The Shock Doctrine

  • by Naomi Klein
  • Narrated by Jennifer Wiltsie
  • 9 hrs and 1 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In her ground-breaking reporting, Naomi Klein introduced the term "disaster capitalism". Whether covering Baghdad after the U.S. occupation, Sri Lanka in the wake of the tsunami, or New Orleans post-Katrina, she witnessed something remarkably similar. People still reeling from catastrophe were being hit again, this time with economic "shock treatment": losing their land and homes to rapid-fire corporate makeovers. The Shock Doctrine retells the story of the most dominant ideology of our time, Milton Friedman's free market economic revolution. In contrast to the popular myth of this movement's peaceful global victory, Klein shows how it has exploited moments of shock and extreme violence in order to implement its economic policies in many parts of the world, from Latin America and Eastern Europe to South Africa, Russia and Iraq.
At the core of disaster capitalism is the use of cataclysmic events to advance radical privatization, combined with the privatization of the disaster response itself. Klein argues that by capitalizing on crises, created by nature or war, the disaster capitalism complex now exists as a booming new economy and is the violent culmination of a radical economic project that has been incubating for 50 years.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

If It's Bad for Humanity, It's Good for Business

While reductive by the standards of scholarly argument, this powerful polemic tempts me to "must-read" hyperbole. Klein uses the analogy of psychological shock therapy to chronicle the rise, since the 1970s, of the economic "shock therapy" (their phrase!) advocated by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School. Sounds contrived and conspiricist, but isn't. This is well reported and argued. Klein's first point is that the Chicago School's free market "counter-revolution" has never arisen naturally by democratic means. It has been foisted upon countries, from Chile to Russia, only at opportune moments of disaster, then sustained through violent state action, usually abeted by the same inner ring of U.S. contractors and advisors. Her evidence, while not comprehensive by academic standards, is wholly convincing in its demonstration of repeated patterns and key players. In every case, the result has been a disaster made deadlier by economic ideology, ground-level mismanagement, and high-level corporate looting. This grim market logic culminates in Iraq with the Bush administration's systematic dismantling of government functions to be replaced by corporations and start-ups free to operate outside of legislative, judicial, or even market constraints. Work that local companies might have done, American companies utterly fail to do at ten times the cost, then pocket their billions, shrug, and move on. This is the economic analysis of the Iraq war that has been frustratingly absent in public debate. It is made all the more coherent by Klein's larger historical context. Worse, under Bush all of this is becoming deeply institutionalized. Large sectors of our economy are coming to depend on a "new frontier" of political and natural catastrophes, terror security chief among them. This important, eye-opening work is is also very well narrated here. One of the most worthwhile audio book I've bought. And no, I am neither friend nor relative nor ideologue, just newly won admirer.
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- Nelson Alexander

Insightful and thought provoking

Klein gives the reader a lens through which the world looks strikingly different and in an eerie way makes sense. Her analysis of free market economics and its role in the brutal transformation of nations certainly has its biases. Critics will parse details to finesse deniability, but her over arching paradigm has the ring of truth. As you read reality races towards you from all quarters screaming, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Privatization, globalization and the dawning of a world suffocating on terror, staggering from one disaster to another, is the undeniable backdrop of our present reality. Klein shows how these have become the engine driving social disparities of a feudal order. She also makes a strong case for the self-perpetuating nature of these forces. Disasters are incredible opportunities for coporatists to make enormous profits with public money. Corporations fund politicians. Therefore disasters continue because there is no political will to attempt to prevent them. The people - the ordinary working class people - suffer. The rich get richer. The world becomes less safe. Fear fumigates the very air we breathe. What’s worse the free market push for privatization has begun to hollow out the public infrastructure. And the private sector has in essence scammed the people’s treasuries. Klein’s detailed examples and cogent, logical progression draws the reader in. Her matter-of-fact, straightforward style is like a breath of fresh air. The Shock Doctrine is a stunning read!
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- Oliver

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-21-2007
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio