Socialist Scholars 2003

Jacob Levich jlevich at
Sun Mar 16 11:23:47 MST 2003

Agreed; Harvey was terrific -- the only one on the panel who seemed to 
grasp that the oil grab is not an end in itself, but something to be used 
as a weapon in the imperial rivalry shaping up now. Good perspective on 
current imperialist thrust --  pointed to capital's series of increasingly 
desperate maneuvers to avert crisis since '73;  argued that after collapse 
of neoliberal experiment some version of current open aggression was 
inevitable, Bush or no Bush.  He compared Clinton's view of the US in the 
world to a sultanate under the Ottoman empire, with diverse and farflung 
subjects to be relatively lightly and dynamically controlled so as to 
extract surplus in multifarious ways; Bush more like Napoleon.

Very interesting on primitive accumulation; argued that intent, and not 
simply the effect, of liberalized trade and investment was to destroy the 
assets and economic vitality of any country showing signs of growing 
productive capacity.

On oil and the US suburbs -- what Klare said reminded me of  Sweezy's 
classic 1966 essay "Cars and Cities," which turns out to be available on 
the web at

Here's a snip:

"Let us now turn to the impact of automobilization on the development of 
cities and the living patterns of their inhabitants. Decisive in this 
connection has been the obliteration of the old sharp dividing line between 
city and country. Drive from the center of an American city today in any 
direction, and you will of course eventually come to open country. But you 
will never cross a boundary clearly demarcating the one from the other. 
What you will observe instead is a gradual thinning out of the density of 
settlement. The old distinctive commuter suburb dependent on rail transport 
has been swallowed up and incorporated into an expanded urban area.17 And 
in some places, particularly in the northeast between Boston and 
Washington, expanding urban areas or metropolises have run into each 
other.18 In such cases your trip from one city center will take you through 
roughly concentric rings of decreasing density into another set of 
concentric rings of increasing density.

This obliteration of the old distinctions between city, country, and 
suburb—often called "urban sprawl"—would have been impossible but for the 
automobile which, with its complementary road and highway network, has 
introduced what may be called a generalized factor of mobility replacing 
the former limited and specific modes of mobility. The car can go in any 
direction for any distance. The horse-drawn vehicle, on the other hand, is 
necessarily short-haul, and both railroads and trolleys are track-bound and 
therefore restricted to certain prescribed routes. These specific modes of 
mobility impose a definite shape on both economy and society, much as a 
skeleton may be said to impose a shape on a living body. With the coming of 
the generalized factor of mobility, these constraints are removed and 
radically new locational patterns become possible."


At 12:50 PM 3/16/2003 -0500, you wrote:

>On Saturday afternoon Socialist Register presented a panel on--you guess 
>it--"The New Imperial Challenge."

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