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Growing through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power

Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan

Review of Capital as Power, 2020, vol. 1, issue 5, 1-78

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, we argue, begins with the very meaning of ‘growth’. Whereas conventional political economy equates growth with a rising standard of living, we posit that much of this growth has nothing to do with livelihood as such: it represents not the improvement of wellbeing, but the expansion of sabotage itself. Building on this premise, the article historicizes, theorizes and models the relationship between changes in hierarchical power and sabotage on the one hand and the growth of energy capture on the other. It claims that hierarchical power is sought for its own sake; that building and sustaining this power demands strategic sabotage; and that sabotage absorbs a significant proportion of the energy captured by society. From this standpoint, capitalism grows, at least in part, not despite but because of – and indeed through – sabotage.

Keywords: capital as power; energy; growth; hierarchy; power; sabotage (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: P16 Q4 P18 P28 L23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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