Book Club: David Harvey

Our university doesn’t give us a book allowance, obviously. And it’s useless to ask for any books that can be used in research for our faculty book clubs. We are, however, allowed to ask for books that improve our teaching. Because we are supposed to be always improving our teaching.

After 10 years of attending faculty book clubs that discuss such hoary old topics as flipped classrooms, the oppressiveness of merit, and the importance of assessment, I’ve just about had it with these clubs.

But then a colleague had a brilliant idea. He told the administration that our book club urgently needs to read David Harvey’s new book Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason because it will tell us how to adjust our pedagogy better to serve students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Yeah, it’s ridiculous but the administration bought it and provided copies of the book. Unlike the ever-popular subject of flipped classrooms that attracts crowds, our David Harvey book club only attracted 4 people.

The first meeting is today and I’m preparing. The book is very good, folks. It’s probably my favorite book by Harvey so far. What I find new and fascinating to me is that it turns out Marx knew abd said from the start that industrial capitalists – those who manufacture stuff – are ultimately going to be the losers of the capitalist game. The laws of capital reproduction mandate that capital eventually should try to get rid of labor altogether.

A point comes when labor costs become too stable for any large jolts. And that stability is something that deeply antithetical to what capitalism is. What this means is that the current developments – the primacy of finance over productions, the destruction of manufacturing, and everything we call neoliberalism – was inevitable.

Of course, there are things Marx could have never predicted like, for instance, the ever important land losing in importance to something like intellectual property rights.

A fascinating, very easy to read book.

More on the book to follow.

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