Manuel DeLanda Lecture on the City and Capitalism

Here is a video of Manuel DeLanda giving a talk about the network of cities and trade in Europe for the last 500 years or so. His use of Assemblage Theory here diagrams how Capitalism was born of a stabilization of symmetrical trading between territories. Before getting to Fernand Braudel and his version of capitalist economic history, he maps the town/city nodes from the big cities to the smaller provinces according to Walter Christaller.

This lecture is especially noteworthy because DeLanda explains his adherence to Braudel’s work in contrast to Marx when it comes to how value is created. With DeLanda and Braudel, economic value is inseparable from the vast interconnected web of trade. The flow of goods between disparate territories connected by trade routes is essential to the rise of modern capitalism.
These sovereign territories include a capital city and a port city, the latter acting as a hub of trade and the former being the diplomatic entity uniting nations and solidifying borders. The capital city is the center of culture and has the ultimate decision-making ability in war, but the port cities are equally important in the economic wealth of a nation in creating value by increasing the flow of trade.

DeLanda breaks with Deleuze and Guattari and his Marxist past and attacks Marx’s labor theory of value and surplus extraction. Braudel gives him a base for this attack. *This gets really interesting after the first hour*. The labor of the workers, which is exploited by bourgeois capitalists, is not the source of value here. DeLanda includes the machines of production along with the humans in creating value. A dialectical collapse of capitalism’s own contradictions misses a fundamental mistake of Marx’s pinpoint the source of value creation in human labor and the accumulation of surpluses.

After the American and French Revolutions, a system of mass production was streamlined in the military. France’s method of fashioning inter-changeable parts and automated processes was copied by Thomas Jefferson in America far sooner than Henry Ford. This allowed for a seemingly unceasing increase in economic growth when coupled with the capital-port city duality of secure, non-confrontational cross-cultural exchange.