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Naomi Klein: Disaster Capitalism

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The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein - I got really interested in the idea of "shock" and its use as a political tool, when I was in Iraq, covering the occupation, because, there was almost a triple storm of shock going on in that country. There was the first "shock" which was the "SHOCK AND AWE" invasion... Which was followed immediately after by economic "shock therapy" more radical than it have been attempted even in the former Soviet Union. Just a complete overhaul of the economy, overnight. That is at least what was attempted. And then there was this third "shock", which came into play after people started resisting the occupation. And those are the two shocks. And that was the shock of Torture. And I became interested in why it was that the architects of the invasion and occupation of Iraq had chosen this as their metaphor , and what was it about the idea of "shock" that was so appealing to the people who wanted to remake Iraq. And I started to actually go back to the source of the metaphor of "shock therapy", so I... so I started reading about its use in psychiatric context and also its use in torture. And that lead me to a really close reading of the declassified CIA interrogation manuals that were first published in 1963 and in the 80's reprinted and since declassified and looking about how the CIA talks about the importance of putting prisoners into a state of shock because when they are in a state of shock they are not able to protect their interests They become child-like and regressed The interrogation manuals are really obsessed with this idea of regression So I started to think about how that had been applied on a mass scale The exploitation of crisis and shock had very consciously been used by radical free-marketeers. I started the book quoting Milton Friedman; something he wrote in 1982, "Only a crisis - real or perceived - produces real change." And he was admitting that his ideas, his visions of a radical privatized world, couldn't be imposed in the absence of crisis. He was referring to economic crisis and economic crisis have played that role, as sort of softening the ground for the imposition of "shock therapy". The Asian economic crisis was a classic example. The so called "Tequilla Crisis" in Mexico was another one that unleashed a wave of privatizations in Mexico But as people become more resistent more aware of these strategies, and we see these mass mobilizations against the institutions that exploited shock, like the International Monetary Fund Then what starts to happen is that the shocks need to get bigger in order for the disorientation to be greater And that when you have what I call Disaster Capitalism. What the Bush administration did after September 11, when the "War on Terror" was declared, is... launched new economy. ...they essentially launched a new economy. Because the parameteres of this economy were extraordinary wide. This is an endless war, we were told, the eneny could not be reasoned with, could not be no diplomacy, there could no discussion, there could only be attack. And that it would not end until Evil was defeated everywhere. If you think of it as a business plan, it could hardly be more profitable. Because basically, what you are saying is:"We got this new market, It is never gonna end And we have unlimeted funds to finance this new market So, it is so unlike a one off war what they are building is a permanent new part of the economy: the security, a privatized security state. One other thing Milton Friedman said is ...after the crisis hits , the kind of change will depend on the ideas that are laying around. And that is really what the University of Chicago Economics Department was producing all of those years. were ideas that would be laying around when the next crisis hit. Being prepared for that crisis. and is not a question of... we don't need some vast conspiracy to say that these crisis are being deliberately planned and created so that they can be exploited. Certainly there are some cases of deliberate "shocks" That were then exploited like... . The book starts with a coup in Chile, which was obviously a planned attack that put a country into shock and then was exploited for the first classic case of for the first classic case of "Economic Shock Therapy". The war in Iraq was of course planned as well.. And planned to be as shocking as possible.. . Called "Shock and Awe", so that it could be exploited. But I think in most cases it is not about planning the original shock... It is about being in an accute state of intelectual disater preparedness. So, when the crisis hits, you are the ones who are ready with the ideas that are laying around And so, that is what happened when the leeves broke... is that the Heritage Foundation was ready with their thirty two free market solutions to... for Hurricane Katrina. And the first one was roll back labor standards the next one was school voutures instead of public school funding , and on and on so they were ready to go and it is easy to be ready when you have the same ideas no matter what the crisis is eventhough the material in the book is depressing..I mean... is horrifying to read about all these moments when people were taken advantage of when they couldn't defende themselves and, and, just the way in which Torture and other forms of extreme violence have been used to impose this ideology I don't find it completely depressing and I will tell you why: Before I did this research I accepted , like most people, a large part of the narrative that the triumph of the free market around the world in the 80's and 90's was a largely peaceful process And that in fact..even though we progressives don't admit that there is no alternative We lost faith in our alternatives and And we accepted this narrative that there was a great battle of ideas and that we lost that battle And we look back, this is what I do in the book, is, I look at key chapters were this free market ideology leaps forward: the coup in Chile, then the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the breaking apart of the Soviet Union, Poland in 1989, Tiananmen Square in 1989 And looking at these key junctures where you had these big leaps forward for Milton Friedman's ideology and ..what you see at these moments isn't and actually never was chosen and the fact that we can look and say, OK... what was it that Polishes voters voted for in 1989? They voted for a party that was promising not to privatize their state companies but to turn them into workers coop's. What was it that South Africans voted for in 1994? They voted for a party that was promising to take the rich resources of that country that was in the hands of a tiny elite and redistribute them. What did Russians want in 1993? Most of them believed that privatization should also be done through worker ownership... And these ideas were blasted out of the way through various forms of shock and violence But it wasn't that we didn't have the ideas And it wasn't that we ever consented It wasn't that we were ever convinced of the rightness... We just sucumbed at various points. And I actuallt think that it is quite empowering to realize that we didn't loose this "Battle of Ideas" because I think that a lot of what weakens us, we the left is this notion that is repeated again and again that our ideas have tried and failed... that they were discredited. And that, I think, keeps us from having the strength of our conviction, in key moments. So, this is part of the reason why I wrote the book to say: -Actually, it wasn't a battle of ideas... It was a real battle! It was a real war with real casualties. We came against brutal forces and we lost. But we didn't lose the argument!

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 35 seconds
Country: Canada
Language: English
Producer: Video Nation
Director: Video Nation
Views: 167
Posted by: racnela on Feb 22, 2010

September 18, 2007
Nation columnist Naomi Klein explores a key argument from her new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism: After 9/11 the Bush Administration launched a new economy, driven by the notion of an endless war against an undefined notion of evil. Read more in her 2005 Nation column "The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

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