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The Shock Doctrine
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Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine advances a truly unnerving argument: historically, while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times. As Klein demonstrates, this reprehensible game of bait-and-switch isn't just some relic from the bad old days. It's alive and well in contemporary society, and coming soon to a disaster area near you.

"At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq'' 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 outsources the running of the 'War on Terror' to Halliburton and Blackwater? After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts? New Orleans residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be re-opened." Klein not only kicks butt, she names names, notably economist Milton Friedman and his radical Chicago School of the 1950s and 60s which she notes "produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today." Stand up and take a bow, Donald Rumsfeld.

There's little doubt Klein's book--which arrived to enormous attention and fanfare thanks to her previous missive, the best-selling No Logo, will stir the ire of the right and corporate America. It's also true that Klein's assertions are coherent, comprehensively researched and footnoted, and she makes a very credible case. Even if the world isn't going to hell in a hand-basket just yet, it's nice to know a sharp customer like Klein is bearing witness to the backroom machinations of government and industry in times of turmoil. --Kim Hughes

The bestselling author of No Logo shows how the global "free market" has exploited crises and shock for three decades, from Chile to Iraq. In her groundbreaking reporting over the past few years, Naomi Klein introduced the term "disaster capitalism". Whether covering Baghdad after the U.S. occupation, Sri Lanka in the wake of the tsunami, or New Orleans post-Katrina, she witnessed something remarkably similar. People still reeling from catastrophe were being hit again, this time with economic "shock treatment", losing their land and homes to rapid-fire corporate makeovers. The Shock Doctrine retells the story of the most dominant ideology of our time, Milton Friedman's free market economic revolution. In contrast to the popular myth of this movement's peaceful global victory, Klein shows how it has exploited moments of shock and extreme violence in order to implement its economic policies in so many parts of the world from Latin America and Eastern Europe to South Africa, Russia, and Iraq. At the core of disaster, capitalism is the use of cataclysmic events to advance radical privatization combined with the privatization of the disaster response itself. Klein argues that by capitalizing on crises, created by nature or war, the disaster capitalism complex now exists as a booming new economy, and is the violent culmination of a radical economic project that has been incubating for fifty years.

In her ground-breaking reporting from Iraq, Naomi Klein exposed how the trauma of invasion was being exploited to remake the country in the interest of foreign corporations. She called it “disaster capitalism.” Covering Sri Lanka in the wake of the tsunami, and New Orleans post-Katrina, she witnessed something remarkably similar. People still reeling from catastrophe were being hit again, this time with economic “shock treatment” losing their land and homes to rapid-fire corporate makeovers.

The Shock Doctrine retells the story of the most dominant ideology of our time, Milton Friedman’s free market economic revolution. In contrast to the popular myth of this movement’s peaceful global victory, Klein shows how it has exploited moments of shock and extreme violence in order to implement its economic policies in so many parts of the world from Latin America and Eastern Europe to South Africa, Russia, and Iraq. At the core of disaster capitalism is the use of cataclysmic events to advance radical privatization combined with the privatization of the disaster response itself. By capitalizing on crises, created by nature or war, Klein argues that the disaster capitalism complex now exists as a booming new economy, and is the violent culmination of a radical economic project that has been incubating for fifty years.

Customer Reviews:

  • J Gwinn
    Will US citizens be subjected to "shock therapy" by the subprime crisis(a form of disaster capitalism) If you read Naomi Klein's book the faint outlines become very clear..very frightening...

    Klein through a series of case studies document how the IMF/world bank either take advantage of disasters or create them for the benefit of multinational banks/manufactures/mineral extraction/travel industry interests. The Chicago School of Economics theorists private the false economic doctrines & the Dictators/US Military/Homeland Security/ contractors provide the muscle.

    >So we see fishermen on prime beach front property from Sri Lanka displaced by the tsunami only to return finding property off limits..Gotta make room for the Hotels/Resorts> The natives are left to fend for themselves in temporary shantytowns which much of the disaster relief subsidized.
    >In South Africa Apartheid has been kept in place with increasing poverty rates. How? Former ANC activists contend they focused on reforming the government while not grasping the role of the IMF/World Bank conditionalites which totally undermined economic reforms. So we now see the government/parliment run by the black majority while the same discriminatory white business interests control the economy.
    >In Russia, Yeltsin destroyed the parliament and by decree handed out state property to former communist party insiders as the Clinton administration & the Western Press cheered. Why? The property giveaway was the bridge to forming partnerships with western interests to gobble up property for pennies on the dollar.

    Several other case studies focusing on New Orleans Poland,Chile,Bolivia,South Korea,Thailand etc

    ...more info
  • Shock Doctrine
    It arrived without the paper cover, but I got it for super cheap, so I don't mind.

    The Book peels back the layers of history that brought us to where we are today, and forbodes a dark future unless we realize what's really going on behind the scenes, independent of which party occupies the halls of power....more info
  • "No conspiracy theory... ". Really?
    Naomi Klein often says that she doesn't support any conspiratorial theories that may arise from "The Shock Doctrine". Does she, really? Having read the book, one can't escape the fact that the very core of this treatise is about the conspiracy of free-market fundamentalists, conservative politicians and big corporations to run havoc in the societies, going through transformation periods, to destroy the social safety nets, to impose dictatorial regimes, to put the people in those countries in ultimate misery. And the figure of Milton Friedman looms as an almost satanic shadow over this. The trouble is, the facts do not support this theory. Just a few random examples:
    1. "Chartered schools" experiment in Louisiana after Katrina is portrayed as a vicious attempt to privatize education system. The fact is that this type of private schools functions quite effectively in Sweden, the welfare state, much admired by her .
    2. In South Korea, liberalization process which started in 1998 was not the cause (as she states it) but the consequence of excessive state-sponsored monopolization (chebols) and financial leveraging in major industries, that caused the Asian Crisis of 1997.
    3. In Russia, the constitutional crisis of 1993 was caused by attempted violent coup-d'etat, organized by Communist party and leftist organizations. What followed was not a faithful introduction of laissez-faire capitalism but a corrupt redistribution of Soviet industrial assets among Eltsin political and business cronies in almost complete absence of rule-of-law institutions.
    4. In Chile, Allende "Path to Socialism" caused inflation of more than 100%, disappearance of basic foods from the stores, flourishing of black markets. Although, the Pinochet regime brutally suppressed communist forces in the country and committed serious crimes in the process, there's also a very hard evidence that his government increased substantially the standards of living in that country.

    Those are just a few examples that come to mind. The book is so full of twisted facts, outright distortions, journalistic diatribes against corporate excess (portrayed as capitalist modus operandi) that it just smacks of pure propaganda.

    The central premise that multinational corporations and Western conservative governments with idealogic support of free-market fundamentalists are directly interested in creating economic turmoil, destroying social institutions and eliminating democracy can be very attractive "call to arms" for some people, not too interested in parsing through her sources. Others may just check the originals, like Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom", or for example an excellent essay by Hayek "Why I am not a Conservative" just to get a different perspective to the not-so-subtly veiled conspiracy preoccupation by Naomi Klein. ...more info
  • Very Important Book
    A great composite history of neoliberal political economy and the ways it has been instituted worldwide. ...more info
  • Most Extensive Review of Chicago School Economics available.
    As a student of political economy I try to read as many works on the subject as possible to complement the work done in the classroom. I was blown away by the unparalleleded level of research and scathing analysis by Klein. The book works as a thorough account of Friedman econ. in action but I find it functions better as a way to demonstrate how democracy and capitalism oppose each other more often than not (1 person=1 vote VS. $1=1 vote). I found the statistical/factual evidence in the book to be quite accurate as I double checked sources and researched the events in question. The book is quite meaty but the 70+ pages of end notes will keep you busy for hours fleshing her sources out.

    The time spent looking at the effects of Chicago school econ. in Latin America, Iraq, and Post-Soviet E. Europe is only matched by the time spent looking at how the econ. was made possible in the first place, through fear, confusion, torture, coercion, or as Naomi puts it, Shock. There's simply too many points of information to dwell upon here (she documents Chicago style econ. virtually everywhere it was implemented) but I will say I was most impressed at how well she looped everything together. With out conspiracy theories, speculation, or exaggeration she successfully linked, Corporatism, the Military Industrial Complex, US foreign intervention, the war on terror, and Chicago school of economics in one flawless avalanche of carefully placed facts.

    I would recommend "Shock Doctrine" to be read in conjunction with Cambridge economist HA-Joon Chang's "Bad Samaritans". Klein demonstrates how Friedmanism fails to bring basic needs to the people and is almost always accompanied by a democratic deficit while Chang explores how the economics of the Friedman's (Thomas and Milton) are flawed in their entirety.

    Tremendous book! Most important piece of literature I've read on political economy thus far. ...more info
  • "Evil Capitalism" isn't actually new
    I not sure I would consider myself I Marxist, but I'm far from a die-hard defender of capitalism; however the Shock Doctrine was unimpressive. Its clearly written for people who would agree with what Klein has to say (even if they didn't read the book), as opposed to people who are interested in having an open discussion.

    The book begins with a tangent about alleged CIA torture. The book moves back and forth between the rise of capitalism in parts of the world, going off on tangents here and there about the CIA, and other tangents about the Chicago school. Each chapter is closer to being it's own shaggy-dog story than a component of a larger story.

    It was the kind of book where you could almost start in the middle read several chapters and have get roughly the same result, as if you read from start to finish. I really wasn't sure what the point of this book was other than "capitalism bad..." ad nauseum.

    If you want a book that tells you want you already know then this may be your book. However, if you want a book with new ideas, that gives you a new perspective, avoid the Shock Doctrine at all costs. ...more info
  • From the lady who called Bush: "extortionist-in-chief", brilliant work!
    Naomi Klein explains the shock doctrine as the political stratigy that exploits crisis and desperation of the masses to create a magical way out of a crisis and enact policies that would never be approved in "normal times". The shock doctrine frequently applies to a situation where developing countries need foreign aid, because they're facing a disaster, and that presents an opportunity to promote extremely unpopular pro-corporate policies. As a result of governments' deception, the majority of people will suffer declining incomes and increased unemployment, while few parties benefit disproportionately from the situation

    Klein discusses the similarities between the political/economic shock doctrine and psychiatric shock therapy in terms of torture and failure to improve the state before and after the shock.. She gives numerous examples over the last 30 years of history, where the shock doctrine was applied: The seventies where the shock doctrine was used to transform South American economies, the Falklands during Margaret Thatcher's times, and natural/economic disasters where the shock doctrine was used in Poland, Russia, Asia and Africa.

    Brilliantly, Klein elucidates the "disaster capitalism complex" where companies profit from these disasters and shows how the invasion of Iraq was a full scale use of the 9/11 shock. The evidence that most people choose to ignore is detailed in this book; the result of pushing the Iraqi parliament to accept a US-backed oil law gave oil companies the ability to manage 75%of the oil fields and leaving only 25% for Iraqis. As Klien puts it in one of her recent interviews; what happened in Iraq is a "daylight robbery".

    During these difficult economic times, This is one book that everyone should read. Hard working American citizens wonder why our economy is falling apart after the war and this book helps explain why. It is sadder yet when good Americans who are loyal to their government refuse to understand that Iraq's oil fields were one of the reasons behind the war. These good hearted people defend their government saying: if the oil was the reason, how come the oil prices are high and why is our economy suffering now that the American troops are in Iraq? This book helps answer these questions. Neither the American citizens nor the American soldiers' families ( and for sure not the Iraqi people) are benefiting from the war, but other some major corporations and daylight thieves are.

    In these hard times, when companies are still using economic shock to sell us more fake solutions; Viagra's commercials, for instance, tell us that during these hard times of foreclosures and unemployment, a man should be hard too. Sadly, it's a very funny commerical, and there are numerous other examples of products being pushed in the market to distract and numb the shocked masses . The escape from this economic disaster can not be found in magic products or new distractions. Open your eyes! Read this book and you will understand the reasons behind this situation. Highly recommended.

    ...more info
  • Accurate prediction of present economy
    This book is required reading by every student of economics. It describes in painstaking detail the interrelationships between academia-politicians-multi-national corporations and how they have created shocks that fueled unconscionable profits for companies and wealth for politicians throughout the world the past 60 years, while literally stealing the wealth of the nations and saddling its people with huge debt. Published in 2007, it accurately predicts the results of the housing crisis and stock market crash - - that the US government (others as well), will provide assets of the country to the very companies that caused the shock through bailout and stimulus funds, which are debts that will eventually be paid by the citizens. Thus the US wealth has been given to these companies. As a former believer in the free market concept, Naomi has opened my eyes to its results - - the human fatal flaw - greed....more info
  • Her worst book yet
    I thought she is a clever girl, I thought the author knows a thing or two, but this book proves that everything she does comes from a far left thinking.
    The book, like her political views, come with an agenda and leaves no place for impartial and neutral thinking. Very disappointing....more info
  • Unfortunate title
    The book has an unfortunate title, as it belies the quality of content. This book and another, Web of Debt (ISBN: 0979560829), complement each other. If readers read both books and correlate the information, they will see greed reflected in history on a grand scale. What is even grander in scale is the absolute ignorance and impotence of the global populace in dealing with manipulation and exploitation by international banks and businesses. Unfortunately, the masses are unable in the main to get their political "leaders" to serve them (the electorates) instead of the banking and business capitalist pigs. At present there is little in the way of world wide systemic control of capitalist and private banking excesses except for what is provided by a remarkable organisation called the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation....more info
  • ?
    If you want to know about the economics of where we are and how we got there The Shock Doctrine is a brilliant read. The writer's style is intelligent and easy to understand. It flows out as though it's a tale of economic horror that you won't put down. It's worth twice the price....more info
  • The Truth Hurts as an American
    This book truly broke my heart. I believed that the United States was the shining beacon on the hill, a light for all to see and aspire to. I learned that we are not. We have been a participant in every ugly war and battle that has stolen freedom from others that has ever occured. We have stolen what is good in other cultures and mad it ugly. We have done this in the name of money and power. We have been guilty of these crimes inspite of the pretty propaganda slogans and powerful words we have chosen to believe are true. Martin Friedman's economic drives that led to the undoing of the economies and cultures of most of South America during the 1970's and 1980's, including Chile, Peru, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil and Argentina, not to mention the damage done to Africa and other lands, among others, will remain a stain on the trustworthiness of the people of the United States for ever and ever and ever into the future. Read this book and learn why this is true.....And if you dare to believe this is not true, read it and tell me how it is not so.......more info
  • What?
    This book is twisted. Either the author has no grasp of Friedman's teachings or, more likely, this is a hatchet job on one of the greatest economic thinkers of our time.
    ...more info
  • Correcting Revisionist History
    After years of first hand reporting and exhaustive research, Klein unifies all of the knowledge that she has gained about the current state of our world in /The Shock Doctrine/. Addressing the misconception that global capitalism has ultimately won out based upon solely its merit as a system, Naomi Klein offers answers to some hard questions, and then proceeds to ask even harder ones.

    Showing how major universally unpopular policies are consistently slipped passed the public radar in the ensuing chaos that catastrophic events cause, Klein shows how we have been duped into /buying into/ the prevalent political and economic philosophies of today.

    /The Shock Doctrine/ is without a doubt one of the most significant, crucial, and correct reads of the past 50 years, and a copy of it should be regarded with the same importance as food - a necessity for continued life....more info
  • The Shock Doctrine
    An exceptional book. Naomi Klein brilliantly exposes the capitalist nightmares that have plagued humanity since the last century.She does so clearly and unambiguously so that there is no doubt left as to who the real culprits are. A very brave book and one that all human beings should read. ...more info
  • Eye & mind opener
    This is one of the most shocking books I've ever read. It has opened my eyes to the corruption of government, and the propaganda that paints pure capitalism as a false god. Unfortunately, it has also shown me that the USA isn't the "good guys" we portray ourselves to be, but a bunch of greedy multinationals. I've long known that every war since the dawn of time has been started for greed; more land, more people, more religious converts, more money, more resources, more power, etc. However, I didn't know quite how ingrained it was, how tightly knit politics and economics really are. Everything one does affects the other. Now everything I see, read, and hear take on more meaning, and I understand more because I can read into the reality of it all, instead of just getting what's on the surface. I sometimes miss my blissful ignorance, but I truly am thankful for this book arming me with awareness. Well, this and other books, movies, and documentaries. Trust me, you want this book....more info
  • Schizophrenic. Old wine in new bottles (=repackaged Chomsky/ etc).
    There were so many bad points to this book that I've had to limit my comments to the first and last chapters in the interest of creating a readable review. Points below (all bad):

    1. Klein whines at some length in the chapter about Israel taking advantage of its acquired experience with living in a constant state of military alert by selling its services to people who have similar problems. Um, OK. What's the problem with this? (It has been observed by the Israeli Jews many times that God gave the Arabs the oil and them the salt.) They have to find *something* to sell to generate income. For that matter, lots of military technology in many other places and times has been developed as a result of war. This is not the first, nor will it be the last. So what's the issue here? Is there an issue here?

    2. This book is essentially repackaged Chomsky. It's an extension on his "military industrial complex" idea. Ok. So some countries get some of their economic output from military affairs. So now what?

    3. Klein compares China, Iraq and Chile. But these are all very different cases. China had a really rough experience with forms of government other than free markets and they have first hand experience of why that is not a good idea.

    4. The author talks about the private school system that was put into place as a result of Katrina. But she doesn't say anything about the peformance of schools before OR after. So....she starts from the position that markets are inherently bad things (even though they create people with enough income to buy rubbish books like this one), but doesn't give us any examples of any results before or after such things were instituted. Getting back to the China issue: Has China gotten such bad results that they have decided to repeal all of Deng Xiaoping's policies? (They were instituted in about 1979, so the Chinese have had plenty of time to see if they were bad ideas.) Or have they gone further in the direction that Deng started?

    5. What is the problem with disaster capitalism as opposed to disaster socialism? If the author had done any reading (or even tried to present a balanced argument), she could have discovered some of the cases where Socialist/ Communist regimes were put into power as a result of some disaster. (Overthrow of the Czar in Russia by the Bolsheviks, anyone?)

    6. The worst part of this book was the fact that the beginning chapters were based on really stretched premises. She goes on for a while describing someone's treatment at the hands of a psychiatrist who was either unethical or just didn't know what he was doing (and with medicine, that is apt to happen-- after all, medicines do need to be tested to know what doesn't work) and stretches shock treatments given to a patient into a generalization of shock treatments given to an economy. Huh? Huh? Huh?

    7. She also sidesteps the issue of the relationship between different types of collectivism and totalitarianism. Were the events in the Soviet Union and China (and even Nazi Germany and South Africa-- which BOTH started off as Socialist governments) anomalies? Not according to people like FA Hayek (who wrote the book about that topic for which he won his Nobel Prize).

    This is an absolutely awful book. Don't waste your time reading it. It's poorly argued and infuriating to know that someone who writes arguments that are THAT full of holes can get published....more info