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The shock doctrine : the rise of disaster…
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The shock doctrine : the rise of disaster capitalism (2007)

by Naomi Klein

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This book exposes the ideology of neoliberalism, the idea that government should be limited to the bare bones and that corporations should be completely unregulated, a school of thought promoted by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago. The book begins with the story of CIA mind-washing experiments which attempted to erase the very self-identity of the subjects. The shock doctrine applies these same actions (mostly metaphorically, but sometimes literally with interrogation and torture techniques) to entire communities and economies. This begins with the overthrow of democratically-elected government in Chile and the installation of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was advised by Friedman's own trained "Chicago Boys." The same policies pop up again in response to disasters - war, economic collapse, and natural disasters - where neoliberal policies are ready to go at the time when democratic processes are least likely to be followed. Klein examines how both Iraq and New Orleans were deliberately cleared of their past and memory to be remade in a neoliberal model, with much exploitation and corporate profits in the process. This is a chilling and illuminating book.

Favorite Passages:
Communism may have collapsed without the firing of a single shot, but Chicago-style capitalism, it turned out, required a great deal of gunfire to defend itself.
Recommended books: ( )
  Othemts | Apr 25, 2016 |
Naomi Klein has achieved something incredible with this book; she's written something worse than No Logo.

Full of glaring errors and blatant distortions (her take on Freidman's Tyranny of the Status Quo suggests she hasn't even read the blurb) the book shows no understanding at all of the economics it tries to talk about. It's like a prolonged lecture in football tactics from someone who does't understand the offside rule.

The book suggests that 'Chicago School' economics 1) Is something homogeneous and 2) Replaced something which was working perfectly well. Neither is true.

In the first place Freidman and Hayek disagreed strongly over both methodology and monetary theory. Klein doesn't understand monetary theory so its no shock she gets this so wrong but then why did she write about it?

Secondly, at no point anywhere does Klein suggest there might have been a problem with the Keynesian paradigm the 'Chicago' paradigm replaced in economics and public policy. In fact, by the late 1970s, Keynesian economics was obviously failing very badly. People turned to the ideas of Freidman and co because the alternative wasn't working.

And turn they did. Klein shows no understanding of British politics in the period suggesting that Margaret Thatcher was unpopular (she won three elections) and that the miners had widespread support. They never, in fact, at any stage had such support.

In short, a good book if you have a prejudice towards liberal economics but look elsewhere for factual and informed analysis of the liberal revival of the last thirty years. ( )
  JohnPhelan | Nov 9, 2015 |
Disturbing, frustrating, enlightening, hope, no hope, and on and on. Naomi opens your eyes to so much greed and evil then gives you a sliver of hope at the end. The book left me wanting more, an update with the latest ongoings around the globe, but now with eyes wide open one can guess what is really going on and do I really need it in writing to see it. Probably not. Read this shortly after reading Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century. Piketty provides the statistics that backs Klein's story, though I'm sure that wasn't Piketty's intention. ( )
  rayski | Sep 16, 2015 |
Naomi Klein isn’t a stylist. Her sentence at the opening of Chapter 12 (“The Capitalist ID”) is about as close as she gets to stylistic writing: “On the day I went to visit Jeffrey Sachs in October 2006, New York City was under a damp blanket of gray drizzle punctuated, every five paces or so, by a vibrant burst of red.”

No, she’s not an English-language stylist. She’s a Canadian journalist. And a damned good one, at that! And one who’d put a lot of journalists — assuming they’d not simply been told to look the other way on the possible cause of a virtually worldwide financial crisis — to shame in papers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, not to mention in magazines as august as The Atlantic. (Let’s not even mention the networks, shall we? They’re better at postulating on popular trends and telling doggie stories.)

Could it be that the party (for many, though certainly not for all of us) here in these United States was just too long and too good from the end of WW II until now? Even Eisenhower — a conservative if there ever was one — publicly recognized the arrival of the military-industrial complex. Is this new brand of disaster capitalism really anything more than the “logical” evolution of that complex?

I have a confession to make: I of course knew the name ‘Milton Friedman’ and something about his reputation; I also knew the reputation of the University of Chicago (albeit more for its History Department than for its Economics Department); I, myself, am a graduate of the Philosophy Department of Columbia University. All of this notwithstanding, I was absolutely ignorant of any of this economic shock treatment — from Chile and Argentina, to Poland and Russia, then on to Asia, to Iraq (where our behavior has been beyond despicable) and the Middle East, and back home again to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

I owe Ms. Klein a humble vote of gratitude. And it was only thanks to a fellow Greek writer, whose own country is now on the verge of financial collapse, that I even found out about Ms. Klein’s book.

Don’t make a comparable fool out of yourself through similar (and similarly unpardonable) ignorance. Buy this book and read it cover to cover! Yes, we’re talking history here; but we’re also talking current events — events that could bring not only the entire developing world to its knees, but also these hallowed United States and our gracious neighbor to the north. And all because of one man, one misbegotten ideology, one group of protégés, acolytes, disciples — and yes, I’ll say it — intellectual toadies known as ‘The Chicago Boys.’

And the IMF and the World Bank, many of whose policy makers are obvious lackeys in the service of that same ‘School of Chicago’ ideology if not to something even more sinister? Pfff!

One caveat to all of the above: I’ve never read the original works of Milton Friedman. Nor did I ever attend any of his classes while he was still alive. I trust Ms. Klein to have reported as accurately as she has documented. If not, shame on me for being so gullible and impressionable.

And one last thing: we all know the wide gulf that exists between the original teachings of Jesus and the way Christianity, through various churches and sects, has chosen to interpret and propagate those teachings over the centuries. Would Jesus Christ call himself a Christian by today’s standards of Christianity? Karl Marx once famously said he was no Marxist. Would Milton Friedman, given the demonic evolution of his economic theory, still call himself a Friedmanite? I fear, given his comment in the Op Ed section of The Wall Street Journal as recently as September 15, 2005 (p. 410) that he would.

The news in the concluding chapter (“Shock Wears Off: The Rise of People’s Reconstruction”) is good: all is not lost. Let’s hope that Ms. Klein’s optimism is not as much in error as my original ignorance. Let’s hope that society — and Rousseau’s original concept of the social contract — are not yet lost.

RRB
05/28/13
Brooklyn, NY
( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
My problem with The Shock Doctrine is a simple one – I agree with Naomi Klein. I agree, as any civilised person would, with her views on the use of torture. I share her distaste for the theories of Milton Friedman. And I’m right with her on the economic consequences apparently flowing from the mass adoption of the Chicago School’s theories as policy. But I’m deeply uncomfortable with books like this that reinforce my viewpoint. They tend to bypass your critical facilities and hit you straight in the ‘godammit I’m right!’ pleasure centres of the brain. There’ll be plenty of cheerleaders for Klein’s follow-up to No Logo, likely the same readers who saw her first book as a manifesto for that very reason. And there’ll be a smaller subsection of readers who support Chicago School theory who have precisely the opposite problem and are liable to have thrown the book across the room or towards the bin at some point in the second chapter.

As a righteous kicking of the theories that have dominated the Western world for the past thirty years or so it’s glorious and overdue. Klein’s at her strongest when she points out how these ideas had no traction before they were imposed undemocratically, and always with painful consequences for the countries affected. She traces how the ideas spread from their first adoption by Pinochet in Chile, through to the IMF imposing them on nations as a consequence of asking for aid. Although it’s clearly flavoured against Friedman’s ‘shock doctrine’ it’s a fascinating history of how an idea can spread with or without popular demand, simply by having the right idea available to the right people at the right time.

I’d be nodding along happily but for two points. The first, the most obvious, is the heavy handed torture metaphor. Klein draws a parallel between physical and economic torture, linking them explicitly by the actions of regimes using the Chicago School ideas. It’s an arresting opening and a blatant attempt to get the reader onside because how many civilised people could disagree about torture’s a terrible, unconscionable thing? Not me. But where you stand on Chicago School economics is an ideological thing, and this comes across as going straight for the reptile brain, to bypass thought. Klein’s on firmer ground when detailing the consequences of how those ideas affected economies and then the further reaching consequences (particularly with the outsourcing mania under the Bush regime).

The other point is a minor factual one. Klein credits Guardian columnist Seamus Milne for background work on the Thatcherite reforms in Britain. It uses the Falklands War to fit into her conflict driven thesis. Unfortunately Milne must have had his ideological blinkers on when helping out with the detail, because the Falklands narrative, though predominant, is total bollocks. It’s a narrative supplied by a triumphant press of the 1980s which was overly sympathetic to Thatcher. It played a small role in helping her get re-elected, but the bald electoral facts tell another story. Thatcher lost support in the 1980 election, but her landslide victory was down to the split in the left wing vote caused by the formation of the SDP. The combined left wing vote was greater than the unsplit right wing vote. That’s what granted Thatcher’s government the political space to enact their ideas – being in the right place at the right time. With some little work it could be reconstructed to fit the narrative, one closer to Reagan’s adoption of the ideas in the US, but that Klein accepts received wisdom leads the reader to doubt where else she may have fudged details to fit the grand sweep.

A fascinating read then, but a flawed one. Caveat lector! ( )
1 vote JonArnold | Aug 7, 2014 |
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The Shock Doctrine shows in chilling detail how the free market has been backed up with violence over the last 30 years. I suspect it has stirred up a debate already.

 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Naomi Kleinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiltsie, JenniferNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Any change is a change in the topic. -Cesar Aira, Argentine novelist, Cumpleanos, 2001
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For Avi, again
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I met Jamar Perry in September 2005, at the big Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine advances a truly unnerving argument: historically, while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times. As Klein demonstrates, this reprehensible game of bait-and-switch isn't just some relic from the bad old days. It's alive and well in contemporary society, and coming soon to a disaster area near you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312427999, Paperback)

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine advances a truly unnerving argument: historically, while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times. As Klein demonstrates, this reprehensible game of bait-and-switch isn't just some relic from the bad old days. It's alive and well in contemporary society, and coming soon to a disaster area near you.

"At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq'' civil war, a new law is unveiled that will allow Shell and BP to claim the country's vast oil reserves… Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly outsources the running of the 'War on Terror' to Halliburton and Blackwater… After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts… New Orleans residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be re-opened." Klein not only kicks butt, she names names, notably economist Milton Friedman and his radical Chicago School of the 1950s and 60s which she notes "produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today." Stand up and take a bow, Donald Rumsfeld.

There's little doubt Klein's book--which arrived to enormous attention and fanfare thanks to her previous missive, the best-selling No Logo, will stir the ire of the right and corporate America. It's also true that Klein's assertions are coherent, comprehensively researched and footnoted, and she makes a very credible case. Even if the world isn't going to hell in a hand-basket just yet, it's nice to know a sharp customer like Klein is bearing witness to the backroom machinations of government and industry in times of turmoil. --Kim Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:03 -0400)

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An introduction to the concept of "disaster capitalism" offers an expos of how the global "free market" has exploited crises, violence, and shock over the past three decades to promote radical privatization that benefits large corporations and powerful interest groups.… (more)

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