Friday, January 27, 2012

David Harvey and the Crisis of Capitalism

I have long been a fan of Professor David Harvey.  Professor Harvey's The Engima of Capital (Oxford Press, 2010) and Chris Harman's Zombie Capitalism (Haymarket Books, 2010) are two of the most essential books on the tendency for crisis in capitalism.  They are both incredibly timely and engaging.

Professor Harvey has also made a series of lectures on Marx's Capital available online.  His series of lectures on the first volume of Capital was not just fascinating but also managed to explain difficult material in an easy to understand fashion.  He has started a series on the second volume of Capital and after watching the first installment it looks to be as essential as his first series.

The second volume of Capital is, as Professor Harvey admits, not as accessible as the first volume.  It has some fascinating ideas but it is not nearly as lyrical or as engaging as the first volume.  I'm very excited to reread Capital volume two as I watch Professor Harvey's lectures.

His lectures can be found at his website.  I highly recommend taking a look!  He has a lot of great material there even if you are not able to spend 20+ hours watching him discuss Das Capital.

Here's a great video by the fine people at RSA Animate that gives you an idea of what Professor Harvey is about:

This is a really fantastic video that serves as a great introduction to not just David Harvey but Marxist analysis as well.

One of the things that most annoys me amongst well meaning liberal types (a critique of squishy liberals would make for a good post sometime in the future) is that their is a tendency to blame the most recent catastrophe on bad apples that manipulated the system.  Their response is that we need more regulations to stop the criminal activity that was at the core of this most recent crisis.

To many liberals there is no problem with capitalism or finance.  At best they take up the mantle of Keynes and at worse they buy into the Ron Paul / Hayek / Cato prattle about self regulating markets.  It's a real shame that this crisis has cost so much pain and suffering and has guaranteed another crisis to come in the future.  Instead of looking at the economic, environmental, and human rights devastation capitalism has brought people instead buy into platitudes that everything is going great if we can stop excessive speculation and market manipulation.

All the same, I'd rather hear those platitudes about regulation than to hear another lecture by some libertarian goof.  For some of that you can watch the criticism video someone posted of Professor Harvey's video above.  It's ridiculous and mostly just repeats "Marxian" over and over again while asserting that Marxist analysis has been debunked while never actually explaining the hows and whys this analysis is flawed.  At least he manages to cram all the stupidity of Hayek or Rand into a 13 minute video instead of spending hundreds of pages to write about it.

One of these days I'll have to do reviews of Hayek and Rand.  They're spectacularly stupid and I think I could have some fun with them.  I'm just not sure if I want to reread that idiocy.

For Monday I will likely do quick writeups of a few things.  This weekend is excellent as it is just not the Royal Rumble but Tim and Eric's Billion $ Movie is out.  Between those and The Grey and I this will turn out to be a great weekend.

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