Naomi Klein, in her new book, The Shock Doctrine, details the rise of disaster capitalism with painstaking care, showing how big business often steps in after global misery.
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a painstakingly detailed analysis of how corporations manipulate natural and manmade disasters to line their pockets and further their privatizing agenda, is not a marginal, academic treatise by a lefty think tank targeted at a small, like-minded audience.
Watch the video of Naomi Klein talking about her new book.
It is a book by a bestselling writer and activist who also happens to be one of the anti-globalization movement’s most recognizable faces. It’s also a book that comes with its own promotional documentary, a short directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Watch The Shock Doctrine Short Film.
In other words, instead of being consigned to pointy-headed discussion in unread academic journals, it is a book that has the potential to become a lightning rod of controversy and debate.
Read a review of the book by Nobel-Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in The New York Times
John Cusack Interviews Naomi Klein About “The Shock Doctrine”, watch the video.
The distinction is not lost on the writer, Naomi Klein, the 37-year-old Toronto author of the momentous 2000 manifesto No Logo, an influential book that produced its share of detractors and converts. On the one hand, No Logo provoked a backlash from the editors of The Economist magazine, who devoted a 2002 cover story to refuting its Nike-bashing thesis. On the other, it inspired the popular rock band Radiohead to ban corporate signage from its shows.
“The usual response of the economic establishment is to ignore people like me and hope we go away,” says Klein, during a recent interview in the Toronto offices of her Canadian publisher, Random House.
“That was the initial response to No Logo. It was either patronizing pats on the head or it was, `Ignore her. Don’t encourage her.’ It was only after No Logo sold a million copies that The Economist took it on.”
The Shock Doctrine, published worldwide today in seven languages, will be an even tougher pill for Klein’s detractors to choke down. In it, Klein assails the legacy of Milton Friedman, the late, Nobel Prize-winning Chicago economist beloved by conservatives for his unequivocal belief in the supremacy of the private sector, even as a means of delivering traditionally public services such as health care, education and drinking water. The book argues that since the public doesn’t necessarily share the Friedmanite faith, corporations seize on the disorientation caused by situations of turmoil and upheaval to inflict their privatizing agendas.
Examples range from the way in which the Friedman doctrine was implemented in Chile after the 1973 coup that brought dictator Augusto Pinochet to power, to the more recent displacement of Sri Lankan fishers who were prevented by resort developers from returning to their villages in the aftermath of the 2003 tsunami.
Klein began connecting the dots in her own mind at the start of the Iraq War in 2003. At the time she and her husband, filmmaker and former TV host Avi Lewis, were living in Argentina, a country then emerging from its own period of economic shock therapy. She was struck by how closely the original reconstruction plans for Iraq conformed to the shock formula.
The 560-page argument, which also deals with the privatization of post-communist economies in Poland, Russia and China, the reliance of the Israeli private sector on security-related entrepreneurship and other subjects, is bolstered by nearly 70 pages of footnotes, citing more than 1,000 sources.
“I expect the release of the book to be a battle. And the endnotes are my body armor,” says Klein, who will further defend her thesis during a public interview Thursday at the UofT’s MacMillan Theater.
“When you are introducing ideas that are new and in some cases quite radical, you need major backup if you want to reach beyond a small section of the population. Hopefully, the people who don’t need as much convincing will bear with me because if the book were more anecdotal and less carefully sourced it would make it that much easier for the people who want to get me.”
See the Research
There are nearly 70 pages of endnotes in The Shock Doctrine. Now you can read many of the original documents yourself in the Resources section on ShockDoctrine.com. A few higlights include:
The CIA’s 1963 and 1983 interrogation manuals
Transcripts from meetings held by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger merely days after the 1976 coup in Argentina
Orlando Letelier’s critique of Pinochet’s economic policies in Chile, written just weeks before Letelier’s assassination
Donald Rumsfeld’s tribute to Milton Friedman in 2002
New documents are being added to The Shock Doctrine website every day. See more resources.