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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. repec:zbw:esmono:157973 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Knapp, Georg Friedrich, 1924. "The State Theory of Money," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number knapp1924.
    3. Joshua M. Epstein & Robert L. Axtell, 1996. "Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550253, January.
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