Capital-as-power working papers showcase new research that engages with the idea of ‘capital as power’. To submit a paper, please email casp.editorial@gmail.com with ‘Working Papers’ in the subject.


March 15, 2021

Abstract We write this essay for both lay readers and scientists, though mainstream economists are welcome to enjoy it too. Our subject is the basic toolbox of mainstream economics. The most important tools in this …

February 10, 2021

Abstract Humanity’s most pressing need is to learn how to live within our planet’s boundaries — something that likely means doing without economic growth. How, then, can we create a non-growth society that is both …

February 10, 2021

Abstract According to the capital as power framework, pecuniary earnings, or profits, are a symbolic representation of the struggle for power between different capitalist groups. In this struggle, capitalists measure their own power differentially – …

December 23, 2020

Abstract Until the late 2000s, our work focused primarily on why capitalism should be understood as a mode of power. We argued that capital itself is a form of organized power and researched how capitalists …

July 12, 2020

Abstract Neoclassical economists fundamentally misunderstand the role of natural resources in the economy. I discuss here the source of this misunderstanding, and the ways we can better understand the role of energy to human societies. …

July 1, 2020

Abstract A recent New Political Economy article by Baines and Hager (2020) critiqued Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan’s capital-as-power (CasP) model of the stock market (Bichler & Nitzan, 2016). Bichler and Nitzan’s model of the …

June 2, 2020

Abstract The French Revolution changed the world. In the new order, the masters no longer need Monsieur Fouche and the thought police. They don’t need guillotines to clip brains and scissors to censor pamphlets. They …

June 2, 2020

Abstract This interview was commissioned in October 2019 for a special issue on ‘Accumulation and Politics: Approaches and Concepts’ to be published by the Revue de la régulation. We submitted the text in March 2020, …

May 27, 2020

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 …

November 29, 2019

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 …

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 …

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 …

January 30, 2019

Abstract 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 …

December 15, 2018

Abstract 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 …

November 30, 2018

Abstract 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 …

August 20, 2018

Abstract 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, …

August 20, 2018

Abstract 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 …

July 29, 2018

Abstract What accounts for the growth of US top income inequality? This paper proposes a hierarchical redistribution hypothesis. The idea is that US firms have systematically redistributed income to the top of the corporate hierarchy. …

June 11, 2018

Abstract 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 …

May 22, 2018

Abstract This article discusses the aggregation problem and its implications for ecological economics. The aggregation problem consists of a simple dilemma: when adding heterogeneous phenomena together, the observer must choose the unit of analysis. The …

April 12, 2018

Abstract Based on worldly experience, most people would agree that firms are hierarchically organized, and that pay tends to increase as one moves up the hierarchy. But how this hierarchical structure affects income distribution has …

April 5, 2018

Abstract The U.S. stock market is again in turmoil. After a two-year bull run in which share prices soared by nearly 50 per cent, the market is suddenly dropping. Since the beginning of 2018, it …

August 13, 2017

Abstract During the late 1980s, we printed a series of working papers, offering a new approach to the political economy of Israel and wars in the Middle East. Our approach in these papers rested on …

July 26, 2017

Abstract This paper proposes a new ‘power theory’ of personal income distribution. Contrary to the standard assumption that income is proportional to productivity, I hypothesize that income is most strongly determined by social power, as …

July 14, 2017

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 …

January 3, 2017

Abstract In 1939, the De Beers diamond company faced a dire situation. The company’s accumulation had been dwindling for decades. The Great Depression not only pushed diamond sales to historic lows, it shifted American attitudes …

November 7, 2016

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 …

September 25, 2016

Abstract Using Nitzan and Bichler’s understanding of the dissonant relationship between creativity and power and business and industry, this paper investigates the rhythms of freelance creative work. It reports findings from interviews conducted with freelancers working in …

August 24, 2016

Abstract Analysis of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the accumulatory decline of BP demonstrates both the analytical efficacy of the capital-as-power (CasP) approach to value theory, and the irreducible role of objects in the process …

June 20, 2016

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 …

June 11, 2016

Abstract This article offers a critique of Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nişancioğlu’s How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism. We argue that while all historiography features a number of silences, shortcomings …

April 27, 2016

Abstract I successfully defended my dissertation in December. This served as the introductory presentation for the defence. In it, I explain what I tried to do with the dissertation, the methods I used, and the …

February 17, 2016

Abstract This working paper contains an intervention by Corentin Debailleul and an extended reply by Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan. The exchange was first posted on the Capital as Power Forum in January 2016. Debailleul’s …

December 22, 2015

Abstract The study of capital as power (CasP) began when we were students in the 1980s and has since expanded into a broader project involving a growing number of researchers and new areas of inquiry. …

June 11, 2015

Abstract What do economists mean when they talk about ‘capital accumulation’? Surprisingly, the answer to this question is anything but clear, and it seems the most unclear in times of turmoil. Consider the recent ‘financial …

March 6, 2015

Abstract Various studies of mass culture use the Marxist labour theory of value to conceptualize how capital is being accumulated from cultural production and its broader social and immaterial dimensions. However, there is a significant …

January 6, 2015

Abstract In various writings Karl Marx made references to an ‘aristocracy of finance’ in Western Europe and the United States that dominated ownership of the public debt. Drawing on original research, this paper offers the …

January 6, 2015

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 …

November 27, 2014

Abstract During the late 1980s and early 1990s, we identified a new Middle East phenomenon that we called ‘energy conflicts’ and argued that these conflicts were intimately linked with the global processes of capital accumulation. …

July 16, 2014

Abstract The agrofuel boom has brought about some of the most significant transformations in the world food system in recent decades. A rich and diverse body of agrarian political economy research has emerged that elucidates …

April 7, 2014

Abstract 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 …

March 18, 2014

Abstract 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. …

October 17, 2013

Abstract Economic, financial and social commentators from all directions and persuasion are obsessed with the prospect of recovery. The world remains mired in a deep, prolonged crisis, and the key question seems to be how …