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willemite

willemite

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Hieroglyph: Stories and Blueprints for a Better Future
Neal Stephenson
Ukraine: Zbig's Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated
Natylie Baldwin, Kermit D. Larson
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
Paula Hawkins
Our Souls at Night: A novel
Kent Haruf
Above the Waterfall
Ron Rash
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King
Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction
Cathy Whitlock
The Homicide Report: Understanding Murder in America
Jill Leovy
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Erik Larson
The Gods of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - Naomi Klein Updated - June 18, 2012 - see link at bottom

This was a very illuminating work about how chaotic situations are used, and sometimes created, as cover for the imposition of drastic economic and political reorganization in vulnerable economies. The end product of these actions is a so-called free market model as advocated by the Chicago School of Milton Friedman and his acolytes. Examples used include Chile, China, Argentina, Bolivia, South Africa, Russia, among others. The technique is for western financial powers to swoop in during a time of financial crisis and refuse to lend a struggling nation any money until that nation agrees to a radical reworking of its economy. This reworking is done in a shock, with many changes instituted all at once, with little or no warning. These changes, as they are draconian toward the lower classes, usually need to be accompanied by severe political repression in order to enforce the transition. What we see here is the mechanism of a growing form of corporatist colonialism.

Klein parallels her examination of the stresses endured by many national economies with a look at actual, literal, personal shock treatment. In the 1950s a researcher named Ewan Cameron did research on his theory that instead of Freudian therapy a more effective method of treating mental illness was to erase the patient’s personality using electric shocks. Then the blank page would be receptive to reconstruction by the good doctor. The shocks caused amnesia and extreme regression. Cameron devised a new tool, one that applied six shocks at once, and even used a wide range of drugs to disorient and wipe clean as much of the patient’s personality as possible. Once the subject was reduced to a vegetative state, Cameron played them tapes dozens, maybe hundreds of times over. The CIA took note and launched a program of its own.

She posits a parallel between treatments that serve to erase personality with the economic and political shocks that struggling nations are forced to endure, shocks that are part and parcel of the move from a developmentalist economy, one that seeks local control and self-sufficiency, to a globalist economy, one in which foreign investment in and ownership of local enterprise is encouraged.

While I found that at times Klein extended her discourse beyond the reach of her material, I found her analysis of the subject matter compelling, her linkage of different forms of shock (personal, political, economic) illuminating, and the applicability of her work to the current economic disruptions frightening. Despite its subject matter I found this a compelling, and relatively fast read. It should be mandatory reading for anyone concerned with politics, economics, world affairs or current events.


UPDATES
August 4, 2011 - the following article has particular relevance not only for the international implementation of TSD, but to its application within the USA. It is an interview with Dr. Michael Hudson, a guy who has been ahead of the curve for a long time on the roots of current economic atrocities.

June 18, 2012 - Joe Nocera's NY Times column on how ALEC-based programs are gutting democracy in Rhode Island