[Reader-list] David Harvey: Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

Patrice Riemens patrice at xs4all.nl
Mon Apr 7 11:43:26 CDT 2014

By way of the INURA list/Marvi M.
original to:

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism
Prospects for a Happy but Contested Future: The Promise of Revolutionary

by David Harvey

>From time immemorial there have been human beings who have believed that
they could construct, individually or collectively, a better world for
themselves than that which they had inherited. Quite a lot of them also
came to believe that in the course of so doing it might be possible to
remake themselves as different if not better people. I count myself among
those who believe in both these propositions. In Rebel Cities, for
example, I argued that ‘the question of what kind of city we want cannot
be divorced from the question of what kind of people we want to be, what
kinds of social relations we seek, what relations to nature we cherish,
what style of life we desire, what aesthetic values we hold’. The right to
the city, I wrote, is ‘far more than a right of individual or group access
to the resources that the city embodies: it is a right to change and
re-invent the city more after our heart’s desire 
 The freedom to make and
remake ourselves and our cities is 
 one of the most precious yet most
neglected of our human rights.’[1] Perhaps for this intuitive reason, the
city has been the focus throughout its history of an immense outpouring of
utopian desires for happier futures and less alienating times.

The belief that we can through conscious thought and action change both
the world we live in and ourselves for the better defines a humanist
tradition. The secular version of this tradition overlaps with and has
often been inspired by religious teachings on dignity, tolerance,
compassion, love and respect for others. Humanism, both religious and
secular, is a world view that measures its achievements in terms of the
liberation of human potentialities, capacities and powers. It subscribes
to the Aristotelian vision of the uninhibited flourishing of individuals
and the construction of ‘the good life’. Or, as one contemporary
renaissance man, Peter Buffett defines it, a world which guarantees to
individuals ‘the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity
to live a joyful and fulfilled life’.[2]

This tradition of thought and action has waxed and waned from time to time
and from place to place but never seems to die. It has had to compete, of
course, with more orthodox doctrines that variously assign our fates and
fortunes to the gods, to a specific creator and deity, to the blind forces
of nature, to social evolutionary laws enforced through genetic legacies
and mutations, by iron laws of economics that dictate the course of
technological evolution, or to some hidden teleology dictated by the world
spirit. Humanism also has its excesses and its dark side. The somewhat
libertine character of renaissance humanism led one of its leading
exponents, Erasmus, to worry that the Judaeo-Christian tradition was being
traded in for those of Epicurus. Humanism has sometimes lapsed into a
Promethean and anthropocentric view of human capacities and powers in
relationship to everything that exists – including nature – even to the
point where some deluded beings believe that we, being next to God, are
Übermenschen having dominion over the universe. This form of
humanism becomes even more pernicious when identifiable groups in a
population are not considered worthy of being considered human. This was
the fate of many indigenous populations in the Americas as they faced
colonial settlers. Designated as ‘savages’, they were considered a part of
nature and not a part of humanity. Such tendencies are alive and well in
certain circles, leading the radical feminist Catherine MacKinnon to write
a book on the question, Are Women Human?[3] That such exclusions have in
many people’s eyes a systematic and generic character in modern society is
indicated by the popularity of Giorgio Agamben’s formulation of ‘the state
of exception’ in which so many people now exist in the world (with the
inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay being a prime example).[4]

There are plenty of contemporary signs that the enlightened humanist
tradition is alive and well, perhaps even staging a comeback. This is the
spirit that clearly animates the hordes of people employed around the
world in NGOs and other charitable institutions whose mission is to
improve the life chances and prospects of the less fortunate. There are
even vain attempts to dress up capital itself in the humanist garb of what
some corporate leaders like to call Conscious Capitalism, a species of
entrepreneurial ethics that looks suspiciously like conscience laundering
along with sensible proposals to improve worker efficiency by seeming to
be nice to them.[5] All the nasty things that happen are absorbed as
unintentional collateral damage in an economic system motivated by the
best of ethical intentions. Humanism is, however, the spirit that inspires
countless individuals to give of themselves unstintingly and often without
material reward to contribute selflessly to the well-being of others.
Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist humanisms have spawned widespread
religious and charitable organisations, as well as iconic figures like
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Bishop Tutu. Within
the secular tradition there are many varieties of humanist thought and
practice, including explicit currents of cosmopolitan, liberal, socialist
and Marxist humanism. and, of course, moral and political philosophers
have over the centuries devised a variety of conflicting ethical systems
of thought based in a variety of ideals of justice, cosmopolitan reason
and emancipatory liberty that have from time to time supplied
revolutionary slogans. Liberty, equality, fraternity were the watchwords
of the French revolution. The earlier US Declaration of Independence,
followed by the US Constitution and, perhaps even more significantly, that
stirring document called the Bill of Rights have all played a role in
animating subsequent political movements and constitutional forms. The
remarkable constitutions recently adopted in Bolivia and Ecuador show that
the art of writing progressive constitutions as the basis for regulating
human life is by no means dead. And the immense literature that this
tradition has spawned has not been lost on those who have sought a more
meaningful life. Just think of the past influence of Tom Paine’s Rights of
Man or Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman within
the English-speaking world to see what I mean (almost every tradition in
the world has analogous writings to celebrate).

There are two well-known undersides to all of this, both of which we have
already encountered. The first is that however noble the universal
sentiments expressed at the outset, it has time and again proved hard to
stop the universality of humanist claims being perverted for the benefit
of particular interests, factions and classes. This is what produces the
philanthropic colonialism of which Peter Buffett so eloquently complains.
This is what twists Kant’s noble cosmopolitanism and quest for perpetual
peace into a tool of imperialist and colonial cultural domination,
currently represented by the Hilton Hotel cosmopolitanism of CNN and the
frequent business-class flier. This is the problem that has bedevilled the
doctrines of human rights enshrined in a UN declaration that privileges
the individual rights and private property of liberal theory at the
expense of collective relations and cultural claims. This is what turns
the ideals and practices of freedom into a tool of governmentality for the
reproduction and perpetuation of capitalist class affluence and power. The
second problem is that the enforcement of any particular system of beliefs
and rights always involves some disciplinary power, usually exercised by
the state or some other institutionalised authority backed by force. The
difficulty here is obvious. The UN declaration implies state enforcement
of individual human rights when the state so often is first in line
violating those rights.

The difficulty with the humanist tradition in short is that it does not
internalise a good understanding of its own inescapable internal
contradictions, most clearly captured in the contradiction between freedom
and domination. The result is that humanist leanings and sentiments often
get presented these days in a somewhat offhand and embarrassed way, except
when their position is safely backed by religious doctrine and authority.
There is, as a result, no full-blooded contemporary defence of the
propositions of or prospects for a secular humanism even though there are
innumerable individual works that loosely subscribe to the tradition or
even polemicise as to its obvious virtues (as happens in the NGO world).
Its dangerous traps and foundational contradictions, particularly
questions of coercion, violence and domination, are shied away from
because they are too awkward to confront. The result is what Frantz Fanon
characterised as ‘insipid humanitarianism’. There is plenty of evidence of
that manifest in its recent revival. The bourgeois and liberal tradition
of secular humanism forms a mushy ethical base for largely ineffective
moralising about the sad state of the world and the mounting of equally
ineffective campaigns against the plights of chronic poverty and
environmental degradation. It is probably for this reason that the French
philosopher Louis Althusser launched his fierce and influential campaign
back in the 1960s to eject all talk of socialist humanism and alienation
from the Marxist tradition. The humanism of the young Marx, as expressed
in The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Althusser argued, was
separated from the scientific Marx of Capital by an ‘epistemological
rupture’ that we ignore at our peril. Marxist humanism, he wrote, is pure
ideology, theoretically vacuous and politically misleading, if not
dangerous. The devotion of a dedicated Marxist like the long-imprisoned
Antonio Gramsci to the ‘absolute humanism of human history’ was, in
Althusser’s view, entirely misplaced.[6]

The enormous increase in and nature of the complicitous activities of the
humanist NGOs over recent decades would seem to support Althusser’s
criticisms. The growth of the charitable industrial complex mainly
reflects the need to increase ‘conscience laundering’ for a world’s
oligarchy that is doubling its wealth and power every few years in the
midst of economic stagnation. Their work has done little or nothing in
aggregate to deal with human degradation and dispossession or
proliferating environmental degradation. This is structurally so because
anti-poverty organisations are required to do their work without ever
interfering in the further accumulation of the wealth from which they
derive their sustenance. If everyone who worked in an anti-poverty
organisation converted overnight to an anti-wealth politics we would soon
find ourselves living in a very different world. Very few charitable
donors, not even Peter Buffett I suspect, would fund that. And the NGOs,
which are now at the centre of the problem, would not in any case want
that (though there are many individuals within the NGO world who would but
simply can’t).

So what kind of humanism do we need in order to progressively change the
world through anti-capitalist work into another kind of place populated by
different kinds of people?

There is, I believe, a crying need to articulate a secular revolutionary
humanism that can ally with those religious-based humanisms (most clearly
articulated in both Protestant and Catholic versions of the theology of
liberation as well as in cognate movements within Hindu, Islamic, Jewish
and indigenous religious cultures) to counter alienation in its many forms
and to radically change the world from its capitalist ways. There is a
strong and powerful – albeit problematic – tradition of secular
revolutionary humanism both with respect to both theory and political
practice. This is a form of humanism that Louis Althusser totally
rejected. But, in spite of Althusser’s influential intervention, it has a
powerful and articulate expression in the Marxist and radical traditions
as well as beyond. It is very different from bourgeois liberal humanism.
It refuses the idea that there is an unchanging or pre-given ‘essence’ of
what it means to be human and forces us to think hard about how to become
a new kind of human. It unifies the Marx of Capital with that of The
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and arrows in to the heart of
the contradictions of what any humanist programme must be willing to
embrace if it is to change the world. It clearly recognises that the
prospects for a happy future for most are invariably marred by the
inevitability of dictating the unhappiness of some others. A dispossessed
financial oligarchy which cannot any more partake of caviar and champagne
lunches on their yachts moored off the Bahamas will doubtless complain at
their diminished fates and fortunes in a more egalitarian world. We may,
as good liberal humanists, even feel a bit sorry for them. Revolutionary
humanists steel themselves against that thought. While we may not approve
of this ruthless approach to dealing with such contradictions, we have to
acknowledge the basic honesty and self-awareness of the practitioners.

Consider, as one example, the revolutionary humanism of someone like
Frantz Fanon. Fanon was a psychiatrist working in hospitals in the midst
of a bitter and violent anti-colonial war (rendered so memorable in
Pontecorvo’s film The Battle of Algiers – a film, incidentally, that the
US military now uses for anti-insurgency training purposes). Fanon wrote
in depth about the struggle for freedom and liberty on the part of
colonised peoples against the colonisers. His analysis, though specific to
the Algerian case, illustrates the sorts of issues that arise in any
liberation struggle, including those between capital and labour. But it
does so in stark dramatic and more easily legible terms precisely because
it incorporates the additional dimensions of racial, cultural and colonial
oppressions and degradations giving rise to an ultra-violent revolutionary
situation from which no peaceful exit seems possible. The foundational
question for Fanon is how to recover a sense of humanity on the basis of
the dehumanising practices and experiences of colonial domination. ‘As
soon as you and your fellow men are cut down like dogs,’ he writes in The
Wretched of the Earth, ‘there is no other solution but to use every means
available to re-establish your weight as a human being. You must therefore
weigh as heavily as possible on your torturer’s body so that his wits,
which have wandered off somewhere, can at last be restored to their human
dimension.’ In this way ‘man both demands and claims his infinite
humanity’. There are always ‘tears to be wiped away, inhuman attitudes to
be fought, condescending ways of speech to be ruled out, men to be
humanised’. Revolution, for Fanon, was not simply about the transfer of
power from one segment of society to another. It entailed the
reconstruction of humanity – in Fanon’s case a distinctive post-colonial
humanity – and a radical shift in the meaning attached to being human.
‘Decolonisation is truly the creation of new men. But such a creation
cannot be attributed to a supernatural power. The “thing” colonised
becomes a man through the very process of liberation.’ It was therefore
inevitable in a colonial situation, Fanon argued, that the struggle for
liberation would have to be constituted in nationalist terms. But ‘if
nationalism is not explained, enriched, deepened, if it does not very
quickly turn into a social and political consciousness, into humanism,
then it leads to a dead end’.[7]

Fanon, of course, shocks many liberal humanists with his embrace of a
necessary violence and his rejection of compromise. How, he asks, is
non-violence possible in a situation structured by the systematic violence
exercised by the colonisers? What is the point of starving people going on
hunger strike? Why, as Herbert Marcuse asked, should we be persuaded of
the virtues of tolerance towards the intolerable? In a divided world,
where the colonial power defines the colonised as subhuman and evil by
nature, compromise is impossible. ‘One does not negotiate with evil,’
famously said Vice-President Dick Cheney. To which Fanon had a ready-made
reply: ‘The work of the colonist is to make even dreams of liberty
impossible for the colonised. The work of the colonised is to imagine
every possible method for annihilating the colonist 
 The theory of the
“absolute evil of the colonist” is in response to the theory of the
“absolute evil of the native”.’ In such a divided world there is no
prospect of negotiation or compromise. This is what has kept the USA and
Iran so far apart ever since the Iranian Revolution. ‘The native sector’
of the colonial city, Fanon points out, ‘is not complementary to the
European sector 
 The city as a whole is governed by a purely Aristotelian
logic’ and follows the ‘dictates of mutual exclusion’. Lacking a
dialectical relation between the two, the only way to break down the
difference is through violence. ‘To destroy the colonial world means
nothing less than demolishing the colonist’s sector, burying it deep
within the earth or banishing it from the territory.’[8] There is nothing
mushy about such a programme. As Fanon saw clearly:

For the colonised this violence is invested with positive formative
features because it constitutes their only work. This violent praxis is
totalising since each individual represents a violent link in a great
chain, in the almighty body of violence rearing up in reaction to the
primary violence of the coloniser 
 at the individual level, violence is a
cleansing force. It rids the colonised of their inferiority complex, of
their passive and despairing attitude. It emboldens them and restores
their self-confidence. Even if the armed struggle has been symbolic, and
even if they have been demobilised by rapid decolonisation, the people
have time to realise their liberation was the achievement of each and
every one 

But what is so stunning about The Wretched of the Earth, and what indeed
brings tears to the eyes on a close reading and makes it so searingly
human, is the second half of the book, which is taken up by devastating
descriptions of the psychic traumas of those on both sides who found
themselves forced by circumstances to participate in the violence of the
liberation struggle. We now know much more about the psychic damage
suffered by those US and other soldiers who engaged in military action in
Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the terrible scourge on their lives as
a result of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is what Fanon wrote about
with such compassion in the midst of the revolutionary struggle against
the colonial system in Algeria. After decolonisation there is an immense
work that remains to be done, not only to repair the psyches of damaged
souls, but also to mitigate what Fanon clearly saw as the dangers of the
lingering effects (even replication) of colonial ways of thought and
being. ‘The colonised subject fights in order to put an end to domination.
But he must also ensure that all the untruths planted within him by the
oppressor are eliminated. In a colonial regime such as the one in Algeria
the ideas taught by colonialism impacted not only the European minority
but also the Algerian. Total liberation involves every facet of the
 independence is not a magic ritual but an indispensable
condition for men and women to live in true liberation, in other words to
master all the material resources necessary for a radical transformation
of society.’[10]

I do not raise the question of violence here, any more than did Fanon,
because I am or he was in favour of it. He highlighted it because the
logic of human situations so often deteriorates to a point where there is
no other option. Even Gandhi acknowledged that. But the option has
potentially dangerous consequences. Revolutionary humanism has to offer
some kind of philosophical answer to this difficulty, some solace in the
face of incipient tragedies. While the ultimate humanist task may be, as
Aeschylus put it 2,500 years ago, ‘to tame the savageness of man and make
gentle the life of this world’, this cannot be done without confronting
and dealing with the immense violence that underpins the colonial and
neocolonial order. This is what Mao and Ho Chi Minh had to confront, what
Che Guevara sought to achieve, and what a host of political leaders and
thinkers in post-colonial struggles, including Amilcar Cabral of
Guinea-Bissau, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and
Aimé Césaire, Walter Eodney, C.L.R. James and many others,
have acted against with such conviction in both words and deeds.

But is the social order of capital any different in essence from its
colonial manifestations? That order has certainly sought to distance
itself at home from the callous calculus of colonial violence (depicting
it as something that must necessarily be visited on uncivilised others
‘over there’ for their own good). It had to disguise at home the far too
blatant inhumanity it demonstrated abroad. ‘Over there’ things could be
put out of sight and hearing. Only now, for example, is the vicious
violence of the British suppression of the Mau Mau movement in Kenya in
the 1960s being acknowledged in full. When capital drifts close to such
inhumanity at home it typically elicits a similar response to that of the
colonised. To the degree that it embraced racialised violence at home, as
it did in the United States, it produced movements like the Black Panthers
and the Nation of Islam along with leaders like Malcolm X and, in his
final days, Martin Luther King, who saw the connectivity between race and
class and suffered the consequences thereof. But capital learned a lesson.
The more race and class get woven seamlessly together, then the faster the
fuse for revolution burns. But what Marx makes so clear in Capital is the
daily violence constituted in the domination of capital over labour in the
marketplace and in the act of production as well as on the terrain of
daily life. How easy it is to take descriptions of contemporary labour
conditions in, for example, the electronics factories of Shenzhen, the
clothing factories of Bangladesh or the sweatshops of Los Angeles and
insert them into Marx’s classic chapter on ‘the working day’ in Capital
and not notice the difference. How shockingly easy it is to take the
living conditions of the working classes, the marginalised and the
unemployed in Lisbon, São Paulo and Jakarta and put them next to
Engels’s classic 1844 description of The Condition of the Working Class in
England and find little substantive difference.[11]

Oligarchic capitalist class privilege and power are taking the world in a
similar direction almost everywhere. Political power backed by
intensifying surveillance, policing and militarised violence is being used
to attack the well-being of whole populations deemed expendable and
disposable. We are daily witnessing the systematic dehumanisation of
disposable people. Ruthless oligarchic power is now being exercised
through a totalitarian democracy directed to immediately disrupt, fragment
and suppress any coherent anti-wealth political movement (such as Occupy).
The arrogance and disdain with which the affluent now view those less
fortunate than themselves, even when (particularly when) vying with each
other behind closed doors to prove who can be the most charitable of them
all, are notable facts of our present condition. The ‘empathy gap’ between
the oligarchy and the rest is immense and increasing. The oligarchs
mistake superior income for superior human worth and their economic
success as evidence of their superior knowledge of the world (rather than
their superior command over accounting tricks and legal niceties). They do
not know how to listen to the plight of the world because they cannot and
wilfully will not confront their role in the construction of that plight.
They do not and cannot see their own contradictions. The billionaire Koch
brothers give charitably to a university like MiT even to the point of
building a beautiful day-care centre for the deserving faculty there while
simultaneously lavishing untold millions in financial support for a
political movement (headed by the Tea Party faction) in the US Congress
that cuts food stamps and denies welfare, nutritional supplements and day
care for millions living in or close to absolute poverty.

It is in a political climate such as this that the violent and
unpredictable eruptions that are occurring all around the world on an
episodic basis (from Turkey and Egypt to Brazil and Sweden in 2013 alone)
look more and more like the prior tremors for a coming earthquake that
will make the post-colonial revolutionary struggles of the 1960s look like
child’s play. If there is an end to capital, then this is surely from
where it will come and its immediate consequences are unlikely to prove
happy for anyone. This is what Fanon so clearly teaches.

The only hope is that the mass of humanity will see the danger before the
rot goes too far and the human and environmental damage becomes too great
to repair. In the face of what Pope Francis rightly dubs ‘the
globalisation of indifference’, the global masses must, as Fanon so neatly
puts it, ‘first decide to wake up, put on their thinking caps and stop
playing the irresponsible game of Sleeping Beauty’.[12] If Sleeping Beauty
awakes in time, then we might be in for a more fairytale-like ending. The
‘absolute humanism of human history,’ wrote Gramsci, ‘does not aim at the
peaceful resolution of existing contradictions in history and society but
rather is the very theory of these contradictions’. Hope is latent in
them, said Bertolt Brecht. There are, as we have seen, enough compelling
contradictions within capital’s domain to foster many grounds for hope.

Ideas for Political Praxis

What does this X-ray into the contradictions of capital tell us about
anti-capitalist political praxis? It cannot, of course, tell us exactly
what to do in the midst of fierce and always complicated struggles on this
or that issue on the ground. But it does help frame an overall direction
to anti-capitalist struggle even as it makes and strengthens the case for
anti-capitalist politics. When pollsters ask their favourite question, ‘Do
you think the country is headed in the right direction?’ that presumes
that people have some sense as to what the right direction might be. So
what do those of us who believe capital is headed in the wrong direction
consider a right direction and how might we evaluate our progress towards
realising those goals? And how might we present those goals as modest and
sensible proposals – for such they really are, relative to the absurd
arguments put forward to deepen the powers of capital as an answer to
humanity’s crying needs? Here are some mandates – derived from the
seventeen contradictions – to frame and hopefully animate political
praxis. We should strive for a world in which:

   The direct provision of adequate use values for all (housing,
education, food security etc.) takes precedence over their provision
through a profit-maximising market system that concentrates exchange
values in a few private hands and allocates goods on the basis of
ability to pay.

   A means of exchange is created that facilitates the circulation of
goods and services but limits or excludes the capacity of private
individuals to accumulate money as a form of social power.

   The opposition between private property and state power is displaced as
far as possible by common rights regimes – with particular emphasis
upon human knowledge and the land as the most crucial commons we have –
the creation, management and protection of which lie in the hands of
popular assemblies and associations.

   The appropriation of social power by private persons is not only
inhibited by economic and social barriers but becomes universally
frowned upon as a pathological deviancy.

   The class opposition between capital and labour is dissolved into
associated producers freely deciding on what, how and when they will
produce in collaboration with other associations regarding the
fulfilment of common social needs.

   Daily life is slowed down – locomotion shall be leisurely and slow – to
maximise time for free activities conducted in a stable and
well-maintained environment protected from dramatic episodes of
creative destruction.

   Associated populations assess and communicate their mutual social needs
to each other to furnish the basis for their production decisions (in
the short run, realisation considerations dominate production

   New technologies and organisational forms are created that lighten the
load of all forms of social labour, dissolve unnecessary distinctions
in technical divisions of labour, liberate time for free individual and
collective activities, and diminish the ecological footprint of human

   Technical divisions of labour are reduced through the use of
automation, robotisation and artificial intelligence. Those residual
technical divisions of labour deemed essential are dissociated from
social divisions of labour as far as possible. administrative,
leadership and policing functions should be rotated among individuals
within the population at large. We are liberated from the rule of

   Monopoly and centralised power over the use of the means of production
is vested in popular associations through which the decentralised
competitive capacities of individuals and social groups are mobilised
to produce differentiations in technical, social, cultural and
lifestyle innovations.

   The greatest possible diversification exists in ways of living and
being, of social relations and relations to nature, and of cultural
habits and beliefs within territorial associations, communes and
collectives. Free and uninhibited but orderly geographical movement of
individuals within territories and between communes is guaranteed.
Representatives of the associations regularly come together to assess,
plan and undertake common tasks and deal with common problems at
different scales: bioregional, continental and global.

   All inequalities in material provision are abolished other than those
entailed in the principle of from each according to his, her or their
capacities and to each according to his, her, or their needs.

   The distinction between necessary labour done for distant others and
work undertaken in the reproduction of self, household and commune is
gradually erased such that social labour becomes embedded in household
and communal work and household and communal work becomes the primary
form of unalienated and non-monetised social labour.

   Everyone should have equal entitlements to education, health care,
housing, food security, basic goods and open access to transportation
to ensure the material basis for freedom from want and for freedom of
action and movement.

   The economy converges on zero growth (though with room for uneven
geographical developments) in a world in which the greatest possible
development of both individual and collective human capacities and
powers and the perpetual search for novelty prevail as social norms to
displace the mania for perpetual compound growth.

   The appropriation and production of natural forces for human needs
should proceed apace but with the maximum regard for the protection of
ecosystems, maximum attention paid to the recycling of nutrients,
energy and physical matter to the sites from whence they came, and an
overwhelming sense of re-enchantment with the beauty of the natural
world, of which we are a part and to which we can and do contribute
through our works.

   Unalienated human beings and unalienated creative personas emerge armed
with a new and confident sense of self and collective being. Born out
of the experience of freely contracted intimate social relations and
empathy for different modes of living and producing, a world will
emerge where everyone is considered equally worthy of dignity and
respect, even as conflict rages over the appropriate definition of the
good life. This social world will continuously evolve through permanent
and ongoing revolutions in human capacities and powers. The perpetual
search for novelty continues.

None of these mandates, it goes without saying, transcends or supersedes
the importance of waging war against all other forms of discrimination,
oppression and violent repression within capitalism as a whole. By the
same token, none of these other struggles should transcend or supersede
that against capital and its contradictions. Alliances of interests are
clearly needed.


[1] David Harvey, Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban
Revolution, London, Verso, 2013, p. 4.

[2] Peter Buffett, ‘The Charitable-Industrial Complex’, New York Times, 26
July 2013.

[3] Catherine MacKinnon, Are Women Human?: And Other International
Dialogues, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2007.

[4] Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, Chicago, Chicago University
Press, 2005.

[5] John Mackey, Rajendra Sisodia and Bill George, Conscious Capitalism:
Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, Cambridge, MA, Harvard Business
Review Press, 2013.

[6] Louis Althusser, The Humanist Controversy and Other Writings, London,
Verso, 2003; Peter Thomas, The Gramscian Moment: Philosophy, Hegemony and
Marxism, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2010.

[7] Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, New York, Grove Press, 2005,
p. 144.

[8] Ibid., p. 6.

[9] Ibid., p. 51.

[10] Ibid., p. 144.

[11] Frederick Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England,
London, Cambridge University Press, 1962.

[12] Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, p. 62.

This is an excerpt — the last two chapters — from Seventeen Contradictions
and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey, out now from Profile Books.

David Harvey the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at
the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Guggenheim
Fellowship recipient. He has authored such books as The Condition of
Postmodernity (1989), A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005), and A
Companion to Marx’s Capital (2010).

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