The Battle for Paradise. Finished 9-16-18, rating 5/5, non-fiction, 80 pages, pub 2018
In the rubble of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans and ultrarich “Puertopians” are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island. In this vital and startling investigation, bestselling author and activist Naomi Klein uncovers how the forces of shock politics and disaster capitalism seek to undermine the nation’s radical, resilient vision for a “just recovery.” from Goodreads
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that taught me so much in just 80 pages. Admittedly, I knew very little about Puerto Rico, but this book isn’t just about the small US territory, it’s also about how capitalism can be and is at odds with humane aid when disaster strikes. Thankfully, Trump is mentioned toward the end only, and as you can imagine, not favorably, so for the most part this is about what’s actually happening there, starting before the hurricane hit through today, where so many are still living without electricity.
First, let’s start with the term neoliberalism. Sounds like a word that Mitch McConnell would spit out when talking about Democrats, but that definition didn’t fit with what I was reading so I had to do a small bit of research since the word came up a few times. A concise explanation for those interested…
Liberalism vs. Neoliberalism
“Although the terms share some similarities, the two are distinct. Both are rooted in 19th-century classical liberalism, which supported laissez-fare economics and the freedom of people against an overpowering government. Liberalism is more of a political philosophy that holds liberty to a high standard. It defines all social, economic and political aspects of society, such as the role of government, toleration, freedom to act, etc. Conversely, neoliberalism focuses more on the markets, meaning it supports deregulation, ending protectionism and freeing up the markets. Therefore, it is based on economics.” From Investopedia
Even my investment hubby wasn’t up-to-date with the term. The Republicans passed a number of tax breaks for businesses and businesses to make Puerto Rico a paradise. This takeover of the rich was happening before Hurricane Maria. Now, as the devastation still continues there is a real divide between the native Puerto Ricans and the monied Silicon Valley millionaires wanting to change the landscape of the land.
This book led to some great discussion with Jason and I can now say that I understand the bitcoin phenomena a bit better. Also of interest is how some of the things that happened after Hurricane Katrina are happening here. It’s sad and scary.
I don’t know the answer for Puerto Rico but they are engaged and I hope that the heart of of the territory prevails.
I recommend this for everyone.