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 5: Sources of Destructive Power

Mehrdad Vahabi

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

Extract

INTRODUCTION One cannot systematically study the sources of destructive power without having inquired into its nature and value. In analysing exchange value, economists rightly began with the question of value and its nature. They subsequently studied the sources of value and identified the channels through which the productivity of factors of production could be augmented. However, economists did not follow the same method to understand the sources of destructive power in its two different functions. They are usually inspired by Weber’s (1921) work on three sources of legitimacy and contend that: ‘These three sources (of power) are personality, property (which of course, includes disposable income), and organisation’ (Galbraith 1983, p. 6). But why are these factors particularly considered to be sources of power? To answer these questions, one must study the nature of power, its different functions and values. Different sources of destructive power can be classified according to different functions of destructive power. Destructive power as a means, or destructive power in its appropriative function, can be called ‘naked power’ (Russell 1938, p. 27), since it relies principally on the use of destructive technology. Destructive power as an end in itself, or destructive power in its ruleproducing function, can be regarded as ‘traditional or revolutionary power’, since it is a legitimate power that derives its legitimacy from either traditional established rules (imitation) or revolution (innovation).129 Economic determinism claims that means of production (creative power) is the ultimate source of destructive power. This thesis is arguable, and it will...

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