Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein

A few months before this blog started up in February of 2009, before lovely Erin came to work as my case manager, my case manger was the lovely Marisela, who has since taken off to Australia to continue her studies. Who knows where she is now. I certainly don't.
Her partner was the lovely Demitri, who now works over at the Abby Hotel where case manager Paul went to work. FYI, Paul is now a married man, congratulations to him and his lady, and will soon be leaving SRHT to continue his work in the social services field somewhere near Long Beach, California. I don't know why. One place is as good as another if you ask me.
We've mentioned Demitri before on this site, specifically this post:
Here's her picture:

I told you she was lovely. And hey guys, she's single... and a property owner!
She does have two psychotic dogs though.
In any case, during one of our many discussions concerning politics she said this to me: "Quit reading 'The Shock Doctrine'... it's driving you crazy."
Indeed I had been reading the Canadian investigative author Naomi Klein's book, "The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism," at the time, and I agree with Demitri, it was driving me crazy... or at least really pissing me off.
I wasn't totally unprepared for the book. I had heard of the economist Milton Friedman, and of course who hasn't read "The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money," by John Maynard Keynes? But I have to admit I'm a very nieve and innocent soul, and Naomi's extensive work opened my eyes to a whole other world, a world driven by sociopathological ideology, and dare I say it... evil, driven to, well I don't know what the perpetrators of the doctrine hope to achieve since it is not sustainable and never works... the Sunk Cost Effect perhaps, where one cannot give up one's ideals simply because one cannot admit they are completely, tragically wrong.
What is the shock doctrine? Funny you should ask.
The shock doctrine is a noun, a process, and as the name suggests, an accepted belief system that at it's core involves the verbal form of the word "shock."
Klein argues that the free market policies of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics have been accepted, or forced upon countries that have undergone some form of disaster, or "shock," be they economic, political, military or natural in nature. The idea being that the population of said countries will accept drastic measures of change that would not normally be acceptable, in order to quickly correct the situation. The desire for decisive, immediate action allows unscrupulous leaders or entities to put in place measures that go far beyond the actual need of that country, or legitimate response to the disaster. She also suggests that the speed with which these measures are put into place will allow them to be implemented with little scrutiny and oversight, and once put into place these measures or policies will become the norm rather than the exception, and thus almost impossible to dislodge.
It's all rather simple really. The genius of Naomi Klein is that she was able to see it implemented where others were not (except those who did the implementing, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, at the direction of Milton Friedman), and effectively present the facts to an unsuspecting world.
Here is a quick example of the applied shock doctrine within our own country, perpetrated upon the nation not by an outside agency like the IMF or World Bank, but by our own government.
After the attacks of 9/11 the United States was understandably in turmoil, its people angry, bitter, saddened, "shocked," and malleable. The Bush administration took advantage of this and rushed through Congress what is known as the "Patriot Act," just 45 days after the attacks. Notice the name of the Act that was chosen, almost assuring it's passage, for who would want to vote against something "patriotic," at that particular time (66 out of 435 members of the House, and 1 out of 100 members of the Senate did vote against it)? The Act gave the government sweeping new powers. It "dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies' ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records; eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States; expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied." -Wikipedia
The Act effectively allowed the government to circumvent Constitutional protections, such as the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure, that our founding fathers fought and died for. The idea of the provisions of the Act coming into existence at a time other than when it was is unthinkable.
Yet it was easily passed. And as the shock doctrine dictates, once the change is put into place it becomes the norm rather than the exception. The proof of that in this instance is that the Patriot Act is still in place today.
According to the dictates of the doctrine, the Patriot Act was the precursor to the invasion of Afghanistan. Although this military action was unnecessary (the Taliban was willing to give up Osama bin Laden to the U.S. under certain conditions, like evidence of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Bush refused), but at least on appearances it was an appropriate action. The invasion of Iraq on the other hand was unnecessary, and totally unjustifiable. These military actions gave the Bush administration the unheard of opportunity to attempt to fashion a nation (Iraq) into anything it wanted to while stealing its natural resources. It also allowed the American military industrial complex, and other private concerns such as Dick Cheney's Halliburton, to steal directly from the national treasury and the people of the United States, under the guise of being "at war."
This would not have been possible at any other time then after the great "shock" of the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
American military forces and private contractors are still occupying both countries, still stealing, our soldiers still dying.
It is my position, and others, including Ms Klein herself, that the Shock Doctrine is still very, very much in effect, and being implemented in new, more devastating ways.
We'll discuss this in the next installment. In the meantime here's a link to Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism:

To be continued.

No comments:

Post a Comment