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David Harvey - Das Kapital PT04 (LEG PT-BR)

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The most recent attempt example of this if you followed it was Cyprus. How to bail out the banks in Cyprus and bail out the bond holders of the banks in Cyprus? The idea was that actually some 7% of everybodies deposit should be just taken away. Even the financial times said: this is daylight robbery of the banks. So we see a lot of that going on... Now, this is the monetary system we have constructed. We need a radical reconstruction of the monetary system. We need new forms of money. The one I favour most is one where money actually melts. Money oxidizes. See, the reason to gold and silver became the money commodities is that they're metals that don't oxidize. They maintain their qualities, they store value for a very very long time. They are not even like iron, they don't rust. Money is supposed to retain its value over time. That is how the capitalist class stores its wealth. Let's suppose that we displace it with the form of money which disappeared after a certain point of time. Actually, there were forms of money of this sort that were invented in the 1930's, called stamped moneys. John Mynard Keynes rights about it in one of his appendices. You have a bill that will be worth say, a 100 dolars. And it will be worth 100 dolars for month. And if you wanna to renew it you have to pay 5 dolars for it to be renewed, at the end of the month. In other words it is a negative interest rate on the bank. The result is of course you either spent it or you start to lose money. If we had an oxidizable money, a money that melt it away... Then the wealth of the capitalist class would disappear very rapidly. Again, this is a kind of new form of money. Which has a radically different way of operating. It does not prevent exchange and in fact it encourages exchange. Because you are stuck with the situation where if you use your money then it's validated, and you can keep on using it. If you do not use it, it disappears. So, the use value of money is that it facilitates circulation. Now, these are the sorts of ideas that come out of Marx's critical perspective. As he lays it out in Capital. These are the kind of ideas that you start to encounter as you work through the text. But as you work through the text... There are a number of things I think you have to understand. That is that Marx was not theorizing about everything. I make it very clear to the students that Marx's Capital is not a book about capitalism. It is a book about capital. Which is the economic engine which exists to the heart of capitalism. And that economic engine is about the production of capital, the production of commodities... And the reproduction of commodities and capital. And the rules embedded in that system. And how contradictory those rules are... and how those rules actually conflict and generate crisis. So what Marx's after understanding why it is... That economic engine that powers capitalism is so crisis prone. In order to understand that he has to isolate... The nature of that economic engine. And in isolating it he of course excludes all kinds of important aspects of... What capitalism is about and what capitalism has historically beeing about. I have many arguments with my colleagues at ...... The arguments are often over the question of: Well... Why aren't you talking more about the racializing history of capitalism? The way in which race has been used in the history of capitalism. Why aren't you talking about patriarchy? Why aren't you talking about gender? And I say: All of those elements are absolutely crucial if you are interested in the history of capitalism. And I'll be the first to support all of the strugles around the erradication of racism and gender discrimination... The liberty of lesbians, gays and the like. I'm all in favour of that but by working on those aspects... You still do not get a good understanding of how the economic engine of capital is working. And what I'm trying to do and what Marx is trying to do, is to give you a good understanding of how the economic engine works. And how it intersects... With the racialization, gender discrimination and the like. Again, if I go back to the recent crisis... You cannot get to a good explanation of what happened in the last crisis... By starting from the analysis of racialization, gender discrimination, patriarchy... You cannot get that. What you can do is to recognize that the impacts were racialized, gendered... And this evidence for that is overwhelming. But the origins cannot be described in that way. That is: What Marx does is to look at that system, which is producing... Value and surplus value, producing commodities and wealth. He is looking at that system and looking at the necessary components of it and why it is so crisis prone. And why it is that if you obejct to the kind of society that has emerged around us... Yes indeed, there're struggles to be fought over civil rights, over... Sexual rights, over all of those issues. There are struggles to be fought over there but... You will not get rid of the foundational problems of... A capitalistic society until you really understand the nature of capital itself. And what Marx does so briliantily, even in a abstract kind of way... What he does so briliantly... Is to actually tell you what capital is like. Through the analysis you realize what anti capitalist struggle should be about. I've already said: Well... The first contradiction between use value and exchange value leads me to say lets diminish the power of exchange value. Let's validate as much as we can, use value considerations. Ultimately leading to a society that is based on a provision of use values... With exchange values almost at a minimum. The second contradiction is over money as a representation of social labor and a falsification. Cut down on the falsifications... Get rid of the fictions... Defetishize what money is about. Try to create a monetary form that does, just does the simple job of facilitating exchange... And nothing more, and nothing less. And certainly make it into a kind of... Monetary system that does not allow... The building of massive concentrations of wealth at the sort that we see in the contemporary world. There's a third contradiction I haven't mentioned. It relates to the first two. You cannot have exchange value without having money. You cannot have either of'em without having private property rights. But private property rights presume a certain relation to the state, and the state apparatus. That contradiction between the state and private property has to be resolved. And the obvious way to resolve it is through a system of common property rights. Which are managed down the collective administrative structures. In other words, abbolish the private property-state contradiction and replace it with common property rights... With, of course, money beeing a main form of the commons. These are the sorts of answers that start to come up politically. And to me therefore it is really fundational... If you want to understand the kind of society we're living: Capitalism. Then we come to terms... With how that economic engine which powers it and which creates all of these problems... From those that I encountered in the Baltimore housing market to the housing crash recently... To the problems that exist in education and health care and all of those areas. You start to see that it is the capitalist beast at the center. The beast that is capital. That really has to be confronted and dealt with. And therefore politics has to orient itself around an alternative vision of... A society that is built around completely different presuppositions. Then those which govern what capitalism is about. There's one final point: Capitalism historically has been very dynamic. It has been crisis prone but many people would argue: Yes, it has. And yes, it produced two world wars and all kind of horribles things but on the other hand... In aggregate, are we all better off now then we would've been, maybe 200 years ago? And I follow Marx in this and say: For the most part I accept that we are better off in principle. We are living longer, not necessarily better, but living longer. There are other things that you can point to... That are very positive about a current situation. But there are certain fatal contradictions. Capital cannot accumulate at a compound rate of growth forever. The data show that... Capital is beeing accumulating at the rate of 2.25% per year at compound, since around 1800, or so. Compound growth rates produce a logistical geometric growth rate. For long time you're like this... Then you go like this... Then you go like this. It's clear to me that since 1970 we've been at that inflection point. Where we are beggining to go like this. That's what I see as I come from the airport into the center here. What happens since 1970 is a massive building boom, absorbing vast amounts of commodities. A lot of it wastefully for a certain segment of the population. Absorbing capital through an urbanization project... Which is not about the creation of slams but which is about the creation of... A kind of a ........... paradise. If you can call a shopping mall a paradise. So we are at the inflection point... If we are here in thirty years time we'll be even further into that inflection point. We'll be on the heading point outputs. And people are saying the same thing about the environmental question. You could push the environment so far at a compound rate but you get at a certain point where you start to do this. And lot of the tracks of the environment is producing are doing precisely that. Look in carbon emissions and the like. So, ahead into this period where on the one hand we have the greatest capacity for global affluence, ever. And that, we have to thank capital for. But we face a future where it is absolutely impossible for that to continue to be produced and reproduced in the same way. In other words we have to think about a society that is not growing in aggregate. Not immediately but sometime, in the next thirty years, we have to be really confronting... The idea of a zero growth society. And a zero growth society is a non capitalist society. Because capitalism is inherently about growth. Capital must grow or die. And if it cannot continue to grow it will die. And if we say: We have to stop growth because it cannot accommodate more of it. Then we have to kill capital. That's the kind of existential choice that we're heading into, in the next 20-30 years. The most important thing right now is to start to think about it. We can't do this sort of thing overnight. But we do have to think about it. I mean we have to think about it in a mass kind of way. The trouble is: Universities now just teach "neolibera-rubbish". The think tanks of the world are actually trying to support capitalism. This is the first major crisis that has occurred in global capitalism that has produced absolutely no new ideas. The 1930's gave us Keynes and a different view of the state. The 1970's, although I hate it, gave us, you know... Milton Friedman and high supply side economics and another view of the state. But this time around has produced nothing except: Let us continue the liberal project because... While capitalism is in trouble, the capitalist class is doing extremely well. The capitalist class has done better, over the last 4-5 years, than it did 30 years before that. So the capitalist class is doing extremely well. The people are doing very poorly. And the big question to me is: When are the people going to rise up, and say to the capitalist class: Enough is enough! We are going to repossess the wealth that we have created. And we're going to repossess it because it does not really belong to you. It belongs collectively to all of the humanity and we want it to be used for all of the humanity. Thanks very much. Proletarians of the world: Unite!

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 28 seconds
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 52
Posted by: renan.ferreira on Dec 19, 2014

O Geógrafo David Harvey esteve em Salvador para apresentar a conferência "Para entender 'O capital'", por ocasião do lançamento de seu livro homônimo. O evento integra o projeto "Marx: a criação destruidora", organizado em torno da publicação da edição definitiva de "O capital, Livro 1", pela Boitempo Editorial.

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