The new breed of disaster capitalist

There was a great interview with Greg Palast (the US investigative journalist and author of books like The Best Democracy Money Can Buy) on sensationalist British website Vice last week. In it Palast talked around vulture capitalists: the really short version of this thesis is that these guys buy up unpayable national debt and seize assets in its place through dubiously internationally legal means, directly hindering or destroying economic growth or recovery in developing nations. He made a point about how these economic actors differ from the big banks and financial institutions that we traditionally recognise as the modern driving forces behind elite power. The usual metaphor for the latter is that of parasites; in contrast to vultures, parasites need to keep their host alive. So far, so uncontroversial.

What interested me was that he made the assertion that big Democrat party donors tend to be parasites, whereas for Republicans it’s the vultures. I’m reading The Shock Doctrine at the moment (I know, I know – five years behind, right) and it strikes me that there’s probably some truth to this. It suggests explanations for aspects of the modern Republican Party that otherwise seem incomprehensible: not only the extreme irrationalism of their figureheads but also that they are seemingly bent on self-destruction (and not only of their own party but of every economic and political foundation of the US and – if they can get away with it – every vestige of social democracy overseas).

Vulture capitalism is the logical endpoint of right-wing laissez-faire economic ideology and disaster capitalism: when you commit whole-heartedly to the former ideology and see only opportunities where an economic entity is struggling, why would you not attempt to profit by stepping in and slitting a throat? “One who is dying deserves to die”, as shock capitalist cheerleader Yegor Gaidar put it.

This makes the Republicans even more threatening: they are wholly committed to this economic project, they have fused it to a politico-religious agenda, and they are entirely unable to see that they are driving directly toward disaster – whether it’s a disaster of legitimacy for their party, or an economic disaster should they ever succeed domestically with their insane economic project.

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