2018/09: Fix, ‘Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality’

Abstract Where should we look to understand the origin of inequality? Most research focuses on three windows of evidence: (1) the archaeological record; (2) existing traditional societies; and (3) the historical record. I propose a fourth window of evidence — modern society itself. I hypothesize that we can infer the origin of inequality from the […]

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Bichler & Nitzan, ‘Arms and Oil in the Middle East: A Biography of Research’

Abstract This essay interweaves two stories—one theoretical and empirical, the other autobiographical. The first story embeds the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the broader political economy of the Middle East and the global accumulation of “capital as power.” The second story narrates the authors’ personal journey to uncover, theorize, and research this enfoldment. The essay explores and […]

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2018/08: Bichler & Nitzan, ‘CasP’s Differential Accumulation versus Veblen’s Differential Advantage’

Abstract This paper clarifies a common misrepresentation of our theory of capital as power, or CasP. Many observers tend to box CasP as an ‘institutionalist’ theory, tracing its central process of ‘differential accumulation’ to Thorstein Veblen’s notion of ‘differential advantage’. This view, we argue, betrays a misunderstanding of CasP, Veblen or both. As we show, […]

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Propertization: The Process by which Financial Corporate Power has Risen and Collapsed

Propertization The Process by which Financial Corporate Power has Risen and Collapsed JONGCHUL KIM September 2018 Abstract Elsewhere I argue that the legal concept of property was created in the image of money in the late Roman Republic. Since then, the division of property and contract has been an underlying structure of Western law. The […]

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Theory and Praxis, Theory and Practice, Practical Theory

Theory and Praxis, Theory and Practice, Practical Theory CORENTIN DEBAILLEUL, SHIMSHON BICHLER and JONATHAN NITZAN April 2018 Abstract In their paper ‘The CasP Project: Past, Present and Future’, Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan invite readers to engage critically with their theoretical framework, known as capital as power (CasP). This call for further research, reactions and […]

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Bichler & Nitzan, ‘With Their Back to the Future: Will Past Earnings Trigger the Next Crisis?’

Abstract As these lines are being written (April 2018), the The U.S. stock market is again in turmoil. After a two-year bull run in which share prices soared by nearly 50 per cent, the market is suddenly dropping. Since the beginning of 2018, it lost nearly 10 per cent of its value, threatening investors with […]

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Kim, ‘Propertization: The Process by which Financial Corporate Power has Risen and Collapsed’

Abstract Elsewhere I argue that the legal concept of property was created in the image of money in the late Roman Republic. Since then, the division of property and contract has been an underlying structure of Western law. The paper argues that a main way of structuring financial corporate power, especially money market funds (MMFs), […]

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McMahon, ‘Is Hollywood a Risky Business? A Political Economic Analysis of Risk and Creativity’

Abstract This paper seeks to explain why Hollywood’s dominant firms are narrowing the scope of creativity in the contemporary period (1980–2015). The largest distributors have sought to prevent the art of filmmaking and its related social relations from becoming financial risks in the pursuit of profit. Major filmed entertainment, my term for the six largest […]

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2018/07: Fix, ‘The Trouble with Human Capital Theory’

Abstract Human capital theory is the dominant approach for understanding personal income distribution. According to this theory, individual income is the result of ‘human capital’. The idea is that human capital makes people more productive, which leads to higher income. But is this really the case? This paper takes a critical look at human capital […]

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2018/06: Fix, ‘Capitalist Income and Hierarchical Power: A Gradient Hypothesis’

Abstract This paper offers a new approach to the study of capitalist income. Building on the ‘capital as power’ framework, I propose that capitalists earn their income not from any productive asset, but from the legal right to command a corporate hierarchy. In short, I hypothesize that capitalist income stems from hierarchical power. Based on […]

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Fix, ‘Economics from the Top Down: Does Hierarchy Unify Economic Theory?’

Abstract What is the unit of analysis in economics? The prevailing orthodoxy in mainstream economic theory is that the individual is the ‘ultimate’ unit of analysis. The implicit goal of mainstream economics is to root macro-level social structure in the micro-level actions of individuals. But there is a simple problem with this approach: our knowledge […]

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2018/05: Fix, ‘The Growth of US Top Income Inequality: A Hierarchical Redistribution Hypothesis’

Abstract What accounts for the growth of US top income inequality? This paper proposes a hierarchical redistribution hypothesis. The idea is that US firms have systematically redistributed income to the top of the corporate hierarchy. I test this hypothesis using a large scale hierarchy model of the US private sector. My method is to vary […]

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Fix, ‘Hierarchy and the power-law income distribution tail’

Abstract What explains the power-law distribution of top incomes? This paper tests the hypothesis that it is firm hierarchy that creates the power-law income distribution tail. Using the available case-study evidence on firm hierarchy, I create the first large-scale simulation of the hierarchical structure of the US private sector. Although not tuned to do so, […]

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2018/04: Martin, ‘The Autocatalytic Sprawl of Pseudorational Mastery’

Abstract According to Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan capital is not an economic quantity but a mode of power; it could be sumarized as: “Capital is power quantified in monetary terms”. So, what do we do when we “quantify”? What is the nature of “money” in a capitalist society? And, indeed, what is “power” in […]

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Capital as Power @ Historical Materialism 2018: Panel Series at The Great Transition Conference, Montreal, May 17-20, 2018

The Forum on Capital as Power presents a panel series at the Montreal 2018 Great Transition Conference, May 17-20. The panels include the following papers: 1. ‘What is Capital as Power?’ Shimshon Bichler, Israel and Jonathan Nitzan, Canada 2. ‘Capitalization, Capital Goods and the State of Capital: The Boundaries of Accumulation’ DT Cochrane, Ryerson University […]

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2018/03: Fix, ‘The Aggregation Problem’

Abstract This article discusses the aggregation problem and its implications for ecological economics. The aggregation problem consists of a simple dilemma: when adding heterogeneous phenomena together, the observer must choose the unit of analysis. The dilemma is that this choice affects the resulting measurement. This means that aggregate measurements are dependent on one’s goals, and […]

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Nitzan & Bichler, ‘El capital como poder. Un estudio del orden y el creorden’

Abstract Las teorías convencionales del capitalismo están sumidas en una profunda crisis: tras siglos de debates todavía son incapaces de decirnos qué es el capital. Tanto liberales como marxistas se refieren al capital como una entidad ‘económica’ que puede ser contabilizada en unidades universales de ‘utilidad’ o de ‘trabajo abstracto’. Pero estas unidades son totalmente […]

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Debailleul, and Bichler & Nitzan, ‘Theory and Praxis, Theory and Practice, Practical Theory’

Abstract In their paper ‘The CasP Project: Past, Present and Future’, Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan invite readers to engage critically with their theoretical framework, known as capital as power (CasP). This call for further research, reactions and critiques is the perfect occasion to raise a few questions that have grown in my mind in […]

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