Edited by Mike Davis and Daniel Bertrand Monk
Compilation and introduction © 2007 by Mike Davis and Daniel Bertrand Monk. Individual essays © 2007 by each author.
The New Press
Evil Paradises addresses a simple but epochal question: “Toward what kind of future are we being led by savage, fanatical capitalism?” Or to frame the same question in a different way, “What do contemporary ‘dreamworlds’ of consumption, property, and power tell us about the fate of human solidarity?” These case studies explore the new geographies of exclusion and landscapes of wealth that have arisen during the long “globalization” since 1991. We focus, especially, on those instances…where the Atlas Shrugged, winner-take-all ethos is unfettered by any remnant of social contract and undisturbed by any ghost of the labor movement, where the rich can walk like gods in the nightmare gardens of their deepest and most secret desires.
Such places are now surprisingly common (if you can pay the membership fee), and utopian greed—shades of Paris Hilton, Bernie Ebbers, and Donald Trump—saturates popular culture and the electronic media. No one is surprised to read about millionaires spending $50,000 to clone their pet cats or a billionaire who pays $20 million for a brief vacation in space. And if a London hairdresser has clients happy to spend $1,500 for haircuts, then why shouldn’t a beach house in the Hamptons sell for $90 million or Lawrence Ellison, CEO of Oracle, earn $340,000 an hour in 2001? Indeed, so much hyperbole is depleted in the coverage of the lifestyles of billionaires and celebrities that little awe remains to greet the truly extraordinary statistics, like the recent disclosure that the richest 1 percent of Americans spend as much as the poorest 60 million; or that 22 million factory jobs in the twenty major economies were sacrificed to the gods of globalization between 1995 and 2002; or that rich individuals currently shelter a staggering $11.5 trillion (ten times the annual GDP of the UK) in offshore tax havens. …
From the introduction by Mike Davis and Daniel Bertrand Monk.
…After Shanghai, (current population 15 million), Dubai (current population 1.5 million) is the planet’s biggest building site: an emerging dreamworld of conspicuous consumption and what locals boast as “supreme lifestyles.” Despite its blast-furnace climate (on typical 120-degreee summer days, the swankier hotels refrigerate their swimming pools) and edge-of-the-war zone location, Dubai confidently predicts that its enchanted forest of six hundred skyscrapers and malls will attract fifteen million overseas visitors a year by 2010, three times as many as New York City. Emirates Airlines has placed a staggering $37 billion order for new Boeings and Airbuses to fly these tourists in and out of Dubai’s new global air hum, the vast Jebel Ali airport. Indeed, thanks to a dying planet’s terminal addiction to Arabian oil, this former fishing village and smugglers’ cove proposes to become one of the world capitals of the twenty-first century. Favoring diamonds over rhinestones, Dubai has already surpassed that other desert arcade of capitalist desire, Las Vegas, both in sheer scale of spectacle and the profligate consumption of water and power….
From Chapter 3 “Sand, Fear, and Money in Dubai” by Mike Davis.
(From, yes, Hammacher-Schlemmer,