The Shock Doctrine

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Milton Friedman’s Afterlife

Stephen Amidon, New York Observer, September 18, 2007

Soon after Katrina devastated New Orleans, a Florida airline named Help Jet announced its plan to be “the first hurricane escape plan that turns a hurricane evacuation into a jet-setter vacation.” As Naomi Klein recounts in The Shock Doctrine, her compelling study of the dark heart of contemporary capitalism, the idea was to scoop up an entitled few as the storm approached and jet them off to “five-star golf resorts, spas or Disneyland.” Those who could not afford seats would presumably have to wait for nonexistent buses.

While such a scheme would have seemed outlandish just a decade ago, Ms. Klein shows that the Help Jet concept is in tune with an exploding business trend. The smart money these days is in catastrophe: Hurricanes, tsunamis, political upheavals and wars have become the new profit points in the age of “disaster capitalism,” which sees cataclysms “as exciting market opportunities.”

Ideas on Economics

John Freeman, Newark Star-Ledger, September 16, 2007

According to one theory of globalization, the spread of free-market ideas across the globe has occurred in a series of natural if sometimes painful historical developments, and the unprecedented (and highly lucrative) access Western capital enjoyed to these emerging markets is essential to kick-starting democratic reform.

In this towering polemic, Naomi Klein demolishes this narrative, arguing that history tells a different story. Skipping across several decades and numerous U.S. administrations, Klein shows how the free-market ideas associated with Milton Friedman have spread often through catastrophe (as in Thailand, post-tsunami, and in New Orleans, post-Katrina) and at the point of a gun (as in Chile in 1973 and Iraq today). And that the violence necessary for such reforms to continue will only increase.

The End of the World as We Know It

John Gray, The Guardian, September 15, 2007

Over the past few decades, many of the ideas of the far left have found new homes on the right. Lenin believed that it was in conditions of catastrophic upheaval that humanity advances most rapidly, and the idea that economic progress can be achieved through the devastation of entire societies has been a key part of the neo-liberal cult of the free market. Soviet-style economies left an inheritance of human and ecological devastation, while neo-liberal policies have had results that are not radically dissimilar in many countries. Yet, while the Marxist faith in central planning is now confined to a few dingy sects, a quasi-religious belief in free markets continues to shape the policies of governments.

Brainwashed by the Market: What Drives Naomi Klein?

Julie Wheelwright, Independent, September 14, 2007

Naomi Klein's critique of 'disaster capitalism' will echo around the world – but its roots lie in a scandal close to her Canadian home

The author and activist Naomi Klein has just endured a gentle mauling on the Today programme. Klein had been speaking about her new book The Shock Doctrine, arguing that capitalism's latest incarnation is about profiting from – even creating – crises. Diane Coyle, an economist and BBC trustee (and former economics editor of The Independent), sniffed that this argument was "another example of American imperialism". When we meet an hour later at a Soho hotel, Klein seems unruffled. "I did some research about Diane Coyle," she says, rooting through a file. She hands me a paper entitled "The Role of Mobiles in Disaster and Emergencies", which Coyle wrote for a mobile-phone trade association.

Free-Market Mischief in Hot Spots of Disaster

Patricia Cohen, New York Times, September 10, 2007

Festivalgoers in Venice and Toronto who attended the premieres this weekend of “The Shock Doctrine,” a six-minute film written by the author Naomi Klein and the director Alfonso Cuarón, saw images of electroshock treatments from the 1950s, animated pages from a C.I.A. torture manual and footage of the 9/11 attacks and the 2004 tsunami. The brief movie encapsulates the thesis of a new book of the same title by Ms. Klein: That unconstrained free-market policies go hand in hand with undemocratic political policies.

While Mr. Cuarón’s political passions can be glimpsed in his dystopian 2006 thriller “Children of Men” (Ms. Klein is a commentator on the DVD), most Hollywood directors don’t end up making promotional videos for thick texts about global economics. “When she asked if I was interested in doing a trailer,” he said from Italy, “my answer was, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do it.’ ”

It Takes a Crisis

Eric Klinenberg, Book Forum, September/October/November 2007

Why do so many nations have economic policies more laissezfaire and social programs less generous than their citizens prefer? In her explosive counterhistory of global capitalism, against the glib accounts offered by mainstream economists and celebrity journalists, Naomi Klein argues that the answer lies in a simple two-step strategy, honed over three decades by an international cabal of freemarket fundamentalists: First, exploit crises—whether due to economics, politics, or natural disasters––to advance an agenda that would never survive the democratic process during ordinary times. Next, create a “corporatocracy,” in which multinationals and political leaders align to promote their interests at the public’s expense.

Tragic consequences

Michael Byers, Vancouver Sun, September 8, 2007

Right-wing politicians have a default option for balancing budgets without increasing taxes. From Margaret Thatcher to Gordon Campbell, the recipe for fiscal success is simple: sell off public assets while reducing and privatizing public services. Just don't ask how many of those politicians apply the same logic to their personal finances.

In the short term, the quickest way to pay off your debts is to sell the house and work longer hours. Yet the long-term consequences -- in terms of shelter, financial security and a legacy for your children -- can be severe. Wise individuals plan for the future, taking on debt to acquire and develop property, improving themselves through training and education and maintaining their health through exercise and vacations.

Shock Wave Troopers

Brian Lynch, Georgia Straight, September 6, 2007

Naomi Klein exposes the economic ambulance chasers who take advantage of natural and economic disasters worldwide.

Milton Friedman, the Nobel-laureate economist and champion of unfettered global markets, was a great believer in preparing for disaster. As he wrote in the opening of his 1962 manifesto, Capitalism and Freedom , "only 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." And Friedman worked his long career to ensure that the economic ideas lying closest to powerful politicians and bureaucrats in times of trouble were the ones he espoused most fervently: deregulation of industry, privatization of state-owned companies and resources, the shrinking of government to its barest essentials, and the complete freedom of capital to move according to its whims.

Bombe au pied de la statue de la Liberté

Lisa-Marie Gervais, Le Devoir, September 6, 2007

La militante dénonce le capitalisme comme source des maux de l'Amérique latine

«Un livre bourré de dynamite intellectuelle», promettait un de ses plus ardents défenseurs. The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism de Naomi Klein est plutôt une bombe, placée tout juste au pied de la statue de la Liberté. «Mon essai ne fait que gratter la surface d'un immense fléau», a-t-elle lancé hier avec sa verve habituelle à la foule nombreuse et déjà conquise venue l'entendre à l'hôtel Reine Elizabeth.

Why Capitalism Needs Terror: An Interview with Naomi Klein

Kenneth Whyte, Maclean's, September 10, 2007

Talking about war, free-market fundamentalism and a breed of politicos who thrive on disaster

There's a school of thought that free markets and democracy go hand in hand and together they make people free and prosperous. You're arguing that free-market ideology has triumphed around the world not because people have embraced the market but because the ideology has been imposed on them, often in moments of distress. Furthermore, these moments of distress have sometimes been created by governments as a pretext to bring in free-market policies. To top it all off, the policies haven't really worked. They've just enriched the people who introduced them. How's that for a summary?

That's pretty good. I would quibble with a few things. I don't know that there are examples of the governments themselves creating the crises.

No Logo Author Ready to Take Heat over Latest Opus

Pat Donnelly, Montreal Gazette, September 4, 2007

Book shock doctrine zaps capitalism. Links McGill brainwashing experiments with Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib

Less than a week before the launch of her new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein was in a buoyant mood.

Yes, she anticipates fierce criticism, she said, speaking from her publisher's office in Toronto. But with seven researchers and four lawyers (one Canadian, two British and one American) backing her up, she feels battle-ready.

"For every potentially libelous claim that I made," she said, "I had to produce the original document for. They didn't take anything at my word. It was really a very rigorous process."

As she proved with her bestselling No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, in 2000, Klein is not one to pull punches. The Shock Doctrine blames Milton Friedman's "Chicago School" of economists for harming many nations they set out to help.

Naomi Klein's New Book a Lightning Rod

Vit Wagner, Toronto Star, September 04, 2007

Her new book, The Shock Doctrine, details the rise of disaster capitalism with painstaking care, showing how big business often steps in after global misery

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a painstakingly detailed analysis of how corporations manipulate natural and manmade disasters to line their pockets and further their privatizing agenda, is not a marginal, academic treatise by a lefty think tank targeted at a small, like-minded audience.

It is a book by a bestselling writer and activist who also happens to be one of the anti-globalization movement's most recognizable faces. It's also a book that comes with its own promotional documentary, a short directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In other words, instead of being consigned to pointy-headed discussion in unread academic journals, it is a book that has the potential to become a lightning rod of controversy and debate.

Seven years after 'No Logo,' Naomi Klein back on bookshelves with 'Shock Doctrine'

Colin Perkel, Canadian Press, September 2, 2007

Seven years after the publication of "No Logo" launched her career as a populist, anti-globalization guru, Canada's Naomi Klein is back in bookstores this week with "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," a scathing indictment of unfettered free enterprise.

Learning about the link between capitalism and the bloody excesses of Argentina's ruling junta in the 1970s planted the seeds of her latest effort, but it was the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that pushed her to get writing.

"I wrote the book because I really felt personally overwhelmed and disoriented by the speed of change post-Sept. 11," Klein said during an interview at her publisher's downtown office.

"It was depressing to write and there were periods that were incredibly bleak."

Indeed, "The Shock Doctrine" is unrelenting, ripping away at the democratic facade of a capitalist system Klein accuses of paying mere lip service to fundamental notions of freedom.

Shocked and Appalled

By John Allemang, Globe and Mail, August 31, 2007

If there's anyone who knows the ins and outs of a successful marketing campaign, it's Naomi Klein.

So why is the author of the bestselling No Logo, the 2000 book that tore apart the pretensions of “Just Do It” brand-building while inspiring the social-justice spirit in young consumers, walking away from a screening of the video for her long-awaited new book, The Shock Doctrine?

“It's too disturbing,” she says, as she closes the door to the small room that started off as our meeting place but now feels more like an isolation chamber.

Ten Books to Read Before Christmas

The Observer, August 26, 2007

In this landmark history of the past three decades, the award-winning journalist, theorist, film-maker and author of No Logo attempts to explode the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Based on new historical research and four years of reporting in disaster zones, the book's premise is simple: America's 'free market' policies dominate the world through the exploitation of people and countries which have been 'disaster-shocked' - disorientated by wars, terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Klein gives a freshness to examples that feel familiar - US oil companies in Iraq, tourist resorts in tsunami-destroyed beaches, privatisation after hurricane Katrina - by placing them in a wider context that includes Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973 and the Falklands conflict in 1982.

Publisher's Weekly Blog

by Rick Simonson -- July 23, 2007

There was the last whole big section, finally sunk into (and almost sunk by) of Naomi Klein's extraordinary, damning The Shock Doctrine, which Frances Coady and Co. are bringing out through Metropolitan. I'm not sure what I can say about this here, as there is some sort of quasi-emabrgo on its contents (someone somewhere is running a serial). To say here that I wouldn't want to be Alan Greenspan with his new book in some sort of one-on-one with Ms. Klein and hers: it is a tough book, anchored by places in the world that have undergone the 'shock doctrines' applied, politically (usually un-democratically), economically, and against our very language and imagination over the past thirty years and more.

Read the entire article here.

Publisher's Weekly

After the Deluge: Exploding the Myth of the Global Free Market
by Charlotte Abbott

Though Naomi Klein became well-known in Canada, the U.K. and Europe after her first book, No Logo (Picador, 2000), unmasked the global injustices hidden by glossy corporate marketing, she’s not yet a mainstream name in the U.S.

She has another chance with her new populist manifesto, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Metropolitan Books, Sept.), in which she delivers a powerful blow to the prevailing belief that democracy and unfettered capitalism go hand in hand. A dissenting history of the last 40 years, the book shows how U.S. economist Milton Friedman and his “Chicago School” followers, working as advisers to foreign governments and through institutions like the International Monetary Fund, have exploited political upheaval and natural disasters to impose “free markets” around the world.

Kirkus Review

Starred Review. Klein (Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate, 2002, etc.) tracks the forced imposition of economic privatization, rife with multinational corporate parasites, on areas and nations weakened by war, civil strife or natural disasters.

The author follows John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, 2004) and others in pointing an alarmed finger at a global “corporatocracy” that combines the worst features of big business and small government. The difference is that Klein’s book incorporates an amount of due diligence, logical structure and statistical evidence that others lack. As a result, she is persuasive when she links past and present events, including the war in Iraq and trashing of its economy, to the systematic march of laissez-faire capitalism and the downsizing of the public sector as both a worldview and a political methodology.
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