Tag Archives: hierarchy

Fix, ‘An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution’

December 9, 2019

ABSTRACT This paper explores how the evolution of human sociality can help us understand how we distribute resources. Using ideas from sociobiology, I argue that resource distribution is marked by a tension between two levels of natural selection. At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous. But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous. … Read More

Fix, ‘Personal Income and Hierarchical Power’

December 9, 2019

ABSTRACT This article examines the relation between personal income and hierarchical power. In the context of a firm hierarchy, I define hierarchical power as the number of subordinates under an individual’s control. Using the available case-study evidence, I find that relative income within firms scales strongly with hierarchical power. I also find that hierarchical power … Read More

The Allure of Marxism … And Why It’s a Mistake

November 26, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Karl Marx is probably the most important social scientist in history. But while his influence is beyond compare, Marx’s legacy is, in many ways, disastrous. Few thinkers have inspired so many people to commit crimes against humanity. Think of Stalinist gulags. Think of the Ukrainian famine of … Read More

As it Dies, We Talk About the ‘Free Market’ More

November 18, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market, I argued that economic development involves killing the free market. What was the evidence? As energy use increases, so does the relative number of managers. This growth of managers, I argued, indicates that economic development … Read More

The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market

October 29, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Do you believe in free markets? Do you think that unfettered competition is the best way to organize society? If so, this post is intended to shake your faith. No, I’m not going to argue that free markets are bad. Instead, I’m going to show you some … Read More

Fix, ‘Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality’

April 25, 2019

ABSTRACT Where should we look to understand the origin of inequality? I propose an unusual window of evidence — modern societies. I hypothesize that evidence for the origin of inequality is encoded in the institutional structure of industrial societies. To test this idea, I use a model to project modern trends into the past. This … Read More

No. 2017/02: Bichler & Nitzan, ‘Growing through Sabotage’

July 14, 2017

According to the theory of capital as power, capitalism, like any other mode of power, is born through sabotage and lives in chains – and yet everywhere we look we see it grow and expand. What explains this apparent puzzle of ‘growth in the midst of sabotage’? The answer, we argue, begins with the very … Read More

Fix, ‘Energy and Institution Size’

February 10, 2017

ABSTRACT Why do institutions grow? Despite nearly a century of scientific effort, there remains little consensus on this topic. This paper offers a new approach that focuses on energy consumption. A systematic relation exists between institution size and energy consumption per capita: as energy consumption increases, institutions become larger. I hypothesize that this relation results … Read More