Harvey at Harvard | Valorization and municipalism

David Harvey visited the Harvard Graduate School of Design last week. As a Senior Loeb Fellow, he participated in a number of events, in what a colleague at the Urban Theory Lab here defined as ‘Harvey-palooza’ (!). Here is the video of his main talk on Monday. Most of the content will be familiar to those who follow Harvey’s work and countless talks on YouTube, but there is an intriguing discussion of the notion of valorization as a key moment of Marx’s conceptualization of the circuit of capital — according to Harvey formed by four stages of production, realization, distribution and valorization itself, i.e. the point at which profits are reinvested to reproduce the whole cycle. I am still trying to figure out the advantages of this interpretation—typically abstract and à la Harvey—vis-à-vis Negri’s well-known exegesis of the Grundrisse and his subsequent proposal of an alternative working-class self-valorization as ‘living-labor’, which had an important influence on the cycle of struggles in Italy in the late 1970s and the dissemination of creative subversion afterwards.

Spaniards will be glad to hear Harvey using at several points the new local governments in Madrid and Barcelona as examples of a potential way out of neoliberal urban policy. We had a conversation about them over lunch a couple of hours before the talk, and I not only praised our new municipalism—in an admittedly idealized fashion—but also told him that two of our presidential candidates, both Alberto Garzón from Izquierda Unida and Pablo Iglesias from Podemos, usually refer to his work as a useful toolkit to unpack the current situation in Spain (e.g. here).

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