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Klein-Disaster Capitalism-Harpers 2007

Klein-Disaster Capitalism-Harpers 2007 - CiARRET KEIZER...

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CiARRET KEIZER l:ALL:-; r o n A liENERAL :-;TRIKE HARPER'S MAGAZINE/OCTOBER 2007 ------------. ------------ DISASTER CAPITALISM The New Economy of Catastrophe By Naomi Klein THE RIVER IS A ROAD Searching for Peace in Congo By Bryan Mealer ADMIRAL A story by T. C. Boyle Also: John]. Sullivan and Wyatt Mason ------------. ------- $6.9SUS $7.9SCAN
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E S SAY DISASTER CAPITALISM The new economy of catastrophe By Naomi Klein Only a crisis--actual or perceived-produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. -Milton Friedman Tee yearsago, when I was in Bagh- dad on assignment for this magazine, I paid an early-morning visit to Khadamiya, a mostly Shiite area. An Iraqi colleague had heard that part of the neighborhood had flooded the night before, as it did regularly. When we arrived, the streets were drenched in slick green-blue liquid that was bub- bling up from sewage pipes beneath exhausted asphalt. A family invited us to see what the frequent floods had done to their once lovely home. The walls were moldy and cracked, and every item-books, photos, sofas-was caked in the algae-like scum. Out back, a walled garden was a fetid swamp, with a child's swing dangling forlornly from a dead palm tree. "It was a beautiful gar- den," Durdham Yassin, the owner, told us. "I grew tomatoes." For the frequent flooding, Yassin spread the blame around. There was Saddam, who spent oil money on weapons instead of infrastructure during the Iran-Iraq War. There was the first Gulf War, when U.S. missiles struck a nearby electricity plant, knocking out power to the sewage-treatment fa- cility. Next came the years of U.N. sanctions, when city workers could not replace crucial parts of the sewage system. Then there was the 2003 inva- sion, which further fried the power grid. And, more recently, there were com- panies like Bechtel and General Electric, which were hired to fix this mess, and which failed. Around the corner, a truck was idling with a large hose down a manhole. "The most powerful vacuum loader in the world," it advertised, in English, on its side. Yassin explained that the neighbors had pooled their money to pay the company to suck away the latest batch of sludge, a costly and tem- porary solution. The mosque had helped, too. As we drove away, I noticed that there were similar private vacuum trucks on every other block. Later that day I stopped by Baghdad's world-famous Green Zone. There, the challenges of living without functioning public infrastructure are also addressed by private actors. The difference is that in the Green Zone, the Naomi Klein's most recent article for Harper's Magazine, "Baghdad Year Zero," appeared in the September 2004 issue. Her new book, The Shock Doctrine, from which this essay was adapted, was just published by Metropolitan Books.
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