David Harvey – Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism


Event Dates 25 June 2013

Lecture Theatre E002, Granary Building,
Central Saint Martins,
London N1C 4AA

The Masters in Research in Art Theory and Philosophy course at Central Saint Martins presents:

Professor David Harvey (CUNY) – Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

In this lecture drawing on his new ‘Seventeen Contradictions and The End of Capitalism’ David Harvey will explore the way capital works, how systemic contradictions are socially and spatially constructed, and ask whether these contradictions and inequalities generate new political and cultural pathways beyond capitalism.

Over the last four decades David Harvey has illuminated a new geographical and cultural understanding of the way capitalism operates. Beyond his extraordinary scholarly contributions however perhaps what is equally remarkable is the public reach of his writing and teaching. David Harvey’s recent online lecture courses and interventions not only reassert the legacy of Marx’s theory, his work inspires something quite new – a spirit of autodidactism, organic learning and a sense that the public realm is a field of education and political optimism.

Prior to David’s talk Louis Moreno of University College London’s Urban Laboratory will consider some of the ways in which David’s body of work provides a fresh starting point for a creative and practical response to a new era of civil unrest and geo-political uncertainty. Following David’s talk there will be a Q&A chaired by Professor Jeremy Till, head of Central Saint Martins

Introduction by Louis Moreno:





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  • Andrey

    Interesting talk, but Harvey doesn’t really deliver on his promise. I’m tempted to call it a case of false advertising since only one of the 17 contradictions was covered in any detail: The contradiction of technology. Also, it remains unclear and undefined what Harvey means by the notion of contradiction.

    Key point extracted: Technological innovations are an inevitable aspect of the capitalist dynamic. Accelerating technological change will wipe out a vast proportion of existing jobs through robotization, rapidly increased computing power and artificial intelligence. The Left’s response should not be to try to save those jobs – they are doomed. Rather, our focus must be on what should follow the loss of jobs in the wake of automation: What can we do _instead_ of carrying out the drudgery of labor? Capital’s solution is to provide us with “Compensatory Consumption” (André Gorz), essentially bribing us with consumer goods.

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  • RobT

    I’m still impressed that he can talk for an hour without notes but this was disappointing.
    Like Andrey I’d pick on that point of ‘why save lost jobs’ – the issue that became so critical between him and others around the Cowley dispute at Oxford.
    Maybe because the demand builds political consciousness for those involved, acknowledges the class struggle and is actively opening up a key contradiction.

  • Jay

    I found this vacuous and lacking analytical rigor. Can’t see how his insights on the market would pass muster in an economics department or business school–anyone close to the real economy would have much more to say about these specific phenomena and take issues with Harvey’s vast generalizations. Also, what is the organ through which he believes post -capitalism can be actively “thought”/”comprehended”/”steered”?–this seems the basis of a fantasy that these forces can a)ever be comprehended in a way that would yield an actionable consensus and b)that if there were some supra-national decision making body responsible for executing on Harvey’s master plan, it could ever be correct, let alone just.

    To those above focused on the “why save lost jobs” question, I think Harvey’s acknowledgment innovation’s fundamental role to increasing well being (isn’t innovation a more apt concept than technology?) is wise. Technological change, innovation, call it what you want–even creative destruction–is the engine that guides resources towards highest and best use. If people aren’t yet able to articulate how or whether this type of progress means they are enjoying the benefits of more free time, autonomy, or direction over their productive capacities, why don’t we look at objective indicators like lower infant mortality, longer lifespan, higher literacy rates, etc? These are enough to convince me that these are moves in the right direction, much more so than Harvey’s anecdotal report that higher standards of living through innovation leads to existential crisis, and should be avoided.

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