Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution by David Harvey – review

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Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution by David Harvey – review

Good review of David Harvey’s new book Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to Urban Revolution, by Owen Hatherley in the Guardian.

Harvey’s reworking of Marxist political theory places the city first and foremost, in terms of its position as a generator of capital accumulation, as opposed to, say, the factory. This is justified by an economic argument around the importance to capitalism of land, rent and speculation rather than production; of all the essays here, it’s the one most tailored to the initiated.

That’s not the case with his frequent recourse to the Paris Commune of 1871, a brief and bloodily-suppressed socialist experiment in working-class self-government. This recourse is not out of sentiment, but due to its relevance. The communards were “a very different kind of proletariat to that which much of the left has typically cast in a vanguard role”. Like today’s workers, they were “characterised by insecurity, by episodic, temporary and spatially diffuse employment, and very difficult to organise on a workplace basis”.

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Donagh is the editor of Irish Left Review. Contact Donagh through email: dublinopinionAtgmail.com