Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Disaster Capitalism

I am a big fan of Naomi Klein's work on disaster capitalism. Here is her latest update on how the neoliberal reform policies executed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are likely to be implemented again in the near future given Pense's central role in orchestrating their conception:
Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism
I drew upon's Klein's ideas about disaster capitalism when framing my own analysis of neoliberal and neoconservative "reforms" enacted in the wake of Katrina.

I agree with Klein about what we can expect.

Here is an excerpt from my essay:
Nadesan, M. (2008). Hurricane Katrina: Governmentality, Risk, and Responsibility. Controversia, 5(2) 67-90.

....Neoconservatives and neoliberals alike found in Katrina’s wake the opportunity space to materialize broad scale economic and social reforms.

Representative Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana who then led the Republican Study Group contended,
“The desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot …We want to turn the gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was” (cited in Wilke & Mullins, 2005, p. B1). 

Temporary hurricane response measures that passed legislative and/or executive government approval included the following:
Liability exemptions for hospitals, physicians and Katrina relief workers; Temporary exemptions from environmental laws; Suspension of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws; Streamlined approval process for building or expanding oil refineries; Temporary exemptions from estate tax; School vouchers for displaced students. (Wilke & Mullins, 2005, p. B1)
In addition to these approved policies, Republicans worked on
“legislation that would limit victims’ right to sue, offer vouchers for displaced school children, lift some environmental restrictions on new refineries and create tax-advantaged enterprise zones to maximize private-sector participation in recovery and reconstruction” (Wilke & Mullins, 2005, p. B1). 

Enterprise and the privatization of formerly state-supported apparatuses such as education were the order of the day.

In his September 15 speech to the nation, President Bush proposed creating a Gulf Opportunity Zone in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama stating: “It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity; it is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty; and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region” (Bush, 2005).

The zone enabled about $2 billion in tax “relief” and credits for small businesses (Bush, 2005). Additionally, tax limits for 2005 donations by corporations and individuals were altered (Rogers, 2005). Bush also suggested identifying government property in the affected region in order to run a lottery that would award sites to low-income “homesteaders” who would pledge to build there.

In the spirit of private enterprise, the federal government contracted with private corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel to help clean and rebuild New Orleans.

According to U.S. Office of Management and Budget spokesman, Scott Millburn, private-sector expertise allows the government to "bring the full strength of American ingenuity to bear as we seek solutions" (cited in Gehlert, 2006, p. A10). Government contracting grew 89% between 2000 and 2006, totaling more than $415 billion in 2006 (Gupta, 2007).

Government contracting to private entities does not necessarily reduce government expenditures but it does shift responsibility and risk away from the state to private or private-like entities.

Neoconservative and neoliberal authorities particularly favor government contracting of social services to private philanthropy. Not only does this help maintain the liberal fantasy of distinct zones – market, state, and population – but it also enables private philanthropy’s sometimes moralizing and normalizing discourses to infuse and invigorate desired governmental reforms. President Bush created the White House Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to pursue the privatization of the state’s social-welfare apparatuses. Accordingly, this initiative’s homepage reads:
"And so today, after four years of work, we continue to confront this culture, culture of process instead of results, head on. And the goal is, over the next four years, to change the culture permanently so faith- and community-based organizations will be welcomed into the grant-making process of government. That's the goal” (Bush, 2005).

Given this emphasis on private, philanthropic government it is not surprising that in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane FEMA’s list of charitable agencies for Katrina donations included only two non-religious organizations, and that one of them - the Red Cross - was initially blocked by FEMA from assisting in New Orleans (Blumenthal, 2005).

Operation Blessing, a religious-based charitable organization, was prominently featured as the number two charity on FEMA’s list, despite accusations and evidence that the organization has served as a front for Pat Robertson’s financial schemes (Blumenthal, 2005; Ross, 2005).[i]

Neoconservative government is particularly vehement in advocating for a return to nineteenth century laissez-faire liberal philanthropy as the primary solution for securitizing the private sphere while maintaining the liberal distinction between the market and civil society.


[i] “Far from the media's gaze, Robertson has used the tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence within the GOP to cover his tracks. In 1994 he made an emotional plea on The 700 Club for cash donations to Operation Blessing to support airlifts of refugees from the Rwandan civil war to Zaire (now Congo).

Reporter Bill Sizemore of The Virginian Pilot later discovered that Operation Blessing's planes were transporting diamond-mining equipment for the African Development Corporation, a Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of Zaire's then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko” (Blumenthal, 2005).




  1. Disaster capitalism is raging hot in failed Nuclear States like Japan, Belarus, the Ukraine. These countries are the victims of ungodly nuclear accidents. Their people, property, food and water is saturated with never before seen levels of ubertoxic radionuclide's. They see their only way out a demented vision of building more nuclear reactors. In the Ukraine's case, now a degraded neonazi state in permanent civil war, some actually want to bring in nuclear waste to get money for the failed state. Psychotic and degraded. Is that what will happen in america if aindian point goes off? Will Trump and pense turn Manhattan into a huge nuclear waste, barge dumping site for Europe and Asian nuclear reactors? Sounds very profitable for people like parry who got paid off to build one of the worst shallow nuclear waste dumps in the world in west Texas. Right over an aquifer that supplies 5 states.
    Japan is just one more nuclear meltdown or one nuclear fuel pool five away from most of the nation being so disabled from health problems that they could do nothing.

  2. Fascism a false revolution.

    does this sound familiar?

    "In Germany, there was a very similar pattern of complicity between fascists and capitalists. German workers and farm laborers had won the eight-hour day, unemployment insurance, the right to unionize. They had built very powerful political organizations, but heavy industry and big finance were in a state of near total collapse. Business wanted to cut wages and get tax-cuts and massive state subsidies to revive profit levels. The German tycoons greatly increased their subsidies to Hitler, and the Nazi party was propelled onto the national stage."


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