The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The short version is...it is all hopeless and corporations are set to take as much public money as possible, and good governance is demeaned to the point that public works becomes an evil idea.
As far as the book itself and how the title fits in, I can see part of her argument as analysis with metaphor, where the Psychological treatment of shock therapy (of the worst type) corresponds to Milton Friedman's idea that his free market policies are best implemented quickly to shock the economy out of its old bad ways.
FYI The history of the shock treatment that was later taken up by the CIA sanctioned torture guides was pretty gruesome to read about.
The other metaphor used is a cancer metaphor where to get an economy to a free market state you have to cut out all the bad parts of the economy taking perhaps colateral flesh along the way as a means to stop the disease.
While reading Shock Doctrine I checked some reviews and critiques of it...I don't know what I expected but BOY some people really, really hate her. I mean despise and insult in the crudest fashion.
For all the railing by free market fans against her for talking ill of Friedman, it is completely true that his only interest in people was the capitalist world he thought we should be living in. If people suffer and die it is not on his radar. He simply advises or admires anybody who implements his ideas, he is just the technician. Kind of like Werner Von Braun shooting bombs in the air but where they come down was somebody else's department. Freidman and his followers are shocked and incredulous that anybody sees any connection between a regime embracing the Chicago School and using brutal means to prevent any dissent from that view. For me, if I was a famous economist and you used my theories as an excuse to murder and torture...THAT'S a DEAL-BREAKER!!
The Chicago Boys had confidently assured Pinochet that if he suddenly withdrew government involvement from these areas all at once, the “natural” laws of economics would rediscover their equilibrium, and inflation— which they viewed as a kind of economic fever indicating the presence of unhealthy organisms in the market— would magically go down. They were mistaken. pg 97
Even if you accept Klein has her own biases, I think this does confirm the religious nature of neo conservative and the current Ayn Rand enthusiasts. It is a article of faith that lower or no taxes, less or no public services will result in a blossoming of economic success and happiness
“What was particularly exciting were the same qualities that made Marxism so appealing to many other young people at the time,” recalled the economist Don Patinkin, who studied at Chicago in the forties—“ simplicity together with apparent logical completeness; idealism combined with radicalism.” 10 The Marxists had their workers’ utopia, and the Chicagoans had their entrepreneurs’ utopia, both claiming that if they got their way, perfection and balance would follow." pg 63
Bruno conceded that deepening or creating a serious economic meltdown was frightening— government salaries would go unpaid, public infrastructure would rot— but, Chicago disciple that he was, he urged his audience to embrace this destruction as the first stage of creation. “Indeed, as the crisis deepens the government may gradually wither away,” pg 328
The book goes on and on with one depressing story after another, but it boils down to the fact that big corporations will do anything to make money. And when you couple that with a political movement that thinks government can't be part of any solution and private business is always better than public servants...then a cycle is started where poorly implemented governing produces poor results which makes things worse, which reinforces the original premise which means more privatization is required.
It seems so inevitable one just gives up and retreats to the bed room and watches endless episodes of 30 Rock on Netflix.
View all my reviews