"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bomb Shelters Making a Comeback: The Ultimate in Disaster Capitalism


What is it about fear that makes people go to such great(and seemingly futile) lengths (and cost) to feel safe??? A story as old as (recorded) time, fear has allowed people to profit from the fears of others over countless centuries. It's what Naomi Klein calls Disaster Capitalism, and today the disaster capitalists are doing quite well thanks to the mass fear mongering that has reached epic proportions as the Global War on Terror has continued to escalate.

Many of you remember the good old bomb shelter days of the bad old Cold War. Back in the 1950s many folks decided that "duck and cover" just d
idn't cut it for their families. Keeping up with the Joneses in the 50s often meant building a bomb shelter in one's back yard (or basement). People buried these huge steel drums outfitted with at least a few of the comforts of home - beds, lanterns, canned food and water - and waited for the sirens.
Cool bomb shelter; disco ball optional!

Many also had a radiation detector, a nifty device with which they could determine when it was safe to go outside and try to rebuild their lives in what would have been a vast, radioactive wasteland had the Superpowers unleashed even a portion of their massive nuclear arsenals (roughly 65,000 warheads at the peak of the Cold War).

Well folks, if you are waxing nostalgic right about now for the old days, look no further. USA Today just reported that "Doomsday Shelters" are making a comeback. This is Disaster Capitalism at its best (or should I say worst). At least a couple of companies are making some pretty good money capitalizing on people's worst fears and digging some pretty big holes in the ground and calling them "Catastrophe Shelters."

Think of it as the ultimate pre-catastrophe timeshare. You buy a share for $50,000 per adult, and only half that for kids. When something really nasty is about to go down, you just head down to your designated shelter and, assuming there isn't an angry mob also trying to get in, pop inside and wait out the worst (and wait, and wait, and wait...). Is that a great deal or what??? Of course, I don't even want to start asking how they are going to guarantee up to "five years with food, power, water and filtered air", not to mention how they will keep out the masses of zombies.

All kidding aside, the people behind this trend deny that they are profiting from people's fears. As Robert Vicino, a disaster denizen and founder of the Vivos underground shelter network, says:
"You don't think of the person who sells you a fire extinguisher as taking advantage of your fear," he says. "The fact that you may never use that fire extinguisher doesn't make it a waste or bad... We're not creating the fear; the fear is already out there. We're creating a solution."
I'm not so sure about the fire extinguisher analogy, but I can agree with him on one point; they are not creating the fear. Of course that is simply a matter of semantics. They are building (massively) on existing fears, and are doing a pretty good job of burying the Social Contract. This is the quintessential Naomi Klein vision of a world where only the wealthy are saved.

As for Vivino's claim that they are "creating a solution", I think that a more productive (and socially conscious) solution, particularly from the standpoint of nuclear weapons, might be to learn to address conflict nonviolently and abolish nuclear weapons. The terrorist nuclear threat is being overblown; the greatest threat from nuclear weapons currently is that of nuclear war.

Meanwhile back in the shelter, assuming that people don't go nuts after being cooped up underground for such a long period of time after a nuclear holocaust, once they see what they are returning to they just might wish that they had spent that $50,000 on one huge pre-Armageddon block party. As for me, I am spending my money and energy on nonviolent conflict resolution and nuclear abolition. So there!!!



P.S. - You just have to check out the Vivos Website for yourself; these people are playing up the End Times big time. Talk about fear; these folks are really scary. Here is what their home page has to say:
Vivos is the life assurance solution for you and your family to survive the next earth devastating catastrophe that either nature or mankind may create. Our network of hardened, nuclear blast proof shelters will provide for up to one year of autonomous underground survival for 200 people in each Vivos shelter. We invite you to apply for co-ownership of the Vivos shelter complex closest to your home area from our planned worldwide network. Where else would you go with just a few days' notice? You cannot predict, but you can prepare! Enter Vivos now to learn more.

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