Harvey is eloquent here at a moment of crisis, but it is easy to be eloquent with marxist slogans, but not so easy to figure out what Marx was saying. The communards didn’t use Marx, and so the same now.
It is eloquent to speak of Marx on freedom, but Marx had no real idea of freedom beyond a bit of jargon overlayed on his Big Theory. Freedom was sacrificed on the altar of theory and the result is a peculiar piece of nineteenth century scientism.
My point here is that while Harvey is great on the issue of marxist history, we need a new formulation now. We need public discourse that doesn’t have to quote Marx on all points as guidance.
It is time zero to start over with a new framework and a new set of strategies, and without the endless quotes from Marx or the citation of his theories.
We need a new left that hasn’t read Capital and spent most of its life confused by theories that don’t work.
The idea that freedom disappears in Marx would result in endless angry attempts to demonstrate otherwise, but a few quotes of our own would settle the matter.
No matter: Marx is useful enough as background, but he whole set of questions has to start over.
The crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for us to think again about Marx’s idea of human freedom. As David Harvey writes in Jacobin, emergency steps to get through the crisis also show us how we could build a different society that’s not beholden to capital.