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Zombie Capitalism : Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx [Paperback]

Chris Harman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: HAYMARKET BOOKS; Reprint edition (16 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608461041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608461042
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 735,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Book by Harman Chris

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Runaway System 2 July 2010
By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Chris Harman's 'Zombie Capitalism' is a closely argued, fully referenced and indexed indictment of Capitalism from it's inception in the late 18th century up to today's current crises.

It starts with a general but detailed round up of Marx's concepts: commodities, labour value, surplus value etc. There then follows a comparison of Marx's ideas with those of his critics - neoclassical, Keynsian and Marxist variations.

Once this grounding is complete, and he has demonstrated the appropriateness of using Marx's analytical tools, he moves on to a discussion of how Capitalism works. This is a fairly generalised approach but lays the foundations for later chapters.

Once these basics are out of the way, Harman moves on to consider how Capitalism has developed since Marx's time and whether Capitalism has moved beyond useful Marxist analysis. He shows, pretty convincingly to my mind, that it has not and that a Marxist approach can still shed considerable light on the workings of the system.

Following on from that, he considers the role of the state. It is clear that states are deeply involved in not just maintaining Capitalism but as active participants. Even in these days of international or transnational corporations, Harman shows how rooted 'capitals' are in the nation state. In this, he echoes Alex Callinicos. Suggestions that nation states have outlived their usefulness are clearly false. However, the state is not simply a provider of currencies, rules, regulations, copyright protection, worker maintenance etc. but is also an active participant in the Capitalist enterprise.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explaining the crisis yet again 5 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Chris Harman's book Zombie Capitalism is like a breath of fresh air amongst all the establishment writings on capitalism and the latest crisis. While they look upon capitalism as a recalcitrant child that won't behave itself, that keeps throwing unexpected tantrums, Harman shows in great detail how the behaviour of modern capitalism is inevitably driven by the need to accumulate, and to deal with the inherent tendency of the rate of profit to fall. And it's not as if that is news even to right wing economists - they've seen the effects, they've seen the figures. But to countenance the labour theory of value, to acknowledge that capitalism doesn't tend to equilibrium but to crisis, is political anathema. Instead they acknowledge amongst themselves that they can't explain what's going on. Their economic theories do not explain either the post-war boom, nor the falling rate of profit, nor the role of the state as capitalist, nor many other things.

Harman presents Marx's concepts of capitalism, explains the labour theory of value and the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. He explains how capitalism has responded historically to the declining rate by increasing exploitation both within a country and abroad. He shows how the drive to accumulate led to imperialism and how the role of the state as mediator in the struggle between classes has developed into being a major capitalist power in its own right.

Harman looks at the evidence behind the claims of neoliberalism to address the crisis of profitability and shows how far from showing progress, the crisis of profitability has worsened over the last thirty years.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up to a point, Mr Marx 4 July 2011
The vast majority of books attempting to explain the financial crisis of the last few years have done so by reference to the greed, stupidity and criminal behaviour of the individuals mostly responsible. Few would deny that these are important causes of the crisis, but even right-wing authors have become uncomfortably aware that the problems must go beyond just the behaviour of individuals, and have started to wonder whether there isn't something fundamentally wrong and unstable about the whole system.
This is not exactly a new idea: one Karl Marx is the best known proponent of the view that the system would eventually eat itself. To be fair though, many more recent economists (including Keynes who comes in for some unduly harsh criticism in this book) were well aware of the instability of capitalism, but believed that government regulation could keep its wilder excesses under control. But for those who want a pure Marxist interpretation of recent events, which provides a coherent and largely convincing argument, it would be hard to do better than Mr Harman's book. Its great strength is that it provides a clear and detailed theoretical framework, and applies it rigorously to the whole of modern economic history up to the present day.
This is also the problem, because Mr Harman wants to relate absolutely everything to the Marxist concepts of surplus value and capital accumulation. Often the argument is convincing, but sometimes it seems merely reductionist. For example, one of the author's concerns (he was a member of the Socialist Workers' Party) was to apply the same critical framework to the Soviet Union, which he regards as equally "capitalist" in the technical sense.
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