Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: Accumulation by Dispossession


Level: advanced
Democracy at Work, 2019
Perspective: Marxian Political Economy
Topic: Capitalism, Crisis, Development, globalization, growth, inequality, north-south relations
Format: Lecture
Duration: 00:22:55
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRTUhoNORB4

In this short lecture, the marxist economic geographer David Harvey, explains how his theory of «The accumulation of dispossession» came about and its central principles. The theory builds on Marx' law of the centralisation of capital – arguing how the accumulation no longer stems from producing, rather through trading asset values. A tendency we saw shifting from the 1970s and onwards. He argues that in contemporary capitalism the accumulation largely originates in dispossession and not the exploitation of labour in production. The video also puts theory into practice by giving a range of relevant and current examples.

Comment from our editors:

The theory enables us to understand issues such as weakened pension rights, financialisation of housing, and land grabbing in a larger perspective. For instance, after the financial crisis in 2008, private equity firms like Blackstone massively invested in the housing market, using housing as a financial asset – ultimately leading to increased housing prices and mass eviction. The real estate market currently has a market value of ten times that of the total world GDP. Land grabbing in regions like Latin America is also increasing, especially in indigenous territories – where the development of, e.g. minery and hydroelectric industry, often leads to forced eviction of local citizens. Thus, the theory can help us understand the tendency of these serious issues that are happening now in a more systemised way, making us better equipped to fight these worsening tendencies. 

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