Home Forum Political Economy Does capitalism have a growth imperative?

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    • #245193

      Hi all,

      As mentioned in a previous post, I’m just beginning to grapple with the CasP approach and am trying to read as much as possible on the topic. However, for various reasons, the time I can dedicate to this is limited at the moment. With this in mind, I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on some questions that have been troubling me (or if you could direct me to relevant  chapters, pages etc.).

      1. According to the CasP perspective, could we say that capitalism has a growth imperative?

      2. If so, what are the main drivers of this imperative?

      3. This question, which is specifically for Jonathan,  concerns the following quote (from Capital as Power, 2009: p.232-233):

      “In our view, Marx was correct to stress the dialectical imperative of technical change….Over the longer haul, capitalists indeed find themselves compelled – and in turn force their society – to constantly revolutionize the pattern of social reproduction. They continually ‘invest’ in having industry develop for them new methods and products and in expanding their capacity to produce them. Yet all of this they do in the expectation of adequate differential returns, and differential returns are possible only through restriction”

      What drives this “dialectical imperative of technical change” and capitalists’ compulsion “to constantly revolutionize the pattern of social reproduction?”

      4. Which aspects (if any) of Marx’s analysis can help us to better understand the above?


      Thanks in advance.





    • #245195

      On this subject, you might want to read:

      Blair Fix, 2017, ‘Energy and Institution Size‘.

      Bichler & Nitzan, 2020, ‘Growing Through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power‘.


      The chart below, taken from our recent paper ‘The Limits of Capitalized Power. A 2020 U.S. Update‘, suggests that U.S. capitalists require not absolute, but strategic sabotage: not too cold, not too warm.

      Like with Goldilocks, too much sabotage reduces their earnings share, but so does too little sabotage. The optimal level of sabotage — otherwise known as ‘business as usual’ — is what economists call the ‘natural rate of unemployment’.


    • #245197

      Thank you Jonathan. I will read these with great interest.

      Best wishes,


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