|The Shock Doctrine
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
|At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that will allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater. After a powerful tsunami devastates the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts. New Orleans’s residents, still scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened.
These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: the use of public disorientation following massive collective shocks — wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters — to push through highly unpopular economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: that of the electrode in the prison cell or of the Taser gun.
Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Disaster capitalism — the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies that are reeling from shock — did not begin with September 11, 2001. In this courageous new book, Klein traces the intellectual origins of disaster capitalism back to the University of Chicago’s economic department under Milton Friedman, whose influence is still felt around the world. The Shock Doctrine draws new and surprising connections among economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and the covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation that shaped the torture manuals used today in Guantánamo Bay.
As Klein shows how the deliberate use of the shock doctrine produced world-changing events, from Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973 to the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, she tells a story radically different from the one we usually hear. Once again Naomi Klein has written a book that will reframe the debate.