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Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution
Long before the Occupy movement, modern cities had already become the central sites of revolutionary politics, where the deeper currents of social and political change rise to the surface. Consequently, cities have been the subject of much utopian thinking. But at the same time they are also the centers of capital accumulation and the frontline for struggles over who controls access to urban resources and who dictates the quality and organization of daily life. Is it the financiers and developers, or the people?Rebel Cities places the city at the heart of both capital and class struggles, looking at locations ranging from Johannesburg to Mumbai, and from New York City to São Paulo. Drawing on the Paris Commune as well as Occupy Wall Street and the London Riots, Harvey asks how cities might be reorganized in more socially just and ecologically sane ways—and how they can become the focus for anti-capitalist resistance.read more
Taking Henri Lefebvre's 1967 essay, "The Right to the City," as his jumping-off point, Harvey (Social Justice and the City) examines real estate booms and busts and predation on vulnerable populations; commodification of culture; neo-liberal capitalist dominance; and urban uprisings, from the Paris Commune to the massive 2006 protest against U.S. anti-immigrant policies to urbanized peasants and mineworkers in El Alto, Bolivia, who organized themselves and instigated a progressive Bolivian government. He asks: "Is there something about the urban process and the urban experience... under capitalism, that, in itself, has the potential to ground anti-capitalist struggles?" In the process, he considers what a collective right to the city could mean to those who create and revivify it, and defines problems for which any viable anticapitalist movement must have answers: the material impoverishment of much of the world's population; the dangers of environmental degradations and ecological transformations; and the "sheer impossibility" of endless capital accumulation and compound growth. Academic Marxists and other social critics are the book's likely primary audience, but intellectuals in the Occupy movement may appreciate its descriptions of historic and international parallel urban struggles to reclaim public space and build culture, and they may be intrigued by Harvey's musings on how to grow a lively, resilient revolutionary anticapitalist movement beyond the local. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.