[Marxism] Mapping a New Economy - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Mon May 12 06:51:33 MDT 2014
By Scott Carlson
David Harvey would implore you to imagine life without capitalism—that
is, if you can. Chances are, even if you’re puzzled by the manipulation
of phantom money on Wall Street, troubled by society’s growing
inequality, or disgusted with the platinum parachutes of corporate
executives, you probably still conceive the world in terms of profits,
private property, and free markets, the invisible hand always on the tiller.
To Harvey, a professor of anthropology and geography at the Graduate
Center of the City University of New York, that world is coming to an
end. In Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism (Oxford
University Press), Harvey examines what he sees as the untenable
elements of capital, and he analyzes how they can produce an unequal,
destructive, crisis-prone system. The book represents a distillation of
Harvey’s 40-year study of Karl Marx, and in its own way a bid to change
the conversation about what’s not working and what’s possible—especially
when many have consigned Marx to history’s dustbin.
"I was tired of hearing Marx quoted in ways that struck me as completely
wrong," Harvey says in his office at CUNY, around the corner from the
Empire State Building. "Who I am writing for is, in a sense, anybody who
says, Who is this guy Marx? I wanted to make it simple enough so that
people could get into it, without being simplistic."
The new book follows a career of scholarship that has not only helped
define the study of geography but ranged across other disciplines as
well. J. Richard Peet, a professor of geography at Clark University,
says Harvey played a central role in enlivening a "decrepit" discipline
in the 1960s and 70s, and helped establish geography as one of the most
left-leaning fields in academe. His Explanation in Geography (St.
Martin’s Press, 1969) was the "main positivist textbook" of the field,
Peet says. He followed with The Limits to Capital (University of Chicago
Press, 1982), an analysis that has been widely translated and reprinted,
and The Condition of Postmodernity (Blackwell, 1989), a
multidisciplinary examination of contemporary sensibilities and
practices that propelled him to international prominence.
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