Daily Archives: September 30, 2012

Rewind: Anti-Capitalism (HUM415)

Ezequiel Adamovsky’s Anti-Capitalism is a pretty straightforward account of capitalism as a social system and the history of movements seeking to undermine or destroy it. What follows is an effort to direct your attention to key passages of this graphic book which should form part of the basis for our conversations in class. As with Marx and Ha-Joon Chang, this text is foundational because it offers both important key concepts and a critical narrative of capitalism.

p. 5 makes the case that capitalism is “an oppressive social system.” You should be able to explain why Adamovsky makes such a claim. It’s necessary to understand capitalist domination not as the direct coercion of a villainous despot, but as the inevitable outcome of a system. In other words, we need to think structurally.

p. 13 addresses the inherent instability of capitalism and the fact that it is crisis-prone. Here Adamovsky introduces the concept of “class struggle,” though not in a way that seems immediately obvious. Power produces resistance to it. The form that resistance takes can vary widely in different circumstances.

p. 15 briefly explores the core institution of capitalism, private property. Remember that property is not so much a thing– a what– as it is a relationship. Private property is basically property of which other people are deprived. The institution of private property lies at the heart of many of the political developments of the 18th and 19th centuries, from its role in the colonization of Africa, Asia, and the Americas, to its ostensible status as the origin point of all political rights (via “natural law”). Yet private property infringes on the public realm. Think of the visual pollution of advertisements, the toxic effluence of factories, the private ownership of the natural world.

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