This is the story that Klein writes optimistically in Puerto Rico; it is the other possible future, one with democratic equity in decision-making, the right to self-determination. To request permission to reuse content, email Monbiot contends that through a “failure of the imagination,” we—the “silent majorities”—“have failed to understand what is possible, and above all failed to tell a new compelling story of transformation and restoration.” If that were to change, there would be nothing that this “small minority” could do and once people realize “how powerful they are and how useful they can be, and how politics and government can belong to all of us rather than only a remote elite, we will become unstoppable.” Monbiot backs up these stirring claims with examples that include “near misses” that gestured towards some fundamental change: the near nomination of Bernie Sanders, for example. FURTHER READING: Naomi Klein tells us how to resist 'the Trump show', As Klein puts it, Puerto Rico is experiencing the “Shock-After-Shock-After-Shock Doctrine,” including selling off public assets and turning over public schools to private corporations as charter schools. the Week, 15 September, 2017. Disaster capitalism rages in Puerto Rico. And, of course, there’s Puerto Rico, just one of countless examples. Her new book, “The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists,” applies that premise to the island’s situation. Take Puerto Rico, for example. And, the debt is squeezing the lifeblood out of the people. To build it, our approach must be grounded in uncovering and combating the strategies that have been developed to deprive an entire nation of its human rights and its ability to defend itself. Here is an island, part of the United States since the U.S. war on the Spanish Empire in 1898, where the people have little democratic control of its institutions and resources. Seen in this way, this moment constitutes a humanitarian crisis and a case of the abuse of citizens’ rights. So naturally its government, prodded by the wealthy, wants to privatize its electrical grid and its public schools, among other things. Courtesy of Street Roots’ sister paper Real Change News in Seattle. A Boon to Disaster Capitalism: Puerto Rico’s Perpetual State of Emergency Puerto Rico has faced wave after wave of disaster since 2006. “Who Inherits?”: A Conversation between Tao Leigh... Preexisting Conditions: What 2020 Reveals about Our Urban Future. Puerto Rico is at a crossroads. It has been more than a year since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, … Increasingly, Puerto Rico has become a place for companies and employees not tied to specific workplaces to relocate, particularly ones who do most of their business on the Web. Puerto Rico-Whitefish scandal ‘disaster capitalism’ in action By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan / Syndicated Columnists Monday, November 6th, 2017 at 12:02am Years of constructed dependence followed by Hurricane Maria have created extreme crisis and inequality. Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” details the ways that corporations and governments take advantage of disasters to implement neoliberal economic structuring around the globe. The fault, as Klein sees it, lies not with the island or its lack of resources but with the vicious cycle of dependence imposed by the federal government, which has kept the island in seemingly perpetual crisis. The electrical grid is one such opening: In January, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, announced that it would be privatized. Stiglitz – Disaster Capitalism Comes to Puerto Rico Disaster Capitalism Comes to Puerto Rico by Joseph E. Stiglitz, November 15, 2018 In the year since Hurricane Maria laid waste to Puerto Rico, the island’s already dire economic situation has gotten even worse. Or will we further centralize our infrastructure to make it easier for corporations to profit, even as that makes disruption from disasters, natural or man-made, more likely? But Puerto Ricans are organizing, on the island and the mainland, to fight back. “Disaster” can serve as a modifier concerning the very nature of capitalism and its development within a broad framework of neoliberalism. Nov 20,2018 - Last updated at Nov 20,2018. This article was commissioned by Caitlin Zaloom. For Monbiot, certain features of contemporary capitalist societies—economic exploitation, acute inequality, climate degradation, political corruption, and so on—generate a deepening and seemingly perpetual crisis. Be it detention centers in the US, relief aid in Haiti, military contractors in Afghanistan, economic sanctions on Greece, complicit corporate-sponsored NGOs in the developing world, or prison systems across much of the Western world, “predatory behavior” does vary “from country to country, but the strategy is the same: exaggerate a threat, man-made or natural, and let loose unaccountable private-sector contractors to exploit it.” Loewenstein frequently uses the term “disaster” seemingly interchangeably with terms like “exploitative,” “crisis,” and “predatory” as descriptors of capitalism. Public finances in the island are a mess—the island is overwhelmed by $120 billion in debt and pension liabilities. Disaster Capitalism on Puerto Rico: Causes and Consequences of the Privatization of Puerto Rico’s Public Electric Authority after Hurricane Maria Kobi Naseck TC 660H Plan II Honors Program The University of Texas at Austin May 10, 2018 _____ Bartholomew Sparrow, Ph.D. Department of Government Moving people to the mainland both acts as a political safety valve for the government and “conveniently helps create the ‘blank canvas’ that the governor has bragged about to would-be investors.”. This new system—the neoliberal doctrine, Klein would call it—changed the way of doing business, in which state involvement is diminished while private, corporate interests are promoted. Nothing is safe from the imperial reach of a commodified system of capital. This notion is the overarching theme of Klein’s 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which traces exploitative neoliberal economic history substantiated by examples from Chile, Iraq, and New Orleans. As such, “disaster” may no longer refer to specific shocks or changes in the economic system but rather to the system itself. These salient, increasing inequalities and persistent human injustices are in fact integral features of the dominant Western ideology of our times. The fight for its future is underway. Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2018. Klein reports on a convention on the island at which entrepreneurs schemed to make Puerto Rico a center for blockchain and cryptocurrency generation and the associated server farms. The Puertopians dream of a radical withdrawal from society into their privatized enclaves.” On the other side, community groups “dream of a society with far deeper commitments and engagement — with each other, within communities and with the natural systems, whose health is a prerequisite for any kind of safe future.”. If everything is sold off to profiteering companies and it becomes a crypto tax haven and tourist resort, most Puerto Ricans will again be forced back into an exploitative colonial dynamic, this time according to a tweaked neoliberal model. The “shock” that Klein discusses is felt during the transition to an extreme neoliberal, free-market iteration in the wake of a disaster that can come in various forms. Verified Purchase. Thanks to Obama, Puerto Rico might never recover from Irma. Slow Violence and Disaster Capitalism: Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria May 5, 2019 Rachel Salcedo In September 2017, the category five Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, a small Caribbean island just east of the Dominican Republic and a territory … March 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) "Disaster capitalism" in Puerto Rico: After Maria, power companies go private Puerto Rico is privatizing its power utility, and it's causing controversy Against the rampant greed of disaster capitalism, only radical solidarity can provide the way forward for Puerto Rico. Opinion Saturday 24/November/2018 14:13 PM By: Times News Service. One alternative involves exploiting Puerto Rico’s existing status as a domestic U.S. corporate tax haven; corporations there pay only 4 percent on profits. My copy of Naomi Klein's book "Disaster Capitalism" has been highlighted to the max. By Martin Guzman. Klein, Monbiot, and Loewenstein chime with the positive possibility of resolution and change, often by citing cases in which the greedy reach of capitalism has been at least limited: the ongoing fight for Puerto Rico is testament to that. This process would finally give political and social power to the people and increase autonomy and self-sufficiency. Puerto Ricans Battle Disaster Capitalism to Achieve Self-Determination Mother Isamar holds her baby Saniel, 9 months, as husband Samuel mixes cement at their makeshift home, under reconstruction, after being mostly destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on December 23, 2017, in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters, fully owned by Coca-Cola, is founded in 2008 and purchases the 11 largest local brands, effectively monopolizing the market for green and roasted coffee. Server farms are a major sink for electricity, which has been in short supply in Puerto Rico after the hurricane. It has been a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, leaving a trail of destruction: ruined infrastructure, destroyed homes, and thousands ... a magazine of ideas, arts, and scholarship, congratulated the Federal Emergency Management Agency. How is it, Monbiot asks, that the “neoliberal story” persists when its pitfalls and egregious exploitation are so apparent? Once you pry open the terminology a little bit, as Loewenstein implies, one finds that the leverage of “disaster capitalism” now stretches far beyond that which Klein identified. © 2020 Street Roots. Puerto Rico is not the only place where disaster capitalism has taken root or where people dream of something else emerging from the ruins of exploitative neoliberal capitalism. Aside from wishful thinking, however, is there either an individual or a collective impulse to make that change? This second option requires a fundamental rethinking of priorities, according to activist and author George Monbiot in Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis (2017). Or is the broader ideology of capitalism so indoctrinated and accepted in the West that we will just carry on, repressed by a system guided by inherent injustice and inequality, one defined by faceless entities, multifaceted crises, and purposefully exploitative practices? Klein’s punchy recent book covers the island’s post-1898 history as a subjugated, dominated, exploited, neglected, and colonial outpost of the United States. Or, Hurricane Katrina: the shock of the original disaster of the flooding and evacuations (disproportionately impacting poor African-American residents) was followed by the economic shock therapy that exploited the chance to make money from the valuable opportunities at cut-price and under a short-termist guise of “rebuilding,” which would disproportionately benefit those with financial stakes: public schools could be turned into charter schools, public housing projects into condominiums. But the other alternative, one that is embodied in the “islands” of solar development and agroecology that already exist there, involves redeveloping Puerto Rico in a way that makes it less dependent on centralized energy sources and food imports, and more capable of providing a decent life for its 3 million inhabitants. The neoliberal “story,” as Monbiot calls it, rejects the “over-mighty state” to restore order “in the form of free markets, delivering wealth and opportunity, guaranteeing a prosperous future for everyone.” We tell ourselves that this dominant organizing structure is the way of the world. Her new book, “The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists,” applies that premise to the island’s situation. Couple that with aged or neglected infrastructure, corruption, and mismanagement, and it is clear that the island was already in crisis before Maria hit. The aftermath of the hurricane left the “perfect opening” for exploiting the disaster and post-storm chaos, according to Klein. On Monday, teachers across Puerto Rico held a one-day strike to protest the privatization plan. However, many of the traditional crops on the island, which are now mostly grown on organic farms, survived, partly because they’re adapted to the climate and partly because many are root vegetables that weren’t seriously hurt by the high winds. Mario Tama / Getty Images Part of the Series Except now, if all goes according to plan, a small minority will have even more power and money: capitalism at its malicious and exploitative peak. N aomi Klein’s latest book, The Battle For Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists, examines recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Just in case you think it's all Trump. For now, it seems not. Puerto Rico’s disaster is clear. “The Battle for Paradise” presents a choice the whole world will eventually face; will we reorient our industry and our economy to allow for local adaptation to the worsening climate? In the background, however, a more unsettling picture also emerges, in which those exploitative machinations continue to take hold, progressively and aggressively, even without a disaster or shock. That guiding idea, however, never materialized and instead led to an age of multidimensional crisis: environmental, political, social, and economic, depending on where and how keenly you look. That there are many cases of disaster capitalism is a point made by journalist Antony Loewenstein in his book, Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe (2015), and in the 2018 documentary Disaster Capitalism. The island was bankrupt and left with a $73 billion debt to the federal government. Puerto Rico's governor Ricardo Rosello has been visiting the US mainland, looking for financial support for the island battered by hurricanes last year. More conventionally, investors are looking at converting the devastated waterfronts into high-rise hotel and condo developments, creating gated enclaves that exclude most Puerto Ricans. The question remains as to whether this “age of crisis” represented by contemporary neoliberalism is profound enough to bring about this sort of change, or whether the increasingly disastrous development of capitalism will continue apace even as an apparent existential threat looms. In these comprehensive and unsettling works, he covers war (in Afghanistan), aid (in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake), and environmental exploitation (in Papua New Guinea). Disaster capitalism comes to Puerto Rico. Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” details the ways that corporations and governments take advantage of disasters to implement neoliberal economic structuring around the globe. Portland, Oregon's award-winning weekly street newspaper, BOOK REVIEW | “The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists” by Naomi Klein, “The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists” by Naomi Klein, Naomi Klein tells us how to resist 'the Trump show', Answering the call in Puerto Rico: 'The need was immense, Breaking down Measure 103: Fact vs. fiction, Answering the call in Puerto Rico: 'The need was immense', Jon Langford: Making music in these ‘Trumpy’ times, A refugee family’s struggle to navigate the bureaucracy of survival, A podcast by a Street Roots vendor, about fellow vendors. “The resistance has always existed in Puerto Rico and among Boricuas in the diaspora, and there are different fronts to it.” Over the course of two weeks, U.S. activists witnessed two fronts of this resistance: its reconnections with the land, and its confrontations with disaster capitalism. That he settles on no single word is not a weakness, but rather an intriguing diagnosis: capitalism in its current expression and at its worst is all of those things and more. October 26, 2017 Share on facebook. The three authors also ultimately demand—somewhat hopefully, or perhaps hopelessly—a need for modern societies “to view humans as more than just consumers.” Monbiot goes further, pushing for a “regime change,” in which the system is replaced rather than reformed.5 As such, their objective seems not to be “benevolent capitalism” or “sustainable capitalism” but rather “not capitalism.”. By Joseph E. Stiglitz. Disaster capitalism is merely the latest rendition of a long legacy of colonial capitalism. Then there was the occupation of Iraq, when the War on Terror gave carte blanche to the US military and its contractors to “democratize” the Middle East, opening up new markets to “economic freedom,” supposedly for everyone’s gain but ultimately benefiting a very select few. All rights reserved. This fight began immediately after the hurricane. Post-hurricane island is shaping up to be a textbook case of the shock doctrine. Disaster capitalism sees the implementation of an economic system in the shadow of a disaster. Puerto Rico is located between 2 tectonic plates both moving toward the island from opposite sides, squeezing the island. On the other hand, there is the push for a “Puerto Rico that is equitable, democratic, and sustainable for all” through local, inclusive grassroots initiatives centered on public education, renewable energy, and agro-ecology. Puerto Ricans—represented more accurately by the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz than the governor Ricardo Rosselló—are tired of not being heard, of being unequal citizens, and of having no say in the decision-making process. But recovery has also been complicated by the reluctance of the federal government and the Trump administration to give the disaster the attention it deserves. On the one hand, prompted by disaster and vulnerability, wealthy companies and individuals are able to have a stake in the island, its infrastructure, and its identity. Reading it first, puts this book into a greater perspective in understanding the basic blueprint of the actions.taken in Puerto Rico. Disaster or not, it now seems that capitalism seeks to get into unexplored cracks and expand whether or not we like or even recognize it. In these comprehensive and unsettling works, he covers war (in Afghanistan), aid (in Haiti following … As the title implies, this slim volume is about the alternatives Puerto Ricans must confront after the hurricane. Postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Economics and Finance at Columbia University Business School. Puerto Rico has a higher ratio of Walmart stores to unit land area than any US state or indeed any country where Walmart is present (Cintrón Arbasetti 2014). Nobel laureate in economics, is University Professor at Columbia University. 5.0 out of 5 stars Disaster Capitalism in Puerto Rico. In order to generate economic gains for privileged stakeholders, the doctrine demands that the free market, free trade, and free enterprise rule, regardless of the other costs.1. But that will not be a straightforward process. As Klein puts it, “Puerto Rico finds itself locked in a battle of utopias. As Klein describes one of these developments, “Visiting Casa Pueblo was ... a bit like stepping through a portal into another world — a parallel Puerto Rico where everything worked and the mood brimmed with optimism.” Community-based solar developments were among the few places on the island that still had power after the hurricane. 'The Battle for Paradise': Naomi Klein on Disaster Capitalism & the Fight for Puerto Rico’s Future Amy Goodman. Other examples flesh out a new “politics of belonging,” in which we are all, or should be, equal stakeholders in the commons. Is another future possible? The current conditions provide the perfect opening to establish profit-driven, privatized remodel: the island, as the governor has put it, is a “blank canvas” for innovators and investors. FURTHER READING: Answering the call in Puerto Rico: 'The need was immense. Similarly, U.S. citizens who relocate to Puerto Rico – but not the Puerto Ricans who already live there – can become exempt from paying income tax entirely. After a collective trauma like Hurricane Maria, who has the right to decide for Puerto Rico? Electricity, hospitals, water, roads, and more: all would require rebuilding, a process that could take two paths. This process is underway and represents a prime opening of the market for profit-motivated private energy companies. Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló is moving to privatize PREPA, one of the largest public power utilities in the United States. Since that particular hurricane has largely faded from the news, the slow rebuild continues and defining questions loom over the process: Who is Puerto Rico for? The Island’s elite, the Criollo bloc, reproduce themselves as a class by serving as junior partners to the U.S. extractive and plantation economy in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is still struggling after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria. The Intercept is co-hosting an event focused on how the forces of disaster capitalism are seeking to undermine the Puerto Rican people’s vision for a just and renewable future. They became centers for self-recovery projects, as well as places where people could go to recharge cell phones or plug in medical equipment. Early on in the book, Loewenstein makes an important terminological point: “Whether we call this disaster capitalism,” he writes, “or just a product of the unavoidable excesses and inequalities of capitalism itself, the end result is still a world ruled by unaccountable markets.” Although Loewenstein neglects to flesh this out, it is a crucial observation: what he sees in disparate locations and contexts is not necessarily produced or predicated by a disaster or extraordinary event.4 The crisis that Loewenstein documents pervades capitalist societies and lies in actors systematically embracing exploitative and damaging practices in the unfolding of the neoliberal story. It has been a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, leaving a trail of destruction: ruined infrastructure, destroyed homes, and thousands of fatalities. The hurricane devastated the cash crops, further hurting the economy. In fact, the disaster seems to have been seen as more of an opportunity to steer profits to Trump cronies and others and to reshape Puerto Rico, whose economy has been structured to make profits for U.S. companies since the early 20th century, to meet corporate needs in the 21st century. Share on twitter. And, of course, there’s Puerto Rico, just one of countless examples. That there are many cases of disaster capitalism is a point made by journalist Antony Loewenstein in his book, Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe (2015), and in the 2018 documentary Disaster Capitalism. Writer Naomi Klein discusses the latest attempts at privatizing the electric grid in Puerto Rico following the damage from Hurricane Maria. Disaster creates a unique environment in which corporations and investors thrive. It’s all up for grabs: health, transport, education, and identity. Share on email. This approach rejects the doubling down on the exploitation rooted in the longstanding colonial enterprise that has defined the island’s history as a United States territory.3 This is, then, a fight for sovereignty that has been pushed into the foreground by the hurricane but that has deeper roots. Monbiot’s argument relies on massive hopes and expectations: a fundamental change of discourse, a willing regression of development, and a form of deglobalization and contraction of capital financial systems predicated on the end of excess, a restriction of consumption, the end of inequality and inequity, and living within our means. Klein’s book also briefly provides vital information about the deeper crises before Maria hit the island: its colonial exploitation by the US, leading to—among other things—a debt crisis that weakened the economy and led to disinvestment. Puerto Rico currently imports 85 percent of its food, even as its economy is mostly oriented to export agriculture. Puerto Rico suffers amid disaster capitalism. Klein points out that food sovereignty is not only crucial for reducing Puerto Rico’s dependence on the world economy, but also for insulating it against the worst effects of climate chaos. Following news that the Montana-based company Whitefish Energy was rewarded a "shady" $300 million contract to restore Puerto Rico's crippled electrical grid and as U.S. officials look to install an emergency manager to direct the island's hurricane relief efforts, advocacy groups are urgently warning that authority is being stripped from local elected officials and placed in the hands of "disaster …

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