The Shock Doctrine

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Klein expertly and devastatingly reveals the history behind a model of capitalism that first fed on disaster, then fomented it.

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Reading notes

Disaster capitalism

Naomi Klein, defining “the shock doctrine”:

That is how the shock doctrine works: the original disaster—the coup, the terrorist attack, the market meltdown, the war, the tsunami, the hurricane—puts the entire population into a state of collective shock. The falling bombs, the bursts of terror, the pounding winds serve to soften up whole societies much as the blaring music and blows in the torture cells soften up prisoners. Like the terrorized prisoner who gives up the names of comrades and renounces his faith, shocked societies often give up things they would otherwise fiercely protect. Jamar Perry and his fellow evacuees at the Baton Rouge shelter were supposed to give up their housing projects and public schools. After the tsunami, the fishing people in Sri Lanka were supposed to give up their valuable beachfront land to hoteliers. Iraqis, if all had gone according to plan, were supposed to be so shocked and awed that they would give up control of their oil reserves, their state companies, and their sovereignty to U.S. military bases and green zones.

Klein, The Shock Doctrine, page 17

Likewise, a manufactured debt crisis forces us to give up on measures that could actually improve the economy. And watch for what happens in the days and weeks following the London riots: disaster capitalism may have developed on American soil, but like most of our bad habits, we’re capable of exporting it with success.