The Capital as Power working paper series showcases cutting edge research on the political economy of capitalist power. The series is open to a wide-range of issues: theoretical, empirical, historical or contemporary. The aim is to stimulate debate and discussion on the capital as power framework. If you are interested in submitting a working paper, please email us and put “Working Papers” in the subject line.

2019/02.1: Fix, 'How the Rich are Different: Hierarchical Power as the Basis of Income Size and Class'

November 29, 2019

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 individual … Read more

2019/04: Hager and Baines, 'Jurisdictional Tax Rates: How the Corporate Tax System Fuels Concentration and Inequality'

November 14, 2019

ABSTRACT Corporate concentration in the United States has been on the rise in recent years, sparking a heated debate about its causes, consequences, and potential remedies. In this study, we examine a facet of public policy that has been largely neglected in current debates about concentration: corporate tax policy. As part of our analysis we … Read more

2019/03: McMahon, 'Selling Hollywood to China'

April 15, 2019

ABSTRACT From the 1980s to the present, Hollywood’s major distributors have been able to redistribute U.S. theatrical attendance to the advantage of their biggest blockbusters and franchises. At the global scale and during the same period, Hollywood has been leveraging U.S. foreign power to break ground in countries that have historically protected and supported their … Read more

2019/01: Bichler & Nitzan, ‘Differential Accumulation versus Veblen’s "Differential Advantage" (Revised and Expanded)'

January 30, 2019

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. First, we are not … Read more

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

December 15, 2018

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 modern … Read more

2018/08: Bichler & Nitzan, 'CasP's '"Differential Accumulation" versus Veblen's "Differential Advantage"'

November 30, 2018

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, CasP’s … Read more

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

August 20, 2018

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 theory … Read more

2018/06: Fix, 'Capitalist Income and Hierarchical Power'

August 20, 2018

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 this … Read more