(Mohsen) M Yazdanpanah


Money, capitalism, and development ethics

My study aims to explore the structural relation between money and capitalism from the standpoint of development ethics in order to understand and alter capitalism's generative potency. In contrast to mainstream economics that sees merely money-in-circulation in a barter economy, money is a social relation that plays a pivotal role in capitalism, as its one of the most important integral part. Accordingly, the process of money-in-its-creation is an organizing/coordinating institution from which the production and a peculiar logic of accumulation follow. In this sense, what matters is the process of money creation, not money itself--as theorised in various strands of thought including from Keynes to Post-Keynesians, Schumpeter, and monetary circuitists. Drawing on this insight, my study proceeds to justify rationales and also to sketch a design of an alternative arrangement of money creation, satisfying some of the principal values in development ethics, in following directions:

  • Capitalism’s generative attribute: capitalism’s dynamic-‘form-making’ attribute can effectively bestow the practical content of phenomenon of development. From removing poverty and making capabilities through to causing inequality, damage to the environment and lack of meaningfulness can be grasped together as the consequences of the capitalism’s generative narrative, reflecting vices and virtues of capitalism. Capitalism has an inner-ridden expanding force while its ‘form-making’ feature grounds the external appeal to join with it; indeed, the main way of creating capabilities resides in this counter-positional linkage via trickle-down effect. It leaves major questions on approaches that view mainly development in terms of restrictive values whereas, after capitalism, the primary concept of development is a* social dynamic systemic change in the form of living.*
  • The ethics of prime movers: industrial capitalism, different from money manager one, as a generative system is being unremittingly dynamically pushed forward by the act of prime movers (entrepreneurs). Indeed, it is able to turn its inner contradiction into further movement when money as a result of a common discourse (a social reality) becomes a supreme end through which other ends could be attained. This is the central message of Albert Hirschman’s thesis, The Passions and the Interests, that finds also a common ground in works of Schumpeter. The endless adherence to the logic of M-C-M? in industrial capitalism, or M-M? in money manager one, becomes unavoidable/deterministic when money supplies a quasi-transcendental sense of ‘being more’ to their collective action. My search aims to discover and investigate the possibility of a dynamic counter-narrative, from an ethical point of view, which is able to function in a price mechanism (market) without perpetual adherence to money/capital accumulation.
  • An alternative arrangement of money creation: in tune with aforementioned counter-narrative, a system of money creation that excludes the privileged right of money creation (i.e. the systemic conversion of private debt to public money) is a major research objective. Contrary to the idea of full reserve banking, this system must be able, by the elastic creation of money, to encourage also the emergence of different prime movers who behave not according to the logic of the ever money/capital accumulation but other continuous perspectives of self-betterness. It demands an interconnected accounting arrangement for the process of money creation and alternative development firms which are unable to leverage newly created money in their balance sheets. Banks could function then as a mere intermediary between savings and loans.

International Institute of Social Studies

External PhD candidate | ISS PhD
Burg. Oudlaan 50, Rotterdam

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