Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Shock Doctrine - Nation Building the 'US of A' way!

This is worth a read, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein.

Naomi draws a parallel between the process of torture and the events in Iraq at the beginning of 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'. From the 'showing of the instruments' months of media coverage of how the US air power would attack Baghdad, the silencing and blinding of the nation through the destruction of the telephone exchanges and media stations and then the unfettered looting of the nations infrastructure, treasures and culture.

The final stage in the process, following the dehumanising is the reprogramming, in some ways more inhumane, more sinister. Naomi again draws the parallel with torture, in the weeks before release, victims in Guantanamo are send to a place where they watch DVDs and eat junk food.

In Iraq, the sudden unfettered free market attempts to reprogramme the population with cheap consumer goods. One employee of an American company taking advantage of the new frontier exclaimed, "One well-stocked 7-Eleven could knock out 30 Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart could take over the country."

Most disturbing is that the American idea of exporting democracy has nothing to do with good governance, its about replacing a culture that goes back to the earliest civilisation with one that has been around for a few decades.


Tristan said...

Naomi Klein is an idiot.

She claims that the fall of the Soviet Union was a 'set back for democracy', that Yeltsin, not the reactionary forces in the communist party, led the attempted coup.

This is nonsense, and factually incorrect.

As for 'unfettered free market attempts to reprogramme the population' - sounds sinister doesn't it, but there is no free market in Iraq due to the chaos it is in (which is the fault of the British and the US and allies), and reprogramme? What does she think the free market is? Some sort of totalitarian state run programme to dominate people rather than let the be free to make their own choices (however much she approves or disapproves).

Her thesis on brands was bad enough (brands are a tool used to assure customers of quality - if a brand loses its status then it is nearly impossible to get back - hence Nike etc are anxious to show that they do not abuse people in their factories - if they did and it came out (as it would) then they would not recover).

This is just crass anti-Americanism and ill informed anti-capitalism and anti-liberalism (there are liberal anti-capitalists - I have little problem with them - I just consider their theories to be wrong - but the end result is so similar to mine I don't care if its correct and I'm wrong).

What we need is reasoned debate. The 'coalition of the willing' committed a horrendous crime when we went into Iraq. An even bigger one was committed with the handling of the post 'victory' situation. That has little to do with capitalism and everything to do with imperialism and the idea that we can force democracy upon people.

Alan Beddow said...

Thanks Tristan for your comments. I was not suggesting Naomi was right in what she wrote.

However the parrallels she draws allowed me to see the suffering of the Iraqi people in a different way, from someone totally dehumanised by war and then to face the disorientation of finding their culture stripped away from them.