|February 3, 2011|
Photograph by Phil Douglis
From London Review of Books:
In the case of real estate, it might happen – as it has – that more building and selling of houses has been financed than can actually be paid for with income deriving, in the last instance, from production. So the credit system that had seemed to insure against one kind of overaccumulation (of commodity capital) by advancing money against future production, now seems to have fostered another kind of overaccumulation (of fictitious capital) by promising more production than has occurred. More housing has been created than builders can sell at a profit; more mortgage debt has been issued than can be repaid, through wage income, to ensure the lenders’ profit; homeowners who took out loans against the rising value of their property find that prices are instead plummeting; and with the collapse of the housing sector more money capital now lies in the hands of its owners than they can see a way to invest profitably.
‘The onset of a crisis is usually triggered by a spectacular failure which shakes confidence in fictitious forms of capital,’ Harvey writes, and everyone knows what happens next. The flow of credit, at one moment lavished to all comers on the flimsiest pretext of repayment, at the next more or less dries up. In the resulting conditions of uncertainty, those without ready cash, forced to cough it up anyway, can be pushed into fire-sales of their assets, while those who do have cash prefer to save rather than spend it, so that the economy as a whole sinks toward stagnation. So far, so familiar. But what explains the special liability of capitalism to crises of disappointed speculation? And why should real estate so often be their privileged object?
‘Such speculative fevers are not necessarily to be interpreted as direct manifestations of disequilibrium in production,’ Harvey says: ‘They can and do occur on their own account.’ Yet ‘overaccumulation creates conditions ripe for such speculative fevers so that a concatenation of the latter almost invariably signals the existence of the former.’ If capital has been overaccumulated, this means by definition that it can’t easily find a profitable outlet in increased production. The resulting temptation, Harvey suggests, with his emphasis on finance, will be for capital to sidestep production altogether and attempt to increase itself through the multiplication of paper (or digital) assets alone. The question that goes all but unasked in the more respectable literature on the crisis, is why the opportunities for profitable investment looked so scarce in the first place.
Watch David Harvey on the Crises of Capitalism here
Merleau-Ponty’s Child Psychology
As much as death signals the end of the self, birth is just as mysterious. Both extend out to infinity and signal the brevity and contingency of our lives. As mysterious are those first few years of life that one does not have access to as an adult, I know I existed before my earliest memories. I know I interacted with others, I learned to walk and talk. I was willful from my parent’s tales.
William Pope.L: Reader Friendly
William Pope.L is famous for (among other things) carrying a business card that identifies him as “The Friendliest Black Artist in America.” It’s a clever gag because it makes itself true, in a way, every time it draws people closer. The card must be especially useful when Pope.L does business with people who dread Black men or Black artists.
10 Things the NSA Has Seen Me Do
One winter in my early twenties myself and some good friends — a merging of art, music and literary ladies of New York, full-grown girls aspiring to be women — got together, had a lovely dinner, some wine and delightful chat. Then we decided to spend an hour practicing “Teach Me How To Dougie”. NSA — can you teach me how to Dougie? You know why? “Because all my bitches love me.”
You may also like :
The commodification of land—that most basic of resources, the source of terrestrial life, and the foundation of human civilization—was essential for the development of capitalism. And from the early modern capitalist era until the present, it is the commodification of nature—with land bought (or obtained by other means) and sold, speculated upon, and used to produce human food, animal feed, fiber, or fuel and with crops selected based on climate and soil type but also on what would bring the greatest returns—that is the underlying basis of the dispossession of people from their lands.