How To Fight Disaster Capitalism

The Rise of Disaster CapitalismI watched The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, an insightful 65-minute talk that investigative journalist and author Naomi Klein gave on May 19, 2008 in London, plus a 10-minute interview with Klein, introducing the paperback edition of her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The DVD explains the ideas and research behind the book that exposed the popular myth of the free market economy’s peaceful global victory. From Chile in 1973 to today, Klein tells the story of “shock doctors, those powerful few making a killing around the world by cashing in on chaos and exploiting bloodshed and catastrophe to brutally implement their policies,” the jacket explains. As such, it sheds light on the intersections between ideologies and events such as colonialism, capitalism, neoliberalism, war, occupation, climate change, natural catastrophes and disaster response.

The DVD serves as a great intro to Klein’s work and ideas. What follows is the powerful note on which Klein ended her lecture. But the DVD is definitely worth a watch in its entirety.

[…] We have a global economy that’s feeding off of fear, feeding off of serial disasters. And it’s been showing us these glimpses of the future, if we care to look, in New Orleans, in Iraq’s Green Zone… It’s an Apartheid approach to crisis, privatized surveillance, mass containment of surplus humanity, all privatized, and luxury rescue for the VIP.

I don’t think we should mistake this for a crisis in capitalism. This is a crisis for all humanity. And we can’t wait for this system to collapse on its own. We break this cycle only by challenging the core narrative at the heart of this project, which is also that core narrative  and all those seductive biblical myths, which is that the Earth is inexhaustible. We can make a terrible mess and then we can escape, us and our friends. We get on a boat. We go to somebody else’s land. It’s that narrative that has fueled colonialism and that fuels disaster capitalism, constantly looking for a new clean sheet, and a new blank slate on which to start over.

If we’re gonna fight this logic, we need new stories. We need new narratives or we need to refine old narratives, the ones that tell us that the resources of the planet are not inexhaustible, that life is not a series of great escapes, but a cycle, that we are stuck here together.


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