Friday, October 26, 2007


Here are a few choice comments on Lenny's short and sweet post about the California fires.
Well, according to Mike Davis, capitalism (in the shape of rampant development) was there already... See the wonderfully titled "The Case for Letting Malibu Burn" in The Ecology of Fear, which contrasts the handling of the tenement fires in LA (119 deaths, 1947-1993) with that of the Malibu fires (16 deaths between 1930 and 1996), concluding that whilst the first could be prevented if it weren't for systematic (class) racism, when it comes to over-subsidized regions such as Malibu, "periodic firestorms of this magnitude are inevitable as long as residential development is tolerated in the fire ecology of the Santa Monicas" (p. 99)
savonarola Homepage 24 Oct, 22:31 #
Speaking as someone breathing the foul orange stuff overhead and wiping the ash off my car, I can tell you that fire prevention and land management have been underfunded by the Bush Administration even though it is cheaper than fighting wildfires. And, of course, the National Guard and its equipment is in Iraq.

The whole point in my mind is the privatization of government services, especially the military, to undermine any sense of community or obligation to one's neighbors, country, environment, etc. or the benefits of collective action. By atomizing and decoupling agencies and people from their joined sense of destiny, Constitution, whatever, the elites think they can undermine organizing or at least using a totally privatized army to turn on protesters.
Madame X 24 Oct, 23:30 #
San Diego is not New Orleans

New Orleans is one of the poorest major metropolitan areas in the US, thus rendering it an excellent candidate for the expulsion of a lot of poor people for redevelopment after a catastrophe, and the city's affordable housing was ideally situated for destruction in the event of a hurricane

conversely, San Diego is one of the wealthiest metropolitan areas in the US, and it happened by design, as Mike Davis and others explained in Under the Perfect Sun

from the city's inception in its modern form at the turn of the century, city planning and economic development was driven by a desire to keep out semi-skilled workers susceptible to initially, radical activism, and later, unionization, and people of color (both Latinos and African Americans)

according to Davis, for much of the 20th Century, San Diego had a lower percentage of Latinos than that statewide average even though it was right across the border from Mexico

such people, as was the case during the New Deal, were considered the cause of "blight", and good government progressive types pushed planning policies that essentially created middle and upper middle income neighborhoods

city leaders consciously sought military facilities as an alternative to smokestack industries, and FDR graciously obliged during World War II

by the 1960s and 1970s, San Diego moved towards the economic model of development that we see now everywhere: suburban projects geared towards, first, middle income, and then, upper middle income people, with hostility towards any effort to meet the social needs of anyone else, and a willingness to cater to a desire for social exclusion on racial and class grounds, consistent with the city's history

San Diego, at least until recent waves of immigration, was a New South city within the boundaries of California

I could go on, but the bottom line is that San Diego is one of the places where the current model of capitalist transformation urban environments and their surrounding areas was pioneered, it influenced what subsequently transpired in New Orleans
hence, given that many of the victims of the fire lost homes in some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the US, what we are going to see in San Diego is the contrast between how the needs of predominately white, older, upper middle income people are satisfied with the greatest solicitude by the state and federal government, while the poor people of New Orleans still find themselves spread around the county in conditions of isolation
Richard Estes | Homepage | 25 Oct, 18:24 | #


There's even some talk that Blackwater started the San Diego fire as residents had opposed the building of a Blackwater military base on some ecologically delicate land. Given what we've seen from these people and their mentors, I find such suspicion highly understandable.
Madame X | 25 Oct, 18:25 | #


Now the talk on Fox is: Alqueada did it.
Mooser | Homepage | 26 Oct, 03:05 | #


Now the talk on Fox is: Alqueada did it.

Turks, Jews, Albanians, anarchists, terrorists, and even left-reformists and ecologists caused the summer fires here in Greece - according to the Greek media and some politicians.
anticapitalista | 26 Oct, 12:45 | #

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