- Taschenbuch: 228 Seiten
- Verlag: Verso; Auflage: Reprint (17. September 2007)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1844671607
- ISBN-13: 978-1844671601
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,8 x 1,8 x 19,7 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 12.869 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Planet of Slums (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 17. September 2007
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“The astonishing facts hit like anvil blows ... A heartbreaking book.”—Financial Times
“Davis’s prose exudes a crusading fervour—if not exactly messianic, close enough.”—Village Voice
“If it’s apocalypse you want—and frankly who doesn’t, because how else to explain the mess we’re in—nobody does it better.”—Guardian
“The Raymond Chandler of urban geography ... a coruscating tragedy.”—Independent
“A profound enquiry into an urgent subject ... a brilliant book.”—Arundhati Roy
With a third of the global urban population already living in Dickensian slums, at least half under the age of twenty, Mike Davis explores the threat of disease, of forced settlement on hazardous terrains, and of state violence on huge populations. He shows also how poverty not only grew massively in the 1990s but how the gap between rich and poor countries expanded and how women and minorities fell further behind. Surveying the new urban poor from Bombay to Cairo, Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro, Mike Davis argues that this enormous population of marginalised labourers is not an industrious beehive of ambitious entrepreneurs but a stagnant ferment of extreme Darwinian competition which threatens to overflow the shanty-towns, and swamp the homes and businesses of the urban rich.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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Mike Davis, as usual, pulls no punches and takes no prisoners in his description of the effects of the Washington Consensus on these undeveloped nations. Refuting the ideological mythologies of self-help such as De Sotoism and microlending, he demonstrates that the situation in the Third World is bleak and will get bleaker still. The longer the current order of neoliberalism and Structural Adjustment Programmes, led by such philanthropical heros as World Bank director Paul Wolfowitz, goes on, the more the absolute poverty, immiseration and loss of dignity of the world's poor will continue, and the greater inequality will become. Already one-third of the world's workforce is unemployed or underemployed, and worldwide average income has decreased the past decades. The megacities of the global south will become centers of hyper-alienation, and the inevitable result can only be the destruction of the current order, or the destruction of the world. The world's five billion poor are at our door - hear them knock!
I looked in vain, however, for heroes or heroines, and for some sense of a way forward. There simply are none in this book. In the neo-Blade Runner urban universe of Planet of Slums, NGOs are agents of donor economic imperialism, the middle classes of countries enslave the poor, the poor exploit each other or are just victims, and the staff of the World Bank and IMF act like colonial bureaucrats overseeing the plantations down South. The author seems to purposely ignore the solutions and great effort of local people and their organizations, country governments, NGOs, private-sector companies, and others. As to the multi-laterals, Davis apparently does not know that many governments are repaying their loans much faster than new borrowing, and that these international organizations have largely become service providers with their clients increasingly in the driver's seat.
This extreme indifference to solutions and the agents of solutions is dangerous. Bad mouth donors and NGOs enough, and they will get gutted (as so much has), and low and middle-income countries will have to rely on capital markets or nothing.
Hopefully, Davis will use a bit of his profound creativity to investigate the way forward in the cities of the South in his next book. Even if he doesn't, I will probably read it.
This massive movement to the city has not been accompanied by industialization and development, instead there has been massive urbanization without economic growth. The future cities of glass and steel envisioned by urbanists have not materialized, instead the urban poor are squatting in crudely constructed slum dwellings on the periphery of cities. A "surplus of humanity" is accumulating on the outskirts of urban centers, an "accumulation of the wretched."
It is no surprise that Davis grew up and currently lives in the Los Angeles area. (He also wrote "City of Quartz," a book about Los Angeles.) Angelenos tend to see the world as it is seen on television or at the movies. Davis' images of Third World slums are those of "Blade Runner" or "Escape from New York". One wonders if Davis has ever visited a Third World slum or interviewed one of its denizens. By referring to them as "the wretched," he will never be accused of being too close to his subject.
Why the massive movement toward cities? And why is this dystopian urbanization occurring on this scale? Davis puts the blame squarely on the neoliberal policies of the IMF. In the late 70's and early 80's, the IMF imposed its structural adjustment program (SAP). It was a one-size-fits-all program for debt burdened Third World countries to open up their economies and theoretically participate in global economy. The program (SAP) called for the deregulation of agriculture and the downsizing of the public sector. (Read also Joseph Stiglitz' "Globalization and its Discontents.") The consequences of this policy are still being debated, but Davis focuses only on the negatives. He points out that hundreds of thousands of workers - millions - worldwide are being pushed from the countryside without the pull of jobs in the cities. The results are masses of humanity in shantytowns on the periphery of urban centers.
If this book sounds extremely negative, it's because it is. Davis criticizes governments for not building enough public housing, and when they do, it's not in the right place and it lacks community. He complains when squatters do not have title to their land or cannot formally rent their shanties, but he also criticizes Hernando De Soto's campaign to do just that. He claims it would lead to further stratification and exploitation of the poor.
Davis sees no solutions to the current trends. He ends the book with the following image: "Night after night, hornetlike helicopter gunships stalk enigmatic enemies in the narrow streets of the slum districts, pouring hellfire into the shanties or fleeing cars. Every morning the slums reply with suicide bombers and eloquent explosions. If the empire can deploy Orwellian technologies of repression, its outcasts have the gods of chaos on their side."
I thought immediately of that scene in the last "Terminator" movie. Davis displays some eloquent prose and solid research, but he may have lost sight of the surplus of humanity living in slums.
Granted, if there were obvious solutions, we'd probably know about those as well -- the real problem is that Davis really, really likes to have it both ways. In other words, there since there is no policy or proposed solution he likes, he attacks all options, even opposite ones, with equal venom, leading one to wonder what the point is. For example: at one point he says that new "periurban" slums lack the community spirit of the inner-city slums people are being relocated from, but then elsewhere he says that this positive community spirit is all a myth and that all slums are Darwinian proving grounds. Governments that don't build public housing come under attack, and those that do also come under attack for it being substandard. Slums are depicted as terrible, and slum clearances are depicted as equally terrible. Sure, none of this is "good", in any sense of the word, but Davis doesn't have anything else to offer either. Most egregious to me is his flailing around on property rights: if the poor don't have titles to their land then they're subject to exploitation, if they do have title they'll just sell it and be exploited. Meanwhile he characterizes Hernando de Soto's interesting vision of how property rights might be used to lift people out of poverty (as detailed in The Mystery of Capital) as a "cargo cult" and "magic wand", which is a disappointingly cynical oversimplification of a rather nuanced and wide-ranging proposal (which is grounded in actual fieldwork instead of the library).
This book is certainly valuable for its description of the problem of slums -- it uses about 700 footnotes (yes, really!) citing an impressive array of books, articles, newsletters, and various published and unpublished reports by the World Bank, UN, governments, and NGOs to draw connections between slums from around the world. Davis paints a picture of slums that are created not by those coming to the city to earn more money, but by the involuntary relocation of those in the way of construction that benefits the wealthy, or the loss of farming at the hands of multinational agribusiness, or civil war, or drought. Of course, all the usual suspects come in for indictment as well (the UN, World Bank, IMF neoliberal capitalism), along with NGOs, the leaders of the third world, the elite of the third world, the middle-class of the third world, and at some points, the poor of the third world. In this book, everyone is guilty (and maybe everybody is, certainly the World Bank and IMF have a terrible track record and are indeed very culpable), but how does this view help anyone? Even worse, nothing we're trying works according to Davis: not micro-credit, not outside NGO help, not militant activism by squatters, and not even the self-help entrepreneurship of the poor.
Some have inferred that Davis is inherently suggesting a reversal of the policies that brought this miserable state to pass, and that massive public spending might be the answer. The problem Davis points out himself is that many of these policies are interwoven with global capitalism, so it's not a simple matter of passing some new resolution. Nor does Davis care for massive public spending (at least not in China or India), and since he points out over and over that third-world elites will simply steal their nation's wealth, the notion that some form of worldwide nationalization of natural resources doesn't seem particularly promising either. Given all this, one has to presume that Davis's unarticulated "solution" is that one day the revolution's gonna come and tear this mother (ie. global capitalism) down. Or maybe that's not what he thinks... we don't know, because Davis never tells us.
Although Davis offers no solutions, they can easily be inferred from the text. What is needed is reversal of the policies that have led to the present predicament, massive public spending on infrastructure and the return of third world resources to the nations and peoples to whom they rightly belong.
I cannot recommend "Planet of Slums" too highly. It is a great book, and I believe that any concerned person who reads it will be changed by it.