Thursday, 6 September 2007

Shock wave troopers



It is well worth reading this longish interview with Naomi Klein promoting her new book
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Knopf Canada, $36.95)

Her thesis is that the disciples of Milton Friedman
have learned to take swift advantage of public disorientation in the wake of large-scale catastrophes in order to perform what Friedman himself called economic "shock therapy".
And she uses places like Chile, Sri Lanka and New Orleans to show how it was done - and is still being done.
"The force of that natural disaster," Klein tells the Straight , "was immediately harnessed by international lenders…and the need for tremendous aid was used as leverage to make many of the countries hit by the tsunami, including Sri Lanka, submit to what used to be called 'structural adjustment'–privatization and deregulation."

The Straight tries hard to provide balance, by finding a critic of the IMF (Paul Blustein) who says they are actually well meaning folk doing their best under difficult circumstances and are not actually
[ The Simpsons character] Montgomery Burns, rubbing their hands and counting their chips and trying to think of ways of ruining people's lives.

I must admit I find Klein's analysis a lot more persuasive than Blustein who has, I think, got a bit too close to his subject to be objective. But it does make for a good debate, and there is real reason to question the extent of the Friedmanite revolution and to see the pendulum swing back the other way now.
For tickets, $15, to Naomi Klein's October 4 lecture at UBC's Frederic Wood Theatre, contact the Vancouver International Writers Festival at www.writersfest.bc.ca/ .

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