41 of 43 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 Jonathan
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crisis,
This review is from: The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism (Paperback)If you want to know how the world finance collapsed this is a great start. After reading what banks actually do with your money, the mattress is starting to look quite attractive.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting,
This review is from: The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism (Paperback)Very interesting. Very illuminating. A bit American in expression. Assumes quite a lot of knowledge that some of us don't have.
15 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard work, reasonably well rewarded.,
However, it does have a few weaknesses,
1. The first chapter reads very much like it was bolted on post-GFC.
2. David Harvey does nothing to destroy the idea that academics often confuse accessibility with dumbing-down. The ideas require arguably unnecessary effort, and plenty of strong coffee, for the reader to extract.
3. There is a glaring lack of any real numerical analysis, only that first anomalous chapter contains any charts. Perhaps that is to be expected from a professor of anthropology but many of these arguments would be better supported by a few numbers rather than quite so many words.
10 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clarion call for a new humanity,
To make a pot we need work with clay. To change things we need to work with others. Human beings are the raw materials of all political movements. We should seek to nourish and cherish all who are seek a world which is based on people's need not individual greed.
We seek transformation. We give our time freely. The fate of all humanity falls on all our backs, not just the chosen few. We need to live our life with purpose and joy.
We reject all who claim to be gurus. The monopoly of truth resides in us all. We listen. We learn. We question. We do not believe something just because others do. Not even Professor Harvey.
We dare to imagine but at the same time we won't get fooled again. We do not worship states nor political parties. They are but the echo of the battle. All authority is to be questioned.
We seek change always from below. We reject the reducers and the traducers, the vulgarians and the charlattans. Launguage by it's very nature is imprecise. We think carefully about meaning and the purpose of language.
Leaders follow they do no lead.
We break things down. We seek simplicity and elegance in thought.
From Africa we emerged and humanity's journey has not yet ended. From whence we have come from and from whence we go we do not ken. We are all Jock Tamson Bains. We all humans inextricbaly to the land and all that lives on this blue planet of ours.
David's work for me is a clarion call for a new humanity Slange Georg
6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review,
A good read.
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another gem by harvey.,
This review is from: The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism (Paperback)Excellant extension of some of his ideas on neoliberalism and the class war by the haves against the have nots.Some marvellous reviews as well.
9 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More politics than economics,
7 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars david harvey The Enigman of Capitalism,
This review is from: The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism (Paperback)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.
2 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Lecture from Professor Spartacus,
This review is from: The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism (Paperback)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
4 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inside the Enemy's Mind,
This review is from: The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism (Paperback)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.
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The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey (Paperback - 14 April 2011)