Thursday, July 17, 2008

Naomi Klein and the Shock Doctrine in Practice

Last night we went to hear Naomi Klein speak at, ironically enough, Barnes and Noble. To hear the publicist introduce Naomi Klein as the "author of the cataclysmic book, the Shock Doctrine and No Logo, which turned corporate power on its head and re-defined globalisation."

We wondered what Naomi would say about this contradiction and she did not disappoint, she called into question the bottled water she was given and the Barnes and Noble sponsored event that is "sold out in more ways than one." Over 500 people came out to see the author and to watch these corporate hacks cart around the Shock Doctrine was a pleasure.

Naomi gave a brief description of just what the shock doctrine is because many there had not read it (Glory, you would have been in good company) and instead of going through each part of her book she gave recent examples of how this shock doctrine works. First, the quote by Milton Friedman: "Only a crisis -- actual or perceived -- produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

When a crisis occurs, "a shock" in which people are so discombobulated, forces seeking to pounce and change the way we do business that always seems to benefit the few, not the masses, is the next step. She gave a wonderful example happening currently. The oil price crisis (that is happening simultaneously with this recession) is beginning to wear on people. $4 a gallon for gas which may turn to $5 a gallon gas sooner than we think is the "shock."

And though we have heard a few conversations about green energy, wind power, nuclear, etc., there are no real answers being proposed. Well, here come the neocons and their shout "drill for oil" in Anwar, Florida, Shale, whatever, just drill. Even though, the President (dare I call him that respectfully) admitted that we won't see a barrel of it for ten years (how is this for helping the energy policy). No, instead he is saying it will help the "psychology of the market." I mean people actually believe this shit!! And the polls show it.

Colleagues have asked me at work why should I not believe in more drilling for oil? Instead of a long-term plan (a plan thankfully Al Gore outlined today) we listen to the drivel coming from our politicians (and that means Democrats too!) who want to drill for oil instead of fixing energy that will keep us independent from the middle east (a good thing at this point), ignoring the cataclysmic fact that global warming is here and that we should create an entirely new green economy.

Instead we should drill. You watch, just as FISA was passed through with no thought for what it means for our country, a new bill will arise in Congress and will be passed because the Democrats are a bunch of fucking wimps and the Republicans, the free marketeers and the shock doctrinaires will drill it down their throats. Pathetic. But, this is a small example of the very real way the Shock Doctrine operates and we should be very scared, all of us. But, we can change it. In Bolivia Ewo Morales nationalised the oil fields in an instant and took control of the profits and the market. We just need the will.

And I do like Obama a lot, but he will do nothing that will stop this corporatocracy that we live in unless we make him. As Naomi said last night, FDR was not a new dealer until the people made him lead a progressive new deal. We can support Obama and at the same time expect a progressive agenda to be put through or we will find someone else.

No comments: