سرمایه داری، ایالات و حسابداری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8504||2004||23 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 15, Issue 8, November 2004, Pages 1037–1058
This paper is concerned with accounting’s relationship to the state and to capitalism. It argues from a theoretical and historical perspective that accounting has been a central part of capitalism’s recent restructuring which has involved the state. Using contemporary theories of society the paper views the state, capital and accounting from a holistic perspective seeing the social relations between them rather than seeing each as distinct forms.
It is one of the distinctive and central concerns of ‘critical theory’ in any sphere of social analysis to uncover the way in which human practices, culture and relations contain within themselves elements of alienation, domination and exploitation. Such a critical enterprise typically entails the excavation of the underlying form of various social activities; showing that what are widely perceived as ‘neutral’ features of society and thought-seeming merely to serve all of society, or to arise spontaneously from the activities of individuals or groups—actually reflect the domination of society by particular interests and modes of domination, exploitation and alienation; and often directly serve them. However, the logic of such an excavation is often misconstrued. Specifically, it is confused with commitment to several theoretical assertions which it does not entail. It is often confused with a form of left wing functionalism that crudely asserts that all cultural and social forms under, say, capitalism, simply serve to reproduce it.2 Nevertheless, the purpose of critique must surely be to do more than merely assert that structures of domination are ‘contested,’ or that social practices may serve a general social as well as a class function. It must go on to insist that the contest over social forms cannot be resolved without their complete transformation. And that whatever general social needs are served by some social practice are vitiated by the form which distorts the satisfaction of these needs and subordinates them to the interests of the dominant class and the wider system of class and rule. In a parallel fashion, the aim when analysing forms of thought or artistic expression is to show how they are crippled in their expressive and cognitive scope by the limits of the social world around them. In both cases, the aim is not simply to show a crude correspondence or service to the ruling class or system of domination performed by the social practice or form of thought; more often the task involves showing how the very form of the activity is inscribed with the traces and priorities of the wider system, with the result that it is so distorted and limited, and so systematically biased in its working, that it is inadequate as a means of social organization or expression to serve a truly liberated human social order (Draper, 1977). In this paper, we apply the foregoing form of critical thinking to accounting. We argue that accountancy—from its origins—is a useful practice in developing human productiveness and general social development; but also is one of those aspects of the division of labour which develops alongside and as part of relations of domination and exploitation. It has thus never been a neutral social calculus. More than this, in fact, as a social function, it is at the heart of both class and state, from the origins of these down to the present. In making such an analysis we follow in the footsteps of Tinker, 1984 and Tinker, 1985, Cooper et al. (1989),3 and Johnson, 1972 and Johnson, 1982. Tinker (1984) wrote that in order to appraise and influence various regulatory regimes, accountants need to understand the processes by which regulatory public policy is produced (that is we need to construct a theory of the state). The commonly given indicator of the relationship between accounting and the state is that the legal authority for capitalist organisations to exist, furnished by the state, insists upon the use of accountants as auditors. This is part of the structural dependence of capitalism on the state and accounting’s positioning within that relationship. More broadly, we argue that, with capitalism, accountancy has taken on its fullest form. It becomes a multi-faceted function which is essential to capitalism; and despite the social division of functions in mature capitalism, accountancy is not merely a technical service, it is at the heart of the peculiar dynamic of capitalism. Cooper et al. (1984) correctly argue that accounts produced by the accountancy profession emphasise the technical rationality of the statistics produced, in this way the prior conceptualisations of (demand led theories of) value are treated as unproblematic and neutral. Modern accountancy is imbued with the logic of capitalism in its very form. As such accountancy has played a significant role in the recent global changes in which, though the general logic of capitalism remains the same, the institutional forms through which capital accumulation is pursued have been altered—through processes often described as ‘globalization,’ marketisation/privatisation, the ‘Neo-Liberal revolution,’ the rise of the ‘Washington consensus’ and so on. The paper is structured as follows. The next section is concerned with the development of accounting in various social and economic systems. This is to tease out what is specific to accounting under capitalism. We argue that all forms of accounting (in a broad sense) are tied up with class and state domination. Yet accounting claims to be independent of both. Indeed capital and the state claim to be independent of each other. Early organization theorists made the mistake of seeing the “effect of the external environment,” presumably including the state, as being uncontrollable ( Anthony, 1965, Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967 and Rhenman, 1974; and see Cooper et al., 1989). As Cooper et al. (1989) point out this reflects a pluralist view of society in which the actions of no single element will prove to be significant. We agree with Cooper et al. that forces of class relations dominate social activity. Contemporary business frequently portrays governments as being too interfering while governments claim that they cannot interfere in “private” disputes4 between capital and capital or capital and labour. Tinker (1984) points out that members of the neo-classical school are uniformly hostile to the state. For example, Jenson and Meckling (1980) refer to the abuse of state power by politicians, bureaucrats, and various special interest groups to increase their welfare at the expense of others. The following section of the paper critically evaluates these claims and demonstrates that not only that the state and capitalism are intertwined and merge with each other at specific historical periods, but also, that accounting is at the heart of class and state. The final section of the paper sets out some recent practical examples of the theoretical arguments in the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this paper we have argued that accounting is part of the process of imposing the discipline of competitive accumulation and the domination of quantity and abstraction onto human labour and social activity generally and that it mediates relations between units of capital within the system and between the state and capital. Accounting plays a strategic intelligence role akin to finance capital in taking care not only of necessary functions internal to the units of capital but also of aspects of the affairs of the bourgeoisie as a whole. It comes to play this role, as does the state, not because of simple string pulling or subordination to other parts of the private business class, for it has its own firms and professional organisations and interests. Rather, it serves as part of capitalism because of the deep structure, the ‘form,’ of what it does, and because, as with the state, there is no room within the system for it to develop any true independence of capitalism as a system; it is structurally dependent on the surplus, for it gains access to it by serving a certain specialist range of functions in the overall social process of its extraction and defence. Recently, it has been involved in redrawing some of those functions and the wider system, not in it deep logic but its current shape. Capitalism is a peculiar kind of class system. We cannot understand it just in terms of a direct relation of expropriation of direct producers product by an individual or organisation of exploiters. In the past the feudal lords and the state-class forms did this. Though feudalism had a fragmented polity and sovereignty, the unit of exploitation was the lordly domain ruled through his forcible extraction from the centre, albeit sometimes through sub units of vassalage. The same with tributary states. In this context those who did the accounting did so as part of that machine under its direct supervision. But capitalism is about the subordination of human labour and society in general to the abstract logic of capitalism, a logic of subordination achieved blindly by the actions of a capitalist class and system of states in their competitive rivalry with each other. In this the capitalist class and their states exploit labour as a whole. The buying and selling and competition between units of capital, and also the division of labour between different aspects of this whole exploitation into distinct institutional forms, achieves the overall exploitation whilst the different parts still struggle for a share of the surplus overall. They have a common interest but are also a band of warring brothers vying for a greater share and for greater power for their particular functional part or sovereign unit of accumulation. Capitalism is uniquely defined by the domination of a certain abstract calculability—the subordination of labour to quantification (where labour becomes a debit). In such a system, the accounting function is unique and important. Accountancy is not just a professional grouping acting like an autonomous interest group. It serves a general function in the system and acts as a strategic intelligence analogous but different to banking. We have argued, that the very form of the accountancy function, stamps it as an integral part of the business of rule and exploitation, of the state and of private capital. Unlike certain other ‘services’ or professions, such as medicine or education; it is intimately bound up with capitalism and the state. It is part of them. They function through it in a way that is not the case with medicine or education. The institutional development of accounting as a profession, and the development of dedicated commercial accountancy firms, does not betoken the same sort of distinctness or distance from capital and the state as is the case potentially with these other professions. Their social function, indeed, has a much more potentially conflictful relationship with capitalism. While we have argued that accounting is indeed central to capitalism and the state we would like to remind readers that our analysis insists upon a holistic understanding of the state, capital and accounting. It would be a mistake to see them as separate. At the end of this we would like to make a gesture towards the future. If we abandon a state run social order, what form would society take? Is our Marxist vision so frightening? From a simple “democratic” perspective, the bourgeois state with which we are all familiar, has grown out of an alienation between individual and universal life (Eagleton, 1997). … out of this very contradiction between the interests of the individual and that of the community the latter takes an independent form as the state, divorced from the real interests of individual and community, and at the same time as an illusory communal life, always based, however, on the real ties existing in every family and tribal conglomeration—such as flesh and blood, language, division of labour on a larger scale, and other interests—and especially, as we shall enlarge upon later, on the classes, already determined by the division of labour, which in every such mess of men separate out, and of one which dominates all the others. It follows from this that all struggles within the state, the struggle between democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy, the struggle for the franchise, etc. are merely the illusory forms in which the real struggle of the different classes are fought out among one and other. (Marx, 1973, p. 53, cited in Eagleton, 1997) While Eagleton argues that Marx did not always take such an instrumentalist view of the state, it is certainly the case that each individual citizen has alienated to the state part of his or her individual powers, which then assume a determining force over the everyday social and economic existence. In contrast, genuine socialist democracy, would rejoin these general and individual parts of ourselves, by allowing us to participate in general political processes as concretely particular individuals—in the workplace or local community, for example, rather than as the purely abstract citizens of liberal representative democracy (Eagleton, 1997). Thus, Marx’s final vision would seem somewhat anarchistic: that of a cooperative commonwealth made up of what he calls “free associations” of workers, who would extend democracy to the economic sphere while making a reality of it in the political one. As Eagleton (1997) so aptly argues It was to this end—not one, after all, very sinister or alarming—that he dedicated, not simply his writings, but much of his active life.