For many years I used to teach an introductory geography class and I used to start the class off by asking people. Where did their breakfast come from? But the point about it was to kind of say that very simple things like a breakfast involve millions of people around the world, commodity movements around the world, and it seemed to me it was.
It was useful to ask. Well, how does it move and, of course, in our society it moves because it’s profitable. So, in a sense, all these commodities are sort of taken along by lots of currents and flows of capital.
And so therefore, this notion of capital as a flow and a constant flow, which is very crucial to the reproduction of daily life, started to become very important. To me – and I sort of thought to myself now, how do I visualize a flow of this kind and is there some way I can make a picture of it and my inspiration for this was this diagram at the water cycle and the thing that interested me Most is that, in the same way that capital sometimes takes the form of money, sometimes of commodities, sometimes the productive activity, so in the water cycle, you also get what Marx calls these Metamorpho seas that at one point it’s, a liquid in the Ocean then it becomes a vapor and then it moves around and then it takes on all kinds of different forms of precipitation.
Some of it moves back very fast into the ocean. Some of it gets lost underground, some of it stays sort of in ice caps. Some of it gets taken up by human and animal and vegetable and activities, and it comes back into the atmosphere directly without going through the ocean.
So this is a kind of a cycle and it goes on and on and on and on and on and marks. Actually is often talking about the circulation of capital as this, and and so I thought well, could I make a picture of it, and so what I did was this first start at the bottom there, and you see that there’s, something called money Capital and money capital is part of the money which is used as capital, which is money going to be used to make more money.
Now there’s, a lot of money that doesn’t. Do that so it’s, not all money’s, doing that and in in Marx’s; analysis of industrial capitalism in the capitis mode of production that money capital is used to buy commodities of two sorts, labor power and Means of production now, in order for that to happen, there has to be already a labor market in existence already a sophisticated commodity market, so you can buy your raw materials and your machinery and all that kind of thing, and then the capitalist puts that together in An act of production, a production of commodities and these commodities are going to reproduce the value in the money form in a commodity form through the application of labour and so Marx talks about the application of labour to reproduce value and to produce.
As we’ll see a surplus value in the form of commodities and commodities are of three kinds: wage Goods luxuries means the production. The means of production flow back in wage goods go off to reproduce the labor foul luxuries go off into another market, but the important thing here is that there’s, a movement from production of commodities to the realization of the value of commodities in Money form in the market and now, once it’s, the the value is in money form again, then it can get distributed in various forms.
It’s, hard to distribute the commodities directly, but you can distribute the money and you’re, distributed in the form of wages. Some of it is taken up by taxes and there’s in the profit of industrialists, and there’s.
The merchants who take a profit, then the landlord takes a profit and the bankers and the financier take interest. So you & # 39. Ve got the moments in this process of production, realization and distribution.
Once it’s in the distribution, it’s back in the money form and what gets done with it. Well, some of it is going to flow back in form of demand because the workers need to live and spare and and the state needs to spend and the industrialist need to live so some of it flows back is consumer effective demand, but some of it then Comes back in as a reinvestment in the process again, so there’s reinvestment.
So this is a cycle and it continues on on on, and Marx wrote three volumes of capital. The first volume of capital is all about production and valorisation. The second volume is all about realization and the third volume is about distribution and my argument, a lot of the time to people is, if you might understand Marx’s concept of capital, you’ve, got to read all three volumes of Capital and the problem is that you know in the english-speaking world at least there’s, something which I caught a kind of disease called volume, 1 itis, which says that anybody who reads Marx reads: volume 1 says this is a marvelous piece of literature.
It’s great, they get about 20 pages into volume, 2 and say this is boring. I’ll put it aside, you know and volume 3. They say this is chaotic. I don’t know some of it’s interesting some. It’s. Not so they tend to lay it aside and they don’t.
Do a systematic analysis of what capital looks like from the standpoint of these three volumes of capital? Now Marx actually used a concept of a totality, and the totality here is, in fact, the unification of the three volumes of capital and it’s.
Not really been done very well, so one of the things I’m trying to do is to so take a little crack at unifying the three volumes of capital and then seeing how this process actually then-then-then works.
So my point here is this: that actually that that diagram I had is an interesting way to sort of think about the problems of the global economy. It’s, also an interesting way to think about where crises come from, because there’s, a tendency to sort of say well there’s, only one place where crises come from in the history of capitalism.
Well, no, it’s, not true. If you look at the continuity of that, you say it could come from anywhere. It can come from the reproduction of labour power. It can come from from so you actually have a completely different definition of crisis because, as Mark said, you get crises not because things don’t sell or don’t get realized.
You get crises because they’re, not sold in time, so the temporality of the system, the speedup of this system, becomes significant. There’s, a lot of things you can start to say when you actually have a simple kind of verse and the same waiter.
I think the hydrological cycle was always an incredible force, an incredibly interesting way to look at it say. Okay, now I get it now, I can kind of start to think about. You know many of the things that derive from it.
So I think, by using that diagram, you can start a lot raise all kinds of questions and which to me is the most important thing that an academic can do. [ Applause, ], [, Music, ], [, Music, ]
Marx’s ‘Capital’ is one of the most important texts of the modern era and continues to resonate today. Professor David Harvey, the world’s leading expert on Karl Marx, explains the continued importance of Marx’s analysis and how we can apply it to today’s economy and society.
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