disaster capitalism .

The 2003 Iraq war. Hurricane Katrina. Grenfell. Brexit. COVID. Endless examples among the plethora.


Much of this post is based on work by Naomi Klein, a staunch Feminist and critic of capitalism. Defining disaster capitalism as the way that private industry emerges to profit directly from mass crises, she identified how its presence in society intensified following the 9/11 bombings, generating security crises of an infinite span. ‘Calculated, free-market (so-called) solutions to crises that exploit and exacerbate existing inequalities’.

Meanwhile, shock doctrine was coined by Klein to describe the tactic of public disorientation following mass crises to push radical, pro-corporate measures through the House. A process tied in and interrelated to neoliberal policy.

And as for the Iraq war, disaster capitalism remains ubiquitous to conflict pushed by Western powers. For instance, the partially privatised invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by the US, with profits including power and capital alike.

With the privatisation of the security state, funds dissipate from government budgets while Big Oil (ExxonMobil) siphons yet more money, or to make a bad pun, black gold, from the Middle East. And to defend themselves, Big Oil encourages the spreading of misinformation to discredit climate change activism and discourse. Fake news that serves as a tool to neoliberal goals.

Moving swiftly on, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was rife with chaos and destabilisation. While the Iraq war was orchestrated by the West, hurricanes exist as (fairly) natural phenomena.

Though that didn’t stop private military contractors interfering in this case study, either. The role of Pence, then-Governor of Indiana, in failing to protect the ethnically diverse population of New Orleans from the hurricane through the inadequacy of infrastructure, tax cuts, slow crisis response and victim-blaming was sizeable too. Which then stirred the media into a writing frenzy about so-called ‘black looters’. Conveniently ignoring the real culprits yet further marginalising the innocent.

Moreover, privatised prisons demonstrate disaster capitalism at its finest. Private profit from so-called terrorists and those malevolently profiled. With zero-tolerance policy placing swathes of the American population behind bars, while stocks for CoreCivic and the Geo Group skyrocketed during Trump’s first month in office. And with Trump’s decision to appoint numerous war-profiting corporates into central government during his time in the Oval Office, international peace goes out of the window.

And next, the shambles that has been the Brexit referendum. A decision which, regardless of what side you support, sits neck-deep in incorrect statistics, fake news and deceit. And disaster capitalism? In combination with a government who prioritise austerity, corporation tax cuts and academisation of schools over national stability, yes, disaster capitalism isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Regardless of whether or not we’re in the EU. 

Grenfell, too. The fault of poor building quality in a bid to save money, yet the senior MP Rees-Mogg cannot resist an opportunity to victim-blame ethnic minorities and the traditional working-class, falsely claiming that Grenfell victims lacked common-sense when evacuating the building. Another instance of the Tories destroying lives and wasting taxpayer money on sub-par, for-profit contractors. 

Lastly though, we turn to the COVID pandemic where the only winners are gig economy corporations, Big Pharma and private hospitals. Where employees struggle to make ends meet without paid leave, the general public is bombarded with mixed messages and misinformation shrouds the internet in a green haze.

And who is being blamed for the chaos? The general public, not the companies incompetent in all but making profits.


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