Naomi Klein has done us all a favor and lifted the veil that has hidden the manipulators of the levers of power, revealing a very disturbing reality. The ruling economic theory from the great depression to Reagan was Keynesian, a theory characterized by the notion that government should intervene to protect the people from the worst excesses of capitalism. With Reagan came the beginning of the ascendancy of the Chicago School of Economics in our fair land, led by Milton Friedman, a former fringe group that cleverly, and viciously, insinuated itself into a global movement. Characterizing itself as “pure capitalism” it sold a seductive elixir that promised prosperity for all, in the form of trickle down benefits, as an automatic result of a market freed from government regulation. Not surprisingly the Chicago School was heavily funded by large corporations.
Implementation of the theory, Disaster Capitalism as Klein puts it in the subtitle to her book Shock Doctrine, is everywhere hindered by the resistance of those who will “initially” have to bear the pain of its enactment. The “initial” suffering in every case that it has been tried is actually permanent. When not permanent, that is invariably because its rules were thrown out. When throwing out the Chicago School rules created relief and an improvement in the economy the “Chicago Boys” did not hesitate to claim credit. In fact it was it’s earlier failure in the 1920-30s that nudged Keynesianism into being, partially at least as a reaction to the competing appeal of socialism, an idea that had not quite yet been totally demonized. The program is best introduced in dictatorships where the pesky population can be persuaded, using the usual methods, to stand out of the way. Failing that the next strategy is to have everything in place awaiting some crisis under cover of which the new rules can be quickly slipped in place. Notice how, for all the talk of “freedom”, the theory virtually requires extreme anti-democratic measures.
In her enlightening book Klein walks us through a thoroughly depressing series of successes for the “boys”: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, England, Poland, China, South Africa, Russia and of course the U.S., where Katrina and 9/11 were used as crisis leverage points by Friedman’s friend Paul Wolfowitz and the other, ah… vultures around W. Success in these cases is a bit different than the advertisement. It would seem that since the adherents proselytize relentlessly, with religious fervor, and since their “successes” always result in the impoverishment of the many and the enrichment of the few, and since they call this success, this must be their actual goal. But like the republican party and conservatives in general, a politician can’t very well state to the electorate, and expect to be elected, that, “When I’m elected I’ll work as hard as I can to bring back Feudalism.” So seductive, flowery, and divisive rhetoric must obscure the betrayal until it is way too late.