dread.What then can we expect of Mr. Obama? One thing we can be sure of is that he will not be leading any national conversations on race, convinced as he must be that they exacerbate rather than illuminate. During the campaign last year he spoke eloquently on the subject, but only when he was forced to do so by the uproar over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And since he took office, his one foray into racial politics—his reaction to the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr.—was a near political disaster that must have reinforced his reluctance.Mr. Obama’s writings, politics and personal relations suggest instead that he prefers a three-pronged strategy. First, he is committed to the universalist position that the best way to help the black and Latino poor is to help all disadvantaged people, Appalachian whites included. The outrage of black over-incarceration will be remedied by quietly reforming the justice system.Second, Mr. Obama appears convinced that residential segregation lies at the heart of both black problems and cultural racism. He is a committed integrationist and seems to favor policies intended to move people out of the inner cities.Third, he clearly considers education to be the major solution and has tried to lavishly finance our schools, despite the fiscal crisis. More broadly, he will quietly promote policies that celebrate the common culture of America, emphasizing the extraordinary role of blacks and other minorities in this continuing creation.At the same time, Mr. Obama seems to believe that the problems of black Americans are in part attributable to certain behaviors among them—most notably absentee fathers, dropping out of school and violence—which not only constrain their choices but rationalize the disfiguring processes of white cultural racism that extend the pathologies of the few to all black Americans. As a deeply committed family man, Mr. Obama has already made clear that he will use the bully pulpit of the presidency to encourage internal cultural reformation.All of these approaches are likely to alienate the identity-seeped segment of black leadership, and they will not prevent the extreme cultural right from accusing him of overplaying race, whatever he does.The uniqueness of Mr. Obama provides both obstacles and opportunities. My students have found that many young inner city blacks, while they admire him, find him too remote from their lives to be a role model. His policies, if properly carried out, might very well improve their chances in life, but in the end he is more likely to influence the racial attitudes of middle-class blacks and younger white Americans. This is all we can reasonably expect. It will take far more than a single presidency to fully end America’s long struggle with race.
Orlando Patterson, a professor of sociology at Harvard, is the author of The Ordeal of Integration: Progress and Resentment in America’s "Racial" Crisis.
2009. Chronicler of History’s Sweep. WebsiteAbstract
“Growing up, I don’t know if I ever thought of becoming a teacher,” said Erez Manela, recently tenured professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “I was always supposed to become a doctor or a lawyer.”Manela actually began by studying foreign languages as an undergraduate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, not far from his hometown of Haifa, Israel. He soon discovered that courses in East Asian and Middle Eastern history complemented his interests in Chinese, Arabic, and Persian. Though he saw a future in academia, history was not a field he had expected to pursue. “I didn’t yet conceive of it as something you could do as a profession, but rather something you might study to know more about the world,” he said. Previously the Dunwalke Associate Professor of American History, Manela now specializes in modern international history and the history of the United States in the world. His first book, “The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism” (Oxford, 2007), explored the impact of President Woodrow Wilson’s rhetoric on nationalist movements in Asia and the Middle East in the wake of World War I. Manela’s current research revolves around the global campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1960s and ‘70s.Manela considers his undergraduate experience the source of some of his main intellectual questions.In college, “I realized that in the modern period—during the 19th and early 20th centuries—there were really fascinating parallels between the history of the Ottoman Empire and the history of East Asia, particularly China,” Manela said. “That really intrigued me…I kept wondering how I could study these parallels in a way that wasn’t simply comparative. I wanted to put everything into one big framework and tell the story as connected.” Manela decided to concentrate on international history as a graduate student at Yale, partly because he was reluctant to give up studying any of the countries or languages he had embraced in college.“I couldn’t bear the thought of focusing on just one of them,” he said. “I wanted to put it all to good use.” Studying international history has allowed Manela to break free of the nation as an analytical framework and devote new attention to transnational actors, organizations, and themes. When Manela arrived at Harvard in 2003, history professors Akira Iriye (now emeritus) and the late Ernest May served as inspirational figures for him, as they too were concerned with these pioneering directions in international history. (May even taught Manela the basics of PowerPoint by jotting a few commands on an index card during his first semester at Harvard.) “Teaching with them…was a tremendously formative experience for me,” Manela said. “Together, they established an amazing tradition of international history in this department.” A member of Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Manela considers the interdisciplinary community of scholars and students his “second home” within the University. He served as the Weatherhead’s director of undergraduate student programs for four years, and is now director of graduate student programs. Manela spends most of his free time with his three daughters, but sometimes revisits an old interest: chess. Occasionally he challenges the regulars in Harvard Square. “Once upon a time I used to play chess fairly well,” he said, “but that’s history.” Manela is grateful to have the chance to study a subject that many people can pursue only as a hobby, even though he never did live up to expectations of becoming a doctor or a lawyer. “I think this is a decent alternative,” he said with a grin.
Ma'oz, Moshe. 2009. The Meeting of Civilizations: Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. Sussex Academic Press. WebsiteAbstract
The horrific acts of anti-Western and anti-Jewish terrorism carried out by Muslim fanatics during the last decades have been labelled by politicians, religious leaders and scholars as a ‘Clash of Civilizations’. However, as the contributors to this book set out to explain, these acts cannot be considered an Islamic onslaught on Judeo-Christian Civilisation. While the hostile ideas, words and deeds perpetrated by individual supporters among the three monotheistic civilisations cannot be ignored, history has demonstrated a more positive, constructive, albeit complex, relationship among Muslim, Christians and Jews during medieval and modern times. For long periods of time they shared divine and human values, co-operated in cultural, economic and political fields, and influenced one another's thinking.This book examines religious and historical themes of these three civilising religions, the impact of education on their interrelationship, the problem of Jerusalem, as well as contemporary interfaith relations. Noted scholars and theologians—Jewish, Christian and Muslim—from the United States, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey contribute to this book, the theme of which was first presented at an international conference organised by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the Divinity School, Harvard University.
Liviatan, Ofrit. 2009. Judicial Activism and Religion-Based Tensions in India and Israel. Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law. WebsiteAbstract
Contemporary democratic reality is characterized by the growing role of courts in politics, as social activists regularly utilize the judicial process in an attempt to secure their values and interests as law. Observers of constitutional politics generally explain this phenomenon in the recent constitutional transformations worldwide, manifested primarily in the enactment of bills of rights accompanied by judicial review powers. These constitutional transformations enabled and simplified the ability of those with limited access to the majoritarian-led parliamentary process to challenge governmental policies through the courts.1 As a result, law has come to be perceived as a compelling mechanism to effectuate progressive change and facilitate authoritative resolutions to conflicts.2 In societies divided along religious lines, the appeal of litigation has been particularly strong, with secular and religious groups increasingly viewing it as a principal opportunity to mold the public sphere in accordance with their political and moral preferences.This paper seeks to evaluate the efforts to achieve these perceived goals—of effectuating change and managing conflict—through the judicial process, by examining its effects in the context of the religion-based conflicts of India and Israel. By way of an empirical comparison the paper considers: (i) the judicial impact on the realization of fundamental rights, the rectification of existing discriminatory practices, and the advancement toward a more pluralist and egalitarian society; (ii) the judicial contribution to generating authoritative resolution to religion-based conflicts; and (iii) possible long term social and political implications stemming from judicial intervention in policy questions concerning hotly disputed religion-based conflicts. 
Varshney, Ashutosh. 2009. State of the Union. WebsiteAbstract
The emerging security debate on the first anniversary of the Mumbai attacks has neglected a vital constitutional question. Does federalism by any chance weaken India’s counter-terrorism effort? Without considering the relationship between federalism and national security, we will not understand the underlying factors driving India’s counter-terrorism effort. The nation’s centre-state laws and practices are a principal obstacle in developing a stronger response. If not addressed imaginatively, Mumbai-style attacks simply cannot be ruled out. Scholars of comparative federalism generally call India’s linguistic federation a spectacular institutional success. One of the greatest indicators of the success is the disappearance of language riots, common in the 1950s and 1960s, after the linguistic reorganisation of states was completed. But for all its successes, India’s federalism now faces a new and extremely serious challenge. Central to India’s internal security are three laws and practices. First, according to India’s Constitution, internal law and order are entirely on the so-called “state list”, not on the “Central list” or “concurrent list”. Only under President’s rule can Delhi take over the internal security of a state. “Federal crime” is not a concept in Indian law, as is it in the US, and it cannot be introduced unless the Constitution is amended. Its relevance has been debated within government circles since the late 1960s, but the idea of federal crimes remains legally elusive. Even when the Indian Airlines flight from Kathmandu was diverted to Kandahar in December 1999, leading to India’s external affairs minister agreeing to a humiliating agreement that released well-known terrorists from Indian jails in return for the safety of passengers, the case was not, and could not be, registered as a federal crime. Indian Airlines reported to Delhi police that its plane, due to arrive in Delhi, was missing. “Hamaara hawaai jahaaz nahin aayaa”. It was registered as a Delhi-based crime. Second, Central agencies—including the national security guards (or commandos), who are especially trained for urban terrorism—simply cannot function without the cooperation of state police. Requisition from state governments is legally required before the commandos can be used. India’s commandos were all based in Delhi when Mumbai was terrorised. After Mumbai, hubs have been created in Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. As a consequence, they can be deployed more quickly, but for operations, they still need the assistance of state police. NSG commandos have no knowledge of local specificities. State police remains the greatest repository of ground-level intelligence in India.Third, all serious students of terrorism recognise that intelligence is central to the prevention of terrorism. Since terrorists are willing to sacrifice their lives, one can only try to minimise damage, not avoid it, once the act of terror has begun. Unfortunately, India’s intelligence system is fractured and weak. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the institution often identified as the leading intelligence agency of India, is most unlike America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In contrast to the FBI, which combines intelligence and investigation functions, the CBI is primarily an ex-post investigation body, not an intelligence collecting agency. For the latter, it depends primarily on state police, and secondarily on Delhi’s Intelligence Bureau (IB). The CBI was established under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. Its direct jurisdiction covers Delhi and the centrally administered Union Territories. Unlike the FBI, it can not pursue investigation at the state level on its own. To investigate, it must receive state requisition or consent, or be ordered to do so by the Supreme Court or a High Court. In other words, for it to function well, it depends heavily on state police. It can also team up with Delhi’s Intelligence Bureau (IB), but the IB reports to India’s home ministry, whereas the CBI reports to the ministry of personnel. The cooperation is not always forthcoming. More importantly, the IB simply does not have the same intelligence-gathering machinery as the state police does. State governments have the constitutional right to deny permission for CBI investigations. Goa, for example, did so during the late 1990s. Maharashtra did not hand over cases concerning the Mumbai blasts of 1993 to the CBI for almost a year. Northeastern states have often denied permission to the CBI. At the root of this problem is the dark underbelly of Indian politics: corruption and vendetta. The CBI is not trusted by state leaders for they believe it is politically used by Delhi to target adversaries. The adversaries may be accused of corruption, or even violent crime. It does not matter that such corruption or criminal conduct may often be real, not imagined. But over the last 20-30 years, as politicians accused of crime and corruption have, in particular, risen in politics, the CBI has been caught in a political crossfire. Delhi often wants to use it, but the CBI faces enormous resistance at the state level, especially if the state government is run by a coalition or political party different from that ruling in Delhi. So long as the Congress party ruled both in Delhi and the states, there was no such resistance. Such matters were handled as internal negotiations within the party. Moreover, in the 1950s and 1960s, the era of Congress dominance, no one had imagined the possibility of terror, let alone cross-border terror. The rise of a coalitional era might have made Indian politics much more democratic, federal and competitive, but national security has suffered as a consequence. Although this problem cannot be fully resolved unless corruption and crime begin to disappear from Indian politics, India’s political process has thrown up a potential solution. Via a Parliamentary act, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) was created after the Mumbai attacks. In theory, the NIA can become India’s FBI, but serious impediments remain. The NIA Act was created using an entry related to defence of India on the Central list. Of all security matters, only defence of India is handled by Delhi. What is generally called internal, as opposed to external, security is almost entirely under state jurisdiction. The NIA Act is not a constitutional amendment, which would have required approval of two thirds of Parliament and half the states, not easily possible in a coalitional era. The concept of a federal crime, requiring a constitutional amendment, has still not been introduced precisely for the same reason. States would not give consent if they believe that the NIA might become a much more powerful CBI.The NIA does not yet have an elaborate organisational structure of its own. And that may not happen until two conditions are satisfied. First, if more Mumbai-style attacks happen, it is possible for security to become an overriding national objective that no political party can ignore without peril. Thus far, terrorism is an element in India’s elite politics, not in its mass politics. It does not determine election outcomes. Second, if the Congress party, currently showing signs of revival, becomes even stronger, both in national Parliament and at the state level, it would also allow the possibility of a constitutional amendment. The first condition is not desirable, the second somewhat improbable, if not impossible, at the moment. India’s home minister is well known for his intellectual firepower, but his hands are tied. He can only do the following: modernise the intelligence system through new technologies; try to generate a better knowledge system—for example, a national counter-terrorism centre—that supports national security; create institutions that seek to coordinate the rather fractured intelligence. State governments might also create their own commando forces, as Maharashtra appears to be doing and Andhra did some years back. All of these measures would help, but the home minister cannot legally force a state government to accept the dictates of the NIA unless a constitutional amendment introducing the concept of federal crime is put through. However desirable such a concept in the 21st century might be, India’s federal polity will not easily allow it to come about.
Ashutosh Varshney is a professor of political science at Brown University. His books include, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India.
Lamont, Michèle, and Bruno Cousin. 2009. The French Disconnection. WebsiteAbstract
Bruno Cousin and Michèle Lamont say academics at France's public universities need to rethink their strategy after this year's protests alienated the public and had little impact on the Government. var pgtitle = "The French disconnection"; var byline = "";Between February and June 2009, French universities were the theatre of an exceptional protest movement against the latest flavour of governmental reform concerning academic careers. Protest sometimes seems to be a way of life in the French academy, and in France at large, but this time the situation is serious, with potentially huge consequences for the future of the sector. Indeed, the nation that gave birth to je pense, donc je suis is in a deep crisis on the intellectual front, and nowhere is this as obvious as in academic evaluation.The protest movement did not take off in the grandes écoles (which train much of the French elite), or in professional and technical schools. Instead, it took off in the 80 comprehensive universités—the public institutions that are the backbone of the French educational system. Until two years ago, they were required to admit any high-school graduate on a first-come, first-served basis. A selection process was recently introduced, but even today most students are there because they could not gain entry elsewhere. Faculty work conditions are generally poor, as their institutions are chronically underfunded. Classes are large and programmes are understaffed. More than half of all students leave without any kind of diploma.Public universities can be very different from each other and are research-intensive in varying degrees, but they carry out the bulk of French scientific research. Research is largely conducted in centres that are located within these institutions, and which often bring together overworked university teachers and full-time researchers who are attached to national institutes such as the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). In a context where the output of these joint centres is not, or is only partially, covered by international ratings, French academics feel doubly underrated owing to the combination of low salaries and low ratings.This feeling was exacerbated on 22 January when President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that the poor performance of French universities in international rankings was, above all, the consequence of the absence of continuous evaluation, which encourages sloth. Of course, he was displeased that the extensive set of higher education reforms undertaken by his Government during the preceding two years were met with opposition by large segments of the academic community.Everyone agrees that the current system poses a great many problems, but there is no agreement on how to improve it and get beyond the current gridlock. It is la société bloquée all over again. To wit:- While most academics believe that the system is far too centralised, a 2007 law establishing the progressive financial “autonomy” (and accountability) of universities has been met with criticism and resistance, because it is perceived to be part of a strategy of withdrawal on the part of the State that will result in fewer resources being available for higher education. A number of scholars also fear that the increased decision-making power conferred on university presidents is a threat to the autonomy of faculty members.- While there is a need to design new, more universalistic procedures for evaluating performance and distributing resources, many academics are sceptical of the new institutions recently created to do this, namely the national agencies for the evaluation of universities and research units (Agence d'Evaluation de la Recherche et de l'Enseignement Superieur, or AERES) and research projects (Agence Nationale de la Recherche, or ANR). The former, in particular, has been criticised for its reliance on bibliometrics (publication and citation counts), even if the agency is now moving towards using less quantitative standards. Moreover, whereas the former mechanisms for distributing research funds depended on the decisions of elected peers (for instance, on the national committee of the CNRS), AERES appoints its panel members, and this is seen as a blow to researchers' autonomy. For this and other reasons, many academics have refused to serve on its evaluation panels.- While academics often agree that the old CNRS needed further integration with the universities, many denounce its gradual downsizing and transformation from a comprehensive research institution to a simple funding and programming agency as the work of uninformed politicians and technocrats intent on dismantling what works best in French research. In 2004, a widespread national protest arose against this dismantling, with 74,000 scholars signing a petition against it. Critics also say that the ongoing reorganisation of the CNRS into disciplinary institutes will reinforce the separation between the sciences, reorient research towards more applied fields and work against the interdisciplinary collaborations that are crucial to innovation in many fields.- While many agree on the need to improve teaching, moves to increase the number of teaching hours are among the most strongly contested reforms. French academics, who very rarely have sabbaticals, already perceive themselves as overworked in a system where time for research is increasingly scarce. These factors help to explain the resistance to expanded classroom hours and new administrative duties.In the longest strike ever organised by the French scientific community, tens of thousands of lecturers and researchers began in early February to hold protests over a period of several weeks, demonstrating in the streets and (with the support of some students) blocking access to some university campuses. Many also participated in a national debate via print, online and broadcast media, and in general meetings. Some faculty members held teach-ins and action-oriented “alternative courses” for students. Several universities saw their final exams and summer holidays delayed and many foreign exchange students were called back by their home institutions. Despite this frontal assault, the Government did not back down: the much disparaged decree reorganising academic careers (with regard to recruitment, teaching loads, evaluations and promotions) and giving more prerogatives and autonomy to university presidents came into effect on 23 April.This outcome will probably lead academics and their unions to rethink their strategies and repertoires of collective action. The traditional protest forms are losing legitimacy. As the dust settles, it is becoming clear that demonstrating has little traction in a context where the French public increasingly perceives academics as an elite bent on defending its privileges, even if it requires depriving students of their courses. Negotiation is also perceived as ineffectual, as many suspect that governmental consultations were conducted to buy time until the end of the academic year, when mobilisation would peter out. A third strategy—the radical option that would have prevented the scheduling of exams and the handing out of diplomas at the end of this spring—was ruled out even on the campuses most committed to the cause for fear of alienating the public even further.As yet, however, no clear alternative has surfaced. We are now witnessing a cleavage between those who voice their opposition (in the main, scholars in the humanities) and the increasing number of academics (primarily scientists) who espouse a “wait-and-see” or a collaborative position as the only realistic path to improving the situation in their own universities. If the majority of academics appear to share the same diagnosis about what needs to be changed in the French system, they disagree on the solution (and on its scale—national or local). The root of the crisis lies not only in the Government's difficulties in generating consensus, but also in the academics' own scepticism, cynicism or fatalism about meritocracy, the absence of the administrative resources needed to support proper evaluation, the possibility of impartial evaluation, and the system's ability to recognise and reward merit.Deep problems remain in the institutions charged with evaluating the work of academics. The interference of political power, and the (admittedly diminishing) influence of trade unions and corporatist associations have long been viewed as obstacles to a collegial system of academic evaluation. The legitimacy of the 70 disciplinary sections of the Conseil National des Universites (CNU)—charged with certifying individuals as eligible for faculty positions, and with directly granting some promotions—is under question. Some of its committee members are appointed by the Government and as such are suspected of being second-rate, of benefiting from governmental patronage, or of defending governmental interests. Others are chosen from electoral lists that include a disproportionate number of partisan members, who are often perceived to be there because of their political involvement rather than because of their scientific status.The legitimacy of these committees is further called into question because they include only academics employed by French institutions and are often viewed as perpetuating a longstanding tradition of favouritism. To give only one particularly scandalous example: in June, panellists in the sociology section allocated to themselves half of the promotions that they were charged with assigning across the entire discipline of sociology. This led to the resignation of the rest of the commission and to multiple protests. Such an occurrence sent deep waves of distrust not only between academics, but also towards the civil servants charged with reforming a system that is increasingly viewed as flawed.Peer review is also in crisis at the local level. While selecting young doctoral recipients to be maîtres de conférences (the entry level permanent position in the French academy, similar to the British lecturer), French universities on average fill 30 per cent of available posts with their own graduates, to the point where local clientelism is often decried as symbolising the corruption of the entire system. The typical (and only) job interview for such a post lasts 20 to 30 minutes—probably the European record for brevity and surely too short to determine whether an individual deserves what is essentially a lifelong appointment. Many view the selection process as little more than a means to legitimise the appointment of pre-selected candidates—although the extent to which this is genuinely the case varies across institutions.What is to be done? Because both the CNU and the local selection committees have recently been reorganised or granted new responsibilities, it seems the right moment to think about how to improve the evaluation processes in very practical ways. As part of a new start, academics should aim to generate a system of true self-governance at each level, grounded in more explicit principles for peer review. This would put them in a position to defend academic autonomy against the much-feared and maligned governmental or managerial control. While this is certainly occurring in some disciplines and institutions, progress is far from being equally spread across the sector.Obvious and costless regulatory measures could easily be implemented—for instance, discouraging universities from hiring their own PhD graduates (as AERES recently started to), or forbidding selection committees from promoting their own members. One could also look abroad for examples of “best practice”. The UK's Economic and Social Research Council has created colleges of trained academic evaluators who are charged with maintaining academic and ethical standards in peer review; although not all aspects of the British approach to academic reform should be emulated, this one is particularly worthy.The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) uses teams of elected experts to evaluate proposals, and academic reputation weighs heavily in determining which names will be put on electoral lists and who will serve on evaluation panels. Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council recently asked an independent panel of international experts to evaluate its peer review process in order to improve impartiality and effectiveness.In a recent book on peer review in the US, one of the present authors (Michele Lamont) showed the ways in which American social scientists and humanists operate to maintain their faith in the idea that peer review works and that the academic system of evaluation is fair. In this case, academics exercise their right as the only legitimate evaluators of knowledge by providing detailed assessment of intellectual production in light of their extensive expertise in specialised topics. The exercise of peer evaluation sustains and expresses professional status and professional autonomy. But it requires significant time (and thus good working conditions) and moral commitment—time spent comparing dossiers, making principled decisions about when it is necessary to withdraw on the grounds of personal interest, and so forth. Of course no peer review works perfectly, but US academics, while being aware of its limitations, appear to view the system as relatively healthy and they engage in many actions that contribute to sustaining this faith.In our view, fixing the current flaws in the French system does not merely demand organisational reforms, including giving academics more time to evaluate the research of colleagues and candidates properly. It may also require French academics to think long and hard about their own cynicism and fatalism concerning their ability to make judgments about quality that would not be driven by cronyism or particularism, and that would honour their own expertise and connoisseurship.Not that proper governmental reform is not needed, but sometimes blaming the Government may be an easy way out. Above all, it is increasingly a very ineffectual way of tackling a substantial part of the problem. A little more collaborative thinking and a little less cynicism among both academics and administrators—if at all possible - may very well help French universities find a way out of the crisis. And it will help the French academic and research community to become, once again, much more than the sum of its parts.
Bruno Cousin is postdoctoral research scholar in sociology at Harvard University and Sciences Po Paris. Michèle Lamont is Robert I. Goldman professor of European studies and professor of sociology and African and African-American studies at Harvard University. She is the author of How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment (2009). She chaired the 2008 international panel of experts evaluating peer review practices at the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Ferguson, Niall. 2009. Dead Men Walking. WebsiteAbstract
There is nothing like a really big economic crisis to separate the Cassandras from the Panglosses, the horsemen of the apocalypse from the Kool-Aid-swigging optimists. No, the last year has shown that all is not for the best in the best of all possible worlds. On the contrary, we might be doomed.At such times, we do well to remember that most of today’s public intellectuals are mere dwarves, standing on the shoulders of giants. So, if they had e-mail in the hereafter, which of the great thinkers of the past would be entitled to send us a message with the subject line: “I told you so”? And which would prefer to remain offline?It has, for example, been a bad year for Adam Smith (1723-1790) and his “invisible hand,” which was supposed to steer the global economy onward and upward to new heights of opulence through the action of individual choice in unfettered markets. By contrast, it has been a good year for Karl Marx (1818-1883), who always maintained that the internal contradictions of capitalism, and particularly its tendency to increase the inequality of the distribution of wealth, would lead to crisis and finally collapse. A special mention is also due to early 20th-century Marxist theorist Rudolf Hilferding (1877-1941), whose Das Finanzkapital foresaw the rise of giant “too big to fail” financial institutions.Joining Smith in embarrassed silence, you might think, is Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), who warned back in 1944 that the welfare state would lead the West down the “road to serfdom.” With a government-mandated expansion of health insurance likely to be enacted in the United States, Hayek's libertarian fears appear to have receded, at least in the Democratic Party. It has been a bumper year, on the other hand, for Hayek's old enemy, John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), whose 1936 work The General Theory of Employment,Interest and Money has become the new bible for finance ministers seeking to reduce unemployment by means of fiscal stimuli. His biographer, Robert Skidelsky, has hailed the “return of the master.” Keynes's self-appointed representative on Earth, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, insists that the application of Keynesian theory, in the form of giant government deficits, has saved the world from a second Great Depression.The marketplace of ideas has not been nearly so kind this year to the late Milton Friedman (1912-2006), the diminutive doyen of free-market economics. “Inflation,” wrote Friedman in a famous definition, “is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon, in the sense that it cannot occur without a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.” Well, since September of 2008, Ben Bernanke has been printing dollars like mad at the U.S. Federal Reserve, more than doubling the monetary base. And inflation? As I write, the headline consumer price inflation rate is negative 2 percent. Better throw away that old copy of Friedman's Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (co-authored with Anna J. Schwartz, who is happily still with us).Invest, instead, in a spanking new edition of The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi (1886-1964). We surely need Polanyi's more anthropological approach to economics to explain the excesses of the boom and the hysteria of the bust. For what in classical economics could possibly account for the credulity of investors in Bernard Madoff's long-running Ponzi scheme? Or the folly of Richard Fuld, who gambled his personal fortune and reputation on the very slim chance that Lehman Brothers, unlike Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, could survive the crisis without being sold to a competitor?The biggest intellectual losers of all, however, must be the pioneers of the theory of efficient markets—economists still with us, such as Harry M. Markowitz, the University of Chicago-trained economist who developed the theory of portfolio diversification as the best protection against economic volatility, and William Sharpe, inventor of the capital asset pricing model. In two marvelously lucid books, the late Peter Bernstein extolled their “capital ideas.” Now, with so many quantitative hedge funds on the scrap heap, their ideas don't seem quite so capital.And the biggest winners, among economists at least? Step forward the "Austrians" —economists like Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), who always saw credit-propelled asset bubbles as the biggest threat to the stability of capitalism. Not many American economists carried forward their work into the later 20th century, but one heterodox figure has emerged as a posthumous beneficiary of this crisis: Hyman Minsky (1919-1996). At a time when other University of Chicago-trained economists were forging the neoclassical synthesis—Adam Smith plus applied math—Minsky developed his own math-free “financial instability hypothesis.”Yet it would surely be wrong to make the Top Dead Thinker of 2009 an economic theorist. The entire discipline of economics has flopped too embarrassingly for that to be appropriate. Instead, we should consider the claims of a historian, because history has served as a far better guide to the current crisis than any economic model. My nominee is the financial historian Charles Kindleberger (1910-2003), who drew on Minsky's work to popularize the idea of financial crisis as a five-stage process, from displacement and euphoric overtrading to full-fledged mania, followed by growing concern and ending up with panic. (If those five steps to financial hell sound familiar, they should. We just went down them, twice in the space of 10 years.)Of course, history offers more than just the lesson that financial accidents will happen. One of the most important historical truths is that the first draft of history —the version that gets written on the spot by journalists and other contemporaries —is nearly always wrong. So though superficially this crisis seems like a defeat for Smith, Hayek, and Friedman, and a victory for Marx, Keynes, and Polanyi, that might well turn out to be wrong. Far from having been caused by unregulated free markets, this crisis may have been caused by distortions of the market from ill-advised government actions: explicit and implicit guarantees to supersize banks, inappropriate empowerment of rating agencies, disastrously loose monetary policy, bad regulation of big insurers, systematic encouragement of reckless mortgage lending—not to mention distortions of currency markets by central bankConsider this: The argument for avoiding mass bank failures was made by Friedman, not Keynes. It was Friedman who argued that the principal reason for the depth of the Depression was the Fed's failure to avoid an epidemic of bank failures. It has been Friedman, more than Keynes, who has been Bernanke’s inspiration over the past two years, as the Fed chairman has honored a pledge he made shortly before Friedman's death not to preside over another “great contraction.” Nor would Friedman have been in the least worried about inflation at a time like this. The Fed's balance sheet may have expanded rapidly, but broader measures of money are growing slowly and credit is contracting. Deflation, not inflation, remains the monetarist fear.From a free market perspective, the vital thing is that legitimate emergency measures do not become established practices. For it cannot possibly be a healthy state of affairs for the core institutions of the Western financial system to be effectively guaranteed, if not actually owned, by the government. The thinker who most clearly discerned the problems associated with that kind of state intervention was Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950), whose “creative destruction” has been one of this year's most commonly cited phrases.“[T]his evolutionary…impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion,” wrote Schumpeter in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, “comes from…the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates…This process of creative destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.” This crisis has certainly unleashed enough economic destruction in the world (though its creativity at this stage is still hard to discern). But in the world of the big banks, there has been far too little destruction, and about the only creative thing happening on Wall Street these days is the accounting.“This economic system,” Schumpeter wrote in his earlier The Theory of Economic Development, “cannot do without the ultima ratio [final argument] of the complete destruction of those existences which are irretrievably associated with the hopelessly unadapted.” Indeed, he saw that the economy remained saddled with too many of “those firms that are unfit to live.” That could serve as a painfully accurate description of the Western financial system today.Yet all those allusions to evolution and fitness to live serve as a reminder of the dead thinker we should all have spent at least part of 2009 venerating: Charles Darwin (1809-1882). This year was not only his bicentennial but the 150th birthday of his paradigm-shifting On the Origin of Species. Just reflect on these sentences from Darwin's seminal work:All organic beings are exposed to severe competition.”“As more individuals are produced than can possibly survive, there must in every case be a struggle for existence.”“Each organic being…has to struggle for life and to suffer great destruction.... The vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.”Thanks in no small measure to the efforts of his modern heirs, notably Richard Dawkins, we are all Darwinians now—except in the strange parallel worlds of fundamentalist Christianity and state-guaranteed finance.Neither Cassandra nor Pangloss, Darwin surely deserves to top any list of modern thinkers, dead or alive.
Putnam, Robert D, and Thomas H Sander. 2009. How Joblessness Hurts Us All. WebsiteAbstract
The unemployment rate has topped 10% for the first time in a quarter-century. More than one in six adults are unemployed or underemployed, the most since the Great Depression. By any measure this is troubling, but the long-term effects of unemployment are more devastating than most Americans grasp. Economists warn that high unemployment may persist for years.Misery, it turns out, doesn't love company. Distressing new research shows that unemployment fosters social isolation not just for the unemployed but also for their still-employed neighbors. Moreover, the negative consequences last much longer than the unemployment itself. Policymakers have focused on short-term help for the jobless, but they must address these longer-term community effects, too.Impact studiedRecent studies confirm the results of research during the Great Depression— unemployment badly frays a person's ties with his community, sometimes permanently. After careful analysis of 20 years of monthly surveys tracking Americans' social and political habits, our colleague Chaeyoon Lim of the University of Wisconsin has found that unemployed Americans are significantly less involved in their communities than their employed demographic twins. The jobless are less likely to vote, petition, march, write letters to editors, or even volunteer. They attend fewer meetings and serve less frequently as leaders in local organizations. Moreover, sociologist Cristobal Young's research finds that the unemployed spend most of their increased free time alone.These negative social consequences outlast the unemployment itself. Tracking Wisconsin 1957 high school graduates, sociologists Jennie Brand and Sarah Burgard found that in contrast to comparable classmates who were never unemployed, graduates who lost jobs, even briefly and early in their careers, joined community groups less and volunteered considerably less over their entire lives. And economist Andrew Clark, psychologist Richard Lucas and others found that, unlike almost any other traumatic life event, joblessness results in permanently lower levels of life satisfaction, even if the jobless later find jobs.Equally disturbing, high unemployment rates reduce the social and civic involvement even of those still employed. Lim has found that Americans with jobs who live in states with high unemployment are less civically engaged than workers elsewhere. In fact, most of the civic decay in hard-hit communities is likely due not to the jobless dropping out, but to their still-employed neighbors dropping out.Moreover, beyond civic disengagement, places with higher joblessness have more pervasive violence and crimes against property. They have more fragile families with harsher parenting, and higher rates of mental disorder and psychological distress among both the unemployed and the employed. These social consequences are a powerful aftershock to communities already reeling economically.What might explain the civic withdrawal during recessions? The jobless shun socializing, shamed that their work was deemed expendable. Economic depression breeds psychological depression. The unemployed may feel that their employer has broken an implicit social contract, deflating any impulse to help others. Where unemployment is high, those still hanging onto their jobs might work harder for fear of further layoffs, thus crowding out time for civic engagement. Above all, in afflicted communities, the contagion of psychic depression and social isolation spreads more rapidly than joblessness itself.What to do?The lasting social consequences of unemployment demand remedy. President Obama has extended individual unemployment benefits.These new findings call for special aid to communities with high and persistent unemployment. Government and business should ensure that unemployment is a last cost-cutting move, not the first.Millions of employed Americans are silently thankful that the sword of Damocles has not yet fallen on them. Meanwhile, they and their leaders overlook the fact that unemployment is causing long-run social disintegration in their communities. Albert Camus was right: “Without work, all life goes rotten.”
Thomas H. Sander is executive director of the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, at Harvard Kennedy School. Robert D. Putnam is Peter & Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and co-author of the forthcoming American Grace: The Changing Role of Religion in America.
Sen, Amartya. 2009. The Idea of Justice. Harvard University Press. WebsiteAbstract
Social justice: an ideal, forever beyond our grasp; or one of many practical possibilities? More than a matter of intellectual discourse, the idea of justice plays a real role in how—and how well—people live. And in this book the distinguished scholar Amartya Sen offers a powerful critique of the theory of social justice that, in its grip on social and political thinking, has long left practical realities far behind. The transcendental theory of justice, the subject of Sen’s analysis, flourished in the Enlightenment and has proponents among some of the most distinguished philosophers of our day; it is concerned with identifying perfectly just social arrangements, defining the nature of the perfectly just society. The approach Sen favors, on the other hand, focuses on the comparative judgments of what is “more” or “less” just, and on the comparative merits of the different societies that actually emerge from certain institutions and social interactions. At the heart of Sen’s argument is a respect for reasoned differences in our understanding of what a “just society” really is. People of different persuasions—for example, utilitarians, economic egalitarians, labor right theorists, no­-nonsense libertarians—might each reasonably see a clear and straightforward resolution to questions of justice; and yet, these clear and straightforward resolutions would be completely different. In light of this, Sen argues for a comparative perspective on justice that can guide us in the choice between alternatives that we inevitably face.
Rogoff, Kenneth S, and Carmen Reinhart. 2009. This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. Princeton University Press. WebsiteAbstract
Throughout history, rich and poor countries alike have been lending, borrowing, crashing—and recovering—their way through an extraordinary range of financial crises. Each time, the experts have chimed, “this time is different”—claiming that the old rules of valuation no longer apply and that the new situation bears little similarity to past disasters. This book proves that premise wrong. Covering sixty-six countries across five continents, This Time Is Different presents a comprehensive look at the varieties of financial crises, and guides us through eight astonishing centuries of government defaults, banking panics, and inflationary spikes—from medieval currency debasements to today's subprime catastrophe. Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, leading economists whose work has been influential in the policy debate concerning the current financial crisis, provocatively argue that financial combustions are universal rites of passage for emerging and established market nations. The authors draw important lessons from history to show us how much—or how little—we have learned. Using clear, sharp analysis and comprehensive data, Reinhart and Rogoff document that financial fallouts occur in clusters and strike with surprisingly consistent frequency, duration, and ferocity. They examine the patterns of currency crashes, high and hyperinflation, and government defaults on international and domestic debts—as well as the cycles in housing and equity prices, capital flows, unemployment, and government revenues around these crises. While countries do weather their financial storms, Reinhart and Rogoff prove that short memories make it all too easy for crises to recur.