This fall marks the 150th anniversary since the publication of Karl Marx’s Capital. In his groundbreaking series, Marx famously defined capital as value in motion, architecting an entire field of study for understanding economics, social relations, and the institutions structuring massive inequality. Set against the backdrop of Europe’s factory system and the relationship between capitalist and laborer, Marx’s ideas spawned revolution and tyrannical regime alike. In writing Capital, the theorist forever altered our perception toward the system’s volatile nature.
Though factories have mostly been replaced by markets, banking systems and credit, capital rules the world over. Following the rise of the international monetary system in the 1970s, interest-bearing capital was cemented as the driving force behind governments, markets, and industries. As capital has grown more powerful and unstable, expanding and plunging into crises when its inherent contradictions are realized, Marx’s theories are even more relevant today.
Navigating Marx in the age of Trump is social theorist David Harvey. A professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Harvey pioneered modern geography as a discipline while putting Marx’s theories into contemporary context. His newest book, Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason, examines Capital alongside recent advancements in technology and credit systems. To get an in-depth analysis on the state of global capitalism, we spoke with Harvey about populism, Goldman-Sachs, and Silicon Valley’s elite.