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Differential Accumulation: Toward a New Political Economy of Capital

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  • Nitzan, Jonathan

Abstract

Existing theories of capital, neo-classical as well as Marxist, are anchored in the material sphere of production and consumption. This article offers a new analytical framework for capital as a crystallization of power. The relative nature of power requires accumulation to be measured in differential, not absolute, terms. For absentee owners, the main goal is not to maximize pro.ts, but rather to “beat the average” and exceed the “normal rate of return”. The theoretical framework builds on Thorstein Veblen’s separation of industry from business and on Lewis Mumford’s dichotomy between democratic and authoritarian techniques. Extending their contributions, we argue that capital is a business, not an industrial category, a human mega-machine rather than a material artefact. Indeed, it is the social essence of capital which makes accumulation possible in the .rst place. Capital measures the present value of future business earnings, and these depend not on the productivity of industry as such, but on the ability of absentee owners strategically to limit such productivity to their own differential ends. Introducing the twin concepts of the “differential power of capital” (DPK) and the rate of “differential accumulation” (DA), we examine the non-linear and possibly negative link between industrial growth and accumulation in the USA.

Suggested Citation

  • Nitzan, Jonathan, 1998. "Differential Accumulation: Toward a New Political Economy of Capital," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 169-217.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:157774
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bliss, C. J., 1975. "Capital Theory and the Distribution of Income," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 1, number 9780720436044 edited by Bliss, C. J., December.
    2. Shimshon Bichler & Jonathan Nitzan, 1996. "Military Spending and Differential Accumulation: A New Approach to the Political Economy of Armament — The Case of Israel," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 51-95, March.
    3. Nitzan, Jonathan & Bichler, Shimshon, 1995. "Bringing Capital Accumulation Back In: The Weapondollar-Petrodollar Coalition – Military Contractors, Oil Companies and Middle-East "Energy Conflicts"," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 446-515.
    4. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 1996. "Military Spending and Differential Accumulation: A New Approach to the Political Economy of Armament – The Case of Israel," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 51-95.
    5. Paul A. Samuelson, 1962. "Parable and Realism in Capital Theory: The Surrogate Production Function," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 193-206.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2018. "CasP's 'Differential Accumulation' versus Veblen's 'Differential Advantage'," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2018/08, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    2. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2013. "Can Capitalists Afford Recovery? Economic Policy When Capital is Power," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2013/01, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    3. Jonathan Nitzan & Shimshon Bichler, 2001. "Going global: differential accumulation and the great U-turn in South Africa and Israel," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 33(1), pages 21-55, March.
    4. Renzi, Alessandra, 2011. "From Collectives to Connectives: Italian Media Activism and the Repurposing of the Social," EconStor Theses, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, number 214894, November.
    5. Syed Ozair Ali, 2012. "Power, Profits and Inflation: A Study of Inflation and Influence in Pakistan," Working Papers id:4693, eSocialSciences.
    6. Nitzan, Jonathan & Bichler, Shimshon, 2019. "CasP's 'Differential Accumulation' versus Veblen's 'Differential Advantage' (Revised and Expanded)," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2019/01, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    7. Syed Ozair Ali, 2011. "Power, Profits and Inflation: A Study of Inflation and Influence in Pakistan," SBP Working Paper Series 43, State Bank of Pakistan, Research Department.
    8. Nitzan, Jonathan & Bichler, Shimshon, 2014. "Can Capitalists Afford Recovery? Three Views on Economic Policy in Times of Crisis," Review of Capital as Power, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism, vol. 1(1), pages 110-155.
    9. Nitzan, Jonathan & Bichler, Shimshon, 2019. "The Harder They Fall," EconStor Preprints 191311, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    10. Nitzan, Jonathan & Bichler, Shimshon, 2002. "The Global Political Economy of Israel," EconStor Books, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, number 157972.
    11. Nitzan, Jonathan, 2001. "Regimes of Differential Accumulation: Mergers, Stagflation and the Logic of Globalization," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 226-274.
    12. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2017. "Growing through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2017/02, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    13. Ali, Syed Ozair, 2011. "Power, Profit and Inflation: A Study of Inflation and Influence in Pakistan," EconStor Preprints 157853, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    14. 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.
    15. Muhammad Akmal, 2011. "Inflation and Relative Price Variability," SBP Research Bulletin, State Bank of Pakistan, Research Department, vol. 7, pages 1-9.

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