Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Shock Doctrine

I just finished reading Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. Having also appreciated her 1st book, No Logo, a book touted as the manifesto for the new left, i was keen to get into this one, which was getting great reviews. The Shock Doctrine is a much much better book.

The book focuses on how the use of shock has been used both on individuals and societies, and how right wing groups have learned and practiced how to push their capitalist schemes on people and governments who have lost their footing in times of disaster.

It's very very scary. And also terribly fascinating. Never before have i read a book which has so dramatically shifted my understanding of the world we live in. When i saw the planes crash into the twin towers i had this dirty feeling that a handful of people were gleefully rubbing their hands together. And now i know who they are how they came to be.

i admit that somewhere in the middle of the book i was becoming rather frustrated at how pervasive and deep the roots of the problems go: right wing ideologies using populations of people as testing grounds to see how conflict and disaster can put heaps of money into the pockets of a few, while millions get pushed (often violently) into poverty. (The chapter on South Africa was particularly heart-breaking). But by the end of the book, i felt oddly comforted by the relatively brief final chapter, optimistically showing that societies and people can recover, rejecting what was once known as the only game in town, as touted by the IMF and World Bank.

The book has deservedly won accolades from the reviewers who you'd expect to love it, but weirdly enough even sources like Dow Jones Business News is saying The Shock Doctrine is "the most important book on economics in the 21st century," Go figure.

Anyhow. i should also mention that while i appreciated reading No Logo, i would often look at it sitting on the table and sigh, "i guess i should read it." But i was always keen to pick up The Shock Doctrine. It's immensely readable, full of crazy amounts of information. i am truly so happy that someone has found a way to bring this story to the public sphere. Ms Klein, i take my hat off to you.

ps. Here's a quick vid film about it.

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