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Growing through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power

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  • Bichler, Shimshon
  • Nitzan, Jonathan

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2020. "Growing through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power," Review of Capital as Power, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism, vol. 1(5), pages 1-78.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:caprev:218858
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fix, Blair, 2021. "Economic Development and the Death of the Free Market," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    2. Fix, Blair, 2021. "Living the Good Life in a Non-Growth World. Investigating the Role of Hierarchy," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2021/02, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    3. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2020. "The Limits of Capitalized Power. A 2020 U.S. Update," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2020/06, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    4. Fix, Blair, 2021. "Living the good life in a non-growth world: Investigating the role of hierarchy," SocArXiv wem9p, Center for Open Science.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    capital as power; energy; growth; hierarchy; power; sabotage;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • P18 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Energy; Environment
    • P28 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Natural Resources; Environment
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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