This week, a trio of angles on capitalism which sharply contradict the idealized world so aggressively pushed by economists and the commercially-controlled media. After Geoff Bailey introduces the concept of "Accumulation by Dispossession", David Graeber summarizes some key points from the book we last year, Debt, The First 5000 Years and we conclude with the final chapter of Howard Zinn's People's History Of The United States.
Thanks to Sasha Lilley of Against The Grain for the David Graeber interview and to Matthew Slater the Howard Zinn reading
Considering how aggressively it is promoted, it is surely worth reflecting how capitalism came about. Why are the rich so rich? How did wealthy families become wealthy families? Was it, as economists love to imply, because of hard work and wise investments? Or was it perhaps a variety of other, darker, reasons only generally mentioned nowadays on as points of history - such as the slave trade, the enclosures or the divine right of kings?
In a 2013 talk entitled "Accumulation by Dispossession", Geoff Bailey introduces this concept which has proved very popular with a variety of thinkers since it was introduced in a 2003 book by anarchist geographer, David Harvey. He first introduces the original ideas of Marx on the origins of capitalism and then briefly looks at some of the critiques which compare Marx and Harvey's writings. He notes Marx's challenge to Adam Smith's writings on "original accumulation", that capitalism emerged as a result of a sort of "grasshopper and ant" situation, with some people being irresponsible and spendthrift while their more prudent fellows saving their wealth so they could go on to become owners of big estates and later of factories. Mindful of the process of enclosure at home and plunder and subjugation abroad, Marx suggests that their savagery rather than their savings would better characterize the small group of men who became owners of the means of production.
Then we hear an interview of anthropologist David Graeber summarizing Debt, The First 5000 Years, his book which we read on the show from 2011-2012. He recaps some of the books' main points, such as the unnaturalness of the economists' belief that money evolved from barter or that human beings are basically selfish.
We conclude with a reading of the final chapter of Howard Zinn's People's History Of The United States, entitled "The Coming Revolt Of The Guards".