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Capital, the State, and the Monetary Mode of Power: A Review of Nitzan and Bichler's Capital as Power


  • John H. Bradford


In their recent book Capital as Power , Jonathan Nitzan & Shimshon Bichler depict capitalism as a mode of power rather than a mode of production, in which political and economic power are no longer distinct. In addition, they argue, contrary to neoclassical theory, that capital has nothing to do with productivity but instead represents power. I make three broad criticisms: first, their elimination of the distinction between economics and politics renders any empirical test of their ostensible integration impossible; second, they do not adequately define their main concepts, including capital, capitalization, capitalism, and power; and third, they do not acknowledge the possibility that the patterns they attribute to power may in fact be self-organized. This paper argues that money is a claim to wealth, not wealth itself, that it measures and distributes the power of payment, and that payments redistribute the power of ownership, including the ownership of money. Finally, I suggest that, in light of the global debt crisis, a theory of capital-as-power should examine the power of finance, which entails the privatization and concentration of the power to create money as debt.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Bradford, 2012. "Capital, the State, and the Monetary Mode of Power: A Review of Nitzan and Bichler's Capital as Power," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 643-661, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:24:y:2012:i:4:p:643-661 DOI: 10.1080/09538259.2012.701932

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. R. F. Kahn, 1959. "Exercises In The Analysis Of Growth," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 143-156.
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    6. Trezzini, Attilio, 1995. "Capacity Utilisation in the Long Run and the Autonomous Components of Aggregate Demand," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(0), pages 33-66.
    7. Cornwall,John & Cornwall,Wendy, 2001. "Capitalist Development in the Twentieth Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521341493, March.
    8. Pierangelo Garegnani & Antonella Palumbo, 1997. "Accomulation of capital," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0002, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
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