Over the past century, Israel has been transformed from an agricultural country, to a welfare-warfare state, to a globally integrated “market economy” characterised by great income disparities. What lies behind this transformation? Why the shift in emphasis from “war profits” to “peace dividends” – and back to conflict? How did egalitarianism give rise to inequality? Who are the big winners here, and how have they shaped their world?
In their major work The Global Political Economy of Israel (Pluto Press, 2002) Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler argue that in order to understand capitalist development we need to break the artificial separation between “economics” and “politics”, and think of accumulation itself as “capitalisation of power”. Applying this concept to Israel, and drawing on seemingly unrelated phenomena, the authors reveal the big picture in which diverse complex processes – such as global accumulation cycles, regional conflicts and energy crises, ruling class formation and dominant ideology, militarism and dependency, inflation and recession, the politics of high-technology and the transnationalisation of ownership – are all woven into a single story. The result is a fascinating account of one of the worlds most volatile regions, and a new way of understanding the global political economy.