Month: September 2012

David Harvey : The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism

The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines ‘enigma’ as “something that is mysterious and seems impossible to understand completely”, and that definitely applies to capitalism. David Harvey is very conscious of the urgent necessity of making it less mysterious, and of the fact that this mystery, this opacity, far from being unavoidable, is deliberately maintained and promoted by those whose interests lie in keeping things mysterious:

Unravelling the enigma of capital, rendering transparent what political power always wants to keep opaque, is crucial to any revolutionary strategy. (p.241,7)

He goes a long way towards unravelling this enigma, even if not quite as far as I’d (perhaps overoptimistically) hoped. When trying to understand anything complex it’s important to look at it from a higher level, to step back and see things in perspective, to see the general principles which are so easily obscured by the many practical details – and this is especially difficult when the person trying to understand the system finds himself sitting in the middle of it, as is the case with any attempt to understand the existing economic system. If you’re in the middle of a wood, you can’t see the wood for the trees… (more…)