The End of Capitalism

David Harvey (2016)

In The End of Capitalism, geography and anthropology professor Anthropology David Harvey makes the case that economic crises and inequality are part and parcel of capitalism and can only be ended by dismantling the capitalist economic system.

He begins by examining the cumulative “perception control” by the corporate media that has made it virtually impossible (except perhaps in Iceland) to look at any alternative economic systems despite the deplorable performance of capitalism since the 2007 global economic crash.

Quoting from Volume 2 of Marx’s Capital, he goes to demonstrate that growth and debt are structural components of capitalism – how the amount of debt created always equals the amount of capital growth created. In fact, repaying all government debt (as many conservatives advocate) would end capitalism faster than a workers revolution.

He also quotes Reagan advisor David Stockman and former vice president Dick Cheney to demonstrate how the Reagan and both Bush administrations deliberately ramped up the deficit (on unfunded wars) as a strategy to force future administrations to cut social spending.

For me, the most interesting part of his talk is his discussion of the Chinese economy, specifically how their willingness to employ Keynesian tactics (of government deliberately spending money into the economy) to generate 10% economic growth and save the global economy from total collapse.

In elucidating a viable alternative to capitalism, Harvey quotes from volume 3 of Capital, where Marx defines capitalism as a “class relation between owner and worker such that the owner extracts surplus value (profit) from the worker’s labor.” Thus in his (and Marx’s) view, the only viable alternative is a system of worker self-management of our own productive process (ie worker cooperatives). He believes such a system would coordinate production via a Just in Time networking strategy similar to those used by Wall Street corporations.

The video has an extremely long introduction and Harvey starts speaking at 8.00.

 

Comments
  1. auntyuta says:

    “. . . the amount of debt created always equals the amount of capital growth created,”

    In my opinion a very interesting statement!

    • And absolutely accurate, Aunty. Harvey demonstrates it in the lecture – a capitalist owns the means of production but without borrowing a capitalist has no money to pay workers. He uses the revenue from selling the product to repay the debt.

  2. thepensives says:

    Does he address the (rather underwhelming) performance history’s socialist regimes? In my opinion, any and every system can have a fantastic case made against it and some can have a good case made for it. Until every single person picks one metric to evaluate government performance (which will never happen), people on both sides of the argument will never be having the same conversation.

  3. Yes he does. He says centralized ownership doesn’t work – that’s why he favors workers co-ops. Thanks for your comment.

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