got around to finishing this. These are the notes I took while listening
to the lecture for a scond time. They've been compiled up and made a
bit more logical, but there are definitely gaps in them, and they are a
bit jumpy. I tend to write in little gaps in texts, or along margins, so
there's no real order to it. I recommend listening to the lecture
first. Part Two will be my actual thoughts on what was said, which may
or may not be more interesting. Problem with the lecture is just a time
one - each speaker only had 15 minutes, and the questions were really
shit, so you didn't get enough out of them.
Part of the Ralph Milliband Public
Lecture series held at the LSE on the 18th of November
is emeritus professor of economics at LSE.
David Harvey is professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the
City University of New York. Leo Panitch is professor of
political science at York University, Ontario.
"It is not the strongest that survive,
nor the most intelligent, but the most adaptable" ~Charles Darwin.
Capitalism has been that adaptable, dynamic "species" that has survived
for three centuries in various forms. Similar to Bernstein's theories,
though he suggested capitalism simply would not collapse.
("Individual liberty, personal freedom") the most recent manifestation
of capitalism was a class project. The dismantling of the Keynesian
welfare state that had dominated the post-war world and the
consolidation of class power in the hands of the elite. Government's
mission became to create a good business climate, thus leading to
economic development, and the trickle-down effect, or a rising-tide of
wealth - as Prof. Harvey puts it - "or various other water-related
metaphors." This says it all:
By about 1982, it
had become clear that theoretical neo-liberalism did not work - as
the example of Pinochet's Chile showed most clearly, but also the
effects of the Thatcher/Reagan policies. Public/Private partnerships:
public sector takes risk, private sector takes the profits.
is a parallel that can be made between the NYC fiscal crisis (it came
close to bankruptcy in 1975) and today's crisis, except today, it is
happening on a global scale. In 1975 (I can't find any source for
this, unfortunately, I'll take his word for it.), Wall Street's
investment banks imposed rules on the administration which changed
government's mission to follow the golden rule of the neo-liberal
project - "In the event of a conflict between the well-being of
financial institutions and the well-being of a people, you choose the
former." Today... look at TARP - that rule still applies.
crisis is the culmination of the neo-liberal project. Class power is
even more consolidated - there are now four major banks with immense
power. Barack Obama's government is deeply intertwined with the banks.
The financial system is run by the dictatorship of central banks and
treasuries, staffed by ex-bankers, run undemocratically.
the next few years, neo-liberalism will go through a
crisis of legitimacy - millions will suffer while power is ever-more
The average growth rate of capitalism has been
3%p.a. This is unsustainable - alternatives? Can capitalism adapt? One
possibility: monopoly controls, militaristic society to maintain control
- not a nice future.
We must be prepared to resist this
Baron Meghnad Desai
very difficult to understand. He is also a Baron, so dirty bourgeois
tendencies are to be expected.
Marx is still relevant in that we
use him to understand capitalism. Marxism, uncertain. Marxism-Leninism
is definitely dead - it is just used to fosters delusions in the
Capitalism is cyclical, disequilibric, very flexible and
constantly renewing itself. Sometimes it over-reaches itself ->
There are also cycles of the ideology behind capitalism -
be it the social-democracy of the inter-war years or neo-liberalism.
work of completing Marx's analysis remains incomplete - understanding
Neo-liberalism is not dead, and
it was not a failure. It brought India and Chine onto the main
stage of world capitalism and allowed them to raise their level of
development. Thatcher didn't fail either.
Pain/Misery =/= failure. She restored profitability.
is a system of profitability that has not exhausted itself.
allowed massive consumption with low inflation, low prices - the boom.
Now it is going through a hangover.
The left's hangover is even
Democracy has not been suppressed - the imminent
restructuring of the financial system will include the lenders - you
don't let the debtors run the bank.
All the experiments in the
name of Marxism have been horrible, statist
No date on the revolution. It will not happen while
vast portions of the world have not had a chance at capitalism - Africa
remains relatively excluded from capitalism(except as a place to be
Global Warming will only be fought when it
becomes profitable to be carbon-efficient.
There are two tasks
for the left: -Finish Marx's work -Work out why people in the 3rd people
take up capitalism - what gives them that hope?
would expect interest in Marx to surge in times of crisis. Sales of DasKapital
rose by 25k in Germany in 2008. Obama was elected despite being dubbed a
Marxist by the right-wing. Americans see the label of "socialist" with
indifference today. When they see it as a positive...
points: The radical aspirations to social revolution and the Conceptual
tools of Marxism.
1)In the aftermath of the crisis, there has
been a lack of ambitious vision by the left - Dean Baker proposed
limiting bankers' salaries to $2 million and a Tobin Tax - perfect
example of thinking inside the box.
The Brown government
has not nationalised the banks. Massive capital input, but no voting
rights. The UKFI
manages taxpayers' investments, not the banks themselves. No control -
the interest rates were lowered, the banks didn't follow.
deposit banks should be public services, since they cannot exist
without public underwriting. It may be costly in terms of dynamism and
innovation, but against the cost and risk of instability, it may be a
price worth paying. However, would go against the interests of the
powerful classes and dispossessing them. Also -> Point 5 of the
Communist Manifesto: Centralization
of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with
state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
aspirations can't just be addressed in times of crisis. When capitalism
is thriving and prosperity is rising - to make people "see the light" is
the real challenge.
Must build democracy by forging collective
identities by finding command needs - demand for collective public
services to compensate for those that have atrophied and to meet new
2)Two possible roles of Marxist theory: -developing
theory of the socialist movement -using it to understand capitalism.
is much to improve on in Marxist thought, such as the revolutionary
nature of the bourgeoisie.
Much Marxist work focuses on crises -
not important. On the other hand, important work on the state's role in
perpetuating capitalism in the 60s was rejected. New Marxist analysis
of class, globalisation and a new non-Leninist view of imperialism is
In 1976, left-wing Labour MPs proposed nationalisation
of the banks. There's nothing new about new labour.
ambitiously. The Philosophers have observed the world. The point is
to change it.
Hill: Marx's critique of capitalism depends, does it not, on a
counter-factual theory that there is an alternative - Marxism doesn't
offer that. Marx's failure was that he didn't realise politics doesn't
follow from political economy - it is suigeneris. David
Harvey:*angry voice* You've been reading the wrong stuff,
for God's sake. Go read the 18 Brumaire!
As for the alternative... global GDP in 1750 was around $130 billion.
In 2009, it was $50 trillion. In 20 years, it will double. Then again.
What kind of horrible world will we be living in? Is that a future we
want, with more and more crises?
Note on a footnote to Chatper
15 of Volume One of Capital
I can only assume they're
referring to the following: 4. Before his time, spinning
machines, although very imperfect ones, had already been used, and Italy
was probably the country of their first appearance. A critical history
of technology would show how little any of the inventions of the 18th century are
the work of a single individual. Hitherto there is no such book. Darwin
has interested us in the history of Nature’s Technology, i.e., in the
formation of the organs of plants and animals, which organs serve as
instruments of production for sustaining life. Does not the history of
the productive organs of man, of organs that are the material basis of
all social organisation, deserve equal attention? And would not such a
history be easier to compile, since, as Vico says, human history
differs from natural history in this, that we have made the former, but
not the latter? Technology discloses man’s mode of dealing with Nature,
the process of production by which he sustains his life, and thereby
also lays bare the mode of formation of his social relations, and of the
mental conceptions that flow from them. Every history of religion,
even, that fails to take account of this material basis, is uncritical.
It is, in reality, much easier to discover by analysis the earthly core
of the misty creations of religion, than, conversely, it is, to develop
from the actual relations of life the corresponding celestialised forms of those
relations. The latter method is the only materialistic, and therefore
the only scientific one. The weak points in the abstract materialism of
natural science, a materialism that excludes history and its process,
are at once evident from the abstract and ideological conceptions of its
spokesmen, whenever they venture beyond the bounds of their own
speciality.(2) According to David Harvey, here Marx shows
he is not a determinist. All these factors are in co-evolution. They may
evolve at different speeds, but for there to be change, they must all
evolve. In Soviet Russia, they didn't. This makes sense to
me, but I don't get it from the quote - which leads me to believe I've got the wrong
Some Dude: Meghnad, you turned Marx(capitalism feeds
from the blood and the bones of the people - can't find a source for
this - misquote?) into Schumpeter
(creative destruction) Does the capitalist revival not come at a great
Desai: You can't make an omelette
without breaking some eggs.
Capitalism is today viewed as natural, part of human instinct. How to
David Harvey: Human nature evolves - it evolved to
capitalism, it can evolve beyond it.
While capitalism lays out the promise of a better life, there will be
no revolution. While only capitalism can offer that hope of prosperity
to Africans, Asians, Latin-Americans, the revolution is not gonna
happen. At the moment, there is no alternative. There are three
different models of socialism.
Socialism in capitalism:
social democracy - didn't catch what he said on
Socialism out of capitalism: USSR - failed
horribly. This is debatable. Lenin himself set out to make the USSR a
State-Capitalist state so it could later be socialist.
beyond capitalism: that is what Marx was after.