Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Review of A Theory of Imperialism by Utsa Patnaik, Prabhat Patnaik

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics
Intriguing Connections = Capitalism, Socialism, their Alternatives and Critiques

Elaborate Description

The current form of capitalism requires continuously increase in the production of goods which have a limit to production capacity. Some products can only be produced in certain regions which have to be bought from those regions. As more of the product is produced, the limitations on land and other resources create escalating costs, an increasing supply price. Rather than to pay a higher price, capitalism uses various methods of income deflation on the regional suppliers who are forced to sell their product, even if they cannot maintain their nutritional amount.

Ricardo’s trade theory of comparative advantage works in mutually beneficial ways if the trading partners can produce the products being generated. Patnaiks express that there are products which can only be produced in certain regions due to various geographic facets. Some regions alone can produce a product which others desperately need. Those regions are then coerced to produce more of that good and to specialize in its production at the expense of other land use. Diverting resources to producing the export crops reduces the availability of food for local populations.

This book is hard to read unless the reader already understands many of the economic reasoning, mostly from the Marxian perspective. This book has a powerful message but it is partly lost in the abstract reasoning. It would be beneficial for the authors to expand this book in terms of more historical development of income deflation before and during capitalism. The way the book is written, it appears that those who are being immiserated have no agency unless they all cooperate together.

Having a monopoly on a product does not necessitate a means to increase the price. Capitalism found ways of maintain the price of products down with income deflation. The immiseration of the people by the system creates an unsustainable trend in production which creates a tendency of crisis.

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780231179799
Pages to read:   218
Publication:     2017
1st Edition:      2017
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability     3
Content           2
Overall           3