Animated David Harvey Lecture

Just spotted this animated version of a recent David Harvey lecture up on his website. Really nice way of visually representing the lecture. Besides looking nice Harvey is dealing with an important topic, namely an analysis of (false) readings of  the crisis and his argument for its underlying structural reasons. After dismissing species, cultural, institutional and the state of current neo-liberal theory as valid reasons he puts forward his own argument about its basis within the structural processes of capital. I’ve been a fan of Harvey for a while now and in my opinion his analysis of the geographical nature of capital is vital in understanding what is happening today. One strength of this lecture is his shying away from discussing solutions. This is helpful given his tendency to hark back towards some form of enlightened social contract between labour and capital as a solution to the present. (see his “A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism”)

The crisis reveals its true face, we are drowning in excess capital, in our own alienated labour.

Harvey see’s the crisis as an internal one related to the very dynamic of capital itself. The search for constant compound growth (I.E. growth on previous growth) results in various methods for ensuring this. Since the seventies there has been a systemic attack on labours claims to a portion of social wealth (particularly in the global North which has previously seen a higher portion of the proceeds of production ensured via trade unions),  this has consequently led to the rise of indebtedness for which we are paying the price now. As wages are squeezed yet value creation has continued to rise a crisis of underconsumption has been avoided via a debt financed consumer economy, with this looking increasingly toxic now the crisis has been shifted towards a sovereign debt crisis as states around the world tighten their belts at out expense. As Harvey, quoting Engels, is correct to say Capital cannot solve its internal contradictions, merely temporarily “fix” or alleviate it spatially and/or temporally (an argument he developed in the 1980’s). As more capital sloshes around our financial networks, is temporally displaced via urban development projects or spatiall reorganised via the huge amounts of capital flowing into developing states such as China the greater will be the pressure to find profitable ways for this capital to be reinvested. Paraodoxically the more wealth human society posseses the greater the need to eke out even more social wealth, when this hits barriers (be they environmental or social) the disciplining of human populations is often deemed necessary. Ours is a crisis not of poverty but of abundance, the first step to relieving it is in recognising this.


Posted on June 30, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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