The City as Site

In an excerpt from Rebel Cities, David Harvey explains the pith of anti-capitalist struggle; as such “the fundamental conception is that an anti-capitalist struggle must ultimately reach deep into the very guts of what a capitalist system is about an wrench out the cancerous tumor of class relations in production” (121). That is, it almost feels for those struggling against capitalism that we must go right to the “belly of the beast” in order to affect any change.

 

So to start simply, why, for Harvey, does the city offer both the abstract and spatial cite of this now? What is the relationship to the city as “the guts of the capitalist system” and the “very particular, perhaps radically different phase of anti-capitalist struggle” that we currently in (according to Harvey)? How does this work in something like OWS, which at times in not entirely anti-capitalist? Is the city constitutive of “capitalism’s guts”, is space?

 

Harvey also explains, “the actual site of characteristics are important, and the physical and social re-engineering and territorial organization of these sites is a weapon in political struggles. In the same way that, in military operations, the choice and the shaping of the terrain of action plays and important role in determining who wins, so it is with popular protests and political movements in urban settings” (118).

 

While it is certainly possible that these two scenarios work very similarly or produce similar outcomes I find this tactical, military metaphor troubling, especially in the context of OWS. How tactically and actively were things like space, location, and the material world initially imagined for OWS? Is there the active component to the realization and use of public/urban space? How is that complicated by conceptions of space as public?

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