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Adolph Lowe’s Political Economics: An Argument for Decentralization in New Age Planning

Ranjan Nalin, Jai Prakash University

Last decade has seen return of economic planning in several African countries with a new vigour which goes beyond structural adjustment programs (SAPs) and poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs). In 2015, India also revamped its planning machinery and formed NITI (National Institute of Transforming India) Aayog to give its national planning, a new direction. This development is taking place at a time when neoclassical economic theory has come under heavy criticism in the wake of 2008 crisis. Economic planning has been mainly talked in the history of economic thought in terms of socialist calculation debate. As the era of socialist planning is over, planning has to be envisioned in a democratic framework with an understanding of the human condition. Erstwhile planning efforts have been criticized for the lack of policy content and for ignoring the behavioural and motivational aspects of it. As the world is ushered into a new era of planning, a plausible and reliable framework to look at national planning may be the framework of political economics propagated by Adolph Lowe. Lowe’s political economics advocates cooperation among social sciences to discover various dimensions of social economy and to take the economy on a desired development path. This paper aims to delineate Lowe’s political economics and its method of instrumental inference and discuss its application in economic planning with relevant examples. Political economics of Adolph Lowe can be thought of as active interference with economic processes to achieve a macro-goal. It also includes devising controls to give a direction to the economy characterized by mature industrialism by controlling micro-motivations through various mechanisms. It is argued that Lowe’s Political Economics provides a feasible and logical framework for thinking about public policy, planning and their implementation and the successful establishment of control needs democratic decentralization at every level of planning.

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Keywords: Adolph Lowe, Political Economics, Instrumental Inference, Planning, Decentralization

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