Home Forum Political Economy The North-Korean mode of power Reply To: The North-Korean mode of power

Jonathan Nitzan
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Which brings me to a question. Differential accumulation is central to CasP, but how do we compare the relative power of states using fundamentally different modes of power? North Korea seems to have gained a position of relative stasis of power through it’s isolationism, and while other states gain and lose power relative to each other, North Korea seems to plod along without significant change.

Good question.

All capital is power, but not all power is capital. The capitalist mode of power is fundamentally different from other modes of power in that it offers a universal measure of capitalized power. As the ritual of differential capitalization spreads, influences, absorbs and incorporates more and more aspects of power, the  measurements of capitalized power become more meaningful, encompassing and easier to assess.

This encompassing process started in the bourgs of the late middle ages and continues today. The capitalized aspects of social power within capitalists societies expand, while capitalism itself expands and gradually takes over previously non-capitalist societies (see our 2010 ‘Notes on the State of Capital’).

However, relations of power that do not get capitalized — for instance, the North Korea regime — lack universal quantities and therefore remain difficult to ‘compare’ to other relations of power, including capitalized ones. Moreover, the ‘autocatalytic sprawl’ of capitalized power analyzed by Ulf Martin suggests that the very process of capitalizing power generates its own negation in the form of new uncapitalized power/counter-power, and since this sprawl is self-generating, it implies that capitalized power can never become fully encompassing.