Her explosive new book exposes the lie that free markets thrive on freedom. In the Guardian’s first exclusive extract, the No Logo author reveals the business of exploiting disaster.
“I started researching the free market’s dependence on the power of shock four years ago, during the early days of the occupation of Iraq. I reported from Baghdad on Washington’s failed attempts to follow “shock and awe” with shock therapy – mass privatization, complete free trade, a 15% flat tax, a dramatically downsized government. Afterwards I traveled to Sri Lanka, several months after the devastating 2004 tsunami, and witnessed another version of the same maneuver: foreign investors and international lenders had teamed up to use the atmosphere of panic to hand the entire beautiful coastline over to entrepreneurs who quickly built large resorts, blocking hundreds of thousands of fishing people from rebuilding their villages. By the time Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it was clear that this was now the preferred method of advancing corporate goals: using moments of collective trauma to engage in radical social and economic engineering. Most people who survive a disaster want the opposite of a clean slate: they want to salvage whatever they can and begin repairing what was not destroyed. “When I rebuild the city I feel like I’m rebuilding myself,” said Cassandra Andrews, a resident of New Orleans’ heavily damaged Lower Ninth Ward, as she cleared away debris after the storm. But disaster capitalists have no interest in repairing what once was. In Iraq, Sri Lanka and New Orleans, the process deceptively called “reconstruction” began with finishing the job of the original disaster by erasing what was left of the public sphere.”
To read the entire excerpt, go to The Guardian.