The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

By Andrea During the 18 months Fighting with The Poor Programs, students have the opportunity to learn about world history, the world of  today and also looking into future tendencies.

One of the books recommended to read is Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine"

Shock is a word of French origin that means a collision. It refers to a violent event that shakes up a person. In psychiatry, a shock is mental reaction to a traumatic event such as an accident, a very frightening or tragic situation. Such event may cause an acute stress reaction whereby a great amount of stress hormones are released by the action of the brain.

These will prepare the person to flee or fight and can be useful if you suddenly meet a lion in the bush – but if a shock is very severe it may paralyze you so you become disoriented and even unable to remember what is happening because the brain goes into an emergency mode and do not function in a rational way. A severe mental shock may be deadly for people with heart problems who may suffer acute heart attack but even an otherwise healthy person may not survive a very severe shock.

After World War I, where soldiers endured horrible battles in the trenches of Europe it was observed that a great many soldiers suffered mental problems. They had trouble relating to other people, to concentrate, to control anger, to sleep and to function normally.

Doctors at the time called this condition “Shell Shock” referring to the fact that many soldiers had endured shelling with bombs that killed people around them. Soldiers and civilians continue to suffer the same trauma in the many wars fought the world over. Today the condition is called PTSD for (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). This medical abbreviation sounds less menacing than “shell shock” and is therefore preferred by military officials who do not like people to understand the real horrors of war.

Shock is in several other contexts. Since the 1990s, “Shock and Awe” has been used by the US military to describe a tactic whereby you attack an enemy with such speed and ferocity that his defenses become paralyzed.

The Canadian journalist, Naomi Klein, has used the term Shock Doctrine.

She describes its many aspects in a very thorough study. By shock doctrine she means the use of real or a perceived violent event or threat of violence as shock that enables those in power to get things their way. In particular, she explains how shocks since the 1970s, have been used to introduce neo-liberal economic policies around the world.

She goes through many examples where a country or government has been forced to open its borders and economies to multinational companies, to privatize industries, to limit the rights of workers, to lower wages, to cut social services and to increase the gap between rich and poor.

The shock is thus a method whereby globalized capitalism strengthens its grip on economic resources.

Learn more in this 6 minute video

The Newest Teenager Climate Activists
Why we March Against Monsanto