The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's 2007 and Naomi Klein builds a rather convincing argument about modern governmental/corporational trends.
I've personally never seen it laid out so baldly, but after having read several dozen of political books, perhaps an equivalent number of documentaries, and a lot of otherwise independent research into the topics herein, I'm willing to concede that she has a very valid point.
What is the point?
Modern economics theories are used to lay out a rather obvious plan of mass looting. They're constructed as laissez-faire Chicago School of Economics, which looks great on paper, letting the invisible hand of Adam Smith regulate all markets. In practice, putting it into effect, under the heading of Democracy or Liberation or whatever they want, the big heads of the Chicago school are backed with the CIA, big corporation interests, and a single additional theory that makes the whole thing gel together.
What's this extra theory? It's simple. They believe, as they have learned from their lessons in briefly earlier psychology research, that the best way to heal a patient is to first break their minds and bodies, starting them out on a tabula rasa, and then rebuilding from the rubble. So many have quoted the belief that the only way to get real change is after a disaster.
Never mind that the original torture victims in McGill college that underwent sensory deprivation, LSD, PCP, punctuated with ECT and blaring noise did not come out of the experience quite sane. Most of them never recovered. But THIS was the original study that they based their first great experiment on. Export the school of thought to Chile, and when it didn't quite take, destabilize the government, assassinate Allende, and install Pinochet. On Sept. 11, 1973. They used shock and awe, destroyed infrastructure, and people went hungry and were terrorized.
Guess who got a Nobel Prize in economics?
It's worse. The dictatorship was atrocious, but the big corporations were given leave to move in and rape the economy, loot anything of value, while allowing Pinochet to take the lion's share, turning him into an Oligarch, overnight. A decade later, Chile, once sporting one of the most impressive resumes of a growing and happy populace, could barely stand on its own. But the corporations got RICH.
Jump ahead to Russia right as Communism is going defunct. The same Chicago school economics of Free-Market offers them a deal. Businesses will loan expertise and open market doctrines and massive loans, but be sure to destabilize everything first. When enough blood is on the ground and people are terrified, starving, and giving up everything they ever owned, then offer them a deal they can't refuse. Capitalism on a plate that promises everything that the European nations and America has to offer since Communism is dead.
When democracy is offered but capitalism is competing, capitalism beats anything. Enter a capitalism-backed coup, corporate sponsorships everywhere, and a promise that our new leader will be able to make himself and a handful others into some of the top 30 ranked richest people in the world, opening up Russia to free trade on a scale never seen before, the only way to keep it going is by looting the population. And it did. What was the number? 14 million homeless children? Think about that. At least under communism there WAS something like a middle class. Now it's only the super rich and the survivors.
CLEARLY, this is an AMAZING outcome for the Chicago School! Companies got rich. The stock market had a field day supporting the victors. Everyone was shaking everyone else's hands. Except for the rest of the 99%, of course. They went hungry. A reported 50,000 AIDS victims exploded into 1.5 million over the space of a couple of years. Clearly, everyone was having a party.
But the rich got richer.
Remember what happened during the Iraq War, part 2? Privatized war, with every single aspect of the war delegated to private companies except for the troops, themselves. 90% of every contract went into overhead, contractors subcontracting up to four times until there was no longer any money left for doing the work. And easily, if you look back on the actual work for the reconstruction, either it was not completed in 85% of the cases, or what did get finished was at half capacity after a year. ALL work and workers were brought in from the outside. Corporations tried to set up McD and Walmart, unloaded big screen TVs on the streets that were lined with rubble.
Shock and Awe. Come on. The purpose is to drive them all into a permanent state of helplessness or create an environment of terrorism. Against them. But heck, as long as we can brew terrorists this way, each one wanting to get revenge or at the very least, JUSTICE for this travesty. 650,000 dead. For Oil. For the free market. For the freedom of a hoard of corporations to come swooping in and install a Free Trade Zone, where profits just kept coming.
Let's ignore for a moment that every cabinet member in the presidency at that time had vested and current interests in the very same corporations that made the most money on Iraq. Or that America inflated its debt many times over to pay for the graft, looting, and amazing incompetence, while leaving the door open to keep ALL of the contractors out of the legal crosshairs of ANY country, while walking away with astounding paychecks.
Ignore the fact that most invasions, if they're NOT there to loot, will actually set aside troops to protect national heritage. There is a lot of proof that the national museum holding artifacts thousands of years old was specifically excluded from that protection list, which is why troops sat by and watched as so many truckloads of priceless artifacts were spirited away. Later, even now, only 20% have ever been recovered.
We can add Hurricane Katrina to the list. The same contractors for Iraq came in to help out, taking more government money, pulling the same exact crap, and then leaving the job almost completely undone. We're talking BIG money, too. But look on the bright side! All that land can now be cleared out to build new condos! Tons of companies swooped in to reclaim the land. And they did. And a lot of them were linked, intricately, to the SAME people who were supposed to REBUILD for the original inhabitants.
Sorry, folks, couldn't do the job. You're gonna have to find a new place to live. My brother here wants the land for his new McD!
Yep, first you need to have a disaster. If you don't have a disaster, make one. If you can, build compounds and Green zones and make sure you give enough fodder to create a simmering cauldron of hate that you can regularly call on to rise up and smash down with your brand new war machine. And make sure it keeps on simmering, too, right, ISIS? We need a reason to keep getting the latest equipment to protect our super-rich bunkers.
It's great economics as long as your real intention is to get extremely rich. It's not good economics if you want long-lasting, sustained prosperity. It's the looter's creed. Make situations you can profit from. Make sure you always negotiate from the ultimate position. If that means making sure the rest of the world has a foot on its neck, then that's all for the best. That's GOOD NEGOTIATION TACTICS.
Laissez-faire, to these guys, means taking away all the safety nets. They're the same ones gutting social security, social protections, and basic food and health for the poorest people in our first-world nations. They want no government, or to turn all governments into shells with no power to do anything. They've stated this creed a million times. They want social darwinism at its worst. Keep everyone so shock and awed that they can take everything. Absolutely everything.
Let's judge an idea not on its stated ideal. Let's judge an idea based on its actual practice. If this wonderful ideal says it works best after a disaster, flawlessly re-establishing the free hand of the market, then by their own writings, we should have seen a flowering of cooperation, self-interest coinciding with everyone else's self-interest, and a natural growth of blanket prosperity that effects everyone involved. It's pretty. I've read many great books on the Chicago Style of Economics and loved them. But let's look at the ACTUAL FACTS of its implementation.
There has never been a free hand of the market. The big banana corporation pressured America to secure its economic freedom. America got it's most famous laissez-faire economists to embark on a campaign, assisted with a ton of money, integral CIA support, and a bunch of extra vultures hanging in the wings, smelling blood in the water. When the blood splashed and buildings with the elected government were murdered, all the looters moved in. Of course, back in the day, it was all ideological garbage. Sticking it to the communists, bringing in democracy. Ignore the fact that they just bombed a democracy and Pinochet the dictator came in, got rich, and entered a very profitable loot cycle with the outside vultures.
It begs the question. If, each and every time, they bring in the Chicago School of Economics, they always bring the same result, then maybe we ought to question their motives. Maybe.
I'm just waiting for other enemies of this paradigm to get their own shock and awe. Left-leaning college campuses? Gay bars? All they need is a disaster. They can wait for it and exploit it like with Katrina, but they're perfectly willing to orchestrate them, too. And give you wonderfully idealistic reasons why you should let them murder you, too.
Dark, right? But real. You've seen these looters in the housing bubble. The banking crisis. It's big. Very, very big. You can complain about transgenders in bathrooms all you like, but the really scary bits are right here. And they can take us all down. Equally.
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