August 5, 2011
Chapter 5 of David Harvey's The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism is now online. It is entitled the Enigma of Capital and it highlights the contradictory processes of capitalism.
Harvey says that the saga and history of capitalism is full of paradoxes, even as most forms of social theory –economic theory in particular – abstract entirely from consideration of them. He adds:
On the negative side we have not only the periodic and often localised economic crises that have punctuated capitalism’s evolution, including inter-capitalist and inter- imperialist world wars, problems of environmental degradation, loss of biodiverse habitats, spiralling poverty among burgeoning populations, neocolonialism, serious crises in public health, alienations and social exclusions galore and the anxieties of insecurity, violence and unfulfilled desires.
On the positive side:
some of us live in a world where standards of material living and well-being have never been higher, where travel and communications have been revolutionised and physical (though not social) spatial barriers to human interactions have been much reduced, where medical and biomedical understandings offer for many a longer life, where huge, sprawling and in many respects spectacular cities have been built, where knowledge proliferates, hope springs eternal and everything seems possible (from self-cloning to space travel).
That this is the contradictory world in which we live, and that it continues to evolve at a rapid pace in unpredictable and seemingly uncontrollable ways, is undeniable.