Guy's Reviews > The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
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's review
Aug 10, 2011

it was amazing
Read from August 10, 2011 to January 10, 2012 — I own a copy

I was slow to read Shock Doctrine because the premise, which I'd read in brief reviews, aligned with what I'd already come to understand about the economic behaviour of those in power. After having read her book No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, I was sure that Shock Doctrine would be well written. And it is, although I was initially put off by, or disappointed in the introduction and the first chapter. I felt that Klein was being a bit heavy handed with the metaphor/analogy she uses with the CIA financed physical and psychological torture that the Canadian based psychologist practiced on unwitting 'parients'. However, by the end of the book I came to realize that what had appeared to be heavy handed was in fact very restrained in comparison to the astonishing brutality that comprises the balance of the book.

I am at a loss on how to continue. I could start by saying that for a long time I have understood that the economist Milton Friedman was a deluded idealogue. But after Kein's examination and documentation I think time will ultimately show him to be a personification of evil unlikely to be surpassed. The Hitlers and Atilas cannot touch in the entirety of history the death and misery Friedman's ideology has inflicted, is now inflicting, and will be continuing to inflict for a few more generations until the oligrarchies formed under his guidance collapse under the weight of their self serving corruption.

I understand that that sounds a little over the top. I wish it was. The true oligarcs in the world's biggest superpower latched onto his ideas as their moral justification to invade both overtly and covertly scores of countries in order to increase their wealth. And they use his ideas to justify killing anyone who disagrees with them or their brutal implementation. The policies themselves, once implemented ensure a strong separation between the haves and the have nots, and the expansion of extreme poverty and the associated deaths due to poor nutrition, inadequate health care and stultifying ignorance.

To those fully deluded by free market ideology this book will either be ignored or dismissed, despite the endless footnotes to real world evidence. To those familiar with the the world's expanding poverty and death because of the brutality of Western hegemony this book will be a call to action or a cry of despair. Klein does provide small signs of hope, citing a few South American countries that have at least partially extracted themselves from the indentured slavery and perpetuated poverty imposed by the IMF and World Bank to the benefit of their owners.

This is a must read book by people concerned about the state of the world we are living in and have begun to question why, if free market economics is so good, that world and local poverty is expanding at an increasing rate — comparable to the rates found in the increasing concentration of the world's wealth in fewer and fewer hands.
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Reading Progress

08/13/2011 page 100
06/01/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Smith I'd like to read this, but would probably leave it till a summer break.
My husband tells me that Fox News hates Naomi Klein, so she must be great!!
We've just heard our daughter has won a job at Missouri State Uni in Springfield, Missouri, so I guess our next visit to the States will be to Missouri. That'll be the 11th State we will have visited! Don't know whether we'll ever get to Canada, but our daughter and her family may visit again, as Mike was born in Canada - came to NZ when he was six.

message 2: by Guy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Guy It is very well begun, and I highly recommend it. The history of American sponsored torture research in Canada is fascinating.

message 3: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Smith Sounds gruesome! Horrible to think people research torture for a job, just like historians research the French in Canada or European settlers in NZ.
Maybe I'll reserve it at the library before our summer!
It's great reading weather here with a polar blast bringing snow to the streets of the capital city, Wellington! A once evey hundred years event!
I'm re-reading King Lear, after going to a stupendously good performance of it last night, by a Hamilton theatre group.
Talk about violence in the movies!! It has nothing on the eye gouging of Gloucester!

message 4: by Guy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Guy In an interesting example of self-delusion, the psychiatrist who developed, in the 1950s, today's widely used American taught techniques, described himself as a kind of saviour of the mentally sick. He didn't see himself as being a torturer at all. However the CIA, who were the biggest funding agents of the project, saw the applicability to prisoners of what was being done to the 'patients'.

The book has become even more interesting as Klein has successfully linked economic shock and awe with the shock therapy of those patients: each of the American backed military coups in South America have applied the American torture techniques to the population as a part of the economic packaged needed to beat the citizenry into acceptance of their impoverishment to the benefit of the hegemonious American corporate elite and their toadies.

Sadly, what Klein describes makes the amazingly gruesome blinding of Gloucester seem like a kitten playing with cotton balls. It even makes the blood-letting of Richard III seem like a rank amateur playing at death.

As to Shakespeare, on Thursday I also saw some excellent Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice, from our stupendous Shakespeare festival. And, likewise I've just finished re-reading that exquisite play. Also, this year, the festival has done a hair-raising production of Richard III, and two other plays: As You Like It, which is very good, and a combined production of the 3 Henry VI plays, which I'll be seeing next week.

A few years ago they did in repertory, Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are dead. WOW!

message 5: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Smith Yes, I saw Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead, years ago. How fantastic having a Shakespeare festival. We do have some treats here in the summer festival, but that seems a long way off after the coldest day in about 50 years in NZ yesterday. Today looks like being another freezing one here, in the tropical north!
I don't think I have the stomach for the Naomi Klein book - too cowardly!
Just finsihed Nicci French's Blue Monday - they've (2 journalists make up Nicci French)created a new sleuth, probably not to your likeing, as she's a psychoanalyst!
An interesting read.

message 6: by Guy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Guy Your snow storm — okay, Churchill's — made the local news here for its rarity. So, hope the lights are still on.

Actually, your mystery has tweaked my curiosity a bit. Is the psychoanalyst Freudian, Adlerian or Jungian? I will look for them in my local library. I'll be looking for the other writers you recommended too, as I have a few weeks off from week right now.

Don't get scared off by Klein! Her book reads like an elaborate mystery, with clandestine operations, death squads, tiny heros, and eccentric characters that make a great mystery. But this one is in real life! The writing is excellent.

message 7: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Smith I couldn't really say which type of psychotherapist she is - rather eclectic I'd say.
Am reading Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks just now - as you can see, I'm a fiction freak!
She really is an excellent writer though,even if she is Aussie!

message 8: by Guy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Guy Robyn, I finally finished it. It became a very grim read in deed, but very worthwhile. The final chapter provides some real and tangible hope.

I can't believe it has taken me that long to finish this - but I've read 4 or 5 other books in between, I think.

message 9: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Smith I do that as well, but looking forward to reading The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, an Americna journalist. It was our daughter's Xmas present for my husband, about the great migration of black Americans from south to north, starting around the time of WW1. It includes interviews with many people which also make for grim reading, but Jeremy says it's a very good book. I've also just read a crime novel about the discovery of bones near an old "boys' reform institution " in Florida, gruesome and very disturbing in its depiction of the treatment of boys whose only crime, in some cases, was playing truant from school. It's called The Bone Yard, by Jefferson Bass.

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