Shock doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism – sneak preview

Before Naomi Klein’s new book is available on the shelves here in Aotearoa I’ve managed to learn quite a bit about the central thesis. Klein, well remembered as author of No Logo – a searing analysis of corporate advertising – and her reporting from the frontline at numerous WTO protests, now turns her attention to an analysis of how “America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world– through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries”.

The Shock Doctrine provides an analysis of the havoc market dominated politics/ economics are causing. The extreme economic theories of Milton Freidman and panderings of politicians to capitalist elites are  closely scrutinised. Examples of the imposition of a market model are sourced from many places around the globe, including post Sri Lanka, Poland, Chile, Iraq and post-Katrina New Orleans.

Having listened to a couple of interviews and read an extract, I get the sense Klein is undaunted by the scale of market forces dominating the globe. As this quote from a speech to the 2007 American Sociological Association annual conference last month shows, she suggests people power can still win out.

The quest to impose a single world market has casualties now in the millions, from Chile then to Iraq today. These blueprints for another world were crushed and disappeared because they are popular and because, when tried, they work. They’re popular because they have the power to give millions of people lives with dignity, with the basics guaranteed. They are dangerous because they put real limits on the rich, who respond accordingly. Understanding this history, understanding that we never lost the battle of ideas, that we only lost a series of dirty wars, is key to building the confidence that we lack, to igniting the passionate intensity that we need.

Klein’s full ASA speech, “From Think Tanks to Battle Tanks”, can be heard or watched on Amy Goodman’s 15 August Democracy Now tv show or downloaded as an MP3.

To help get her message across, Klein is being helped out by film-maker Alfonso Cuarón. A seven minute clip has been posted on You Tube, though exactly where I have yet to find, and Quicktime and Windows media versions are available for download on her Shock Doctrine book site. I however did find on You Tube a six part presentation by Klein to a relatively recent Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives fundraising meeting (see episode one).

Before I get overwhelmed by the dazzling array of multi-media options, I think I would rather sit down with a copy of the new book (from the library of course) and a cuppa tea. Second best, a couple of articles printed out from the Guardian. There’s already a couple of book extracts (Exploiting Disaster and Homeland Security), with a promise of more to come this week.

It will be a while before I get to see a copy of her book, but my appetite is whetted by her prolific online salvos.