Friday, 26 October 2012

Book Review: Rebel Cities: From The Right To The City To The Urban Revolution By David Harvey

A collection of essays from the distinguished Marxist theorist David Harvey on the theme of urbanisation and the class struggles arising out of city environments. For those who want to prioritise class struggle based on urban communities rather then the workplace or who see the centrality of community in workplace struggle, it is worth reading. It is a difficult read at times as much of the book is a detailed analysis of the vital importance to capitalism (its drive for the accumulation of profit and absorption of surplus value) of the built environment and the processes of urbanisation. The impact of this on the broad mass of city dwellers and the environment is in the dispossession of the poor and working class of their homes and communities to make way for gated communities, gentrified zones and CCTV monitored private spaces such as shopping malls-linked brutally to the extraction of wealth of both the people and the planet via methods of high rent and sub-prime mortgages. David Harvey is no anarchist and is mildly dismissive of vague horizontalism but has some admiring words for eco-anarchist Murry Bookchin. He formulates a new urban anti-capitalist movement based somewhere between Bookchin's municipal libertarianism, the Paris Commune and larger global state forms.

Read Owen Hatherley's review in the Guardian here

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