Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

by criticalhit009

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

One of the more prominent Marxist scholars working today is David Harvey, whose latest book, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, I finished recently. It is an excellent text, open enough for a general educated audience to understand, but also nuanced and incisive in its criticism. As a novice to Marxism, I found it quite engaging.

Harvey’s intention is to articulate the contradictions that power and sustain capitalism, dividing the contradictions between three groups: foundational, moving, and dangerous. Foundational contradictions are present wherever capitalism has a foothold (which is everywhere), whereas moving contradictions are constantly changing and evolving (capitalism’s constant quest to update technology, for instance.) The dangerous contradictions are the most volatile, such as capitalism’s relationship to nature (treating the land as both valuable and utterly disposable.)

Throughout the book, Harvey is careful to guide the reader to the different contradictions, making it a very accessible text, particularly good for students. This doesn’t limit the enjoyment of the academically inclined, however, as Harvey’s analysis (and, upon occasion, humor), is razor-sharp. He condenses sprawling movements and trends and carefully illustrates the connective tissues and underlying assumptions. Though it tackles quite a lot of material, it obviously isn’t meant to cover everything. Harvey makes clear that his analysis is only one part of the scheming mass that is capitalism, but it’s a text that flowing with clarity, and well worth your time.