Klein, whose parents went to Canada seeking political asylum because of the Viet Nam war, was born in Montreal in 1970, spoke for about an hour, answered questions for about an hour afterwards, and concluded her talk with a 6 minute video. Engaging, but casual, smart and eloquent, but easily understood, her presentation charmed the crowd as much by its style as by its content. Though speaking from a podium, she seemed very much a part of, rather than apart from the gathering
She begins, "it's wonderful to be at the heart of Portland's legendary Progressive community; thank you for all the work you have done over the years in keeping up this fight. It is a revolutionary moment. There are moments when it feels less so, and Portland keeps on keeping' on, which we appreciate."
Arriving here from Los Angeles, which is still recovering from the wild fires of recent months, she was met with television images of people who have lost their homes to floods, highways collapses, mudslides and road closures. "These are very familiar images to me , because I've spent the last four years immersed in disaster zones. ...It reminds me of what I've seen in Biloxi Mississippi after Katrina, or New Orleans after Katrina, or Sri Lanka after the tsunami."
"We're going to be talking about disaster tonight, we're going to be talking about disaster capitalism, and it seems only appropriate for us to begin this discussion by thinking about these disasters unfolding in this region, in other parts of the country, around the world......Think about when we see these images, when a community is living through these disasters, what our initial human response is. ...."
"The initial human response to a disaster is not to exploit it for personal gain, that's not what most people want to do. What most people want to do is help When they see i t on television from far away, they want to help. That was the response to the tsunami, that was the response to Katrina, that was the response in this state.........The message that I have is that we are not inevitably exploited in the face of a disaster. There are choices at all of these junctures, and I think we need to remember that."
"This phenomenon that I call Disaster Capitalism is really the opposite of that initial human response that we all felt....What Disaster Capital sees in a crisis is really the opposite of that. They see, this phrase which comes up over and over again in the book, in this research, a 'blank slate,' a 'clean sheet.' They somehow confuse rubble with renewable, and there is this idea, -I saw this in New Orleans just 10 days after the levees broke, meeting lobbyists and politicians, and that famous quote from Richard Baker the Republican Congressman who said that "we couldn't clean out New Orleans housing projects, but God did."
"That's what he saw; he saw an act of cleansing."
Klein continues, drawing deeply from the extensive research in her book, describing how disasters, natural and man made provide momentum for Disaster Capitalism, using shock and crisis, to reshape the world, for the profit of a few. Speaking of the War on Terror, "if you think of it as a military plan it doesn't make much sense, but if you think of it as an economic plan it makes a lot of sense. I think what we need to understand is that the Bush Administration is not an administration, they do not administer. They think other people should do that. They've outsourced administering. The role they have played in the War on Terror is not that of an administrator, but that of a venture capitalist, a deep pocket venture capitalist that says, okay, here is your business plan, here's your market, fight evil everywhere forever. Terrorists and immigrants too while you are at it."
This was an enlightening presentation, but it did so by drawing together many ideas and common insights lying loose in the minds of the audience and directed them lasar-like, to obvious conclusions. She weaves a fabric from many threads available to all who dig beneath the veneer of Corporate Media complicity in the social engineering which passes for political and religious belief systems.
This audio file is just under 1 hour in length, and contains only the presentation itself.
Naomi Klein, RealPlayer
Naomi Klein, MP3