David Harvey On Neoliberalism and the city – Shea Howell

David Harvey

On Neoliberalism and the city

The Neoliberal City https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfd5kHb-Hc8

February 2007

harvedavid-harvey-enigma-of-capital-

The city is an opportunity to think about the kind of people we have become and what kind of people we in the process of becoming.  Shea Howell

Core Questions:

  • What kinds of social relationships do we value?
  • What kind of relationships do we wish to establish?
  • What kinds of relationships do we want with nature?

Making a city  is about remaking ourselves in a different image, different way….

Cities made and remade…

At beginning of last century only 7% or 8% lived in cities,

Now more than half of the people of the globe live in urban areas.

At beginning of 20th century cities of 5 or 6 million such as London were considered huge.

Today now several  cities over 20 million, many more over 10 million….

Reflect on past…..

By what processes did urbanization occur?

Massive movements of population…people living in slums…Mumbai, 6 million in slums… Planet of slums….

In midst of massive poverty, huge financial centers emerging…in some cases in middle of slums… slums often being cleared to make way for building boom.

Other side of urbanization: process of building the city…

Story:  over last 150 years process driven by necessity to absorb capital excesses…

Need to constantly reinvest a part of money capital…whole politics perpetual attempt to eradicate all barriers to investment….

Example child labor

Crush unions

Also problem of where to sell products….need to build markets….use mechanisms to create demand…

Strategies to make a world when capitalists wake up in the morning they have a possibility of making more money by evening out of fashioning market, labor, material….

Question: what is the role of urbanization and city building in the absorption of excess capital?

Look historically

Transformation of Paris 1850-1870…

Revolution 1848….capital surplus had no where to go…crisis of capitalist system where capital was destroyed and workers were out of work…result revolutionary movement to create utopian ideals of 1830-40’s…lead to authoritarian government…. dictatorship, Napoleon III..

Had to solve unemployment and capital surplus…said we have to put capital and country to work….

Projects: canals, roads, rails, international projects…reshaping city of Paris….rebuild in attempt to absorb surplus labor, capital…

Housmann…drew upon much of utopian plans of 30’s and 40’s but he changed the scale…when architect came in with plans for new boulevard…wanted wider…rethought the scale of urban development….large scale better.

1868….problem with credit structure crisis…huge revolution again 1871….

1942…US. Public works did not able solve problem of surplus capital….WWII took up surplus…

After war again face question of what will absorb surplus capital?

First it was arms race… Article in Archtectural Forum…about Housmann…close study of what he had done…Robert Moses…after WWII…Moses in alliance with big government and corporate capital reshaped metro NY region…changed scale…

One of most important ways to absorb surplus was restructuring of urban system around the production of suburbs….

Social political impact of first wave feminism focused on suburb as discontent..

Capital solve surplus through reshaping of urban process across Americas…

Where are capital surpluses being absorbed?

China….urban process is astonishing…last 30 years…50 cities over a million…

50% of world cement supply

boom in urbanization

Chile boom because of demand from china for copper….

US supply moving equipment…

Urban process going on everywhere.

You cannot divorce urbanization from capital surplus absorption problem

If we want a different kind of city then need to address capital absorption  problem…

 

 

Moses in New York in late 1960’s ran into trouble….generally criticized for his destructive behavior “creative destruction…” destroyed whole communities….remade city around necessity to create a city that would absorb the surplus…

 

Difficulties in urban process…by creating suburbs created hollowed out center in the cities….economy doing well in suburbs, central cities left behind, surging discontent, increasingly from minority populations not benefitting from capital absorb..

 

Had urban crisis….how stabilize and deal with it?

1960’s all about the urban crisis, not general crisis…after King killed 30-40 cities uprising….cities “falling apart” bring in national guards… almost revolution…uprising…

 

Answer came…..create federal programs to address urban crisis…vast amounts of money flowed to reorganize, rebuild, create employment…but while create employment in environment of instability….

 

Businesses moving out to suburbs and south….deindustrialization…either go to suburbs or South etc…Job structure not there….

 

Public employment structure focused on municipal services….tremendous build up in municipal services…this seen as a solution to urban crisis…

 

1973…fed government running out of money….could not fight Vietnam and urban crisis…Nixon during state of union address….wanted to reassure everyone the urban crisis was over…

what he meant was we are not giving you any more money….cuts started to           come…..loss of jobs…

 

1973 Crash in property markets…credit system couldn’t bear burden …. …less money in NY in terms of taxes…fed, local money all down…

NY needed to stabilize through borrowing.

 

1975…investment bankers decide to not invest any more in city….

Created a financial coup against the city government…city government could not pay its work force…could not maintain basic services….appealed to feds….picture in newspaper….

 

April of 75 President Ford with Rumsfield and Dick Cheney…. sent a message to NY….rejecting aid…”Ford to city: drop dead!

City had no money…feds not help…NY had one of the biggest public budgets in world…..

 

Why decide not play ball? Economics and politics.

Politics…bankers don’t like how NY governed and rising black power, municipal unions, didn’t like community orgs could block designs…they wanted city to be disciplined that would allow them to rebuild according to their criteria….so set about it….

 

Took away all budget power from elected government….emergency financial control board…took all tax income…fed grants…then paid off debt…investment bankers, what ever left for services…drastic cuts in services…fire police sanitation education transport, incredible disciplining of city…

 

Created new urban environment….bankers came up with key element of what guided politics globally…if conflict between well being of finance institution and well being of people, choose well being of financial institution…save bankers…sock it to people…..

 

Established  1975 in NYC…

This attack on the city paralleled military coup in Chile…Allende overthrown….Pinochet came in..set about reorchestating…crush unions and left opposition…

Restructured economy along lines of neoliberal bankers…see a restructuring with slums at one end and little Manhattan at other…

 

Not just destroy, create something new…Rockefellors. Lipton…wanted to rebuild the city according to their hearts desire, open to capital development and vibrant economic basis…wanted kind of city they felt comfortable in…

 

1973…oil price increase opec and arab Israeli war…lost of dollars in hands of Saudi, Iranian…big question what to do with the money? How to recycle that money…brit intelligence…us prepared to invade Saudi to bring down price of oil…

do know that 1975…negotiated exclusive agreement with Saudi…recycle petro dollars through ny investment banks…

 

Keep US financial industry base…privileged center…

 

1975…where lend the money???

Urban process cannot absorb….answer Lipton…lend to countries, they cannot disappear, you can always find them..mexico, brazil, Poland….

 

1982…global default…Reagan, IMF reinvented ways to restructure debt to extract surplus from impoverished people to protect bankers….

 

Business roundtables etc…decided N culture, tour, media, had to have city services…for that you had to counter the idea that NY economy had collapsed….came up with the idea of selling the city as a commodity…image….market the city…I love NY…attractive environment….

 

Fire and police unions decided….we are going to counter with fear city campaign…pamphlets to tourists.. don’t go into Manhattan…

 

Renegotiate…new fire and police reassigned to Manhattan…rest of Brooklyn, Bronx didn’t matter…secure Manhattan as privileged place…

 

Create something that is critical to urban center as mini state within city…privilege it and let the rest fall apart…the fragmented city…islands of privilege in midst of tremendous areas of decay…

 

Redesign city in certain way…carried a crucial aspect not only privilege financial sector but creating a good business climate…yes a role for services, to create a good business climate…

 

we reinvent structure of governmentcall it governance…complete transformation in how think about government…public private partnerships…mayor talks with corporate heads…

One of those corporate heads get to be mayor of city…

 

Mission of government is to create a good business climate… Good business means business will employ people, raise all boats…

 

Two neo liberal principles designed around the urban process

to find more space to absorb surpluses…

 

Bloomberg admin…more projects than ever before…completely neo liberalized city emerging around long projects…

 

Bloomberg…discontinue practice of subsidizing businesses to come to town…if business needs to be subsidized, doesn’t belong here. Only want high income, quality that can bear this superior location we are creating here…

 

What happen with people?…

if not rich enough don’t belong in Manhattan…if cant pay price, don’t belong…those places once low middle income…being sold off…whole city is being turned over…

Gentrification massive buying out huge parts of city to transform into something else…

 

How long can this go on? Housmann about 15 years, Moses ran into trouble…

See in many parts of world increase in urban unrest…especially in Latin American…Buenos Aires, Caracas, emergence of new politics…anti neo liberal

 

Even in Bloomberg…where low income people to service city? What about low income housing?

 

Problem…way system evolved produces inequality…very difficult to surpress without serious political disruption…example…

leading hedge funds 2005 250 mill a year….billion in personal income…what do so valuable??

 

Extraction of immense wealth…lead to ask where put billion tomorrow? Use some to buy out political process

 

Big philanthropy…compensating for the mess they have helped to create…don’t support any activity that will challenge the means by which they gained their wealth….

Allows urban process to be transformed…use money to modify outcomes…

 

Is this the kind of city and world we want to live in? if not the kind of world we want???

I want to become conscious…city more after my hearts desire…

How are we going to confront the simple problem of capital surplus, absorption problem?

Must confront this…not world of liberty and freedom for us…

 

Conscious of nature of problem

No easy solution

Movements ,World Social Forum pushing in this direction..

Think about our relationships to those movements…instead of being led along in order to solve capitalist surplus problem, we have to reconstruct our cities in one way…

Real choice about the kind of cities we want to live in.

 

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