Academic journal article Journal of Australian Political Economy

David Harvey: Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

Academic journal article Journal of Australian Political Economy

David Harvey: Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

Article excerpt

David Harvey

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

Profile Books, London, 2014, 338pp.

Contradictions in an economic system generate recurrent problems such as class conflicts, systemic instability and economic crises. Focusing on these features of capitalism contrasts with the neoclassical economists' emphasis on 'equilibrium'. Whereas neoclassicals see competitive market processes as being conducive to harmony and stability, political economists emphasize deeply-rooted tensions in the economy that can only be resolved by systemic transformation. This latter viewpoint is particularly characteristic of political economists of Marxist inclination, such as David Harvey who has contributed so prodigiously to this field over more than four decades of productive scholarship.

In his recent book Harvey provides, in effect, a guide to 'everything you'd want to know about capitalist contradictions but were afraid to ask'. Many of the seventeen contradictions he identifies have been considered in his previous books but to bring them together in this single volume is a sterling effort. It gives us a series of interlinked essays. The first seven deal with what he calls the 'foundational' contradictions of capital. These include the relationship of use values to exchange values; the relationship between capital and labour; and the recurrently incompatible conditions for producing surplus value and realizing it in a monetary form as profits. …

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