Mike Davis and Daniel Bertrand Monk, editors of the book Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism, describe evil paradises and Dreamworlds are places of immense pleasure and comfort, restricted to the wealthy and elite. These places are privatized places where every aspect of life is controlled and monitored to ensure a pleasant experience for the wealthy elite. The reality of the city that surrounds these places, cities mired in significant levels of poverty, injustice, and desperation, is forgotten and replaced with playgrounds for the superrich where the unpleasant sights of slums do not have to be borne. The privatization of everything from water to electricity, many times to the detriment of the poorest residents, is one of the many ways these places epitomize neoliberalism. The urban form is designed to cater only to those who can afford it and all others are left to the barbaric conditions of slums.
A common theme in Mike Davis’ Evil Paradises is a pattern of ‘development’ that serves a select, limited population under the guise of economic improvement. The Nicaraguan capital of Managua is a prime example of this type of ‘development’. While the city has made strides at improving the city, those improvements have been targeted to improve only the lives of the wealthy. The improved road network connects popular destinations for the elite while leaving roads in poor areas of the city untouched and deteriorating.
Class segregation is another common theme found in many of the Dreamworlds and Evil Paradises profiled in Davis’ book. From Cairo to the faux Palm Springs found in Hong Kong, class segregation was a key factor in the existence of these elite playgrounds. Dubai, for example, relies heavily on an imported, cheap labor force from southeast Asia to construct the colossal structures the city is known for. These laborers are harshly treated and subjected to inhumane living conditions and sometimes do not receive payment for their work. The laborers are not allowed to venture into the Dreamworlds they construct. This extremely poor class of temporary residents is relegated to shadows of Dubai as the city tries to ensure it is seen as a beacon of wealth and extravagance on the global scene.
Throughout the book, each author makes it clear through examples from around the world that Evil Paradises are not symptomatic of any one culture or region but are found all over the globe. From Cairo to Managua, Evil Paradises are created to serve only a select few while much of the population is left out and disadvantaged. The city of Buenos Aires, not exempt from Evil Paradises, is home to the development of Puerto Madero. The Puerto Madero development is the typical Evil Paradise and has many of the same characteristics each author in Evil Paradises describes in cities around the world.