Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN06_08: Capitalist Crises, Elites, Experts and the Role of the State
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Bernd Bonfert, Roskilde University
Session Chair: Laura Shanti Basu, Utrecht University
Location: GM.332
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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On The Political Value Of The Concept Of Elites Under Capitalism

Marie Kathryn Moran

Equality Studies, UCD, Ireland

The aftermath of the global financial crisis has seen an explosion in discourses of elites and anti-elitism, recently augmented by the rise of new populist politics across Europe and the US. On the right, the discourse of anti-elitism has been put to powerful use within the successful campaigns for Brexit in the UK, and the election of Trump in the US. Despite this, there seems to be an assumption in left-wing politics that an emphasis on elites is warranted and useful, as evidenced by the consistent reference to elites by left-wing politicians; new forms of activism challenging the ‘one-percent’; and the revival of a critical elite studies within the social sciences. But what are the grounds for such faith in the concept of elites? How does such an emphasis relate to traditional left-wing concerns with exploitation, inequality and social class? And to what extent can the concept be usefully deployed in critiques of and practical challenges to class inequality under capitalism?

This paper addresses these questions by evaluating the theoretical and practical value of an emphasis on elites. Reviewing the conflicting contemporary uses alongside a scholarly history of the term, it reminds us that the concept of elites was originally developed as an alternative to Marxist conceptions of the ‘ruling class’. It builds the case that if concept of elites is to be of political value to left wing thinking and politics, it must be distinguished from right wing uses; and specifically, it must not replace but be rendered compatible with class analysis. The paper concludes by sketching briefly what this might look like.

Configuring Contemporary Neoliberalism in Unusual Ways: A Comparative Study of the New Business Elite in India and Turkey

Esra Elif Nartok

The University of Manchester, United Kingdom

This paper suggests that there is a need to focus on different strategies that enable neoliberalism to move forward on a global level. As the rise of the populist right in the West has become a prominent issue in world politics, it has finally set the stage for paying attention to similar processes around the world. Building on a Neo-Gramscian approach within critical IPE, my paper highlights that neither does neoliberalism work in one way nor it takes one form; rather, it is variegated and open to various strategies through various intellectual projects. By presenting two different religion-based business forums - one from India (World Hindu Economic Forum) and another from Turkey (International Business Forum) - it focuses on different ways of configuring contemporary neoliberalism. The two global knowledge-sharing platforms for Hindu and Muslim businesspeople are parts of a new elite formed around religious identities and relations of power in the respective countries as well as transnationally-oriented capitalist classes. Drawing upon semi-structured interviews with businesspeople and a broad analysis of the forums’ documentation, the paper compares how these different intellectual projects play a critical role in bringing together different actors (businesspeople, technocrats, intellectuals, etc.) and configure contemporary neoliberalism by constructing neoliberal common sense through religion. As such, I suggest that a diagnosis of current problems of neoliberalism is only possible through understanding how it actually works in different contexts.

The Disciplinary Ways of BEPS-Related Technical Assistance: a Critical Analysis of the Integration of Developing Countries in the BEPS Inclusive Framework.

Cassandra Vet

University of Antwerp, Belgium

As corporate capital structures financialized in Global Wealth Chains (GWC)’s, financial operators found leeway to play with the categorizations tax authorities need to raise fiscal revenue. Consequently, the G20 endorsed the dominant tax-governing body within the OECD to amend the global tax regime so that tax administrators could increase their reach on these GWC’s. Hence, the G20/OECD BEPS Project. In contrast to apolitical approaches, the purpose of this paper is to critically asses the political economy of technical assistance in Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) for Sub-Saharan Africa. It is widely recognized that international corporate taxation holds a distributional bias towards advanced economies and that developing countries only play a marginal role in tax governance-making. Yet, it is the ambition of both the G20 and the OECD to integrate developing countries in the BEPS inclusive framework. Moreover, several rule-making bodies design programs to assist developing countries in the implementation of BEPS projects. Still, the overall mode of integration continues to be on implementation and advanced economies overruled concerns on the legitimacy of the OECD as a global tax governance platform at the third Financing for Development Conference. Regardless of capacity constraints in developing countries, the question remains what the disciplining character is of this mode of integration. Building on insights from the literature on transnational power elites and club model governance, and collected press releases and meeting minutes from the UN and OECD Tax Committees on BEPS, this analysis underlines the implicit politics of technical assistance in global governance.

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