An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Friday, September 21, 2007

Disaster capitalism

There's an interesting interview with Naomi Klein in

In particular, this stood out:

There is a new level of integration between homeland security companies and media companies. General Electric, which owns NBC, has been in the weapons industry for some time but has become very active in the homeland security business. They recently purchased InVision, which provides bomb detection for airports. Since 9/11 InVision has received $15 billion in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security -- more such contracts than any other company. A company like that gains from the atmosphere of crisis and fear that is spread through media outlets. It's war against evil everywhere with no end. That's a war that can't be won, and you couldn't ask for a more profitable business plan. The only thing that threatens it is peace.

This reminds me of the media coverage of the Soviet Union and Nicaragua in the 1980s. No conflict of interest when the news and the arms producers are the same company. We trust them! Right.

I'm not sure how to verify this next passage, but I find the attempt to connect the dots between the events hard to dispute:

I look at torture in two ways in the book. The first is as an enforcement tool used by states that are trying to push through an economic transformation of a country that is so wildly unpopular that terror -- including torture -- must be used to control the population. Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in the 1970s are classic examples of places where very real shocks to bodies were used to spread terror, making it possible to impose economic shocks. China is another example. And I argue that the use of torture by U.S. forces in Iraq was related to the huge social unrest sparked by Paul Bremer's attempt at an extreme country makeover. Many analysts agree that his decision to dissolve the army, to fire huge numbers of public sector workers, to push through investment rules that decimated Iraqi industry, and to cancel local elections all contributed to the rise of the armed resistance. And it was at that point that the war moved into the jails and torture spread.

The whole interview is worth a look, even if makes you sit through an ad first (sorry). I find Klein gives some concrete verifiable examples of the idea that the so-called "free market" relies on government intervention, bail-outs, and various tricks to "rig the game."

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