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Capitalizing Power: The Qualities and Quantities of Accumulation
A Conference of the Forum on Capital as Power
September 28-30, 2012, York University, Toronto
Call for Papers
Abstract Submission Deadline: June 30, 2012

Full text:


With the global crisis lingering, many now wonder how capital has become so powerful, and what should be done about it. Although we are eager to provide answers, the problem starts with the question itself: what exactly do we mean by ‘capital’, and what does it mean to say that capital is ‘powerful’? The difficulty lies in the fractured nature of modern social science – both its conventional division into numerous disciplines, including economics, politics, sociology, international relations, and culture, and the habitual bifurcation of the economy itself into real and nominal spheres. These fractures create conceptual rifts: they place most aspects of power outside the economic process, and they portray capitalization as a fictitious mirror of an economic reality located in production.

The theory of Capital as Power removes these fissures by abolishing the disciplinary divisions between economics, politics, and other disciplines, as well as the economic bifurcation of the real and nominal. In doing so, the theory puts power at the centre of analysis and examines finance as the main algorithm of capitalist power.  The goal is to decipher the conversion of qualities to quantities: to theorize and research how the qualities of power – the multifaceted interactions of command and obedience, force and submission, violence and resistance – are universalized and discounted to the quantities of capitalization. 

We are calling for theoretical, empirical, and historical papers to engage critically with questions such as the following. How does power bear on accumulation, and how does it get capitalized? How has capitalization evolved and mutated? What are the qualitative forms of power in capitalism, and how do they compare to those that characterized earlier modes of power? What are the historical roots of capital as power? Do these roots alter the way we understand the origins of capitalism? How does capitalism convert qualities into quantities? What are the limits of capitalized power? How is capitalized power resisted and opposed? Can it be reformed or overthrown? Can these questions be addressed by mainstream and heterodox theories of capitalism – and if so, how do their answers differ from those offered by the theory of capital as power?

We are also interested in concrete areas of inquiry related to these broader questions. Suggested topics include:

* Capitalist power and labour – from proletarianization and wages to productivity and organization;
* International and regional relations and the capitalization of power;
* Capitalist and democratic accounting, including the history of discounting and its possible alternatives;
* Power and price formation – from local to global markets;
* The state as a locus of capitalization – from taxes and the law to ideology and violence;
* The role of capitalist power in contemporary crises;
* Capitalized power and nature – from genetic engineering, to energy, to the biosphere;
* Comparative modes of power: ancient and feudal, communist and fascist, capitalist and beyond;
* Capital as Power versus ‘primitive accumulation’ – dispossession, co-option and genocide;
* The power dimensions of ‘immaterial’ capitalism – from leisure and fear to knowledge and ideology;
* The psychology of capitalist power;
* Alternative visions for a de-capitalized society.

The conference will comprise two parts: public presentations open to all (day one), followed by a closed workshop for the conference participants (days two and three). The workshop will consist of longer presentations, allowing more time for debate, discussion and contemplation. Participants should be prepared to present in either part, depending on the allocation made by the organizers. Please email abstracts of 250 words to: The deadline for abstract submissions is June 30, 2012.


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Jonathan Nitzan

Political Science | Social and Political Thought, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario, M3J-1P3, Canada

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Antagonistics: Capitalism and Power in an Age of War



Published June 2009





“Hegel wrote that the moment of triumph of a social movement is simultaneously the moment of its disintegration … Gopal Balakrishnan shows how this holds for the worldwide triumph of liberal democracy in the 1990s … Antagonistics is a book for all those who want to orient themselves in the chaos of our historical moment …” – Slavoj Zizek


“This collection is an intellectual feast and a dazzling commentary on political thinking, contemporary and classical.  Here an intelligence honed on Schmitt and Machiavelli reviews a range of theoretical texts with courteous sarcasm and radical interrogation; the results are witty, devastating and full of suggestive speculation …” – Fredric Jameson


“This collection of essays by New Left Review’s Balakrishnan expounds his prescient view that the debt-driven expansion that fuelled US hegemony was unsustainable.” – New Statesman,


To see some of Gopal’s pieces as they originally appeared in New Left Review see below:

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ANTAGONISTICS addresses central political and theoretical questions: how should we conceive the relationship between neo-imperial warfare and neoliberalism, American hegemony and capitalist globalization? Reflections on the major issues of the new international order are set within a larger framework, tracing the intertwined evolution of the modern state system and the capitalist mode of production, from the Treaty of Westphalia to the Occupation of Iraq. Balakrishnan interrogates three key political perspectives—Tocqueville’s liberalism, Althusser’s Marxism and Schimtt on the radical right – for their insights into state power and civil society, democracy, and class. Antagonistics combines intellectual history, political philosophy, and historical sociology to produce a highly distinctive portrait of an age of capital and war.


GOPAL BALAKRISHNAN is the author of The Enemy: An Intellectual Portrait of Carl Schmitt, and editor of Debating Empire and (with Benedict Anderson) Mapping the Nation. He is a member of the New Left Review editorial board and a professor in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California , Santa Cruz .

ISBN 978-1-84467-269-1/ £14.99/$26.95/ Paperback / 304 pages

ISBN 978-1-84467-268-4/£60/$110 / Hardback / 304 pages

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