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The Shock Doctrine


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Naomi Klein first came to my attention almost a decade ago with the publication of her classic manifesto for the anti-globalisation movement, 'No Logo'. A detailed and passionate account of the hidden implications of a global marketplace, I fell in love with the book in my student days and have eagerly awaited a follow-up ever since.

 

The Shock Doctrine is that follow up. Moving away from her anti-globalisation roots, this book looks at the rise of what Klein terms 'disaster capitalism'. This is the notion that those in power are using incidents of chaos, confusion and catastrophe, be they natural or deliberately engineered events, as a means of imposing a capitalist free market upon unsuspecting communities.

 

From the scramble to rebuild war torn Iraq, to the rise of the homeland security industry in the USA after 9/11 to the destruction of Sri Lanka's fishing communities by hotel companies in the aftermath of the tsunami, Klein travels the globe bringing stories of 'shocked' communities who have found their ways of life transformed whilst they were in recovery.

 

Each chapter covers an event, or series of events, which have shaped the course of disaster capitalism, starting with the USA's experiments in South and Central America, progressing through the exploitation of emergent regimes in China, Poland and South Africa and culminating in the war on terror and the tsunami.

 

The book was published towards the end of George W Bush's tenure in the White House and is a fairly unashamed bit of neo-con bashing, and although Klein tries to treat the matters she discusses even handily, her passion for the subject lends it a noticeable bias in places.

 

That said, I loved this book from start to finish. Not only were Klein's examples of the disaster capitalism movement engrossing and in many cases, very moving, but the book also helped me to improve my understanding of global economics. This was the first book I read in 2009 and with only two months remaining, it's still the best.

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