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Shock doctrines as the capitalism disaster politics essay

The shock doctrine is a theory that in order to put into practice the highly unpopular tenets of a free market economy, the implementation of such policies must happen directly after a shock to the national conscious. According to Klein, the population is so disoriented that they cannot adequately defend themselves against sudden drops in wages, high inflation and the privatization of social services like education and health care. While the disorientation of the masses allows policies to be implemented, it does not eradicate all opposition.

In order to fully achieve that, the primary shock is coupled with a second, more literal one. Those who oppose free markets are abducted, tortured, killed or forced into exile. This is not, however, a project separate from the economic policies. Milton Friedman and his Chicago School Boys attempt to elevate their aims to a scientific level whenever possible in order to minimize the human element. Originally, the idea was that free markets and democratic politics go hand in hand, but as their experiments in Latin America unfolded, it became evident to them that an authoritarian regime was the only kind fully able to use the military might to enforce the kind of full-scale terror necessary to degrade the population to the point where it is incapable of protesting, where it has lost all connection to its culture and values.

To the outside world, the poverty and disappearances are often invisible. Wealth is consolidated into the hands of the corporate elite. Corporations are able to buy up previously nationalized markets at incredibly low prices. Trade unionists are detained and tortured throughout the country, and sometimes on-site at their own jobs. Even the corporate elite are not safe, as any who oppose the new regime can be dismiss, deported or worse.

The economic policies implemented are typified by selling off national markets, like fuel, to the lowest bidder, as well as privatizing education, health care and the postal service. Inflation skyrockets, wages plummet and the people starve en masse. No one protests because they have been shocked into submission by a national disaster of some sort, just as their friends, family and neighbors have been literally shocked into submission.

In order to demonstrate its thesis, the book asks and answers these five questions: Where did the methods for these two types of shock come from?

Was systematic state terror carried out in these case studies? Who was killed and why? Does free market economics work? The most horrifying question of this book is where did the methods for these two types of shock come from? The first section of the book is largely devoted to answering this question. First, she deals with the literal, torturous shock treatment. He experimented on patients, funded by the CIA, in the hopes of finding a way to reprogram a human being.

People were put shock doctrines as the capitalism disaster politics essay small isolated chambers, and were served meals at bizarre times of the day in order to further disorient them. These findings were later indoctrinated into CIA handbooks for torture, which were used as a guide for the torture taking place in Latin America. This idea of psychological regression and reprogramming is interesting because the idea of shocking and rebuilding an economy ultimately stems from it.

Several of the accounts from victims of the state-sponsored terror recall hearing the voices of gringos, or seeing white men in the interrogation rooms.

Additionally, these regimes were often taught by American CIA, and received funding from them. With regards to the methods of economic shock, the ideas are clearly from various Americans associated with the Chicago School of Economics. With Milton Friedman as their leader, he and his disciples pursued a policy of open, privatized markets with religious zeal.

They then brought their economic ideals with them to Indonesia and Latin America. Unfortunately for them, the diplomatic process was not receptive to their ideals, as Latin America in the 1970s was very left-leaning. Its democratic process elected people like Salvador Allende, and its culture revered the likes of Pablo Neruda. Their economic policies marginalized in the open, democratic debate, it became clear that a more aggressive stance would be necessary.

This is the point at which the two kinds of shock became inextricably linked. Just as the McGill patients had regressed into a confused, childlike state, unable to protect themselves, so would be any country who had experienced a similar trauma.

And thus, the method was born. First, a shock to the country, which would confuse the population into a state where it would be incapable of preventing change. Economic reform like cutting state spending and selling off public goods was immediately taken into effect, as well as the second shock: Any segments of the population that would not fit into the new order of individualistic, free-market capitalism would be disappeared, tortured, killed.

This included trade union leaders, priests, nuns, activists, artists, musicians, writers, workers and peasants. The question concerning shock doctrines as the capitalism disaster politics essay the plan came from is important because we must find a way to stop if from continuing to be carried out.

As Americans have largely been implicated in the book, it should be of utmost concern to Americans. It is our government, our foundations, our academics who have propelled such horror into existence. If we are to learn from the past and improve our future, we must understand the role we have played.

We must correct it, not through revisionist history like Milton Friedman tried to, but by spreading the knowledge. The author is clear in showing that it was not merely good economic advisors who happened to work for men who violated human rights. Rather, she shows the violations as a means to the economic policies, not an end. Prior to reading this book, I had learned about Shock Treatment as a method of helping an underdeveloped country become developed, along with Foreign Direct Investment, Structural Adjustment, Export-Oriented Industrialization and Import Substitution Industrialization.

I had also been taught about the bloody regimes of dictators, the torture in Abu Ghraib and the corporate mercenaries in Iraq. Never before, however, had they been taught together, as policies intrinsically connected to one another. A major success of this book is the format used to prove its theory. After outlining the fundamental theory, the complex origins of the phenomenon are described.

The rest of the book is used to show several in-depth case studies from the past half-decade, from all over the world. A broad variety of shocks are shown, from military coup to natural disaster. As the case studies progress through time, there is also a clear link to Milton Friedman and his disciples, as well as various American institutions.

A common criticism of this book is that it vilifies Milton Friedman.

The Shock Doctrine

I agree, Friedman is vilified, but I do not criticize Klein for it. It is clear from the evidence here that he was in contact with many world leaders throughout his life. It seems laughable to acknowledge Friedman as an intelligent man and at the same time claim he cannot be held responsible.

  • It took four years to do this book but it covers so much ground that it really did require this extraordinary team of people;
  • With regards to the methods of economic shock, the ideas are clearly from various Americans associated with the Chicago School of Economics;
  • That's why I concentrate so much on Friedman and the University of Chicago because in the 1950s and '60s there was a strategy at the U;
  • Lives, homes, cultures and economies shattered by crisis and repression — wiped out by shock- can be restored;
  • The Guardian in England had the serial rights to the book so they ran four extracts in the paper and then they commissioned a bunch of people on different ends of the political spectrum to respond to different sections of the book.

There is more than one way to kill a man, and Freidman and his Chicago Boys helped find many. They may not have tortured with electric shock, but lowering wages and causing the price of bread to skyrocket will just as surely torment and kill the population. After reading this book, it has come up in other classes and I have discussed it with many students and teachers. A common experience is that it seems to explain so much about what is going on in the world right now.

Naomi Klein

One has a better understanding of American politicsboth foreign and domestic. This also illuminates the truth of its case studies, and leaves the reader with an odd feeling. That is, many educated people are aware of the various factors: However, no one has ever pulled all the evidence together in this way, and thus drawn these conclusions. It shows a side of capitalism that we like to ignore: Capitalism is not inherently evil, but it is also not an innocent, pure science, to be revered like religion.

It is because of the human element that free market capitalism is not worthwhile, and due to that same human element that it cannot coexist with democracy. Suddenly, we understand why our world has been so strange: