Rakesh Manchanda for BeyondHeadlines
A hidden poster of “Animal Spirit” is seen in media with stories on good governance getting dressed up. Governance today is in a panic mode since the ‘animal spirit revival’ remark of Dr. Manmohan Singh in Mid-2012. We don’t need a research lab to analyze how crony capitalism is the killer of E.E. – Ethical Entrepreneurship. It grabs out the ‘animal spirits’ of an enterprise to showcase it as a necessary evil. This is the ‘holy spirit’ since Stone Age which the US economists, our PM, CEOs and ministers all are so fond of talking about. Arvind Kejriwal of AAP with his recent courageous FIR (during 49 days of government) against Mukesh Ambani in KG Basin gas scam sets new standards of Seva-politics. Modi-BJP PM candidate promises to provide a corruption free India but fails to convince majority about his silence and his protection of Ambani loot in association with the old Congress system. It becomes essential to understand the ‘animal spirit’ the driving force behind governance of the new PM who shall serve India.
Animal Spirit Roots:
Catch the wild character DNA. It shall be fruitful to see the rule of the Jungle to understand the ‘Animal Spirit’ behind. No one including any Jungle drum beater formally nominates and crowns the Lion as King of the Jungle. He earns the position through his caliber, strength and attitude. When a lion runs to kill – he runs for food. When a deer runs, she runs for life. It is only the lion who knows the hidden team work that helps him survive. According to discovery channel a lion does not kill more than 32 times in a year unlike animal greed and animal spirit of few that kills the rest.
Ancient Respect for Animal Spirits:
Term was first coined by J M Keynes in his economic books, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”. The term “animal spirits” is used to describe emotion that drives a consumer confidence. According to Keynes, ‘animal spirits’ also generates human trust and a positive action. This was true in 1936. Animal sovereignty it appears was born in response to growing conflicts in unfair wealth distribution during the great Depression of 1930s. Relation between a man-machine, production – its means and its ends all have taken a sea change since then. Information Technology is the new game changer. Resurgence of interest in the idea of animal spirits in recent years of crisis is evident. Several books and articles are published on this topic. In the sports arena it is transformed as the ‘killer spirit’ charged up in a team for a win. Witch doctors and magicians used this term in ancient times, to monitor business control over humanity.
Guide to Modern Animal Spirits:
Pizza reaches home faster than the Police and the Ambulance. Many are seen walking miles and miles. We live in an unexplained world where poor walk miles to get food and rich walk miles to digest food. ‘Greed’ does the animal trick: It trains, it protects and generates wealth for few using more hands. It cheats the human spirit which desires the team participation. Spirit promotion helps to hide the real sufferings while people are left to fight their own battle of survival reduced like a gladiator.
Reform with an ‘animal spirit’ not only succeeded in Africa but prospered in India for decades. Success was visible. It was cheered by a wide section of our people and got protected by Congress-BJP system. Why has the picture then changed-dirty in India? Why reforms are de-forming now? Could it be just a consequence of the global commodity boom fired by easy investments? It has created speedy windfall-billionaires all over the world, including in India: the Reddy brothers of Bellary and Ambani brothers are few examples.
To go back to our original query, the economy stands shattered today. Markets have flip-flopped not because governance is pro- or anti-business, but because it has been so secretive about the spirits -animal and human with hidden rules. Humanity today is locking horns with the animal spirit. The demand is for Human Rights, better wealth distribution, better share, work regulations and for a basic minimum survival kit. Loaded with dreams and hope people wish to recognize their self potential and collective power to bring a change.
Look at some of the new corporate class as the real masters instead of the usual suspect, the government. Animal sprit unlike the modest human spirit is demanding. Animal spirit needs favors, demands elite care, twisting of laws, weak regulations, no civilized competition, ownership of natural resource at a peanut price and a freedom to steal capital to put in speculative market for a fake but fast growth. Many of these spirits quickly get listed on the stock markets in boom times.
Animal spirits also provides a permanent do-nothing excuse of the governance. Investors spend their time at golf course sipping bear. Football a team game seldom suits their temperament. Worst of all, it is a fast ruining public opinion for businessmen; as it confirms the worst old fears of all of them being the hidden spirit controllers: controlling the destiny of millions with hidden profits in tax havens.
Collateral losers in the animal spirit process are the stragglers as the daily wagers. Human spirit sluggers are forced to be called as lazy, suckers and robber barons as we see in the going Greece crisis. We live in system where capital is worshipped as a God but human capital involved is treated as dirt.
A broken link in the system needs to be understood, re-connected and corrected fast. We see a clear global disconnect among powerful ruling elite and the 99%.Majoirty wish to have a better civilized systems with participation and fair justice. Squeezed between the animal and human spirits lies the ‘helpless spirit’ of the political delivery system which stands as a referee. The nation cannot accept the forced Modi Governance because of its communal package over the Ambani-Adani profit interests but is getting clear that BJP will emerge as the single largest party. During CII meetings Arvind Kejriwal made clear that AAP is against Crony Capitalism and not against Capitalist system.
Hope is the magic oxygen. Animal spirit need to sacrifice more. It needs to be accommodating for human governance world order by allowing flow of more money in more pockets. Growth in the real market can only help to save the ‘animal spirit’ from getting extinct or thrown out of the game of survival.
Lion and Tiger in Indian Jungles are vanishing fast today in spite of Government best efforts to invest in wild life and care for the animals. Protection of “animal spirit” may be a necessary market evil but not at the cost of people.
[Views expressed are personal.]