"One way of posing the question of who “we” are in these times of war is by asking whose lives are considered valuable, whose lives are mourned, and whose lives are considered ungrievable. We might think of war as dividing populations into those who are grievable and those who are not.” Judith Butler, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?
After the Paris attacks of November this year, Judith Butler’s analysis of the different frames through which we experience violence in Frames of War provided an essential guide to thinking through the tragedy. We published an edited extract from the book that asks us to observe the relationships between violence, power and the mournability of some lives above others.
Jimmy Mubenga died of cardiac arrest whilst waiting to be deported on board an Angola-bound plane at Heathrow airport on 12 October 2010. Fellow passengers heard Mubenga scream, “I can’t breathe” as he was restrained and pinned down in his seat. G4S guards forced his head down and restricted his breathing, despite Mubenga already being handcuffed from behind.
On 16 December 2014, three G4S guards were found not guilty of manslaughter. This Black History Month, we remember Jimmy Mubenga and publish an extract from Antony Loewenstein's Disaster Capitalism exposing the institutional racism that acquitted Mubenga's killers, and the government-approved, corporate unaccountability that means G4S still secures massive contracts, earning £6.8 billion last year.
"Racism had become endemic within an economic system that produced dehumanization while suppressing transparency and neglecting proper training."
Photograph: Guardian, Graeme Robertson
When disaster strikes, who profits? That’s the question asked by journalist Antony Loewenstein in his new book, “Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe.” Traveling across the globe, Loewenstein examines how companies such as G4S, Serco and Halliburton are cashing in on calamity, and describes how they are deploying for-profit private contractors to war zones and building for-profit private detention facilities to warehouse refugees, prisoners and asylum seekers. Recently, Loewenstein teamed up with filmmaker Thor Neureiter for a documentary by the same name that chronicles how international aid and investment has impacted communities in Haiti, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and beyond.