Global Capitalism and Israel. (Book Reviews)

By Hanieh, Adam | Monthly Review, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Global Capitalism and Israel. (Book Reviews)


Hanieh, Adam, Monthly Review


Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, The Global Political Economy of Israel (London and Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press, 2002), 407 pages, cloth $75.00, paper $24.95.

One of the characteristics of much academic writing is an obsession with theory at the expense of empirical investigation. It is rare to find a book that combines genuinely novel theoretical exploration with rigorous empirical study, the more so in fields such as political science where abstraction seems to have become the norm. It is for this reason that The Global Political Economy of Israel is such a gripping read. A remarkable investigation into the concrete workings of the Israeli and U.S. economies that avoids the fatuous generalities of much of the globalization literature, it presents a challenging theoretical framework that not only clarifies the past but also seeks to understand the present.

Nitzan and Bichier start by challenging the traditional view of Israel as a "unique case" characterized by a strong state guided by socialist ideology. Their argument instead looks beyond the apparent form and seeks to identify the essence, using as their guiding principles the concepts of capital accumulation, ruling class formation, and Israel's place in the global political economy. In so doing, they attack key premises of neoclassical economics; assumptions such as an economy in equilibrium, full employment, and obsession with so-called neutral aggregates such as GDP and inflation rates. Instead they ask the questions: Who are the winners and losers in the economy and how is power exercised?

In contrast to the standard approaches, Nitzan and Bichler argue that the key issue underlying political economy is that of capital accumulation by groups of dominant capital. The aggregates that we are told are "bad for the economy" often obfuscate massive gains for these dominant groups, at the expense of other sections of capital and, of course, those who have nothing to offer but their labor power. This is most clearly demonstrated in the case of stagflation--a period of little or no growth combined with high rates of inflation. The accepted wisdom is that these periods, which emerged as a global phenomenon during the 1970s and early 1980s, were bad for the economy as a whole. Instead, Bichler and Nitzan demonstrate with a rigorous examination of profit rates for dominant capital that these periods were in fact extremely profitable for dominant capital.

In the United States for example, the authors examine inflation figures and profit-per-employee figures for the Fortune 500 companies relative to figures for the economy as a whole. The results are a startling confirmation of their thesis: that the movement of inflation correlates almost precisely with dominant capital doing dramatically better than average capital--i.e. winning a greater share of profits. Inflation is therefore demonstrated to be a powerful redistributional phenomenon.

Between Depth and Breadth

At this point the authors introduce a theoretical framework that sees the political economy of the twentieth century as moving between two alternating regimes of capital accumulation--depth and breadth. A breadth regime is characterized by attempts by capital to increase the size of its workforce through green-field investments or corporate amalgamation. These periods tends to be structurally dynamic and are commonly less conflictual. A depth regime, on the other hand, is marked by attempts to increase the rate of profit per-employee through either cost-cutting measures or stagflation. In the latter case, dominant groups of capital, acting in collusion, use higher prices to offset the loss in reduced volume sold. These periods of depth tend to consolidate rather than change institutions and structures, and are usually more conflictual and often violent.

There are two important points to be made in regards to this framework. Firstly, Nitzan and Bichler argue that accumulation must be seen in a relative context. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Global Capitalism and Israel. (Book Reviews)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.