When a natural disaster like an earthquake, tsunami, or hurricane18 strikes, our society reveals its true self. Instead of using the public funds donated after a natural disaster to help the local population, “Disaster Capitalism” takes opportunistic advantage of the event to colonise the area with tourist centres, elegant villas and hotels, such as the ones springing up from the earth swept bare by the tsunami. There are very good reasons why Mike Davis and Anthony Fontenot ask themselves what has happened to our democracy in the 21st century. Although the number of free elections and elected governments in the world is increasing, it does not diminish the fact that the public electoral debate is engineered with precision by a strictly controlled and staged spectacle. The majority of the population plays a passive, quiet, apathetic role, and can only respond based on the signals dished out to them. Behind this spectacle of the electoral game, politics is actually shaped in private by the interaction between elected governments and elites that overwhelmingly represent the interests of the free market and big business. The real question is where the world of politics stands. Are we sliding down farther toward a post-democratic model as analysed by Lars Lerup in “Toxic ecology”? Is politics disappearing under post-democratic conditions in the air-conditioned business lobbies of the privileged elites in Houston, or is there a chance of a synergy between nature and culture that makes the idea of a democratic city not only possible but feasible? [for more see PDF]

In Search of Political Ecology
Response to Lars Lerup's Megacity lecture 2005, Amsterdam

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