The online news and media magazine AlterNet has just published a fascinating interview with Kevin Rozario, author of The Culture of Calamity: Disaster and the Making of Modern America. In the interview Onnesha Roychoudhuri talks with Rozario about everything from the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 to 9/11 to explore some of the ways Americans have responded to such disasters—responses which Rozario argues have played a vital role in shaping the nation that we know today. From the interview:
OR: You argue a broader point in the book that our economy may require this kind of obliteration in order to stay afloat.
KR: Capitalism itself is a system of destruction and creation. You have to keep destroying the old in order to clear space for then new. Otherwise, it achieves stasis, and if it achieves stasis, it dies. It depends on constant expansion just to keep going. But again, to be very clear about this, not all Americans think this is a blessing. This is a process that can be extremely lucrative for businesses, but it’s a process that can be extremely destructive for laborers. The benefits of disaster are very unevenly portioned and they go to those with power and influence rather than ordinary Americans.