Fix: ‘How the Rich Are Different: Hierarchical Power as the Basis of Income Size and Class’

ABSTRACT This paper investigates a new approach to understanding personal and functional income distribution. I propose that hierarchical power — the command of subordinates in a hierarchy — is what distinguishes the rich from the poor and capitalists from workers. Specifically, I hypothesize that individual income increases with hierarchical power, as does the share of […]

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Growing Through Sabotage

Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan Abstract According to the theory of capital as power, capitalism, like any other mode of power, is born through sabotage and lives in chains — and yet everywhere we look we see it grow and expand. What explains this apparent puzzle of ‘growth in the midst of sabotage’? The answer, […]

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The Power Ethos in the US Military

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In How Hierarchy Can Mediate the Returns to Education I examined the pay structure of the US military. I found that hierarchical rank is (by far) the strongest determinant of military pay. Here I want to show you that there is a regularity to military pay. In […]

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2020/01: Fix, ‘Economic Development and the Death of the Free Market’

ABSTRACT Free markets are, according to neoclassical economic theory, the most efficient way of organizing human activity. The claim is that individuals can benefit society by acting only in their self interest. In contrast, the evolutionary theory of multilevel selection proposes that groups must suppress the self interest of individuals. They often do so, the […]

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Fix, 'An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution'

ABSTRACT This paper explores how the evolution of human sociality can help us understand how we distribute resources. Using ideas from sociobiology, I argue that resource distribution is marked by a tension between two levels of natural selection. At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous. But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous. […]

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Fix, 'Personal Income and Hierarchical Power'

ABSTRACT This article examines the relation between personal income and hierarchical power. In the context of a firm hierarchy, I define hierarchical power as the number of subordinates under an individual’s control. Using the available case-study evidence, I find that relative income within firms scales strongly with hierarchical power. I also find that hierarchical power […]

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The Allure of Marxism … And Why It’s a Mistake

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Karl Marx is probably the most important social scientist in history. But while his influence is beyond compare, Marx’s legacy is, in many ways, disastrous. Few thinkers have inspired so many people to commit crimes against humanity. Think of Stalinist gulags. Think of the Ukrainian famine of […]

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As it Dies, We Talk About the ‘Free Market’ More

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market, I argued that economic development involves killing the free market. What was the evidence? As energy use increases, so does the relative number of managers. This growth of managers, I argued, indicates that economic development […]

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Fix, 'Energy and Institution Size'

ABSTRACT Why do institutions grow? Despite nearly a century of scientific effort, there remains little consensus on this topic. This paper offers a new approach that focuses on energy consumption. A systematic relation exists between institution size and energy consumption per capita: as energy consumption increases, institutions become larger. I hypothesize that this relation results […]

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Putting Power Back into Growth Theory

Blair Fix Abstract Neoclassical growth theory assumes that economic growth is an atomistic process in which changes in distribution play no role. Unfortunately, when this assumption is tested against real-world evidence, it is systematically violated. This paper argues that a reality-based growth theory must reject neoclassical principles in favour of a power-centered approach. Building on […]

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No. 2014/02: Fix, "Rethinking Profit: How Redistribution Drives Growth"

Working Paper No. 2014/02 Blair Fix, “Rethinking Profit: How Redistribution Drives Growth” Using a combination of heterodox economics and biophysical analysis, this paper investigates the relationship between economic distribution and the growth of material throughput. Empirical results show that the growth of “useful work” correlates with redistribution towards pro fit. Furthermore, increases in energy consumption are correlated […]

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