International Committee of the Fourth International

Hurricane Katrina: Social Consequences and Political Lessons


On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the American city of New Orleans and other cities and towns along the Gulf of Mexico. Far from being an “act of God,” the destruction wrought by the storm had its origins in the disregard for human life by the capitalist system, which condemned thousands to death, disease and years of homelessness. The articles gathered in this pamphlet examine the sociological roots of this disaster.

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This pamphlet is essential reading for those who wish to understand the sociological roots of the greatest “natural disaster” in American history. The 20 articles contained in this pamphlet together point to the origins of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the capitalist system and the concentration of wealth into the hands of a handful of individuals. It exposed before millions of people around the country and the world both the internal rot of American democracy and the ruling elite’s callous disregard for human life. From the failure of the levees to the destruction of the 9th ward; from the indifference of the official media to the deployment of the national guard; and from the inept and cynical government response to the right-wing vision for remaking the city, this pamphlet traces the disaster from beginning to end, always with an eye towards its historic roots in the crisis of the capitalist system. As the Gulf oil spill of 2010 has subsequently shown, capitalism is incompatible with the needs of the vast majority of the population.

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