News keeps coming about the volatile situation in Egypt centered in Cairo.  To understand something of its causes read Mike Davis’ Planet of Slums (2006, Verso).

Don’t read it late at night for it can be depressing, painting a pessimistic future for the cities of the world.  One billion people live in urban slums, an unforeseen yet presaged development; Victorian England had its fears.  Its people living at one end of society, according to Davis, is becoming an increasingly uncertain element seen as a threat to the affluent. 

Planet of Slums describes the growth and conditions of urban slums, and the attempts to deal with them by the controlling, containing policies of the IMF and governments.  Davis says it has resulted in a “delusionary dialectic of securitized versus demonic urban places” suggesting a grim scenario for the future.   “If the empire can deploy Orwellian technologies of repression, its outcasts have the gods of chaos on their side.”

Read Planet of Slums and try ignore the implications for us living in North America, living in this increasingly connected world of the 21st century.