For those who do not know the basis of The Shock Doctrine, Klein introduces how the writings of Milton Friedman and his underlings at the Chicago School of Economics has writ large literally over all of the federal government’s dealings both here and abroad. The key concept:
(O)nly a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.
What does that mean? That Friedman’s free market (but not really) ideals-demanding deregulation, privatization of public services and the removal of trade barriers at a time when the populace is still reeling from some form of disaster, be it a natural one, like Katrina in the Gulf states; political upheaval, such as Chile under Pinochet, or here in the US after 9/11. And the population, normally resistant to these changes–which benefit so few and none of the victims–are too fearful to mount a protest, much less put up a fight. And so, taking advantage of our frayed sensibilities, we get the Patriot Act, we get unapologetic warrantless wiretapping and we get useless formaldehyde-filled trailers in a swamp for Katrina victims.
Companies such as Halliburton, Blackwater and DynCorp exist solely from the largesse granted to them through the implementation of the Shock Doctrine, “disaster capitalism,” as Klein coins it. And it continues worldwide-in Iraq, most obviously, but elsewhere as well. Read the book and then watch stories coming out about Iran (remember, it need only be a perceived disaster), about China or even off shore oil drilling here in the States and ask yourself, who is benefiting? What are they trying to get away with?
I promise you, you’ll never watch the news the same way again.
Naomi Klein’s long time colleague and collaborator Debra Levy will also be answering questions during the discussion. Debra, a trained librarian, has been Naomi’s research assistant for eight years and, among other things, she is responsible for the 60 pages of incredible endnotes that do so much to bolster the book’s argument. She also runs www.shockdoctrine.org where many of the source documents for the book are now online, as well as breaking news on disaster capitalism.
So with that, please join me in welcoming Naomi Klein and Debra Levy to C&L to discuss disaster capitalism.
WOW - great discussion!
I haven't read the book yet. I must get it. I've certainly read plenty about it over the past few months though. I do know that NAOMI KLEIN RULES!
I hope it's at the library because at the moment, all I have is lint in my pocket.