Skip to main content

John Weeks humanised economics as discipline, questioned power of capital

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Prof John Weeks, widely admired development economist passed away on 26th of June 2020 at the age of 79. His death is a blow to many friends, comrades, colleagues, students and fellow progressive economists. He was born in Austin, educated in Texas and Michigan, lived and worked most of his professional life in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK where he continues to be a Professor Emeritus after his retirement. His urban upbringing and professional life in metropolis could not confined himself within narrow silo of privileges. He looked at issues of everyday working class lives beyond territories. His publications show his abilities as an interdisciplinary researcher spanned several continents. He did not fall for the fashionable wave of regional specialisations within economics for career progression. His extraordinaire mind and research interests moved around issues in different continents from Africa, Americas to Europe undermining the ideological narrative of capitalism. He looked at academic life of a development economist as praxis.
In pursuit of emancipatory and progressive ideals, Prof John Weeks has contributed immensely to humanise economics as a discipline. He has questioned the power of capital and legitimacy of market logic in economics as a disciplinary praxis. He warned about the dangers of free market and its anti-democratic tendencies. He did not forget to underline the limits of capitalist development. Prof John Week has been revealing fairy tales of mainstream economics that serves the 1% rich and obfuscates reality and distorts policies. His critique of neoclassical macroeconomics is incisive. He argued that the so-called objective, empirical and scientific analysis led by model driven economics does not reflect on realities of life and society. It resembles only with ruling class ideology masquerading as science.
Prof John Weeks was a member of the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) and International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE) based in London. He was one of the founders of Economists for Rational Economic Policies, as part of the European Research Network on Social and Economic Policy. He has played a major role in establishing Progressive Economy Forum in London and worked as its Coordinator till his death. Prof Weeks blazed the path of economics as a social and political praxis. After the murder of George Floyd, he has written about his childhood memories of white supremacy and racial segregation in American society. He was agitated by the institutionalised and structural adherence to racial repression and continuity of apartheid for African Americans in USA. Prof John Weeks philosophical insights led him to visualise how populism is a tool of authoritarian right-wing politics accelerated by neoliberal economics without any substance. He called right wing populism as racists, ultra-nationalists and authoritarians. His commentaries on poverty, deficit, debt, inflation, COVID-19 led public health crisis, monetisation and austerity reflect on his commitment to the politics of radical transformation. The arc of humanism and history used to frame his theoretical engagements with economics as a discipline.
Prof John Weeks’ death has created an intellectual void within radical and transformatory politics and emancipatory economics. His generosity, research and publications continue to inspire new generation of economists fighting for democracy that upholds the interests of the marginalised communities across the globe.

*Coventry University, UK



A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Why convert growing badminton popularity into an 'inclusive sports opportunity'

By Sudhansu R Das  Over the years badminton has become the second most popular game in the world after soccer.  Today, nearly 220 million people across the world play badminton.  The game has become very popular in urban India after India won medals in various international badminton tournaments.  One will come across a badminton court in every one kilometer radius of Hyderabad.  

Ayurveda, Sidda, and knowledge: Three-day workshop begins in Pala town

By Rosamma Thomas*  Pala town in Kottayam district of Kerala is about 25 km from the district headquarters. St Thomas College in Pala is currently hosting a three-day workshop on knowledge systems, and gathered together are philosophers, sociologists, medical practitioners in homeopathy and Ayurveda, one of them from Nepal, and a few guests from Europe. The discussions on the first day focused on knowledge systems, power structures, and epistemic diversity. French researcher Jacquiline Descarpentries, who represents a unique cooperative of researchers, some of whom have no formal institutional affiliation, laid the ground, addressing the audience over the Internet.