One of the stranger sights in today’s banking crisis is the sudden popularity of Karl Marx. The Manifesto is flying off the shelves, and business execs are boning up on Marx’s crisis theory in much the same way that they used to lap up Sun Tzu’s Art of War, or parrot Heraclitus’ saying that there is nothing permanent but change. Today’s economic dislocation, though, does not correspond to the crisis of overaccumulation that Marx explained in the third volume of his book Capital. Marx’s analytical reconstruction of capitalism was made at a time of great forward momentum in industrialization, made under the discipline of what he called the ‘capitalist mode of accumulation’.
[. . .]
The perception of gentrification in Chicago mirrors would-be progressive groups’ social imaginations and the heterogeneity of their goals. Gentrification is the reconstitution of a neighborhood which occurs when lower-income areas with lower land value are re-developed with higher-value housing into a decidedly wealthier neighborhood. During this process the class-composition and character of the neighborhood is changed; those already living in the neighborhood cannot sustain the rise in property taxes and must move elsewhere.
[. . .]