Happy Birthday Naomi Klein, born #onthisday 1970.

shock doctrine

Klein’s third book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, was published on September 4, 2007. The book argues that the free market policies of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics have risen to prominence in countries such as Chile, under Pinochet, Poland, Russia, under Yeltsin, and the United States (for example, the privatization of the New Orleans Public Schools after Hurricane Katrina). The book also argues that policy initiatives (for instance, the privatization of Iraq’s economy under the Coalition Provisional Authority) were rushed through while the citizens of these countries were in shock from disasters, upheavals, or invasion. The book became an international and New York Times bestseller translated into 28 languages.

Central to the book’s thesis is the contention that those who wish to implement unpopular free market policies now routinely do so by taking advantage of certain features of the aftermath of major disasters, be they economic, political, military or natural. The suggestion is that when a society experiences a major ‘shock’ there is a widespread desire for a rapid and decisive response to correct the situation; this desire for bold and immediate action provides an opportunity for unscrupulous actors to implement policies which go far beyond a legitimate response to disaster. The book suggests that when the rush to act means the specifics of a response will go unscrutinized, that is the moment when unpopular and unrelated policies will intentionally be rushed into effect. The book appears to claim that these shocks are in some cases intentionally encouraged or even manufactured.

Available in store and online.

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