Harvey (Anthropology and Geography/CUNY Graduate Center; Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, 2014, etc.) employs the theories of Karl Marx to explain the genesis of political and economic problems in nations relying on private markets.
The author pulls together 11 previously published essays and book chapters to illuminate his self-proclaimed revolutionary views about the failures of capitalism. Although some of the pieces date back decades, Harvey offers contemporary commentary at the end of each. In some instances, he discusses the criticisms aimed at him at the time of original publication and why his critics were mistaken. Previously a professor in Baltimore, Harvey turned to Marx's theories after watching the city partially destruct in the aftermath of race-based violence triggered by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He began to wonder why cities such as Baltimore and Detroit seem healthy but then decline, to the detriment of all residents except those who manage the local wealth. Harvey views capitalism as being in constant crisis, with only the geographic locus shifting. His chapters are grounded in abstractions, but the author provides enough specifics to qualify as case studies of a sort. It is necessary, he writes, to devise fresh frameworks for understanding why and how events unfold the way they do in capitalist nations, such as the financial meltdowns of 2007-2008. The formation of urban ghettos, the destruction of the natural environment, and the uneven distribution of wealth within a populace constitute some of the capitalist disruptions addressed by Harvey through his Marxist worldview. Whether the United States and other nations can afford the consequences stemming from a relentless accumulation of capital constitutes the unifying theme of the chapters, which are not obviously linked at first glance.
The dense doses of Marxist theory will be fairly unapproachable to readers not well-versed with the socialist thinker, but Harvey writes clearly, leading to understanding, albeit only with intense concentration and perhaps multiple readings.