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The New Imperialism


People around the world are confused and concerned. Is it a sign of strength of or of weakness that the US has suddenly shifted from a politics of ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of The New Imperialism

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accumulation by dispossession

by JAC1 on Apr 8, 2007

Drawing heavily on Rosa Luxembourg, Giovanni Arrighi, and Hannah Arendt, Harvey articulates a theory of capitalist imperialism based on intertwined ?logics? of territorial and capitalistic power. Like these other authors, Harvey argues that the tendency of capitalism towards the over-production of surplus generates recurring crises that can only be addressed through geographic expansion into new markets and through the ?creative destruction?of regions already colonized by capitalistic activities. Both ?fixes? to crises of overaccumulation involve the territorial logic and imperial practices of states. Harvey?s key argument is that the traditional emphasis on primitive accumulation ? theft, violence, predation, colonization, etc. ? are recurring practices within capitalism, which he renames ?accumulation by dispossession,? and should be considered as systemic processes rather than a concluded episode of early capitalism. This is a valuable conceptual contribution to understanding the evolution of the global capitalist system. Harvey never states what is ?new? about the ?new imperialism.? But, I surmise that it is the ascendance of accumulation by dispossession, through neoliberal global governance and now through the occupation of Iraq, as the dominant mode of managing the current global crisis of overaccumulation. In the current moment, Harvey argues that the logic of capitalism ? the need to find new places to absorb surplus capital in profitable activity ? is in contradiction with the territorial logic of the Bush administration. The occupation of Iraq will fail to absorb sufficient capital to remedy the current crisis, is provoking resistance movements, and reflects the underlying economic weakness of the American economy, gutted of manufacturing and dominated by finance and debt, as the ?molecular? geography of capital accumulation has shifted out of the territory of the US to other, more profitable regions of the world. In short, Harvey joins the chorus of observers arguing that the Iraq war will only hasten the decline of the United States as the pre-eminent capitalist ppower. Harvey once again provides a theoretically saavy read of contemporary politics though this book is aimed at an academic audience rather than a lay reader.

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