Essays on the shock doctrine

Analysis of Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, she documents three different kind of shocks that have been applied: major cataclysmic events, shock therapy, and body.
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Friedman had met him in Beijing in and wrote him a letter of advice—another meeting with a tyrant that Klein blames him for. Far from being the start of shock therapy, Tiananmen Square was almost the end of economic liberalization in China. Deng was forced to try to jumpstart liberalization in a public way in the spring of , even though he was 87 years old and had formally retired.

Deng even had to write articles supporting his agenda under a pen name to get access.

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But he was successful in winning local support and building alliances with provincial governors who were in favor of liberalization. Only when this happened did the reluctant president Jiang Zemin decide to support Deng. After the tour was over, the media started to report about the trip and the reforms started again. To show that radical economic reforms can happen only in dictatorships, Klein summarizes by comparing China and democratic Poland during the late s and early s:.

Shock doctrine essay

In Poland, where only the shock of economic crisis and rapid change was harnessed—and there was no overt violence—the effects of the shock eventually wore off, and the results were far more ambiguous. Once again, Klein simply states conclusions without any statistics to back them up. If we take a look at the EFW data, we see that here again Klein misreports the facts in her effort to draw a connection between violence and economic liberalism. China is nowhere near Poland in economic freedom, and it improved much more slowly.

In , Poland had caught up and both scored 5. In , democratic Poland was way ahead with 6. In fact, politicians and government officials often use crises as an opportunity to increase their budgets and powers. War and disasters are rarely friends of freedom. Economic historian Robert Higgs showed in his now classic work Crisis and Leviathan that the growth of the American government took place during crises like the Depression and the world wars.

When the crisis is over, the government does not return to its previous state, instead keeping some of the power and money it grabbed to meet the crisis. The state, not the market, grows on crises. That economist was Milton Friedman—the person Klein claims longed for war and disasters to ram through laissez-faire. Friedman was right when it came to the Iraq War. And this is not just the impression of disappointed libertarians. A poll in 15 key districts just before the mid-term elections in showed that more than 55 percent of American voters said that the Republicans were a Big Government party.

One would think that Klein should find it difficult to explain this major exception to her thesis. Klein never clearly explains why this is Friedmanite. At one point Klein writes about the lack of openness in the Iraqi economy:. She seems to think that they are the same, and she even calls the Cato Institute a neoconservative think tank, twice.

It is obvious that Klein does not know what neoconservatism is and has not bothered to find out. A conservative welfare state is perfectly consistent with the neoconservative perspective. That Friedmanite core must be massive indeed to contain such widely divergent views! Her only argument begs the question—it has happened in countries that have been led by people she considers Friedmanite, and we know they are Friedmanite because they enrich companies when they have a chance. The idea seems to be that Friedman and other libertarians like corporations, so if governments give corporations contracts, subsidies, protection and privileges, that must be Friedmanite—to the core.

At times it seems like she thinks that any policy is neoliberal if private companies are involved—if a private company produced the eavesdropping devices, for example.

If her misunderstanding of neoconservatism is the result of ignorance, this confusion is the result of her being seduced by classical leftist rhetoric. Libertarians have always been accused by their opponents of wanting to enrich corporations, so if something enriches corporations, it must be libertarian. There is no footnote. One would probably have a hard time finding any economist who was more persistent than Friedman in warning about how corporations and capitalists conspire against the public to get special privileges, subsidies, and protection.

As Friedman pointed out:. On the contrary, they are one of the chief sources of danger…. We have to have that tariff to protect us against competition from abroad. We have to have that special provision in the tax code.

The Shock Doctrine In Rising Capitalism Politics Essay

We have to have that subsidy. On the contrary, one of the reasons why I am in favor of less government is because when you have more government industrialists take it over, the two together form a coalition against the ordinary worker and the ordinary consumer. No obstacles, no subsidies should be the rule. Instead of accusing Friedman of saying the opposite of what he actually did say, Klein could have made the case that corporate welfare is the unintended consequence of an open economy and a limited government.

Meanwhile, the corporate welfare in the United States and Iraq is a result of a massive increase in public spending and—according to Klein herself—barring competitors from deals. Anti-Friedmanite to the core. Is her case against a movement really that its guru economist used crises to get people to buy his ideas and flattered fascist and communist dictators to get their support?

That those ideas coexist comfortably with political oppression? If that is the case, Klein has a problem. And the follower who says nice things about dictators is Naomi Klein herself, who has nothing but praise for Cuba, Che Guevara, and Hezbollah when she mentions them in her book, and who defended the Iraqi radical leader Muqtada al- Sadr as representing the mainstream of Iraq and as fighting only in self-defense.

She blames Russian president Boris Yeltsin for destroying democracy in the fall of , when he ignored the anti-Yeltsin majority in parliament. When legislators occupied the building and called for his resignation, Yeltsin dissolved the legislature by force and called for new elections. Believe me—and Klein should, since she quotes one of my Globe reports in describing the soldiers shelling the building the next morning—there were no democrats among that lot.

Once again, Klein has had to change the chronology to make it fit her case. She claims that Yeltsin dissolved parliament violently to implement shock therapy. But the only shock therapy in Russia—the lifting of price and currency controls—took place more than a year and a half earlier. But that is not the point here. Something else is more interesting. A parliamentary majority accuses the president of undemocratic and unconstitutional acts and wants him removed. The president ignores this opposition, and the parliament accepts the help of authoritarians to fight for what they claim is democracy.

I am not arguing in favor of anything that happened in either of these episodes. So this book is not about democracy. And neither is it about shocks and crises. Nothing in The Shock Doctrine suggests that Klein thinks that there is something wrong with using crises to promote your ideas. This tactic, it seems, is only wrong if it advances the wrong ideas. Klein herself has never hesitated to suggest her own solutions to the problems after Katrina or the Iraq War, and she would never dream of considering it as a cynical way to take advantage of suffering people—she would say that it was a way of helping others.

Her only reason for thinking it cynical and evil when libertarians do exactly the same thing is that she thinks that those ideas are evil and produce horrible consequences. She does give a few examples of how poverty and unemployment have increased soon after a planned economy has collapsed, or soon after hyperinflation has been brought down.

But that is not strange, and often it is precisely what economists would predict. However, they would also say that this is the only way to reduce poverty and unemployment in the long run. And that is precisely why Klein never provides the reader with any data over a longer period. She writes that reforms have increased income gaps between cities and rural areas in China, but she never mentions that those developments also led to the biggest poverty reduction in history.

the shock doctrine the rise of disaster capitalism essay

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