Within the framework of capitalism, I hang my interpretation of the urban process on the twin themes of accumulation and class struggle. The two themes are integral to each other and have to be regarded as different sides of the same coin – different windows from which to view the totality of capitalist activity. The class character of capitalist society means the domination of labour by capital. Put more concretely, a class of capitalists is in command of the work process and organizes that process
for the purposes of producing profit. The labourer, on the other hand, has command only over his or her labour power which must be sold as a commodity on the market. The domination arises because the labourer must yield the capitalist a profit (surplus value) in return for a living wage.
All of this is extremely simplistic, of course, and actual class relations (and relations between factions of classes) within an actual system of production (comprising production, services, necessary costs of circulation, distribution, exchange, etc.) are David Harvey highly complex. The essential marxian insight, however, is that profit arises out of the domination of labour by capital and that the capitalists as a class must, if they are to reproduce themselves, continuously expand the basis for profit. We thus arrive at a conception of a society founded on the principle of `accumulation for accumulation’s sake, production for production’s sake’.
The theory of accumulation which Marx constructs in Capital amounts to a careful enquiry into the dynamics of accumulation and an exploration of its contradictory character. This may sound rather` economistic’ as a framework for analysis, but we have to recall that accumulation is the means whereby the capitalist class reproduces both itself and its domination over labour. Accumulation cannot, therefore, be isolated from class struggle….
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