Commodification of the Pillars of Life: The Water

As Aristotle pointed out a long time ago, when two equal rights meet, power decides. Indeed, under the current neo-liberal hegemony, water rights are increasingly articulated via dynamics of commodification of water, private appropriation of water resources, dispossession tactics, and the like (Bakker 2003). (Swyngedouw)

As Erik Swyngedouw argues, in the age of commodification of everything, a.k.a. neoliberalization, water has been a pioneering issue via which neoliberal policies of privatisation have been rolled out and tested.

By the effect of climate change, the condition has become even more severe.

cityLab’s recent article, Class Warfare and the California Drought, highlights the inequality of access to water and the risk of normalisation of the commodification of vital aspects like water.

Steve Yuhas, a conservative talk-show host and part-time resident of Rancho Santa Fe, explained in a Washington Post hate-read this weekend: “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he said. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.” (cityLab)

People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. (The Washington Post)

“You could put 20 houses on my property, and they’d have families of at least four. In my house, there is only two of us,” Butler says. “[T]hey’d be using a hell of a lot more water than we’re using.” (cityLab)

Wow, these guys are absolutely right. Why people wouldn’t think such solution?!

Ordinary people, please stop using water, so more-equal-people can water their multi-acre gardens comfortably and use as much water as they want.

Although the issue is prone to many questions, the main breaking point is water as a human right or a market commodity.

Water and oil are both highly limited resources. Yet water, unlike oil, is a human right—for Californians and for the 750 million who live without access to clean water worldwide. The attitude that money can, and should, buy any quantity of water isn’t common yet in California, but as droughts become longer and more dire all over the planet, it will likely spread. And the gap between who can drink freely and who cannot will grow. (cityLab)

(Image Credit: The Washington Post)

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One thought on “Commodification of the Pillars of Life: The Water

  1. Reblogged this on "catch a fire" and commented:
    Interesting little piece by a fellow urbanist on water and neoliberalism. Thought I’d share – it’s got some relevance to Bermuda and our fresh-water limitations.

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