The Political Economy of Destructive Power
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The Political Economy of Destructive Power

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.
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Chapter 2: The Meaning of Destructive Power

Mehrdad Vahabi


INTRODUCTION In the preceding chapter, we discussed the economic, political and moral dimensions of destructive power. Despite the moral dimension of destructive power, in our analysis, the distinction between destruction and creation is not grounded on a moral theory. In Robert Nozick’s theory of value (Nozick 1981, chs 4, 5, 6), ‘value and disvalue’ are distinguished on the basis of a moral theory of choice. In this chapter, I discuss why contrary to a moralistic conception of value, we adopt an instrumental meaning of value. It does not mean that I exclude the ethical or moral theory in defining the boundaries of instrumental value, it only connotes that I do not distinguish creation and destruction, as well as creative and destructive powers on an ethical basis. Whatever our moral principles may be, it is undeniable that destruction is a fact of everyday life. It is also a necessary moment of every natural process. The mental or bodily death of human beings due to ageing and diseases are forms of natural destruction. Natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods cause great destruction. In this sense, nature possesses a great destructive power. But this type of destruction should be distinguished from other types that are the outcome of conscious, deliberate decisions of human beings. For example, suicide or other forms of self-destructive activities such as drug use, alcoholism and excessive sunbathing result from particular pathological behaviours. Killing other people for various reasons, and destroying nature for particular interests, are other examples...

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