[R-G] Democracy Now: The Shock Doctrine: Naomi Klein on the Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Tim Murphy info at cinox.demon.co.uk
Mon Sep 17 12:38:01 MDT 2007


Monday, September 17th, 2007
Democracy Now
 
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/17/1411235
 

The Shock Doctrine: Naomi Klein on the Rise of Disaster Capitalism

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Read Transcript 
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________________________________


Pinochet's coup in Chile, the massacre in Tiananmen Square, the collapse of
the Soviet Union, September 11th, 2001, the war on Iraq, the Asian tsunami,
and Hurricane Katrina. Award-winning investigative journalist Naomi Klein
brings together all of these world-changing events in her new book, "The
Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." In her first national
broadcast interview since the publication of "The Shock Doctrine," Klein
joins us in our firehouse studio for the hour. Klein writes, "The history of
the contemporary free market was written in shocks." She argues that "Some
of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five years,
which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by
anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate
intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground
for the introduction of radical free-market reforms." 

[includes rush transcript - partial] 

________________________________

Economist Milton Friedman once said, "Only a crisis produces real change.
When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that
are lying around. " Naomi Klein examines some of what she considers the most
dangerous ideas -- Friedmanite economics -- and exposes how catastrophic
events are both extremely profitable to corporations and have also allowed
governments to push through what she calls "disaster capitalism." 

Klein writes in the introduction to "The Shock Doctrine" that "The history
of the contemporary free market was written in shocks." She argues that
"Some of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five
years, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by
anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate
intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground
for the introduction of radical free-market reforms." 

I want to begin by playing excerpts from a short documentary co-written by
Naomi Klein and "Children of Men" director Alfonso Cuaron. It's directed by
Cuaron's son, Jonas. It's also called "The Shock Doctrine" and premiered
last week at film festivals in Venice and Toronto. 

*	The Shock Doctrine Short Film, a film by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi
Klein, directed by Jonás Cuarón. 
	- Click to watch the entire film
<http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/short-film>  

	Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, the bestselling author
of "No Logo" and the co-director of "The Take." Her latest book is called
"The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." She joins us in the
firehouse studio for the hour. 

*	Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist, the bestselling author of "No
Logo" and the co-director of "The Take." Her latest book is called "The
Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." More information at
NaomiKlein.org <http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine> 

________________________________

RUSH TRANSCRIPT 

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AMY GOODMAN: Pinochet’s coup in Chile, the massacre in Tiananmen Square, the
collapse of the Soviet Union, September 11th, the war on Iraq, the Asian
tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Award-winning investigative journalist Naomi
Klein brings together all these world-changing events in her new book. It’s
called The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. 

Economist Milton Friedman once said, “Only a crisis produces real change.
When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that
are lying around.” Naomi Klein examines some of what she considers the most
dangerous ideas -- Friedmanite economics -- and exposes how catastrophic
events are both extremely profitable to corporations and have also allowed
governments to push through what she calls “disaster capitalism.” 

Naomi Klein writes in the introduction to Shock Doctrine the quote, “The
history of the contemporary free market was written in shocks.” She argues,
“Some of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five
years, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by
anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate
intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground
for the introduction of radical free-market reforms.” 

I want to begin by playing excerpts from a short documentary co-written by
Naomi Klein and Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron. It’s directed by
Cuaron’s son Jonas. It’s also called The Shock Doctrine. It premiered last
week at film festivals in Venice and Toronto. 

	NEWSREEL: The 1940s have been a decade of breakthroughs and
developments in medicine and psychiatry. Scientists have developed a new
technology to cure mentally ill adults. With the use of electroshocks, the
minds of sick patients are being wiped clean, giving them a fresh start. On
this blank slate, physicians then imprint a new healthy personality. 

	NAOMI KLEIN: Remaking people, shocking them into obedience. This is
a story about that powerful idea. In the 1950s, it caught the attention of
the CIA. The agency funded a series of experiments. Out of them was produced
a secret handbook on how to break down prisoners. The key was using shock to
reduce adults to a childlike state. 

	TEXT: The following narration is excerpted from the CIA's 1963 and
1983 interrogation manuals. 

	NARRATION: It’s a fundamental hypothesis of this handbook that these
are techniques are, in essence, methods of inducing regression of the
personality. There is an interval, which may be extremely brief, of
suspended animation, a kind of psychological shock or paralysis. Experienced
interrogators recognize this effect when it appears and know that at this
moment the source is far more open to suggestion, far likelier to comply,
than he was just before he experienced the shock. 

	NAOMI KLEIN: But these techniques don't only work on individuals;
they can work on whole societies: a collective trauma, a war, a coup, a
natural disaster, a terrorist attack puts us all into a state of shock. And
in the aftermath, like the prisoner in the interrogation chamber, we, too,
become childlike, more inclined to follow leaders who claim to protect us. 

	One person who understood this phenomenon early on was the famous
economist of our era, Milton Friedman. Friedman believed in a radical vision
of society in which profit and the market drive every aspect of life, from
schools to healthcare, even the army. He called for abolishing all trade
protections, deregulating all prices and eviscerating government services. 

	These ideas have always been tremendously unpopular, and
understandably so. They cause waves of unemployment, send prices soaring,
and make life more precarious for millions. Unable to advance their agenda
democratically, Friedman and his disciples were drawn to the power of shock.


	NARRATION: The subject should be rudely awakened and immediately
blindfolded and handcuffed. When arrested at this time, most subjects
experience intense feelings of shock, insecurity and psychological stress.
The idea is to prevent the subject from relaxing and recovering from shock. 

	NAOMI KLEIN: Friedman understood that just as prisoners are softened
up for interrogation by the shock of their capture, massive disasters could
serve to soften us up for his radical free-market crusade. He advised
politicians that immediately after a crisis, they should push through all
the painful policies at once, before people could regain their footing. He
called this method “economic shock treatment.” I call it “the shock
doctrine.” 

	Take a second look at the iconic events of our era, and behind many
you will find its logic at work. This is the secret history of the free
market. It wasn't born in freedom and democracy; it was born in shock. 

	NARRATION: Isolation, both physical and psychological, must be
maintained from the moment of apprehension. The capacity for resistance is
diminished by disorientation. Prisoners should maintain silence at all
times. They should never be allowed to speak to each other. 

	NAOMI KLEIN: There’s one other thing I’ve learned from my study of
states of shock: shock wears off. It is, by definition, a temporary state.
And the best way to stay oriented, to resist shock is to know what is
happening to you and why.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of The Shock Doctrine, directed by Jonas Cuaron,
co-written by Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron with Naomi Klein. You
can watch the entire film online. We’ll link to it at democracynow.org. This
is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. 

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, the bestselling author of No
Logo and the co-director of the film The Take. Her latest book is called The
Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Naomi Klein joins me for
the hour in our firehouse studio. Welcome to Democracy Now! 

NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you, Amy. 

AMY GOODMAN: It’s very good to have you with us. Why don't you start off by
talking about exactly what you consider to be the shock doctrine? 

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, the shock doctrine, like all doctrines, is a philosophy
of power. It’s a philosophy about how to achieve your political and economic
goals. And this is a philosophy that holds that the best way, the best time,
to push through radical free-market ideas is in the aftermath of a major
shock. Now, that shock could be an economic meltdown. It could be a natural
disaster. It could be a terrorist attack. It could be a war. But the idea,
as you just saw in the film, is that these crises, these disasters, these
shocks soften up whole societies. They discombobulate them. People lose
their bearings. And a window opens up, just like the window in the
interrogation chamber. And in that window, you can push through what
economists call “economic shock therapy.” That’s sort of extreme country
makeovers. It’s everything all at once. It’s not, you know, one reform here,
one reform there, but the kind of radical change that we saw in Russia in
the 1990s, that Paul Bremer tried to push through in Iraq after the
invasion. So that’s the shock doctrine. 

And it’s not claiming that right-wingers in a contemporary age are the only
people who have ever exploited crisis, because this idea of exploiting a
crisis is not unique to this particular ideology. Fascists have done it.
State communists have done it. But this is an attempt to better understand
the ideology that we live with, the dominant ideology of our time, which is
unfettered market economics. 

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who Milton Friedman is, who you take on in a big way in
this book. 

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I take on Milton Friedman because he is the symbol of the
history that I am trying to challenge. Milton Friedman died last year. He
died in 2006. And when he died, we heard him described in very lavish
tributes as probably the most important intellectual of the post-war period,
not just the most important economist, but the most important intellectual.
And I think that a strong argument can be made for that. This was an adviser
to Thatcher, to Nixon, to Reagan, to the current Bush administration. He
tutored Donald Rumsfeld in the early days of his career. He advised Pinochet
in the 1970s. He also advised the Communist Party of China in the key reform
period in the late 1980s. So he had enormous influence. And I was talking to
somebody the other day who described him as the Karl Marx for capitalism.
And I think that’s not a bad description, although I’m sure Marx wouldn’t
have liked it very much. But he was really a popularizer of these ideas. 

He had a vision of society, in which the only acceptable role for the state
was to enforce contracts and to protect borders. Everything else should be
completely left to the market, whether education, national parks, the post
office; everything that could be performed at a profit should be. And he
really saw, I guess, shopping -- buying and selling -- as the highest form
of democracy, as the highest form of freedom. And his best-known book was
Capitalism and Freedom. 

So, you know, when he died last year, we were all treated to a retelling of
the official version of how these radical free-market ideas came to dominate
the globe, how they swept through the former Soviet Union, Latin America,
Africa, you know, how these ideas triumphed over the past thirty-five years.
And I was so struck, because I was in the middle of writing this book, that
we never heard about violence, and we never heard about crises, and we never
heard about shocks. I mean, the official story is that these ideas triumphed
because we wanted them to, that the Berlin Wall fell and people demanded
their Big Macs along with their democracy. And, you know, the official story
of the rise of this ideology goes through Margaret Thatcher saying, “There
is no alternative,” to Francis Fukuyama saying, “History has ended.
Capitalism and freedom go hand in hand.” 

And so, what I’m trying to do with this book is tell that same story, the
key junctures where this ideology has leapt forward, but I’m reinserting the
violence, I’m reinserting the shocks, and I’m saying that there is a
relationship between massacres, between crises, between major shocks and
body blows to countries and the ability to impose policies that are actually
rejected by the vast majority of the people on this planet. 

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Naomi Klein. Her new book is called The Shock
Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. We'll be back with her in a
minute. 

END OF TEXT

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