The shock doctrine : the rise of disaster capitalism

by Naomi Klein

Paper Book, 2008


In her ground-breaking reporting 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.… (more)



Call number



New York : Picador, [2008].

Media reviews

The Shock Doctrine shows in chilling detail how the free market has been backed up with violence over the last 30 years. I suspect it has stirred up a debate already.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Emilpop
I appreciated some history facts presented in this book. But my overall impression is that the author leans too much to the left. I find it especially interesting that Poland and Russia experience with reform and privatization is mentioned extensively, mainly because of bad results due to
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corruption, but there is no mention of Hungary, Czech Republic or any other Eastern European country. I would've liked to get an explanation either that in all neighbouring countries the same things happened or that it didn't and why. The author opted to ignore them instead. The same happened with Hugo Chavez, just some positive facts were mentioned, none of the many negative ones. At the end of the book she tells how some Thai peasents refused to go with the government plans for reconstruction, reclaimed their land and rebuild the comunity themselves, complete with museum and such. But no mention on how did they get the money? I doubt they had savings to do all that. My point is that the book is filled with half facts and leaves you guessing a lot of important details.
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LibraryThing member carlosemferreira
Naomi Klein's book is an impeccably researched, immensely informative and beautifully written punch to the stomach. It is possibly one of the most scary and irritating books I have read in a long time; one whose argument I don't want to believe, but one that I can't really disagree with. Tried
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checking some of the facts the author documents; they were correct. And that makes it, in a way, worse: this is a book which clearly deserves its "non-fiction" label, and is, as such, a cry for action.
It is perhaps easy to criticise that the author conflates what happened in Chile with what went on in the first years after the Iraq war under the banner of "disaster capitalism", associated with the "shock doctrine" and the search for "blank slates" and "clean canvas". She admits herself that the phenomena are different and the result of evolving processes; but, as is often the case, discourse analysis reveals that the underlying devices that produce these phenomena are indeed common.
What will irritate you when reading The Shock Doctrine is the cognitive dissonance it produces: if this is such, and the responsibles are still out there and up to the same old tricks, why are we not up in arms demanding real change?
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LibraryThing member LovingLit
In the light of Christchurch's recent devastating earthquakes, and ensuing changes to our school and education policies, I was excited to read in the first chapter about "Disaster Capitalism" being a well established method of pushing through unpopular economic reform. The economic reform is
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generally comprised of three things: privatisation, government spending cuts and deregulation (free-trade). And the disaster, although in our case was a natural one, can be in the form of war, civil unrest, the bottoming out of an economy- all of which can be manufactured, btw.

This book looks in depth at the situations we have all heard of in various countries over the last 40 years. Chile in the 1970s when popular socialist leader Allende was overthrown by US backed General Pinochet is heralded as the first "experiment" in using shock tactics to bring in free-trade. It was also one of the most harsh on the general population. People were "shocked" into submission by violence, torture, imprisonment, and by being "disappeared" if they displayed so much as a skerrick of left-wing ideals. With the public silenced, the economy was transformed into what would eventually leave a few multi-nationals very very rich, and Chileans without government/military connections, very very poor.

It is very difficult not to cast America as the bad guy here. The IMF and the World Bank both had policies to make loans dependent on the implementation of the three aspects discussed above- known collectively as the Washington Consensus. They stepped in when countries were in crisis, and then had them by the balls for the foreseeable future. The IMF and World Bank were (and are?) populated by proponents of the Chicago School of Economics thinking. Right-wing free-trade-at-any-cost economists. These guys hold tight to the idea that without any government controls, economies not only flourish, but have unlimited growth (personally I have huge problems with this theory, not the least of which is the fact the unlimited growth is impossible based on the fact that there is a limit to natural resources).

The book goes on to discuss Argentina, Russia's transformation from communist state to extreme capitalist zone, Britain under Thatcher, Poland, China's opening up, South Africa, Sri Lanka post tsunami, Iraq war and Israel in great detail and providing a side of the story that you would never have read about in the papers. The lengths that were gone to to implement economic reform are incredible. The level of crony-ism and back room deals played out between politicians and US policy advisors, the IMF and business leaders is astounding.

This book reads like a thriller, one in which you cannot wait for the good guys to come in and rescue the masses. The idealist in me thinks the good guys are coming, but the realist in me knows that where there is multi-millions to be made, the greedy will not stop at any cost to feather their own nests.
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LibraryThing member teewillis1981
Socialist DRIVEL. Don't read this unless you want to be told over and over again through emotional appeals how "evil" Milton Friedman is and how the free market is an unconscionable concept. Horrible.
LibraryThing member publiusdb
Because I'm about 3 pages away from returning it to the library, I've all but stopped reading this (and a buddy has told me that there are only specific passages that are worth reading, so I'll go find them, instead). It is so full of ad hominem, straw man,
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"just-because-it-was-done-by-the-GOP,-free-marketists,-or-people-who-liked-Milton-Friedman,-so-it-MUST-be-bad" arguments that I am wondering what it I am supposed to get out of what feels a lot like a left-wing rant? Klien hasn't actually argued anything that has any basis in reality. It's kind of feels like I'm listening to Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter, but instead it's a liberal who hates free markets and Republicans. It's just one liberal talking point after another, sans documenation, lots of anecdotes followed by the summary dismissal of "all because of Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economics" or "all because of shock free markets." But I'm still waiting to hear that she's even talking about the results of free markets. Her entire argument seems to be "free markets equal evil" but she neglects any type of logical connection between the two.

Example: she jumps all over charter schools, but never really says whats wrong with them or that they aren't working. The only problem she sites is that the school unions are gone and that teachers don't like them. She implies that they are keeping the poor out of schools, but does not say it, because under a voucher system, students are funded to exactly the same level as under a non-charter system; they just get to choose what school they attend. IN otherwords, the public is still paying for a free education, but now students and their parents get to choose what school....but what's wrong with that? She doesn't say. Just says "it's bad for unions and teachers who worked in public schools before hate it" (though she doesn't actually site any teachers).

Example: she jumps all over Chile because "Pinochet was there" but never really makes a connection between Pinochet and the free market, other than to say "because they both happened at the same time, it must have been the free market that lead to all those people being tortured." What she doesn't mention is that Chile is the 8th most free economy in the world today and is ranked 3rd in the Americas (behind Canada and the US) and has experience 5% growth over the years from 2004-2009...but she doesn't ever talk about that or that today, after getting rid of Pinochet, Chile is one of the strongest, free-est, and fastest growing countries in South America, to say nothing of the world. Oh, she also forgets to mention that Pinochet is not in power any more but was ousted a long time ago.

Example: she attacks free market implimentation in Iraq, but fails to mention that most countries don't have ANY economy after a war, and that implimentation of an economy in Germany and Japan after WWII and in Korea after the Korea War didn't do too bad for fact, it made them three of the strongest economies in the world. Implimentation of a non-free market economy in the countries of Poland, Romania, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, and Belarus didn't exactly work out for them...just ask the millions of people who had to live through it, then go ask the millions in West Germany, France, Italy and Japan that did benefit from the free market after WWII (as well as Korea and Singapore)

Example: she lays blame for the Asian crisis at the doorstep of the free market, but what she doesn't say is that these countries were already free markets before, and that after they have rebounded faster than those that were affected by the crisis but were not free economies.

Example: she attacks the free market for Russia's woes, but the free market was never implemented there. The Kremlin has taken over control of the media and oil companies, as well as several other large conglomerates. A list of the fifty richest people in Russia is also a list of the KGB class of 1999 and the "friends of Putin."

Example: Tienanmen Square a precursor to the free market? This is a clear case of the tail wagging the dog. It is widely credited as being the crisis that took down the then current party leadership in favor of leadership willing to open up China to allow more economic freedom, not the other way around, as she proposes (that it was the suppression of all those masses who wanted democracy, not economic freedom, silly...why would they want that?).

So, I am eager to know what redemptive qualities are in the book. It reads like liberal drivel that one only believes if it provides supporting evidence for what one already believes.

Look for it on the discount rack of second hand book stores near you soon...
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LibraryThing member astrologerjenny
This is an amazing and clarifying book, the best non-fiction I’ve read in years.

“The Shock Syndrome” is basically a history of economic colonialism during the last forty years. Klein researches everything in great detail, but the book never bogs down. It races all over the globe, from Chile
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to South Africa to China, describing the movement of an economic model that has transformed the planet, harnessing or fomenting shock after shock. Klein does a brilliant job tying this in to the use of shock therapy in psychology, and to the continuing use of torture as a tool of state control.

One thing that did shock me in reading this book is how anti-democratic the corporatist movement has been. Why am I shocked? I guess some part of me believed that “free markets” had something to do with general freedom to choose. But in so many instances, it’s been just the opposite. State assets, the last economic frontier, are often taken away from the community amid great outcry. And this outcry – and many other expressions of the community voice, including the ballot - are too often cruelly suppressed in order to facilitate a more corporate-friendly environment.

Democracy and the corporatist world are not natural allies. In fact, this book shows how feudal we’ve become in the last forty years – and in the last chapter, shows some efforts to move away from this model, and to reassert the will of the people over corporate ownership of all resources. Shocks do wear off.
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LibraryThing member tg0610
As an economist, and a left-leaning Keynesian at that, I was quite interested in and sympathetic to a balanced critique of Milton Friedman and his impact on markets and countries. Unfortunately, this isn't it. 'The Shock Doctrine' is the first book I have ever thrown in the bin - it is, indeed,
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shocking and infuriating, but for all the wrong reasons. Well-researched, the author nevertheless fails to understand any of the nuance behind the many events described and leaves out counterfactuals and exceptions when they become inconvenient. Everything is black and white here and the system, as Klein describes it, operates in the same fashion wherever implemented. Correlation always begets causality and humans, in her worldview, are too stupid to not accept what is happening to them.There are no exceptions or subtleties in Klein's world.

If only life were that simple.

Most importantly, at no turn does it take in to account the fact that many of the 'shock treatments' described were entered in to or accepted willingly, and that the negative impacts were the result of corrupt implementors, not the treatment itself. Hence, there is almost always an example that runs counter to or disproves the point she is trying to make. Her bizarre views on the IMF alone provide several such examples. It is a rant, and a poorly written one at that, and I am embarrassed that, somewhere, there is a record of my having purchased it.
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LibraryThing member Marzia22
Terrifically important read! Very depressing at times to see how often the U.S. has had a hand in affairs of other countries.
LibraryThing member maunder
Klein's book offers a very plausible explanation for how global economics and geo-politics result in exploitation often in environments of ruthlessness and cruelty. She argues that catastrophies of any sort, natural, political, economic or otherwise represent an opportunity for global corporations
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to expoit. She also explores how the power of these global corporations has resulted in the takeover of many functions of government including security and national defense once thought to be an expclusive realm of public administration. This book should be read by anyone who seeks to understand how the modern capitalist stae works in a global corporate environment.
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LibraryThing member widdersyns
This book made me feel sick. It gave me nightmares. My only regret about reading it is that I didn't read it sooner. It's a huge shock--ha-- to find out that the country that prides itself on being a paragon of democracy has done so much to destroy it. If the current pandemic has begun to open your
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eyes to the brutality of capitalism, you need this book. Actually, everyone needs this book.
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LibraryThing member dypaloh
A public policy book belonging to the horror genre, Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine is an impassioned chronicle of greedy, violent misbehavior. Her purpose is to publicize and dissect the “Chicago School experiment,” by which she means the economic “shock” therapy promulgated and
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supported by the school of economic thought that she associates most with 1976 Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. She sums up her thesis by writing that “the entire thirty-year history of the Chicago School experiment has been one of mass corruption and corporatist collusion between security states and large corporations.” No pulling punches there.

I read Friedman’s Free to Choose long ago. It was an easy introduction to his notions and influenced my thinking. That title, Free to Choose, represents a colossal irony if we accept Klein’s accusations of the way freedom and citizen welfare are sacrificed to achieve national economic and political transformation through the principles and prescriptions she attributes to the Chicago School. But, should we accept her accusations?

Four prominent demands of the Chicago School are as follows:
(1) Privatization of public enterprises and resources;
(2) Economic deregulation;
(3) Tax cuts;
(4) Deep cuts in government spending.
While people should debate the merits of these demands, I do not see anything inherently immoral about them if the efforts to implement them are done peaceably with consent.

However, as implemented in nations such as Indonesia, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, South Africa, China, Poland, Russia, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, Klein’s version of the Chicago School’s Friedmanomics takes on the garb of some kind of ghoulish Freakishnomics. Her intent is to show that in these countries it meant all or some of the following:
(1) Overthrow of the ruling government, often by violence, even when that government was legally elected by voters in accord with their country’s constitution;
(2) Capture and torture of opponents or presumed opponents;
(3) Terrorist acts against the citizenry, including murder;
(4) Enrichment of the richest classes of the nation, with some high bureaucrats also becoming plutocrats themselves;
(5) Foreign takeover of profitable businesses and gaining of the right to exploit the nation’s natural resources;
(6) Impoverishment of workers;
(7) Discontinuation or diminishment of many social services;
(8) “Debt bomb” detonation to conquer the willfulness of governments resisting Chicago School policies.
All these actions, among other lapses of polite behavior, to be carried out in the interest of multinational corporations.

How about that for an eight-fold path? Feeling the Zen?

This isn’t a program citizens of conscience normally ask their leaders to pursue, so there’s one other crucial element: Sell it as an absolute necessity to the preserving of freedom, peace, prosperity, and security. But also, if doable, skimp on the selling and establish the package by coercive force brought with such speed and rude brutality that it will seem a reckoning brought forth by the gods. SHOCK, baby!

Why, one might as well revert to Aristotle’s contention in the Politics that “hunting ought to be practiced—not only against animals, but also against human beings who are intended by nature to be ruled by others and refuse to obey that intention—because war of this order is naturally just.” Klein might say that’s exactly what has happened.

The question becomes how fair and correct her account is. For example, her reports of better economic outcomes in some countries with “managed” economies come across as supported by cherry-picked data, a common fault of those engaged in political persuasion. Suppose she has done this? Is it enough to justify rejecting her outrage and accepting the shocking eight-fold path she describes? Do her misjudgments about leaders such as Hugo Chavez wholly invalidate the critique?

Prior political inclinations will do much to color how one responds to this book. It’s not perfect. Ambitious books, passionately argued, aren’t. To some readers it will feel like a defamation, which reaches its height in Klein’s account of the war in Iraq. It attempts to revolutionize some of our most confidently (complacently?) held ideas about U.S. and corporate behavior throughout the world. If you are ill-disposed to accepting Klein’s biases or theses, focusing on the acts she describes and asking, “IS THIS WHAT I’D WANT ANOTHER NATION TO DO TO MY OWN COUNTRY?” can still make The Shock Doctrine an informative, dynamic, even necessary reading experience.
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LibraryThing member monarchi
Klein is an excellent investigative reporter, the kind that makes less assiduous journalism look like a conspiracy to pull the wool over our eyes. In The Shock Doctrine she takes a look at the "Chicago School" of economics founded by Milton Friedman: the ideology behind laissez-faire economics,
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free market capitalism, "Reaganomics" and other trends of the past 30-odd years. We've been taught, most of us at least, to associate free markets with free society; democracy and capitalism are nearly synonymous to most Americans' ears. Unfortunately, that's nowhere near as true as we'd like it to be.
Instead, Klein shows how – from Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile, to the post-Soviet corruption of Russian oligarchs, to the modern-day corporatization of government by Halliburton, et al – Friedman's belief in restoring economies to their "natural," deregulated state has been the motivating force for some of the worst violations of human rights and civil liberties in recent memory. The "Shock Doctrine" Klein describes is the recognition, by powerful economists and policy-makers, that the kind of dismantling of social programs needed to completely "free" the economy from government control is impossible to impose on free people without the presence of some sort of shock, whether natural or man-made. "Temporary" suspensions of democracy, torture, and "Shock and Awe" warfare are all part of the Shock Doctrine arsenal. So, too, is the tactic of imposing economic policies on debt-ridden countries in the wake of natural disasters, which has begun to spark protests against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Shock Doctrine was an eye-opener for me. I read the news, consider myself politically and historically savvy, but I was amazed to learn how so much of recent history has been driven by ideologues who placed capitalist theory (and self-interested profit) above human lives. Klein's ability to draw connections and analyze facts made a history of modern economic policy come to life in vivid technicolor. Not an easy feat.
In the end, the book is more than a well-researched piece of journalism. It's cautionary tale, and a wake-up call. Klein's striking examples made me think about what the consequences could be when our governments talk about privatization, deregulation, or free corporate trade. In her conclusion, Klein highlights the steps brave men and women are taking around the world to make sure the people in their communities are in control of their own livelihoods. This sense of hope and belief in the power of ordinary people is what kept me reading despite the sometimes chilling descriptions and saddening tales of loss. Overall, The Shock Doctrine is a must-read book for anyone interested in the forces that shape the world we're living in.
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LibraryThing member subbobmail
Naomi Klein is very good at connecting the dots left unconnected by our corporate media. Her book No Logo spelled out the ways in which corporations have perfected economic colonialism -- i.e., turning poor brown people into slaves who will make cheap goods, so that the goods can be sold to rich
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white people on the strength of a PR campaign. In The Shock Doctrine she takes on an even bigger subject: something she dubs "disaster capitalism."

The book's anti-hero is Milton Friedman, the recently deceased Nobel-winning economist who championed "free markets" while deriding any and all government control over big business. For this Friedman was lionized by coporate America (of course), and by the seventies his disciples had control of the U.S. government...which is proof, among other things, that government is merely the shadow cast by big business over society (as said John Dewey).

Friedman's scorched-earth economic theories are often championed as a force for "freedom," but Klein lays out the plentiful evidence that "free markets" really only create freedom for capital and the tiny minority that controls it -- everyone else is left destitute. So how have they come to dominate large sections of the globe, from Russia to Asia to South America? Through shocks -- coups, economic blackmail (cf. the IMF and World Bank), natural distasters like the recent tsunami, 9/11, and so on. Basically, since policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many cannot be made attractive to a democratic majority, democracy must be subverted in order to set markets free.

Klein explicitly compares economic shock to the torture methods developed for the CIA in the 20th century, the same ones we are using in Iraq and at Guantanamo right now...the techniques an economic/military power like the Bush Administration must use in order to enforce the kind of free-market subcontractor zone we've created in Iraq. People will not accept slavery, not even economic slavery, unless broken -- and so proponents of Chicago School ecomomics have happily collaborated with despots like Pinochet and Yeltsin, calmly accepting the murder of innocents and the impoverishments of millions as the cost of creating a pure, unfettered marketplace (for themselves).
A lot of things made a lot more sense to me once I read this book -- economics is not a science (no matter what economists say), but it is truly dismal, and my ignorance of free-market theory made it impossible for me to understand a many that have hapened in my lifetime. The Shock Doctrine is an essential book, in my opinion. We need to understand the forces arrayed against us, and the religious faith in the purity of greed that animates them. If you'd like a taste of what the book is all about, Naomi Klein and Alfonso Cuaron (director of Children of Men) have made a short film about it....
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LibraryThing member ritaer
Just too depressing. Nothing I can do about any of it.
LibraryThing member peacemover
In "The Shock Doctrine," Naomi Klein provides a probing, insightful window into the troubling phenomena known as 'disaster capitalism.' Klein traces this trend back to the unrestrained free market capitalist ideals of Milton Friedman and the University of Chicago school of Economics. Klein shows
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how this concept, known as the 'shock doctrine' has been been used as a tool by conservatives in recent decades to seek to deconstruct distributive economic systems, patterned after the Keynsian, distributive model, and radically, swiftly, reshape them into orthodox, free-market economies.

One of the prime examples Klein offers is that of Chile, which in 1973 was taken over in a coup by repressive dictator Auguste Pinoche. She further connects how regime change and economic shock, has often been followed by a subsequent shock wave of torture, human rights abuses and repression of anyone in the society who speaks out against the new movement.

She further connects the dots to the corporatization/privatization undertaken by the Bush administration in Iraq, as well as the torture and human rights abuses of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

This is an excellent, very well-written book by an articulate, knowledgeable writer. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member alanmcgee
A penetrating look at the evolution of corporatism, and it's current state in the world. Klein introduces the theory of a three staged shock process: disorientation (via poor economy, natural disaster, terrorist attack, etc.), followed by economic shock, which is finally enforced by a structural
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shock requiring citizen compliance.

An insightful read for anyone interested in the state of modern democracy, and the adverse effects of combining privatization, government deregulation and deep cuts to social spending.
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LibraryThing member jusi
if only half of what klein asserts in this very readable account of how the many have been fleeced by the few, there should surely be riots on the streets. but that's how devious and authoritarian the washington consensus is - greedy corporatism supported by even greedier politicians misled by the
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selfish creed of friedman economics, all disguised as a panacea for all our woes. if you're reeling from disaster, don't let the money men decide what to do!
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LibraryThing member JohnPhelan
Naomi Klein has achieved something incredible with this book; she's written something worse than No Logo.

Full of glaring errors and blatant distortions (her take on Freidman's Tyranny of the Status Quo suggests she hasn't even read the blurb) the book shows no understanding at all of the economics
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it tries to talk about. It's like a prolonged lecture in football tactics from someone who does't understand the offside rule.

The book suggests that 'Chicago School' economics 1) Is something homogeneous and 2) Replaced something which was working perfectly well. Neither is true.

In the first place Freidman and Hayek disagreed strongly over both methodology and monetary theory. Klein doesn't understand monetary theory so its no shock she gets this so wrong but then why did she write about it?

Secondly, at no point anywhere does Klein suggest there might have been a problem with the Keynesian paradigm the 'Chicago' paradigm replaced in economics and public policy. In fact, by the late 1970s, Keynesian economics was obviously failing very badly. People turned to the ideas of Freidman and co because the alternative wasn't working.

And turn they did. Klein shows no understanding of British politics in the period suggesting that Margaret Thatcher was unpopular (she won three elections) and that the miners had widespread support. They never, in fact, at any stage had such support.

In short, a good book if you have a prejudice towards liberal economics but look elsewhere for factual and informed analysis of the liberal revival of the last thirty years.
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LibraryThing member mister.x
Although some of her takes on recent geo-political movements seem forced, if even only 20% of her assertions are true, it is appalling how the West has (dis)served the two-thirds world. Challenging.
LibraryThing member Kwarizmi
Naomi Klein won a special place in my mind with her "No Logo" book. Ever since I read it, I haven't worn a single item of clothing with an identifiable brand. I know that's kind of like saying all I got from "Atlas Shrugged" was the phrase 'Who is John Galt?', but bear with me.

The author dives into
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the recent past and explores the common thread of how disaster always seems to bring about some lasting change that benefits everyone except those affected by the disaster itself, and these changes end up being more painful than the disaster itself. Klein calls it "disaster capitalism", names Milton Friedman and electroshock therapy as the parents and Augusto Pinochet as the midwife. She then follows the beast's trail through Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Poland, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico and Iraq, finally coming home to roost in inundated New Orleans.

Whether the beast itself is a man-made engine of purposeful destruction or a nameless faceless sum of ineffable market forces and serendipity is open to debate. Klein argues the former position, and does it quite well, naming names and putting dates and places on the worst excesses of vulture capitalism of the late 20th century. Still, the argument looks threadbare at times, the connections tenuous and the conclusions facile. There is certainly some writing on the wall, but it will probably remain to others to decide if "The Shock Doctrine" contains the whole text or only the most menacing letters.
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LibraryThing member deebee1
This book challenges the myth of the infallibility of neo-liberal, free market theory, aggressively advanced by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School since the 1960s. Privatization, deregulation, free trade, and decreased social spending comprise the package of neo-liberal economic policies, but,
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she argues, as these are impossible to be instituted without massive public resistance owing to the insecurity it causes (loss of jobs, social security, etc), political upheavals and natural disasters, in short, periods when the society is most vulnerable, have become the pretext to coerce governments to adopt these otherwise inadmissible policies.

By citing numerous well-researched examples from Latin America (during the era of US-propped dictatorships in the 1970s) to Eastern Europe and Russia (after the fall of Communism), and right on to the US's own backyard, New Orleans after Katrina, and to the biggest mess disaster capitalism has wrought, the Iraq War, Klein makes vivid and and convincing her argument that unfettered capitalism has and will not hesitate to have blood in its hands.
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LibraryThing member stillatim
Klein combines as many as half a dozen good books in this 'book' that's ultimately dragged down by two extremely awful books.

Good: long essays/short books on the history of 'the Chicago School' of economics, particularly as it relates to the World Bank/IMF/WTO; on outsourcing by, and hollowing out
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of, government between Clinton and the present; on the revolutions of the 'nineties in Poland, South Africa and Russia. And nice short essays on New Orleans and Israel.

Bad: mind bendingly stupid analogy between the use of electro-shock by psychiatrists on the one hand, and the use of 'shock therapy' by economists and central bankers on the other; tiring anti-Bush rhetoric; bizarre insistence that Milton Friedman = Chicago School Economics = Neo-liberalism = Neo-Conservatism = corporate welfare; completely unnecessary, Procrustean bed made up of these three bad things.

Klein writes very well, her journalism is first rate, and much of the narrative history is excellently done. Quite why she needs to find a Villain to pin it all on (i.e., Milton Friedman) is beyond me: her book should have been about how free-market capitalism, as ever, makes democracy impossible, with a number of *very different* examples to show as much. Instead it often reads as if Milton Friedman pulled the strings in every major event of the late twentieth century, which, loathe his theories as I do, he did not do.

NB: I read this with a friend, who points out that sometimes it's okay to be unsubtle, particularly when the injustice you're describing is so monstrous. I would prefer that not be the case, but suspect that it is, and there's no doubt that you'll get more from this book of Klein's than you will from dozens of other books. So take my complaints as those of a hopeless ivory tower dwelling mandarin, and read this book for the many facts it contains.
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LibraryThing member literateowl
Getting long in the non-fiction tooth yet no less insightful as an explanation for our globalization, social, and economic strife. Written before 2008 crash, her POV assessment is uncanny even if she admittedly is left of center . YouTube and TEDTalk . Her first book No Logo was groundbreaking
LibraryThing member abclaret
The central tenant of the book is to refute that Friedman style economics lead to any definable liberty in the modern world. Klein argues how 'The Chicago Boys' (Friedman's followers) have worked hand-in-hand with military coups, subverted democracies, endorsed mass repression, brought about 19th
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century levels of inequality and ratcheted up jingoism to an all time high.
Going one further than the 'military industrial complex' she argues 'disaster capitalism' is the pinnacle of Friedman-esque politics, which is a series of right-wing leaning corporations and bodies which have exploited (or in the case of Iraq engineered) disasters, man-made and natural, to push through their very unpopular economic model.

The books sweeping style narrative helps show how 'free market' politics has developed from its early unpopular perception to now becoming a sinister cabal of think tanks and the grey area where the political class and corporations seem to inhabit. The books analogy with psychiatric shock treatment I thought was taken too far to be of any help, Klein has a habit of concluding a point twice (as if once wasn't enough) and the book is probably fifty plus pages too long. That said the book helps give enough cause for concern and the chapters on South Africa, China, Iraq and Russia are written so well they will make you want to wet your appetite further.
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LibraryThing member csweder
The Shock Doctrine is an in-depth look at 'shock' and the idea that when people are most vulnerable, that is the best time for people/businesses/corporations/politicians to make drastic changes that will benefit the few rather than the masses.

So, how do you take advantage of people when they are
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the most down?
1. You need some kind of crisis--natural disaster (tsunami, hurricane, earthquake...anything!), political revolution, economic crisis...
2. You need to have a plan of action BEFORE the disaster so that when it hits, you jump in with your plans when everyone else is still in shock. (HINT: This is a great opportunity to use the disaster for something you may have been trying ot do for a long time. Example: Are you upset that public schools aren't privatized, then wait for a hurricane, and rather than rebuild public schools, create charter schools....[New Orleans])
3. Once the changes are made, have zero tolerance for protests, democractic voting on the issues or even questioning your plan. To achieve this, you can illegally arrest, detain, and torture people, kill them or even just make them disappear. For examples, see: Chile, Argentina, Guantanomo Bay, Russia. This step often involves the psychological shock as well--sensory deprivation, hallucinagens, disruption of food/sleep patterns (for more details on how to do this, check the U.S. CIA-funded research of Ewen Cameron, Canadian psychiatrist).
4. When the economy tanks, thousands are out of jobs and without food, DON'T GIVE UP! You are almost your way to completely devastating a country/region/group. The key: MORE privitization! Let multinational companies buy up and take over whatever remaining public-sector jobs you have (probably laying off those workers in the process) and charging you more to do the same work (IF they even do it).
5. Remember when protests start you must terrorize and shock the people into not protesting. Make them more afraid of what you will do to them than of what they want the most: autonomy, freedom, food and shelter.
6. After a few decades, if the economy hasn't gotten better, change government types/parties, and blame whoever comes in, NOT your policies. The key here is to be strong and repetitive in your statements: YOU didn't cause massive hunger and poverty--the socialists did.
7. At this point, you should have made your billions, go ahead and move on to the next crisis and repeat. No need to change up your strategy--it works all over the world repeatedly.

Sound cynical? Perhaps unreal? Shocking? I agree. Klein uses a strong voice to show her disapproval of US funded economic strategies all over the world that mostly ended in the simple manner of the rich getting richer and more becoming poor. For all of the Shock and Awe that Klein writes of committed by the government, her book is also shocking. As a reader, I can't help but hurt for the people who first suffer a natural disaster, but then are hit again with policies aimed to cheat them out of their jobs, homes, and well being.

Fascinating read...I just wish I could say it were fiction.
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