In her groundbreaking reporting over the past few years, Naomi Klein introduced the term disaster capitalism. Whether covering Baghdad after the U.S. occupation, Sri Lanka in the wake of the tsunami, or New Orleans post-Katrina, she witnessed something remarkably similar. People still reeling from catastrophe were being hit again, this time with economic shock treatment, losing their land and homes to rapid-fire corporate makeovers.
The Shock Doctrine retells the story of the most dominant ideology of our time, Milton Friedmans free market economic revolution. In contrast to the popular myth of this movements peaceful global victory, Klein shows how it has exploited moments of shock and extreme violence in order to implement its economic policies in so many parts of the world from Latin America and Eastern Europe to South Africa, Russia, and Iraq.
At the core of disaster capitalism is the use of cataclysmic events to advance radical privatization combined with the privatization of the disaster response itself. Klein argues that by capitalizing on crises, created by nature or war, the disaster capitalism complex now exists as a booming new economy, and is the violent culmination of a radical economic project that has been incubating for fifty years.
I dont talk to journalists anymore, says the strained voice at the other end of the phone. And then a tiny window: What do you want?
I figure I have about twenty seconds to make my case, and it wont be easy. How do I explain what I want from Gail Kastner, the journey that brought me to her?
The truth seems so bizarre: I am writing a book about shock. About how countries are shockedby wars, terror attacks, coups détat and natural disasters. And then how they are shocked againby corporations and politicians who exploit the fear and disorientation of this first shock to push through economic shock therapy. And then how people who dare to resist this shock politics are, if necessary, shocked for a third timeby police, soldiers and prison interrogators. I want to talk to you because you are by my estimation among the most shocked people alive, being one of the few living survivors of the CIAs ...
The Shock Doctrine is a highly polemical book which, like all polemical books, will energize those already inclined to agree with her and will be quite easy for opponents to dismiss as exaggerated or histrionic. Read this book if you’ve been demoralized by the news from Sri Lanka after the tsunami, Iraq after the invasion, and New Orleans after the hurricane. The Shock Doctrine will give you a surprisingly long historical perspective from which to view the corruption and exploitation that all three recent events have prompted. The criticisms launched against Klein center on her unbalanced, unremitting attack on capitalism as the scourge of the planet. What these critics miss is that Klein specifically aims her weaponry at corporatism, the strand of capitalism that erases the line between government and business by turning over public wealth to private companies, thus enriching a few and impoverishing the masses.
(Reviewed by Amy Reading).
Full Review (896 words).
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