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Unformatted text preview: lel corporate state will rent back its disaster infrastructure to whoever can afford it, at whatever price the market T 52 HARPER'S MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2007 IMAGES OF PEOPLE STRANDED ON ROOFTOPS IN NEW ORLEANS A COLLECfIVE FORESHADOW FUTURE OF DISASTER APARTHEID will bear. For sale will be everything from helicopter rides off rooftops to drinking water to beds in shelters. Wealth already provides an escape hatch from most disasters-it buys early-warning systems for tsunami-prone regions and stockpiles ofTamiflu for the next outbreak. It buys bottled water, generators, satellite phones, and renta-cops. During the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, the U.S. government initially tried to charge American citizens for the cost of their own evacuation, though it was eventually forced to back down. If we continue in this direction, the images of people stranded on New Orleans rooftops will not only have been a glimpse of America's unresolved past of racial inequality but will also have foreshadowed a collective future of disaster apartheid, in which survival is determined primarily by one's ability to pay. Perhaps part of the reason so many of our elites, both political and corporate, are so sanguine about climate change is that they are confident they will be able to buy their way out of the worst of it. This may also partially explain why so many Bush supporters are Christian end-timers. It's not just that they need to believe there is an escape hatch from the world they are creating. It's that the Rapture is a parable for what they are building down here on Earth-a system that invites destruction and disaster, then swoops in with private helicopters and airlifts them and their friends to divine safety. s contractors rush to develop alternative stable sources of revenue, one avenue of business is in disaster-proofing other corporations. This was Paul Bremer's line of work before he became Bush's proconsul in Iraq: turning multinationals into security bubbles able to function smoothly even if the states in which they are doing business crumble around them. The early results can be seen in the lobbies of many office buildings in New York or London-airport-style check-ins complete with photo-H) requirements and ray machines-but the industry has far greater ambitions, including privatized global communications networks, emergency health and electricity services, and the ability to locate and provide transportation for a global workforce in the midst of a major disaster. Another potential growth area identified by the disaster-capitalism complex is municipal government: the contracting out of police and fire departments to private security companies. "What they do for the military in downtown Fallujah, they can do for the police in downtown Reno," a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin said in November 2004. The contracting industry predicts that these new markets will expand dramatically over the next decade. A frank vision of where these trends are leading is provided by John Robb, a former covert-action mission commander with De...
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This note was uploaded on 04/19/2011 for the course AMST 150 taught by Professor Perkinson during the Fall '10 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.
- Fall '10