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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 the 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 or because of sabotage, but through sabotage.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:capwps:201702
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin, Ulf, 2019. "The Autocatalytic Sprawl of Pseudorational Mastery," Review of Capital as Power, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism, vol. 1(4), pages 1-30.
    2. Howard, Philip H., 2018. "Craftwashing in the U.S. Beer Industry," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1-13.
    3. Fix, Blair, 2018. "Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality," SocArXiv v9pur, Center for Open Science.
    4. Fix, Blair, 2019. "How the Rich Are Different: Hierarchical Power as the Basis of Income Size and Class," SocArXiv t8muy, Center for Open Science.
    5. 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.
    6. Fix, Blair, 2019. "Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1-32.
    7. Martin, Ulf, 2018. "The autocatalytic sprawl of pseudorational mastery (version 0.12)," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2018/04, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.

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    Keywords

    casp; energy; growth; hierarchy; sabotage;
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