Jonathan Nitzan

Last updated
Jonathan Nitzan
Field Political economy
School or
Institutional economics
Influences Thorstein Veblen, Karl Marx, Michał Kalecki, Cornelius Castoriadis, Lewis Mumford
Contributions Power theory of value, differential accumulation
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Jonathan Nitzan is Professor of Political Economy at York University, Toronto, Canada.



Nitzan is the co-author (with Shimshon Bichler) of Capital as Power: A Study of Order and Creorder, published 2009. Their writings focus of the nature of capital in capitalism and provide an alternative view to that of Marxian and neoclassical economics. In their theory, capital is the quantification of power. According to their power theory of value, in capitalism, power is the governing principle as rooted in the centrality of private ownership. Private ownership is wholly and only an act of institutionalized exclusion, and institutionalized exclusion is a matter of organized power. [1] [2] Central to this theory is the concept of differential accumulation where firms strive to profit more by beating the average profit level.

Nitzan and Bichler share an intellectual legacy with institutional political economists such as Thorstein Veblen. In particular, they share Veblen's explanation that business exists with the end of pecuniary (monetary) gain and not the accumulation of goods of consumption or of physical machines.

Major works

Related Research Articles

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, a price system, private property and the recognition of property rights, voluntary exchange and wage labor. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in capital and financial markets whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.

In economics, a free market is a system in which the prices for goods and services are self-regulated by the open market and by consumers. In a free market, the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government or other authority, and from all forms of economic privilege, monopolies and artificial scarcities. Proponents of the concept of free market contrast it with a regulated market in which a government intervenes in supply and demand through various methods such as tariffs used to restrict trade and to protect the local economy. In an idealized free-market economy, prices for goods and services are set freely by the forces of supply and demand and are allowed to reach their point of equilibrium without intervention by government policy.

The labor theory of value (LTV) is a theory of value that argues that the economic value of a good or service is determined by the total amount of "socially necessary labor" required to produce it.

Anti-capitalism Political ideology and movement opposed to capitalism

Anti-capitalism is a political ideology and movement encompassing a variety of attitudes and ideas that oppose capitalism. In this sense, anti-capitalists are those who wish to replace capitalism with another type of economic system, usually some form of socialism.

A market economy is an economic system in which the decisions regarding investment, production and distribution are guided by the price signals created by the forces of supply and demand. The major characteristic of a market economy is the existence of factor markets that play a dominant role in the allocation of capital and the factors of production.

Thorstein Veblen American academic

Thorstein Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, who during his lifetime emerged as a well-known critic of capitalism.

In economics, capital consists of human-created assets that can enhance one's power to perform economically useful work. For example, a stone arrowhead is capital for a hunter-gatherer who can use it as a hunting instrument; similarly, roads are capital for inhabitants of a city. Capital is distinct from land and other non-renewable resources in that it can be increased by human labor, and does not include certain durable goods like homes and personal automobiles that are not used in the production of saleable goods and services. Adam Smith defined capital as "that part of man's stock which he expects to afford him revenue". In economic models, capital is an input in the production function.

Institutional economics focuses on understanding the role of the evolutionary process and the role of institutions in shaping economic behavior. Its original focus lay in Thorstein Veblen's instinct-oriented dichotomy between technology on the one side and the "ceremonial" sphere of society on the other. Its name and core elements trace back to a 1919 American Economic Review article by Walton H. Hamilton. Institutional economics emphasizes a broader study of institutions and views markets as a result of the complex interaction of these various institutions. The earlier tradition continues today as a leading heterodox approach to economics.

A theory of value is any economic theory that attempts to explain the exchange value or price of goods and services. Key questions in economic theory include why goods and services are priced as they are, how the value of goods and services comes about, and—for normative value theories—how to calculate the correct price of goods and services.

Fictitious capital Marxist Doctrine

Fictitious capital is a concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. It is introduced in chapter 25 of the third volume of Capital. Fictitious capital contrasts with what Marx calls "real capital", which is capital actually invested in physical means of production and workers, and "money capital", which is actual funds being held. The market value of fictitious capital assets varies according to the expected return or yield of those assets in the future, which Marx felt was only indirectly related to the growth of real production. Effectively, fictitious capital represents "accumulated claims, legal titles, to future production" and more specifically claims to the income generated by that production.

The misery index is an economic indicator, created by economist Arthur Okun. The index helps determine how the average citizen is doing economically and it is calculated by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate. It is assumed that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation create economic and social costs for a country.

Criticism of Marxism

Criticism of Marxism has come from various political ideologies and academic disciplines. This includes general criticism about a lack of internal consistency, criticism related to historical materialism, that it is a type of historical determinism, the necessity of suppression of individual rights, issues with the implementation of communism and economic issues such as the distortion or absence of price signals and reduced incentives. In addition, empirical and epistemological problems are frequently identified.

Shimshon Bichler is an educator who teaches political economy at colleges and universities in Israel. Along with Jonathan Nitzan, Bichler has created an engaging power theory of capitalism and theory of differential accumulation in their analysis of the political economy of wars, Israel, and globalization.

Differential accumulation is an approach for analysing capitalist development and crisis, tying together mergers and acquisitions, stagflation and globalization as integral facets of accumulation. The concept has been developed by Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler.

Criticisms of the labor theory of value affect the historical concept of labor theory of value (LTV) which spans classical economics, liberal economics, Marxian economics, neo-Marxian economics, and anarchist economics. As an economic theory of value, LTV is central to Marxist social-political-economic theory and later gave birth to the concepts of labour exploitation and surplus value. LTV criticisms therefore often appear in the context of economic criticism, not only for the microeconomic theory of Marx but also for Marxism, according to which the working class is exploited under capitalism.

Production for use is a phrase referring to the principle of economic organization and production taken as a defining criterion for a socialist economy. It is held in contrast to production for profit. This criterion is used to distinguish socialism from capitalism, and was one of the fundamental defining characteristics of socialism initially shared by Marxian socialists, evolutionary socialists, social anarchists and Christian socialists.

Throughout modern history, a variety of perspectives on capitalism have evolved based on different schools of thought.


Neo-Marxism is a Marxist school of thought encompassing 20th-century approaches that amend or extend Marxism and Marxist theory, typically by incorporating elements from other intellectual traditions such as critical theory, psychoanalysis, or existentialism.

Social ownership is a form of common ownership for the means of production in socialist economic systems. These systems may encompass state ownership, employee ownership, cooperative ownership, and citizen ownership of equity. Historically, social ownership implied that capital and factor markets would cease to exist under the assumption that market exchanges within the production process would be made redundant if capital goods were owned by a single entity or network of entities representing society, but the articulation of models of market socialism where factor markets are utilized for allocating capital goods between socially owned enterprises broadened the definition to include autonomous entities within a market economy. Social ownership of the means of production is the common defining characteristic of all the various forms of socialism.

Marxian economics

Marxian economics, or the Marxian school of economics, is a heterodox school of political economic thought. Its foundations can be traced back to the critique of classical political economy in the research by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxian economics comprises several different theories and includes multiple schools of thought, which are sometimes opposed to each other, and in many cases Marxian analysis is used to complement or supplement other economic approaches. Because one does not necessarily have to be politically Marxist to be economically Marxian, the two adjectives coexist in usage rather than being synonymous. They share a semantic field while also allowing connotative and denotative differences.


  1. Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, Capital as Power: A Study of Order and Creorder, Routledge, 2009, p. 228.
  2. "Capitalism as a Mode of Power interviewed by Piotr Dutkiewicz" . Retrieved 1 February 2014.