The housing-price collapse of 2008, the credit crunch, the bank failures, the downswing of the world economy, the fiscal crisis of the sovereign states, all have been expressed as wild gyrations in the global circulation of information, attention, emotion. Everything undergoes tremendous acceleration at the crucial moments, before the wave recedes into a blur. We are sure that beneath the surface agitation, something has really changed. Institutions have been destroyed. The course of individual lives has dramatically shifted. The composition of the social classes has been altered in depth. For the first time since the 1970s, the continuity of the American way of development appears uncertain. Yet people find their surrounding environments exactly the same; while world leaders call for just one thing, a return to normal.

Amidst the paralysis of public debate, questions arise for those who can neither forget, nor clearly remember. How do we perceive social change? How do we grasp the facts that will prove decisive in the future? When will the surging wave return again? How do our own lives make a difference to the slow-motion crisis of global capital?

In his new book, The Enigma of Capital, David Harvey makes an important remark: the major crises of the capitalist system – like the Great Depression, the stagflation of the 1970s or the current deflation of the financialized economies – are never really “resolved.” Instead, the determinants of the crisis are shifted around to new places within the system, masking persistent instabilities and sowing the seeds of future upheavals. (...)

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