4) Ethnographic Notes D – Discussion Topics


The above video is based on a speech by given by David Harvey. David Harvey is a professor of Anthropology and Geography at City University of New York. He teaches Karl Marx’s Capital. The professors focus in this video is an attempt to explain the recent economic crisis. He maintains that economic crisis is inherent in the capitalistic system and as a result these crisis’s are to be expected. In fact he claims that the crisis is never solved just moved to a different part of the capitalist system. Either within a country or to a different country. He also suggests that the only true fix would be to end capitalism.

Harvey touches on a list of theories or explanations as to how the recent financial crisis came about. First he talks about “human frailty” which touches on different aspects such as greed, the delusional thinking of investors, and the instinct for mastery. Next he speaks on the aspect of “institutional failures” by which he means the possibility of regulators fell “asleep at the switch” and the shadow banking system infiltrated the financial system. The third point is in regard to an obsession with false theory meaning that people believed to much in “the efficiency of markets”. The fourth genre he touches on is “cultural origins” (obsession with owning a home which is supported by the mortgage interest tax deduction). The fifth notion he talks about is a “failure of policy” which he implies is a right wing theory that subscribes to the belief that “too much regulation of the wrong sort” is too blame popularized by the media. Harvey goes on to suggest that there is truth in all of these genres.


In is video he is talking about how the capitalist system just doesn’t work.  The rich keep getting richer and the poorer are getting poorer.  In one point he shows that if you have  wages that aren’t increasing and the cost of products are rising then you don’t have any demand for that product because no one can afford it.  It is basic supply and demand process that we learn in Economics.  You can’t have a product without a demand for it that people can afford.

He also talks about how this is a global problem.  That it was the United States that started the economic failure and  it followed quickly by Great Britain.  It is going around the world.  As the United States economy is getting better, the economy in Greece crashed.

He said he doesn’t know the solution, but the only thing he does is know is the Capitalist system doesn’t work.


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