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Prabhat Patnaik, "Developing 'Infrastructure'"

Started by Monthy Review, December 10, 2016, 11:00:36 pm

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Monthy Review

Prabhat Patnaik, "Developing 'Infrastructure'"

MRZineSince the concept of what constitutes infrastructure is very significantly specific to a development trajectory, and since any development trajectory entails a particular pattern of changing balance of class-strengths, the concept of infrastructure has a class dimension. . . . Growing inequality therefore puts continuous pressure on the infrastructure available for use by the well-to-do.  As a result, the kind of "infrastructure" demanded by the well-to-do sucks resources away from other uses; and, no matter how much of resources it sucks away, "infrastructure" for their use still remains insufficient. . . . The fact that the country finds resources for building swanky airports but not for old-age pensions or school education is symptomatic of the development trajectory of neo-liberal capitalism.  But this does not mean that one simply criticises this development trajectory and waits for the day when one can change it.  Nor does it mean that one only demands changes in income distribution in an egalitarian direction on the grounds that the allocation of resources, whether more should go towards building airports or building good government schools, is ultimately dependent upon the distribution of income; ie, on the grounds that since the allocation of resources ultimately depends upon the pattern of demand that is determined by income distribution, this should be the point of intervention.  One also has to say, like Karl Marx, that a good deal of what is spent as "infrastructure" investment is "useless" from the point of view of the people, that such investment should be restrained and the "infrastructure" in question should be rationed. . . . Just as rationing of foodgrain distribution at low prices is a way of intervening in income distribution in an egalitarian direction, likewise enforcing rationing of the "infrastructure" demanded by the well-to-do, instead of diverting resources towards meeting this demand at the expense of other socially-pressing needs, is also a way of intervening in income distribution.

Source: Prabhat Patnaik, "Developing 'Infrastructure'"