Title

Bringing the Economy Back In: Hannah Arendt, Karl Marx, and the Politics of Capitalism

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

4-2016

Abstract

This article engages with the question of how to construct modern economic relations as an object of political theorizing by placing Hannah Arendt's and Karl Marx's writings in critical conversation. I contend that the political aspect of capitalism comes into sharpest relief less in relations of economic exploitation than in moments of expropriation that produce and reproduce the conditions of capitalist accumulation. To develop a theoretical handle on expropriation and thereby on the politics of capitalism, I syncretically draw on Marxian and Arendtian concepts by first examining expropriation through the Marxian analytic of "primitive accumulation of capital" and second delineating the political agency behind primitive accumulation through the Arendtian notion of "power." I substantiate these connections around colonial histories of primitive accumulation wherein expropriation emerges as a terrain of political contestation. From this perspective I conclude that such putatively "economic" questions as dispossession, exploitation, and accumulation appear as irreducibly political questions.

Discipline

Political Economy | Political Science

Research Areas

Political Science

Publication

Journal of Politics

Volume

78

Issue

2

First Page

411

Last Page

426

ISSN

0022-3816

Identifier

10.1086/684596

Publisher

University of Chicago Press: No Paid Open Access / Wiley: No OnlineOpen

Additional URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/684596

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