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What do anarchists make of Naomi Klein's "disaster capitalism" analysis?

+2 votes
I haven't read the book (yet?) but i am now starting to hear a lot of leftists (no pejorative intended) use it increasingly in their analysis of current events. As I understand it, she contends that powerful Westerners use crises in Southern countries in order to usher in neo-liberal economic regimes in these countries. It is also applicable in USA/ Europe now with the housing market bubble and the fallout from that.

From what i can tell this has been standard practice in capitalism long before Milton Friedman was born, but maybe i'm just getting a poor third-hand understanding of her theory. Maybe just the phrase "disaster capitalism" is just a meme now, divested of her specific meaning.

Anyway, just looking for general @ responses to Klein more than the semantics involved.
asked Dec 15, 2011 by enkidu (7,570 points)

1 Answer

+6 votes
Meh. There's a hugely more adequate explanation of this idea here: http://libcom.org/library/murdering-dead-amadeo-bordiga-capitalism-other-disasters-antagonism

Klein treats it like it's some kind of new feature of profiteering, but it isn't. She has nothing to say about it that hasn't been recorded already, and she just uses the novelty of the idea to her readership so she can riff on about the enduring integrity of state regulation of enterprise and production and maintaining civil vigilance against the neoliberals conspiring to privatize the social wage. The problem of capital regulating social life altogether never arises.

If the premise of capitalism is to subject human life to infinite levels of mutability in order to maximize the reproduction of value, then why wouldn't capitalists try to establish industry that anticipates disaster? What Klein fails to take account of is government complicity in this, despite the fact that she spends a few hundred pages explaining the integration of state ownership and institutional bias to private profit in Chile. The state has no problem with making money from disasters—from the upending or annihilation of human life. For instance, around the time the Haiti earthquake struck last year diplomatic and aid agencies in the United States outright denied a bid for a minimum wage increase by workers employed to Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi Strauss Co.*  Klein has no concept of the ruling class, or even of class society. It's just a matter of getting good people to patronize labor and industry and build from there.

Bourgeois ideologues always have a conspiratorial enemy up their sleeves. It comes from the same stuff that generates state propaganda about foreign agents corrupting national morality. Neoliberals, anarchists, terrorists, immigrants, muslims, Jews… It's always some criminal, alien element up to no good. It never occurs to these people that the roots of this way of life are the genesis of its problems. It shouldn't occur to them since it would be their downfall. No more bestsellers.


It should also be said that I haven't read the book in awhile, and I don't really care about it, so I'm just going off what I can recall.
answered Dec 15, 2011 by madlib (3,980 points)
edited Dec 15, 2011 by madlib