The End of Capitalism

Published on ZNet, by David Harvey, April 7, 2014.

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). An interview with Harvey was featured on our website in 2012.

Prospects for a Happy but Contested Future: The Promise of Revolutionary Humanism:   

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 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 decisions).
  8. 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 activities.
  9. 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 experts.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.

(full long text and notes).

(My comment: the only bug I see within all revolution scenarios is the fact that PEOPLES are NOT organzed, meanwhile fascist and other testosterone-full power players have long ago prepared to steal any revolution in the same night when any gov is put out. Some decades ago – in our western world – on the left only meanwhile denigrated communists had a touch of chance to organize a real change – Heidi).


Donetsk activists proclaim region’s independence from Ukraine, on Russia Today RT, April 7, 2014;
Donetsk on en.wikipedia is an industrial city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius River, including External Links;
Update: Anti-terrorist operation starts in Kharkov, city center blocked – Ukraine Interior Minister, on Russia Today RT, April 8, 2014;

Disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370: The Trillion Dollar Question to the U.S. and Its Intelligence Services, on Global (first on Future Fast Forward), by Matthias Chang, March 29, 2014: Malaysian media should pose critical questions to the US and its Intelligence Services and not to the Malaysian Government.
See also Matthias Chang on World People’s Blog.

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