Wednesday, October 18, 2006
"Dominant Capital" and Mid-Eastern Conflict
While browsing a recent issue of Fernand Braudel Center's quarterly REVIEW, I came across an intriguing article by scholars Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, which led me to the extensive website of their writings: www.bnarchives.net. They write a lot about global capitalism, arguing that far from endangering the profits of large capitalists, the Iraq War and other Mid-Eastern conflicts have been engineered to raise oil prices and generate economic stagflation. In their view, the interests of "dominant capital" (i.e. the most powerful capitalists at any given time) can sometimes be directed towards "breadth" (expanding production or mergers/acquisitions) and at other times towards "depth" (squeezing the economy to gain differential power by losing less while everyone else loses even more, especially through oil price spikes). They identify a "petrodollar-weapondollar" coalition, which they have been writing about for a few decades now, while today this might seem quite a bit more plausible given world events. Anyway, I do recommend their writings, especially if you like lots of charts and graphs (cue ambivalent_maybe?) and enjoy following a fairly dense analysis that is quite insightful and original. I haven't made up my mind yet about their point of view, but it is making me think a lot, and I would be interested to know how others react to their work. On their website, they have a wide variety of writings, some brief articles from widely-read periodicals (see this Tikkun article for a brief overview of their perspective) to lengthier outlines of their theory of capitalism and power, as well as its application to real-world cases (including an entire book on the Global Political Economy of Israel), and even an angry reaction to what they see as the plagiarism of their work by the left-wing Retort collective. For those readers who are interested in theorizing capitalism--or just want to understand the crazy world we live in--I highly recommend the work of Bichler and Nitzan as food for thought.