Sunday, 19 October 2008
DISASTER Capitalism, Naomi Klein calls it - powerful people making their fortunes from chaos.
Bedad, they're feeding now.
Imagine this book being read by tooth-grinding, newly impoverished suits in the business class lounges of international airports.
Klein describes how right-wing ideologue Milton Freedman advised the dictator Augusto Pinochet to change Chile during the hyperinflation that followed his 1973 coup d'état.
The makeover comprised tax cuts, free trade, privatised services, cuts to social spending, and deregulation - and replacing state schools by private ones funded by vouchers.
Klein, a Canadian journalist who founded the No Logo movement and has written about consumer culture for many years, follows the system of shock followed by 'reforms' through Iraq after the US invasion, Russia after Yeltsin, New Orleans after Katrina, and the Asian Tiger economies after the currency run that caused their crash.
Controversially, she links the free-market tactics to the rise in torture in countries where these theories were put into effect - claiming that torture is used to crush economic dissent.
Her theory is that the super-rich, backed by some world banking organisations, use the stunned shock of people after an economic or natural disaster to remake economies in the profitable image of laissez-faire.
If she's right, you may now have a chance to watch the shock doctrine in action in a country near you.