In these essays, David Harvey searches for adequate conceptualizations of space and of uneven geographical development that will help to understand the new historical geography of global capitalism. The theory of uneven geographical development needs further examination: The extreme volatility in contemporary political economic fortunes across and between spaces of the world economy cries out for better historical-geographical analysis and theoretical interpretation. The political necessity is just as urgent since social inequalities have increased in recent decades. Fiscal crises have cascaded across much of the developing world with devastating results from Mexico to Indonesia, Russia and Argentina. Simultaneously, the different oppositional movements to neoliberalism create both opportunities and barriers in the search for alternatives. Harvey shows that this search needs to be supported by a deeper theoretical understanding of the roles of space and uneven geographical development in shaping the world around us.
An American Empire, constructed over the last century, long ago overtook European colonialism, and it has been widely assumed that the new globalism it espoused took us “beyond geography.” Neil Smith debunks that assumption, offering an incisive argument that American globalism had a distinct geography and was pieced together as part of a powerful geographical vision. The power of geography did not die with the twilight of European colonialism, but it did change fundamentally. That the inauguration of the American Century brought a loss of public geographical sensibility in the United States was itself a political symptom of the emerging empire. This book provides a vital geographical-historical context for understanding the power and limits of contemporary globalization, which can now be seen as representing the third of three distinct historical moments of U.S. global ambition.The story unfolds through a decisive account of the career of Isaiah Bowman (1878-1950), the most famous American geographer of the twentieth century. For nearly four decades Bowman operated around the vortex of state power, working to bring an American order to the global landscape. An explorer on the famous Machu Picchu expedition of 1911 who came to be known first as “Woodrow Wilson's geographer,” and later as Frankin D. Roosevelt's, Bowman was present at the creation of U.S. liberal foreign policy. A quarter-century later, Bowman was at the center of Roosevelt's State Department, concerned with the disposition of Germany and heightened U.S. access to European colonies; he was described by Dean Acheson as a key “architect of the United Nations.” In that period he was a leader in American science, served as president of Johns Hopkins University, and became an early and vociferous cold warrior. A complicated, contradictory, and at times controversial figure who was very much in the public eye, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Bowman's career as a geographer in an era when the value of geography was deeply questioned provides a unique window into the contradictory uses of geographical knowledge in the construction of the American Empire. Smith's historical excavation reveals, in broad strokes yet with lively detail, that today's American-inspired globalization springs not from the 1980s but from two earlier moments in 1919 and 1945, both of which ended in failure. By recharting the geography of this history, Smith brings the politics—and the limits—of contemporary globalization sharply into focus.
Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations is part of a huge manuscript Marx wrote in researching and preparing what would become A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy published in 1859.
These notes of 1857-58 throw light on Marx’s views concerning the epochs of society and their evolutionary stages. Important for understanding the approach of historical materialism, and as background for further development of the Marxist study of history.
Long before the Occupy movement, modern cities had already become the central sites of revolutionary politics, where the deeper currents of social and political change rise to the surface. Consequently, cities have been the subject of much utopian thinking. But at the same time they are also the centers of capital accumulation and the frontline for struggles over who controls access to urban resources and who dictates the quality and organization of daily life. Is it the financiers and developers, or the people?
Rebel Cities places the city at the heart of both capital and class struggles, looking at locations ranging from Johannesburg to Mumbai, and from New York City to São Paulo. Drawing on the Paris Commune as well as Occupy Wall Street and the London Riots, Harvey asks how cities might be reorganized in more socially just and ecologically sane ways—and how they can become the focus for anti-capitalist resistance.
Marx was a journalist more or less all of his adult life. He started writing for the Rheinische Zeitung in 1842, and founded his own paper in 1848. His work for the Tribune came about because he’d met an American newspaper editor, Charles Dana (who would later go on to edit the New York Sun) in Cologne in 1848, and a few years later Dana asked Marx to contribute some articles to the New York Tribune on the situation in Germany.
The New York Tribune was founded in 1841 by Horace Greeley, and it quickly became both the largest newspaper in the world (a circulation of over 200,000 during the time that Marx was contributing) as well as the foremost anti-slavery organ in the United States. It featured a number of innovations, including the first regular section of literary reviews, as well as numerous foreign correspondents, including Marx. The paper hit some difficult financial times in the late 1850s, and when the Civil War broke out there was great dissent among its principals about supporting the war and supporting Lincoln.
With the rise of the Young Turks and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of a Republic, Trotsky analyzes the political goals and agenda within the atmosphere of the Young Turks—their keen interest in westernization, pro-free market and reform nationalism.
What explains the resounding triumph of the “Young Turks” and their victory gained almost without either sacrifice or effort?
In its real significance, a revolution is a fight for control of the State. That rests directly on the Army. This is why all revolutions in history sharply raised the question: on whose side is the army? And one way or another, in every case, this question had to be answered. In the case of the revolution in Turkey – and that gives it its specific features – it is the army itself which put forward these liberating ideas. Consequently, a new social class did not have to overcome the armed resistance of the Ancien Régime but, on the contrary it could be satisfied with the role of supporting chorus for the revolutionary officers who led their men against the government of the Sultan.
In its historical origins and its traditions, Turkey is a military state. Currently, it is the first among the European Nations as regards the relative size of its army. A large army requires a considerable number officers some of whom had risen from the ranks because of long service. But the Yildiz (the Palace of the Sultan), in spite of its barbaric resistance to the needs of historical development, was forced to Europeanise its army to a certain extent and to open it to educated people. The latter did not wait to benefit from this. The unimportance of Turkish industry and low level of urban culture left the Turkish intelligentsia with hardly any other choice than a military or civil service career. So the State organized at its centre the militant vanguard of the bourgeois nation in process of formation: the critical and dissatisfied intelligentsia. The last few years has seen an uninterrupted series of disorders in the Turkish army due to non-payment of salaries or delays in promotions. The troops seized a telegraphic station and started direct negotiations with the Palace. The Sultan’s camarilla had no other choice but to yield and, in this way, regiment after regiment, the army was taught in the school of rebellion.
The “Young Turks” for their part definitively rejected this approach. Representing the dominant nationality and having their own national army, they hold to and remain national centralisers. The right wing consistently opposes self-government, even at the provincial level. The struggle against powerful centrifugal tendencies makes the “Young Turks” favour a solid central authority and pushes them towards an agreement with the Sultan “quand même” (in French in the original Russian text). That means that as soon as this knot of national contradictions begins to break out in Parliament, the right wing of the “Young Turks” will openly move to the side of counter-revolution.
After the national question, comes the social question. First, there is the peasantry. It carries the heavy burden of militarism and is subjected to a kind of semi-serfdom. A fifth of the peasants are landless, the peasants have a large payment to demand of the new regime. And yet, only one organization in Macedonia and Adrianople (the Bulgarian group of Sandanski) and the Armenian revolutionary organizations (Dashnaks and Henchaks) presented a more or less radical agrarian program. With regard to the party leading the “Young Turks”, in which Beys and landowners dominate, its national-liberal blindness leads it to deny that there ever existed an agrarian question. Obviously, the “Young Turks” hope that handing-over to a new administration, using the forms and procedures of parliamentarism, will be enough to satisfy the peasants. They are so wrong. Dissatisfaction in the countryside with regard to the new order of things will moreover ineluctably find a greater reflection within the army which consists of peasants. The consciousness of the soldiers has grown considerably in the last few months. And if a party which is based on officers, after having given nothing to the peasants, tries to tighten discipline in the army, it could easily happen that the soldiers rise once again but this time against their officers as previously these same officers had opposed Abdul Hamid.
Alongside the agrarian question, there is the labour question. Turkish industry is, we said it, very weak. Not only has the sultan’s regime undermined the economic foundations of the country, but it deliberately created obstacle to the construction of factories, motivated by a healthy fear of the proletariat. Nevertheless, it proved to be impossible to completely preserve the regime against this danger. The first weeks of the Turkish revolution were marked by strikes in the public bakeries, printing works, textiles, transport, the tobacco factories, the workers in the ports and the railwaymen. The boycott of the Austrian goods should have mobilized and inspired the young proletariat of Turkey even more – especially the dockers – who played a decisive role in this campaign. But how did the new regime respond to the political birth of the working class? By a law imposing forced labour for a strike. The program of the “Young Turks” does not have a word concerning any precise measure to help the workers. And yet, to treat the Turkish proletariat as a “quantité négligeable” (in French in the original Russian text) means to run the risk of serious unexpected events. The importance of a class should never be evaluated simply by its numbers. The power of the contemporary proletariat, even when is number is small, rests on the fact that it holds in its hands the concentrated productive capacity of the country and the control of the most significant means of communication. The “Young Turk” party will run up against this elementary fact of capitalist political economy and hard reality.
The restoration of the Sultan and his despotism would mean the end of Turkey, leaving the Turkish State to the mercy of those who want to carve it up. The victory of Turkish democracy, on the contrary, would mean peace. Nothing has been decided! And while behind the warm smiles of the European diplomats at the Turkish Parliament the jaws of predatory capitalists are outlined, ready to benefit at the first opportunity from its internal difficulties to tear Turkey to pieces, European democracy supports with all its strength by its sympathy and its support the “New” Turkey – a Turkey which does not yet exist which is only about to be born.
Kevin Anderson defends Marx’s thinking by delving deep into both the published and unpublished archives to bring to light hitherto little-known or unknown texts that show that Marx’s ideas evolved markedly over time. He argues that both the Communist Manifesto and “The British Rule in India” should not be taken as Marx’s last words on the subject of colonial development. Anderson’s survey of a large swathe of Marx’s writings illustrates the evolution of Marx’s thinking and the breadth of vision. This is a major work which will influence debate and thinking for a long time to come.
Drawing on his access to the Marx and Engels Collected Works (know by the German acronym MEGA) Anderson analyses a wealth of Marx’s unpublished notebooks on ethnographical readings and compares them with the evolution of his published works. For decades the MEGA was dominated by the Soviet Union, and significant writings by Marx were suppressed in true Stalinist style. Only now is a new generation of translators and editors, Anderson among them, bringing valuable texts to light (the new project is delineated as MEGA2 as opposed to the Stalinist MEGA1).
Anderson picks through the hundreds of pages of articles Marx wrote for the New York Tribune, the books published in his lifetime (a minor part of his output), comparing different editions with many fragments and unpublished manuscripts. Luckily, he is not just a diligent academic and translator, he writes in plain-enough English that the common reader can follow and be stimulated.
This is an important book. In a nutshell, what Andrew Kliman shows is that Marx’s laws of motion of capitalism (how capitalism works and does not work) are logically consistent and theoretically valid. Kliman’s book is a compilation and summary of all the efforts of a few Marxist economists over the last 30 years to defend Marxist economic theory from critics (both bourgeois and those claiming to be Marxist).
A significant section of Trotsky’s Notebooks is devoted to a discussion of Freud and psychoanalysis, to which Trotsky displayed a great deal of sympathetic, if critical, appreciation throughout his life. The discussion of psychoanalysis emerges directly out of a consideration of dialectics in the following manner: Trotsky always considered that one of the key aspects of dialectics is its ability to explain a unity without reducing the different levels of a hierarchical, differentiated and unified structure to each other. Thus while recognizing the ultimate unity between Being and Thought, as a materialist should, Trotsky understood better than numerous contemporaries who were influenced by the vulgarized, Stalinist inspired version of “Marxism” emanating from Moscow in the 1930’s (or the equally vulgar views of the positivist minded left wing intellectuals in the West), that one cannot reduce Thought to Being. As he says in his Notebooks,
The interrelationship between consciousness (cognition) and nature is an independent realm with its own regularities.
From this and other fragments we can infer that the key theme that unites the notes on dialectics, psychoanalysis and evolution, is Trotsky’s anti-reductionism. This theme is evident in the following remark: “The dialectic of consciousness is not … a reflection of the dialectic of nature, but is a result of the lively interaction between consciousness and nature and - in addition - a method of cognition, issuing from this interaction.” What Trotsky means by this is evident a few paragraphs later, when he invokes one of his favorite analogies – “Consciousness acts like a camera”. The process at work in the mind (like the process at work in the camera) isn’t identical to the process of the reality it is reflecting. To argue otherwise isn’t materialism but rather Hegelian idealism: “Since cognition is not identical with the world (in spite of Hegel’s idealistic postulation), dialectical cognition is not identical with the dialectic of nature.”
The camera analogy demonstrates this point: still photography “tears from nature ‘moments’ [while] the ties and transitions among them are lost”; motion pictures are more like nature in their “uninterruptedness,” but the latter is an illusion created by “exploit[ing] the eye’s imperfection,” i.e. by stringing together separate moments (or shots) with breaks between them too short for the retina to register. In other words, by a process of illusion, the camera produces a (more or less accurate) reflection of reality. Needless to say, the process (or dialectic) of consciousness must be a good deal more complicated.This brings Trotsky to the following conclusion: “Consciousness is a quite original part of nature, possessing peculiarities and regularities that are completely absent in the remaining part of nature. Subjective dialectics must by virtue of this be a distinctive part of objective dialectics - with its own special forms and regularities.” There is, to put this another way, an important degree of autonomy to the processes of the mind.
Having established this point, Trotsky considers a familiar objection to it: “The brain is the material substrate of consciousness. Does this mean that consciousness is simply a form of ‘manifestation’ of the physiological processes in the brain? If this were the state of affairs, then one would have to ask: What is the need for consciousness? If consciousness has no independent function, which rises above physiological processes in the brain and nerves, then it is unnecessary, useless; it is harmful because it is a superfluous complication - and what a complication!” Thus, the essential problem with physiological approaches to psychology was that the latter only began where physiology left off. Consciousness “can be biologically and socially ‘justified’ only in the event that it yields vital results beyond those which are achieved by the system of unconscious reflexes. This presupposes not only the autonomy of consciousness (within certain limits) from automatic processes in the brain and nerves, but the ability of consciousness to influence the actions and functions of the body as well.” Or, as Trotsky adds a little further on, in going from physiology to psychology, “we approach … some sort of critical point, a break in the gradualness, a transition from quantity into quality: the psyche, arising from matter, is ‘freed’ from the determinism of matter, so that it can independently - by its own laws - influence matter.” It is just because there is this qualitative “break” between psychology and physiology that all the physiological data in the world cannot tell us a ‘jot’ about feelings or thoughts.
Trotsky now turns to psychoanalysis, which, he notes, “in practice completely removes itself from physiology, basing itself upon the inner determinism of psychic phenomena.” Because of this, Freud has often been accused of idealism, and it is true that psychoanalysts are frequently inclined to mystification. “But by itself the method of psychoanalysis, taking as its point of departure the ‘autonomy’ of psychological phenomena, in no way contradicts materialism. Quite the contrary, it is precisely dialectical materialism that prompts us to the idea that the psyche could not even be formed unless it played an autonomous, that is, within certain limits, an independent role in the life of the individual and the species.” This remarkable statement caps Trotsky’s argument: in effect what it says is that if psychoanalysis didn’t exist, Marxists would have had to come up with something very much like it. And while many Freudians would have vehemently denied any connection of their doctrine with the world outlook of Marxism, there was an important group of analysts, i.e. the Freudo-Marxists, who would have readily concurred with Trotsky’s analysis: the materialist and dialectical character of psychoanalysis was a major theme of their writing and Fenichel summed up their common position in the title of one of his essays: “Psychoanalysis as the Nucleus of a Future Dialectical-Materialistic Psychology.” Indeed, confirmation of this view of psychoanalysis can be found in as unlikely a source as Norman O. Brown, author of a well-known work which tried to meld psychoanalysis with mysticism, who noted how surprised he was to discover “Freud’s methodological affinity with the heretical tradition in logic that can be labeled dialectical.”
This last point raises a question. If psychoanalytic theory is an illustration of the dialectic, then how could that supreme anti-dialectician, Max Eastman, use psychoanalysis to debunk the dialectic? But this is only a riddle if one considers that Eastman’s understanding of psychoanalysis did it justice. Eastman’s use of Freud against Trotsky and dialectics – that dialectics is a form of animism in philosophy - betrays a complete misunderstanding of Freud. For Freud, animism was not simply nonsense, but an early form of social practice that attempts to regulate man’s interaction with the world around him. In his discussion of animism in Totem and Taboo, Freud wrote,
Under the dominance of an animistic system it is absolutely essential that each rule and activity should receive a systematic motivation which we today call ‘superstitious’. But ‘superstition’, like ‘anxiety’, ‘dreams’, and ‘demons’, is one of the preliminaries of psychology which have been dissipated by psychoanalytic investigation. If we get behind these structures, which like a screen conceal understanding, we realize that the psychic life and the cultural level of savages have hitherto been inadequately appreciated.
It is clear that for Freud animism is much more than mere superstition. It is part of what Erich Fromm called “the forgotten language”, as are dreams and the fantasies of young children. This dialectical grasp of animism contrasts sharply with Eastman’s one-dimensional, Voltairean dismissal of animism as mere superstition. When applying the animism metaphor to dialectics, Eastman’s dismissal is equally misleading. Dialectics, far from being a form of animism, encompasses the highest development of scientific conceptualization. There is however a grain of truth in saying that dialectics includes within it – in sublated form – a primitive concept of an organic whole in which the boundary between what is living and what is not is yet to be articulated. But that only indicates that the earliest, naïve form of the notion of a totality encompassing the whole of the natural world that predates even the dawn of philosophy in ancient Greece, is an embryonic version of science [Wissenschaft] which in its broadest sense implies the systematic cognition of the whole.
If anyone has an ebook (PDF preferred) of Trotsky’s Notebooks, 1933-1935: Writings of Lenin, Dialectics and Evolutionism, please notify me—thanks in advance!