Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: Capital's Double Consciousness

**Anti-Capitalist Chronicles will take a brief hiatus during August 2022. We'll be back with new episodes in September!**

[S4 E12] New

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In this episode of Anti-Capitalist Chronicles, Prof. Harvey continues his discussion of Brad DeLong’s new book, Slouching Towards Utopia, in which DeLong notes the contradiction between an emerging middle class over the last century through technological innovation and stagnant levels of happiness. To explain this dilemma, Harvey looks closer at how these technological advancements shape labor and function under capitalism. He argues that the purpose was never to lighten the load of labor, it was solely to increase profitability. Therein lies the central contradiction of capitalism: capital is great at creating new products, ideas, possibilities, and lifestyles, but it simultaneously produces alienation. It is no wonder that there is a deep dissatisfaction with our society. Alienation is a natural byproduct of capitalism when the ever-growing advancements are designed to produce more surplus rather than improve working people's lives.

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Showing 1 comment

  • Edward Dodson
    commented 2022-08-03 13:00:48 -0400
    Henry George in the late 19th century described civilization as a thin and fragile veneer protecting us from the worst behaviors of our nature as humans. We humans also have a strong instinct to cooperate with one another. Unfortunately, the early cooperative behavior in tribal societies was undermined by the appearance of hierarchy. Warrior-chiefs became kings. Their offspring and extended family members achieved inherited, aristocratic privileges. Those who held this power used a combination of coercion and tradition to affect a redistribution of wealth from its producers to themselves. When most members of the society were peasants, this redistribution went as far as possible without causing the peasants to starve. When markets began to appear, the process became less arbitrary and more mechanistic by the simple method of charging rent for the use of land and seeing that producers had to compete against one another for access to land on which to produce whatever they produced. Capitalism did not replace these relationships; capitalism merely added other monopoly privileges to the legal structure that made possible the redistribution of wealth as described.

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