Wednesday, September 27, 2006


“It’s the economy stupid”

In 1969 shortly after David Harvey left the UK to take up a position at John Hopkins University he was witness to a period of turmoil in the United States that included the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination and the Baltimore uprisings. In interviews he has spoken of his shock at the conditions he encountered at the time and how they were partly responsible for transforming him into the scholarly radical he is considered today. “I was really, really shocked that in the wealthiest country in the world, people live in chronic impoverishment. I was really upset. So I started to participate much more in the political activism around that.”

He has also spoken on Frederick Engels work concerned with the condition of the working class in England in 1844 and made the point that he found this most helpful in trying to understand the housing questions and ghetto formation he found in late 1960s and early 1970s America. From here he began looking for the economic causality behind the crises of poverty and racism he saw in Baltimore and facing other US cities in order to argue that a market-exchange economy could never provide ‘social justice’

In ‘A Brief History of Neoliberalism’ Harvey brings this approach back engaging class as a mainstream methodological tool in the critique of global capital. The neoliberal project thus becomes an enterprise in wealth redistribution on a global scale driven by class power. Harvey’s book is quite brilliant. It is a challenge to the dominant economic model of our time...

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