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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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 (version 0.12)'

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 the […]

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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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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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Bichler and Nitzan, 'A CasP Model of the Stock Market'

ABSTRACT Most explanations of stock market booms and busts are based on contrasting the underlying ‘fundamental’ logic of the economy with the exogenous, non-economic factors that presumably distort it. Our paper offers a radically different model, examining the stock market not from the mechanical viewpoint of a distorted economy, but from the dialectical perspective of […]

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Park and Doucette, 'Financialization or Capitalization? Debating Capitalist Power in South Korea in the Context of Neoliberal Globalization'

ABSTRACT The article reviews debates concerning financialization in South Korea, with a focus on ongoing arguments between liberal, post-Keynesian, institutionalist and Marxist economists. It argues that post-Keynesian and institutionalist perspectives in particular neglect important class processes through which the financial circuit operates within the Korean economy, especially the power of Korea’s large, family-led conglomerates, or […]

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Capital as Power and Freelance Creative Work 4

Resonance and dissonance in the rhythms of freelance creative work In the last blog, I applied some of Nitzan and Bichler’s ideas to freelance work in the creative industries. I utilised their conceptualisation of the distinction between creativity and power, and of the sabotage of the former by the latter. Nitzan and Bichler describe the […]

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Capital as Power and Freelance Creative Work 3

Creativity, sabotage and the management of risk and responsibility in freelance creative work Nitzan and Bichler theorise a dissonant relation of sabotage between power and creativity, business and industry. What they show is that the control of creative processes of production is not antithetical to their success. Rather, it is constitutive of this success in […]

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Capital as Power and Freelance Creative Work 2

Capital as Power, risk-aversion and the avoidance of uncertainty Mainstream critiques of contemporary capitalism conducted in the wake of the Great Recession tend to indict  a number of factors. Perceived short-termism. The dangerous compulsion to speculate. An attraction to growth for growth’s sake. The propensity towards the greedy and rapid accumulation of riches. But other […]

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No. 2014/01: McMahon, "Capitalist Power, Distribution and the Order of Cinema"

Working Paper No. 2014/01 James McMahon, “Capitalist Power, Distribution and the Order of Cinema” In this paper, the structure of Hollywood film distribution will be analyzed through the lens of risk. In both its technical and conceptual senses, risk is relevant to the study of Hollywood’s dominant firms. In the interest of lowering risk, the business […]

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The Weekly Sabotage: Week 4

Royal Authority and Private Property Last week we considered the concept of ownership though the work of Veblen and Marx. We noted that the establishment and protection of private property involved the dispossession of the many by the few and that this tendency begins with the appropriation of humans (slavery) and land for private profit.  […]

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The Weekly Sabotage: Week 1

Welcome to a weekly investigation into the fascinating world of corporate sabotage where human creativity, cooperation, mutual aid and well-being are all held ransom for the profit and power of dominant owners. Every week this column will explore various aspects of what Veblen called ‘strategic sabotage’.  But first, a bit of context. It appears that […]

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