Gallery I

Milton Friedman

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Reviewing “The Shock Doctrine”

By James Donahue

If there is one book you read, or one film you watch this winter, we highly recommend Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. Her work exposes the real puppet masters that have been operating behind the scenes, using war, programmed uprisings and even natural disasters to push the world into a twisted militaristic- capitalistic system that exploits the working class.

Klein’s research included four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, including the September 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, and describes how rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies caught up in the shock of disaster was used to change economic systems for the benefit of big corporate interests.

Her story traces the origins of what she calls The Shock Doctrine to Milton Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, who promoted a monetarist school of economics. He concluded that price inflation could be regulated with monetary deflation and that price deflation could be manipulated by monetary inflation.

Friedman carried his theories into government changers where he helped produce many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers that have still have a profound effect on world political systems.  Klein linked shocking connections between Friedman’s economic policies, the “shock and awe” warfare used in Iraq by the Bush Administration and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivations research conducted in the 1950s. That research was used to help write the torture manuals used at Guantanamo Bay and other prisoner of war camps in Iraq.

Klein’s research blasts holes in the myth that a global free market system was a triumph of a democratic system. She found that the policies that now influence world markets were largely the result of exploitation of disaster-shocked people and often entire countries.

The worst of it was that most of the disasters appeared to have been carefully manipulated to produce the desired outcome.

Whether the product of corporate planning or not, the 9-11 attacks were a perfect example of the Shock Doctrine in operation. Klein notes that everything about the way government and business operated in the United States went through a dramatic shift within weeks after this event. It also became the catalyst for the Bush inspired “War On Terror,” a military assault against an vague enemy operating without boundaries that brought about the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Both wars proved very profitable for certain business interests at U. S. taxpayer expense and the expense of the citizens of the two countries involved.

Klein’s book follows the influence Freidman had on historical events, beginning with the 1973 coup in Chile that overturned a democratic government with the Pinochet dictatorship, Margaret Thatcher’s use of the Falklands War of 1982 to shift economic policies in England, the effect of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China in 1989, the economic policies introduced by Ronald Reagan (he served as Reagan’s economic advisor), the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and various economic and natural disasters that have occurred right up to the present day.

Ironically, Freidman was admired for his ideas and was once the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. The world and possibly even Freidman in his day had no idea where his ideas were leading us.

Both the book and the film were produced at the end of the Bush years in Washington, and only touch upon the massive economic crisis now hammering this nation and the world. Klein concludes that the Shock Doctrine policies initiated by Freidman effectively shifted the wealth and power from working class to the hands of a few. Thus there has evolved an unbalanced system where the masses suffer from extreme poverty while the corporate and government leaders basked in the wealth.

The conclusion, however, is a breakdown of this unbalanced system. This seems to be what we are experiencing today not only in the United States but in Europe and perhaps soon in other world markets.