Uneven development is the hallmark of the geography of capitalism

Although there are many Marxist authors and supporters, have received considerable attention, most people still contend that capitalism is still the most applicable social, political and economic philosophy. The book Uneven Development, the author, Smith, has provided a concrete account against capitalism, especially the role of capitalism in creating uneven societies. Capitalism has enhanced competition for time and space for the production of as part of the geography of capitalism. Smith begins his exposition with an abstract discussion of the ideological treatment of the absolute space. In particular, Smith has focused on the unity between the space and the society. Within the bourgeois perception of the Marxist concept of production of nature and specie, Smith has sought to establish the relationship between society, nature and space. According to smith “nature and space are not an accident of mater, but is a direct result of material production” (Smith, 1984, pp78). This shift is through the evolution of physical and psychological thought that has been achieved through the process of capitalism. The book indicates that capitalism is driven by material conditions and nothing else.

Smith reports that, through capitalism, the world has moved from the developments of a global mode of circulation but the development of a global mode of production (Ekers & Loftus, 2013). the client understanding of this arguments is the central thesis of the book that argues that Mars was correct in his argument that surplus labor does not in any way guarantee surplus value and that cap[ital is not mercantile money (Ekers & Loftus, 2013). Smith is particularly concerned about the typical understanding of the uneven geographical expansion of capitalism. As a result, Smith has argued that the contradictions that have led to the uneven distribution of capital cannot be found in the exchange sphere, but in the ultimate promise of capitalism: differential capitalism expansion and tendencies for equalization.

The forces for globalization and equalization come about from the capitalism argument of accumulation for the sake of accumulation. This idea leads to social as well as spatial expansion of the paradigm of wage labor (Ekers & Loftus, 2013). As a consequence, the globalization of labor has led to labor freedom for the working class as well as the inherent ties with the virtual space. From the argument s of Smith, colonization was the pinnacle for setting the limits for geographical expansion of capitalism; the production space had to be increased by entering into new regions to explore the new resources. Smith notes that most drives for colonization were informed by the capitalist requirements for the increased production (Coe, 2013). Thus the new geographic regions were not consulted neither were they involved in the production process. Capitalism thus creates a culture of selfishness where each individual is on his own and the resources are competed for. T he competing ability is not only seen from the aggressiveness in the global businesses market, but also the ability to develop political and economic structures that facilitate some countries to dominate and take advantage of other regions in terms of the access and use of resources (Harvey, 1999).

In this regard, Smith has argued that capitalism results into uneven developments in the world. While Smith is conscious of the cat that there was uneven development in the pre-capitalist societies, he notes that the unevenness has been escalated by the modern capitalist society has created various patterns and processes spatial developments in various parts of the world (Prudham & Heynen, 2011). The author has criticized capitalism for being the main cause of the wide geographical gap of economic unevenness. Capitalism and inequity goes hand in hand. A society cannot be capitalist and remain socially just. Karl Marx had explained that uneven societies results from capitalism because capitalism results into the creation of the concept of surplus value (Prudham & Heynen, 2011). Indeed, surplus value is an inevitable consequence of capitalism. In this kind of a set up, societies have a small number of super-rich individuals and millions of others living in deprivation and poverty. As Smith indicates “capitalism is a function of the universal validity of the law of unequal and combined development; rather, it is uneven development that is a function of the contemporary universality of capitalism” (Smith, 1984: 98).

Smith has borrowed heavily from Marx’s philosophies and has also expounded on the work of other Marxists. Marxism has been seen as an ideology through which the modern man can prosper, such that every individual will be socially beneficial in all aspects of life (Pradella, 2013). Through his studies of the ideals laid down by other philosophers, he gained an in-depth perception of the contributing factors that are useful in the development of a new man (Marx, 199). Therefore, the purpose of Marx can be seen as revolutionary with the commitment of bringing justice to the socially challenged. From the Manifesto, it can be argued that Marx evolved and adopted Marxism as a tool for revolutionary expeditions. His immediate commitments may have been to liberate the world from the imperialist and the creation of a new man who is fully integrated into the community.

One of the most important contributions of Smith is the role of social classes in creating unevenness in the societies. Modern researchers have indicated that the high level of unevenness increase poverty (Lenn, 2012). In particular, economic unevenness appears to be closely related to poverty. Further, economic unevenness leads to an increase in social problems such as crime. In poor neighborhood, crime is the order of the day. Antisocial such as burglary, drug peddling, or robbery are most common in poor neighborhoods that in the neighborhoods were the rich lives. The common reason for this trend is the lack of employment opportunities for people living in poor neighborhood. Because of the poverty conditions in these kinds of neighborhoods, the children from poor families are not able to enough education to get them out of their poverty. They, therefore, become victims of the cycle of poverty.

While socialism might have its fair share of problems, it ensures that social classes are not created in a society and that unevenness does not occur. On the other hand, capitalism encourages greed and the greediest individuals in the society become successful. In such as situation, where greed is the order of the day, unevenness can easily occur because people will use all means available to them to become successful (Taylor, 2007). In this regard, exploitation of the poor, deceit, and manipulation of government policies to favor the rich becomes widespread. Further, the plight of the poor becomes ignores and rich organizations and their shareholders determines how things are run. If this state of affairs is left unchecked, the rich would most certainly become richer and the poor will become poorer.

Smith has also re-examined the divisions of labor and the division of capital as a means of production and also production as a means of subsistence. In light of the various modifications of capitalism, smith believes that labor and capital divisions are in four scales where the divisions of labor follows the general divisions in the society, the capital division, and the division of social capital in various areas. Although there are various reasons for the division of labor, Smith has examined the geographical implications of the labor divisions. From the outset, the detailed division of labor in the workplace is important in explaining the concept of labor division from the perspective of labor productivity (Coe, 2013). The second perspective is that of the social classes described by Karl Marx. One of the most important contributions of Marx is the discussions on the social classes and the creation of inequality in the society. Modern researchers have indicated that the high level of unevenness increase poverty. In particular, economic unevenness appears to be closely related to poverty. Further, economic unevenness leads to an increase in social problems such as crime. In poor neighborhood, crime is the order of the day.

In creating a socially just society, Smith, like Marx, has argued that there is need for the elimination of capitalism. Societies need to come up with alternative economies that are based mutualism, public provisions and active involvement of the private sector. There is need for the understanding that the involvement of the private sector does not necessarily results into capitalism. In a socially just society, there will be plenty of room for social and private enterprises that do not necessarily result into capitalism. All that is need is to ensure that capitalist corporations are not provided with room to prosper. Marx maintained that all humans are considered equal just by virtue of being human beings. He therefore claimed that no man has more rights than the other despite the many differences existing between them (Coe, 2013). That no man should be a slave to the other, whether black or white or red, all men are created equal and all deserve the respect for humanity. This is a vital perspective that capitalism appears to ignore. Capitalism provides space for certain individuals to prosper, while at the same giving the prosperous individuals the ability to limit the ability of other members of the society to become prosperous.

One major concern of social unevenness is that if it is not corrected, it can result to more imbalances. As the rich becomes richer, they may acquire political influence and get into position of influencing political decision making. In his arguments against social classes, Marx blamed capitalism for being the main cause of the wide economic gap between the rich and the poor. Capitalism and social imbalance goes together. Marx argues that a society cannot be capitalist and still be able to be socially balanced. Karl Marx had explicated that economical and social unevenness results from capitalism because capitalism results into the development of the concept of surplus value (Coe, 2013). There is no question that surplus value is a fateful aftermath of capitalism. This situation results into a remarkably unbalanced society in which some few individuals are very rich while the majority of the society is poor. The middle class is also made up of relatively socially unstable proportion of the society.

The limits of capital intimately lead to increasing severity of social struggles. Looked at from the theory of crisis, it can be said that   capitalism creates a society where social struggles are the only means through which the disadvantaged seek to correct the social unevenness. The main aim of social struggles is to shape the perception of the society into accepting a disagreeing pint of view. The basic ideology of social struggles is to use nonviolence to induce authorities or the public to accept an alternative view point. Social resistance has been used for centuries and has proved to be important in influencing public opinions and bring changes in the society (Bond, 1999). While many people have hailed social resistance in causing change, others have had a contrary opinion. Some people have argued that social resistance is not the best ways of causing democratic changes because sometimes take illegal street protests or result into violence.

In sum, the book Uneven Development, ha provide a good account against capitalism and provided a convincing account of the role of capitalism in enhancing unevenness in societies. The book has shaped the Marxist perspective and has provided a great account in the debate against capitalism. The author has clearly indicated that capitalist development has resulted into spatial and geographic differences in development, hence unevenness in the society.


Bond, P, 1999, What is ‗uneven development‘? The Encyclopedia of Political Economy, London: Routledge.

Coe, NM 2013, ‘Geographies of production III: Making space for labour’, Progress In Human Geography, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 271-284

Ekers, M, & Loftus, A 2013, ‘Revitalizing the production of nature thesis: A Gramscian turn?’, Progress In Human Geography, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 234-252

Harvey, D, 1999, The Limits to Capital, London: Verso.

Lenn, J 2012, ‘Uneven and combined development: a fusion of Marxism and structural realism’, Cambridge Review Of International Affairs, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 75-95

Marx, K, 1992, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, New York: International Publishers.

Pradella, L 2013, ‘Imperialism and Capitalist Development in Marx’s Capital’, Historical Materialism, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 117-147

Prudham, S, & Heynen, N 2011, ‘Introduction: Uneven Development 25 Years On: Space, Nature and the Geographies of Capitalism’, New Political Economy, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 223-232,

Smith, N, 1984, Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space, Oxford: Basil Blackwell

Taylor, M 2007, Rethinking the Global Production of Uneven Development. Globalizations, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 529-542.

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