43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant popularisation of Marxist political economy
David Harvey is probably both the best known and most prolific author on popular topics in Marxist economics today, and this is one of his best books so far. Working always from his perspective as an economic geographer, in "The Enigma of Capital" he uses the occasion of the current financial crisis to provide a lengthy and highly accessible popular overview of the theory...
Published on 20 Nov 2010 by M. A. Krul
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing
OK, maybe it's just me, but I found this book very confusing and not very well laid out. The first bit, in which he outlines the current financial crisis is good and understandable. But when he starts explaining capital as a process then it all goes wrong. At one stage buried within a chapter he suddenly mentions the blocks to capital flow and announces that he will...
Published on 16 Nov 2011 by Amazon Customer
Most Helpful First | Newest First
9 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More politics than economics,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism (Hardcover)
I bought this book because I wanted to learn about economics and what went wrong in 2008. I'm 75 pages in and about to give up. I've read nothing concrete or scientific yet - nothing that would lead me to believe that I've going to develop an understanding of the system and how it failed. It seems more of an attempt to persuade the reader that capitalism isn't perfect using rhetoric rather than logic. No doubt closet Marxists will enjoy some of the passages about class conflict and the like but I was looking for something more analytical and less like a political speech.
7 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars david harvey The Enigman of Capitalism,
Harvey seems to be locked into a paradigm of capitalism that implies capital itself has a life of its own, rather than it simply being another human construct. His emotional non scientific bias are subtly revealed when Mao is redeemed owing to the fact he sent doctors to poor regions, rather than suggesting to his readers they study a book such as "Mao The Unknown Story" by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday which gives a full well researched picture of Mao's action and activities. Jared Diamond's ground breaking work Guns, Germs and Steel a fascinating study of human history over the last 14,000 years which attempts to understand why a few Spaniards toppled the Inca empire rather than a few Incas toppled the Spanish Monarchy is dismissed and the author chastised for not focusing on imperialistic plundering of Africa. Fortunately Ian Morris' "Why The West Rules For Now" is spared perhaps Harvey hasn't read it yet.
Marxism has been tried and failed and anyone wishing to get an incite into its machinations would be well advised to read Solzhenitsyn Gulag Archipelago. Harvey an expert on Marx could have helped us all by explaining to us why communism has so spectacularly failed rather than calling for the overthrow of capitalism.
Marx along with other political theorists who believed their ideas could change the world all have a primary belief in their own infallibility. Harvey should recommend we all read Francis Bacon who has pointed out that none of us can predict the future therefore all political systems should be kept under constant review and rejected when their results do not deliver. Liberal capitalist democracies have Bacon's principle built in.
3 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Lecture from Professor Spartacus,
Many years ago the English satirical magazine "Private Eye" had a columnist called Dave Spart* who was the in-house lefty columnist who managed to blame capitalism for everything that went wrong at global or personal level - whether it was a natural disaster or a toothache.
I do not know if Dave exists in Private Eye any longer but I can tell you his spirit is alive and thriving in the author of this book who is described as a "distinguished professor of anthropology at the City University of New York Graduate School".
I thought this was a serious academic book when I picked it up.
In fact, it is just a diatribe in which the author takes a selective view of the world and puts his spin on that nasty phenomenon called "capitalism", i.e. the system that allows me to write this review, pays for his salary and guarantees his pension and royalties from this book that I bought.
The classic left-wing conspiracy theory is at full blast and we are supposed to believe we live in a world in which an infectious virus called capitalism is secretly infiltrating every aspect of our lives.
Are we poor and starving? Yes. Blame capitalism.
Are we indebted and about to be evicted from our homes? Blame capitalism.
Are we Mexican immigrants in low-paid jobs in the United States instead of living la vida loca back home in Mexico? Blame capitalism.
Are we exploited Chinese women working in a production plant in a socialist paradise run by the Communist Party? Blame capitalism.
On the other hand, are things not actually getting better? For example, in the "exploited" country where I live - Brazil - income is rising, unemployment is falling and everywhere you look you see people with Ipods, mobile phones and designer-type clothes.
Yes, but still blame capitalism because this is part of its great plot to exploit you by forcing you to buy things you do not really need and plunging you into debt to obtain them.
How do you pay for these things? By borrowing money from greedy capitalists who are only making your life better in order to make it worse.
Oh, and by the way every government in the world is a capitalist puppet and we are all doomed.
Thanks for the lecture. I think I will go back to Adam Smith, a Scotsman from Fife who knew what he was talking about in contrast to someone like Karl Marx.
*Named after Spartacus
6 of 63 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inside the Enemy's Mind,
For those who, like me, plan to read this to understand what the other lot are thinking, let me save you the trouble.
David Harvey (or Professor Bonkers Raving-Trott as I prefer to think of him) has Neil Kinnock's gift for concision. His Marxist-inspired, rambling and interminable analysis of the last two centuries of unprececedented wealth creation personifies capitalism as some kind of Dr Evil, plotting world domination in a secret lair with some masses-downtreading and planet despoliation for light relief. His radical plan to construct an anti-capitalist alternative is to - well - radically construct an anti-capitalist alternative. I think there may have been some holding of hands and thinking happy thoughts as well but it's possible my attention was wavering by then.
What was most surprising is that, in today's world of technology and globalisation where many economies seem to be able to prosper at employment levels of 80% or less, the left's leading light can't get past full-employment solutions more suited to the 1870's. If this is the best the other lot can come up with, my money remains on free market enterprise to prosper wherever it's given a chance.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey (Hardcover - 15 April 2010)
Used & New from: £7.76