The Shock Doctrine & A Sliver of Hope

“There is enormous inertia—a tyranny of the status quo—in private and especially governmental arrangements. Only a crisis—actual or perceived— produces real change.”- Milton Friedman

(originally posted 09/07.07 at bastard.logic)

Regarding the (now-report-free) Petraeus report, and the timing of its delivery to Congress (ie, 9/11 week), Kyle (somewhat despairingly) had this to say [prior to yesterday’s extremely disheartening dog and pony show]:

At this point the true question is, are we over it yet? Has this kind of political tactic finally jumped the shark? Not honest remembrance of 9-11, but the completely cynical and disrespectful political manipulation thereof?

If we aren’t, if it hasn’t, we need to find a way to make it so.


Kyle’s words came to mind as I watched the following short film by Naomi Klein, which debuted this [past Friday] evening at the Toronto International Film Festival (and is timed to coincide with the release of Klein’s latest book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism):

With all the Bin Laden video hype overshadowing the…Petraeus Report address, it’s easy to see how the Bush admin continues to utilize the residual ‘shock’ of 9/11 in an attempt to manipulate public opinion (which, it should be noted, hasn’t prevented a majority of Americans from turning against the war effort in Iraq, despite the success the PR efforts of Petraeus and Co. have enjoyed with those in Washington who were charged with ending the carnage). But of course, as Klein’s book points out, the ongoing prosecution of an unwinnable counterinsurgency in the middle of a multi-pronged civil war environment is only one example of the ‘Shock Doctrine’ in action:

From Chile to China to Iraq, torture has been a silent partner in the global free market crusade. But torture is more than a tool used to enforce unwanted policies on rebellious peoples; it is also a metaphor of the shock doctrine’s underlying logic. Torture, or in CIA language “coercive interrogation,” is a set of techniques designed to put prisoners into a state of deep disorientation and shock in order to force them to make concessions against their will. …The shock doctrine mimics this process precisely, attempting to achieve on a mass scale what torture does one on one in the interrogation cell. …The original disaster – the coup, the terrorist attack, the market meltdown, the war, the tsunami, the hurricane – puts the entire population into a state of collective shock. The falling bombs, the bursts of terror, the pounding winds serve to soften up whole societies much as the blaring music and blows in the torture cells soften up prisoners. Like the terrorized prisoner who gives up the names of comrades and renounces his faith, shocked societies often give up things they would otherwise fiercely protect.*

As the film implies, there is hope; we who continue to shine daylight on the follies and foibles of the ruling class, their craven, crass attempts to manipulate and force the mass capitulation of society; we will help “make it so”.

There is so much left to not only fiercely protect, but that must be won back. Too many “concessions against our will”; still so much work to be done. It won’t be easy, and there will continue to be Friedman-sized defeats; but I for one am unwilling to pay the price of inertial apathy.

I repeat: there is hope.

We–I–must not let the lure of cynicism and inevitable outrage fatigue cause us to lose sight of the value in–and the vital necessity of–what we are doing.

[*emphasis and Shock Doctrine quote courtesy friend o’ bastard.logic Godammitkitty, who also deserves a BIG TIME hat tip for the Klein vid and links, and for an amazing and inspiring post.]

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