From provocation to interrogation: the global political economy of the 1%, exploitation and the unfashionable problematic of 'captial' in IPE
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The contributions in this volume have all engaged in one way or another with the new framework of capital as power introduced to political economy by Nitzan and_ Bichler. We anticipate that they are only the opening salvo as capital and capitalism come under greater scrutiny and political economists continue to grapple with the implications of a novel theory and what it has to offer their field of uinquiry. In this chapter, I want to explore some future avenues for research by focusing on at least three series of interrogations raised by the capital as power framework. These interrogations are certainly not the only way of proceeding but I think they point to major ways in which the theory can continue to be engaged by scholars interested in discovering and transforming the world anew. First, could the capital as power framework contribute to a political economy of the 1%? Second, since accumulation is not a narrow offshoot of production but a broader social process constituted and reconstituted by shifting relations of differential force, how might we conceive of exploitation and a practical or philosophical justification for resistance to what Nitzan and Bichler see as a new mode of power (see glossary)? Third, whilst the concept of 'capital' was at least problematized by the field of Economics, so far International Political Economy (IPE) has largely taken the concept as self-evident. In fact, in many ways it could be said that capital' gets smuggled into IPE from neoclassical economics and Marxian political economy without serious reflection. But can IPE offer convincing studies of 'capitalism' and its surrounding institutions without the vital concept of 'capital'? Below I take up these lines of inquiry in sequential order, make points of contact with the chapters in this volume where appropriate, but try to avoid definitive statements or conclusions that could close off debate unnecessarily. I make no general argument in this chapter, but I do introduce particular arguments in each section. These are my own views after some considerable reflection and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of my colleagues in this volume or Nitzan and Bichler.