Harvey, David; 2012; REBEL CITIES: From the Right to City to the Urban Revolution, Verso: Brooklyn
David Harvey is one of the most innovative urban sociologists of our times, along with Manuel Castells and Henry Lefebvre. He analyses the tension between city formation and capitalism. He tries to look for an alternative approach to explain how capitalism transforms urban spaces. Harvey draws extensively from the Marxist approach and builds further on spatial explanations of urban changes and market expansion. The book Rebel Cities by David Harvey addresses the theme of urban chaos. Rebel cities contribute to a larger analysis of urban phenomena. It is a book loaded with rich analysis and unpredicted humour contribution to Harvey’s remarkable compositions. He shows how capitalism has used urban development for its own end and how neoliberal politics have led to greater polarization of wealth and power accumulated into spatial forms of our cities.
The book aims to address two different and yet connected sets of agendas. One is to integrate Marxist theory of urbanization into ‘general laws of motion’ of capital while analysing current crisis and neoliberal development trends in globalization. The other is to build an anti-capitalist movement that can alter urban spaces to profit those that are currently exploited by the class-nature of urbanization. According to Harvey urbanization is both the driving force and product of absorption of ‘surplus product’ in the process of capital accumulation. It is also sometimes considered too ambitious of Harvey to cover such broad themes in a short book like Rebel Cities which have disproportion in the sense that the theoretical framework does not relate to the strategy completely in a convincing manner.
Right to the City
Liberal theories of ‘globalization’ and ‘development’ are disseminated by Harvey’s persistent centre on capital accumulation as the foremost mover for urban development. Another side of this is that his strategic disagreement come into sight directly from his theoretical focus on urbanization in particular as resistance to and from valuation of consciousness. He does not desire to be distinguished as a ‘specialist’ but his political arguments conform too strongly to his academic field of urban geography for his defiance to be utterly persuasive.
This is evident in Harvey arguing ‘right to city’ as one of the key themes of the book. This slogan was invented by Marxist intellectual Henry Lefebvre in 1968 in response to expansion of urban struggle that detonated in France. Harvey argues that cities play a crucial role as capital accumulation as they absorb capital and labour surplus. However, the result of these anarchic processes is impoverishment and alienation for a vast number of city dwellers. Like Lefebvre, Harvey aims to return to the idea of urban analysis and questions pillars of Marxism while identifying the importance of the city as a site for revolution against capit