Historicizing capital as power: energy, capitalization and globalized social reproduction



Publication Details

DiMuzio, T. (2014). Historicizing capital as power: energy, capitalization and globalized social reproduction. In T. DiMuzio (Eds.), The Capitalist Mode of Power: Critical Engagements with the Power Theory of Value (pp. 19-35). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


Building on their previous research, Nitzan and Bichler's Capital as Power (2009) offers a more fully developed theoretical account of their innovative approach to the study of capital as power. In their work, the authors provide a limited, albeit suggestive, historical sketch of the transition to capitalism as a mode of power (see glossary). Despite this sketch, Capital as Power largely remains a work of novel theory and therefore a way in which to conceptualize 'really existing capitalism' anew in the present. Insofar as this is the case, the text leaves considerable room for further historical investigation and development. My contribution in this chapter seeks to build on Nitzan and Bichler's historical sketch by considering the close interconnections between energy, capitalization (see glossary) and what I call globalized social reproduction. I use the term 'globalized social reproduction' as a heuristic to imagine the ways in which the production, consumption and reproduction of our lives and livelihoods have become ever more internationalized and interconnected so that few people in this world can reproduce their lives and lifestyles without depending on global markets and the labour power of strangers. The main argument of the chapter is that the universalization of the capitalist mode of power and patterns of energyintensive globalized social reproduction cannot be separated from the discovery and use of abundant, affordable and accessible fossil fuels. Put differently, capital as a mode of power and its attendant forms of globalized social reproduction should be understood within a broader historical context that takes the role of energy sources, supply and use as fundamental to the constitution and reconstitution of the global political economy.

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