Thursday, December 15, 2011

David Harvey on the end of capitalism

   David Harvey is at present a professor of Geography and Anthropology at CUNY (City University of New York). However he has taught at a number of universities including Johns Hopkins and also in the U.K. his original home.
   Although first and foremost a geographer Harvey is very much influenced by Marx. He has given a course on the reading of Marx's Capital for 40 years! There is a series of over a dozen videos of those lectures here.  Amazing that something such as these is available for free on the Internet.
   Harvey has written many books including ""Ä Brief History of Neoliberalism " (2005) This book traces the history of neoliberalism since the nineteen seventies. An even more recent book "The Enigma of Capital'" (1910) shows how capitalism has expanded globally and dominates the world. In that book he also explains how the system has generated the present global crisis.
  The appended video "The End of Capitalism" presents some of these arguments. Harvey argues that it is finance capital that is now in control. This has resulted in a huge expansion of the gap between the rich and the poor and in effect the dispossession of the working class of all that they gained in earlier periods of capitalist development.
  In the developed countries finance capital insists on austerity programs, ripping away at the social safety net, reducing pensions, welfare benefits, etc.etc. But there is a contradiction in these policies since by reducing demand they result in no or slow growth that makes the situation worse. 
  However in countries such as China  their capitalist economy (or as the Chinese without any sense of the humor involved call socialism with Chinese characteristics) is rapidly expanding as  are those of other developing capitalist countries such as Brazil and India. As Harvey puts it capitalist development at present has parts of the world with developing economies in high growth mode but developed countries are now growing slowly or in recession.
   Harvey does not see either mode of capitalism as sustainable over the longer run. Capitalism by its very nature needs to grow to thrive as a system. But there are limits to growth as environmentalists point out. Although Harvey does not give any detailed formula for a vastly different economy he does talk about the economy being run by associated producers but not as wage laborers who create surplus value for capitalists. 
  The lecture is about an hour long. Harvey is relatively easy to follow as a lecturer. He does not talk down to his audience. He tries to be clear and never attempts to show off as do others in the Marxist tradition such as Slavoj Zizek who seems constantly excited and loves rhetorical flourishes. There is about a half hour question and answer period after the lecture.

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