The Enigma of Capital and the Crisis this Time (paper prepared for the American Sociological Association Meetings in Atlanta, August 16th, 2010) By David Harvey http://davidharvey.org/2010/08/the-enigma-of-capital-and-the-crisis-this-time/#more-585 From the essay: "There are abundant signs, however, that capital accumulation is at an historical inflexion point where sustaining a compound rate of growth is becoming increasingly problematic. In 1970 this meant finding new profitable global investment opportunities for $0.4 trillion. Resumption of three percent growth right now would mean finding profitable investment opportunities for $1.5 trillion. If that rate of growth were to be sustained by 2030 or so we would be looking at $3 trillion. Put in physical terms, when capitalism in 1750 was about everything going on around Manchester and Birmingham and a few other hot spots in the global economy then three percent compound growth posed no problem. But we are now looking at compounding growth on everything going on in North America, Europe, much of East Asia, Latin America and increasingly South Asia, the Middle East and Africaâ¦.The implications socially, politically and environmentally are nothing short of gargantuan." "When labor is scarce or too well-organized, then this can check the free circulation of capital. Wages rise at the expense of profits. The long history of class struggle over wage rates, conditions of contract (length of the working day, the working week and the working life) along with struggles over levels of social provision (the social wage) is testimony to the importance of this potential limit to capital accumulation. This constriction was very marked in the core regions of capitalism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was the primary blockage that had to be overcome." "The new commodity produced has to be sold for the original money plus a profit. Someone, somewhere, must need, want or desire the product and have enough money to pay for it. Capitalism exhibits an astonishing history of the production of new needs, wants and desires, in part through the production of new lifestyles (consider what is needed to maintain a suburban household) but also an incessant barrage of advertisements and other subliminal means to manipulate the human psyche for commercial reasons. Not all such attempts are successful (history is littered with new products that never found a market) but in a world where the consumer accounts for more than two-thirds of the driving force for capital accumulation, at least in the core regions of capital accumulation, then the human limits to wants, needs and desires constitutes a potential barrier to which capital must perpetually attend in the search for compound growth." And more. Enjoy!