If you, like I, have found yourself pondering the banking crisis that befell the US and Europe at the close of 2008, agonised over the reasons and causes that led to the crisis, feel dispossession and indignation at the enormity and consequence of the bailouts, and wonder that the bailouts are indicative of counter-democratic tendencies, then David Harveys' 'Enigma of Capital' is a book for you; and if you have never contemplated any of the foregoing then David Harveys' 'Enigma of Capital' is also a book for you.
Prior to the events of 2008 and the succession of events that ensue within the Euro-zone I would never have considered reading such a title or such a topic, and I would have been scepitical that any one person could analyze the causes of a crisis, indeed a succession of crises, with such pragmatism and clarity. It is by chance and for unconnected reasons that in the new year of 2009 I began serious contemplation of other and more personal challenges and it was an entirely unexpected result that the direction I followed with regard to that would also yield unconventional insight in regard to economics, not from an aspect of a study of the flow of money, but from an aspect of evolutionary theory as applied to the long term functional evolution and expansion of economic activity. None of this makes me clever or knowledgeable but I do gain some satisfaction from having reasoned along one or two lines of thought and then subsequently finding similar assertions, and many, many more, put forward with aplomb and gravitas by Mr Harvey. 'The Enigma of Capital' is timely and revelatory in explaining not just the current, but a succession of market crises, and it resounds with me because a seemingly unlikely way of looking at things produced embryonic thoughts synergistic with (some of) the content.
David Harvey is a professor of anthropolgy with a detailed insight of Marx and Marxs' 'Capital'. Words like 'Marxism', 'Capitalism' and 'Communism' are loaded. Such loading precipitates pre-conceptions and such preconceptions would previously have been a barrier to my becoming interested, yet Harvey has fired curiosity in me, not for the political direction, but for potential to explain the how and why of the catastrophe.
Marx, I believe, was largely an essayist, reasoning out the evolutionary traits and likely consequences of growth and change within monetary economies and capitalist architectures much in the same vain that Darwin applied his insightful mind to the question of evolution. Marx, it is reported, had considerable interest in Darwins' work. It has taken decades for a clear endorsement and clarification of Evolutionary theory. Genetic science has now proven Darwin almost entirely correct in principle, albeit not entirely correct in the detail. For what I may know of Marx (very little) it may be that a succession of crises, especially the ripple effects of the banking crisis of 2008, and emerging analysis and comprehension could do for Marx what genetics did for Darwin, ie. prove him largely correct in principle. In appreciation of this Mr Harvey may have a head start over prevailing orthodoxy.
I agree with the two preceding reviewers, this is an immensely valuable analysis of the current financial and global monetary crisis that makes uncommon sense. I confess to be being a bit of a dullard, but I have found this volume to be both a compelling and readable explanation of a very challenging subject and it reads with the pace of a most skilfully crafted thriller. The suspense is in watching real-time events unfold as academics, advisers, governments and alliances try to face the ensuing challenges.