The Political Economy of Destructive Power

The Political Economy of Destructive Power

New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series

Mehrdad Vahabi

Economic science has extensively studied the creative power of individuals and social groups, but it has largely ignored the destructive power of economic agents. This highly original book redresses the balance and, for the first time, looks at how much an agent can destroy. Destructive power is conceptualised in a unique way, covering all types of deliberate (violent and non-violent) social conflict behaviour. The theoretical arguments in the book are skilfully linked to burning political issues of our time such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Second Gulf War.

Chapter 1: Three Types of Power

Mehrdad Vahabi

Subjects: economics and finance, evolutionary economics, institutional economics, politics and public policy, terrorism and security

Extract

The ordinary healthy high-schooled graduate, of slightly below average intelligence, has to work fairly hard to produce more than 3000 $ or 4000 $ of value per year; but he could destroy a hundred times that much if he set his mind to it according to the writer’s hasty calculations. Given an institutional arrangement in which he could generously abstain from destruction in return for a mere fraction of the value that he might have destroyed, the boy clearly has a calling as an extortionist rather than as a mechanic or clerk. (Schelling 1963, p. 141) INTRODUCTION There is an important economic fact that tends to be ignored in the conventional economics of production and exchange, namely, the enormous potential for destruction that is available in the face of extortionate threats. Schelling’s example alludes to this great potential. Economic science has extensively studied the creative power of individuals or social groups, but it has largely ignored the destructive power of economic agents. Borrowing Schelling’s example, the creative power of an ordinary healthy high-school graduate does not amount to more than $4000. This creative or economic power measures his capacity to produce or to exchange. However, as an extortionist, he can destroy a hundred times more. The extortionate threat can be used by a criminal, a brigand or a revolutionary. Whatever the extortionist’s personality, he uses a destructive power, namely, the power to destroy use values or exchange values. If our highschool graduate is unemployed, then his creative value or the value of...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information