ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Market System of Capitalism on Trial

The Invisible Handcuffs of Capitalism: How Market Tyranny Stifles the Economy by Stunting Workers by Michael Perelman (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2011; Delhi: Aakar Books, for South Asia), 2011; pp 360, Rs 650.

Michael Perelman’s intervention is a severe indictment of the market system of capitalism for having stunted the creators of wealth aka workers by subjugating them to various modes of oppression and repression. His analysis is set in a historical context but does not shy away from theoretical issues to make his case. Various debates in the field of economics and policymaking are invoked to show how other innovative attempts to read and intervene in the economy were suppressed. The exemplifications of his narrative draw chiefly from the United States (US) which however does not make this intervention any less important. Instead, his arguments and claims are set and tested in the playground where one of the most full blown market systems has been produced. Without reducing one to the other, Perelman’s analysis holds up a mirror before us (as many will recognise in the course of this discussion) if we agree that India too is not far behind in treading a variant of that model, albeit with Indian characteristics. The style of the book makes it very readable that renders it accessible to not only economists but also other social scientists and activists. A note of warning: I keep my slight disagreements aside in this review so as to distil Perelman’s insights which, I believe, are important enough to warrant an exclusive focus on his analysis. We shall begin with a short introduction that might help the reader to follow my subsequent presentation of Perelman’s book.

Labourer, Labour Process, Labour

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