Paul Boccara’s Analysis of Global Capitalism, the Return of the Bourbons, and the Breakdown of the Brussels/Paris Neo-Liberal Consensus: A Quantitative Analysis on the Political Economy of Our Time
48 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2010 Last revised: 8 Sep 2011
Date Written: December 16, 2010
This essay features on the global relevance of the political economy of the French political economist Paul Boccara from the viewpoint of quantitative international political economy. Our aim is to draw international attention to the fact that Boccara’s political economy is part and parcel of the wider French language debate on the instability of capitalism and the long economic cycles (Kondratiev cycles), which ranges, from the (former) Maoist Samir Amin to the Communist Boccara and the Trotskyst Ernest Mandel (1923-1995), and which is in good company of a wide variety of attempts to revive the debate on Kondratiev cycles (Devezas, 2006), which was a NATO Advanced Research Workshop on the influence of chance events and socioeconomic long waves in the new arena of asymmetric warfare in Covilhã, Portugal, 14-18 February 2005.
We briefly put the relevance of Boccara’s approach into the wider and necessary perspective of the more general long-cycle debate and we then feature the highlights of Boccara’s particular contribution to the current global economic depression, from which the world economy slowly recuperates. We show in the main part of this essay the empirical relevance of Boccara’s general approach, using advanced empirical methods of econometric and politometric time series analysis. We conclude by cautiously drawing some general consequences from our findings, especially for the current debate on the future of the European Union economic policies. Paul Boccara, over the last decades, provided a coherent framework of analysis, which reached similar policy prescriptions, independently from the Steindl/Kalecki approach in political economy, which we also introduce in this essay (against the ‘return of the Bourbons’). A Boccaran worldview would hold that the contradictions of global capitalism increase over time, if markets are left for themselves. Boccara is right in stressing that this system is, as he puts it, ‘mad’ because its logic of profitability is reaching its climax. Capitalism as a system, which puts making money before and against people lives, needs to be questioned. It is really futile to speak of ‘morality’ and ‘transparency’ without attacking the logic of the system. Our analysis, using advanced statistical techniques, also re-iterates empirical results, recently published by Korotayev and Tsirel (2010) and has shown in addition the following things:
1) liberal and ‘Marxist’ analyses of all ‘denominations’ are right in emphasizing the severe cyclical fluctuations of the capitalist system on a global scale 2) there is a world political and world strategic swing of societal system, which accompanies the economic ups and downs 3) and three there is a striking similarity in the logic of the globalized period of the second half of the 19th Century with our age.
Globalization and monopolies lead towards stagnation. Boccara emphasized this since the early 1970s. Some other great political economists of the instability of the international order, like Rosa Luxemburg and Otto Bauer, foresaw the dark clouds of major inner-capitalist wars on the horizon, and in the light of our analysis, we are not too far away from such dark times, if the logic of ‘madness’ called contemporary globalization is not corrected.
Keywords: History of Economic Thought since 1925, Socialist, Marxist, Sraffian, Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles, Business Fluctuations, Cycles, National Government Expenditures and Related Policies, National Security and War
JEL Classification: B24, E32, H56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation