Re: Harvey on Imperialism

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sun Nov 14 2004 - 12:53:16 EST

At 9:48 AM -0800 11/13/04, Paul Adler wrote:
>Can anyone recommend a critical assessment of David Harvey, The New
>Imperialism --?

Not an explicit criticism but the way in which OPE-Ler Cyrus Bina
analyzes the politics of oil is stark opposition to Harvey's
comments. Many of Cyrus' papers are at his website. My cursory read
of Harvey's book (let me emphasize this) suggests that he has too
much optimism in the possibility of humane global New Deal
Keynesianism as a short term transitional program; moreover, I think
the accumulation by dispossession idea may restrict Marx's conception
of primitive accumulation. Which does not reduce to the use of state
power to dispossess labor. For example Marx analyzes how the state
was used to set maximum wage laws and lengthen the working day. I
think here of the recent use of state and in particular judicial
power by capitalists to reneg on retiree benefits and pensions as
contractually stipulated. We see here the undermining of the "free"
contract as the basis of bourgeois law and ideology, a break down in
Pashukanis' rechtsstaat. Moreover, Marx made reference to use of
expansion of state debt for naked profiteering. Here one thinks of
how Haliburton's contracts have been secured (public debt, private
profit), or one can cite tax breaks for the rich which often means
that they now loan the money back to the state which will mean that
the state will eventually raise taxes in regressive manner, as did
Reagain with rises in the payroll tax.
In the New School on line economic review Wolff and Resnick have
written a criticism of Harvey's earlier economic work.
At any rate, force seems less the midwife of a new social formation
than an instrument for the maintainence of the same old privileges
for the same old rulers in the same old mode of production.


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