“political economy” refers to exercising power over people (politics) by controlling the means of their sustenance.
The first step is the privatization of property — i.e. allocating all land resources to the exclusive use of a small percentage of the population, thereby restricting everyone else from mother nature’s cupboard. (Private property rights don’t necessarily work this way. The “owners” of natural resources could be tasked with sharing whatever they don’t need for themselves).
The second step is to require the payment of money (in whatever form it currently appears) to acquire the food, water and shelter humans need to survive.
The third step is to decide that the access to money is dependent on labor — i.e. first humans work, then they eat. Thus is sustenance tied to subservience and the population effectively controlled.
The short form for this recipe is “No free lunch.”
A more sophisticated version of this system is to set up a target population whose example of near or actual starvation (or obesity-causing malnutrition) serves to alert the rest to what’s in store, if they don’t behave — i.e. labor in the vineyard, as ordered.
Again, this system is not necessarily so. It comes into existence when some humans determine that what satisfies them is the domination of their own kind to their detriment. It’s probable that such people, lacking in any practical skills themselves, find it necessary to extract their sustenance, like so many predators, from others because they have nothing anyone wants to offer in exchange.
Predator’s pelts are often beautiful. But they’re only valuable when the predator is dead.