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Publication Details

Clonan, T., 2007: Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine: Book Review, Dublin: The Irish Times.

Abstract

Naomi Klein, the award-winning Guardian columnist and best-selling author of the seminal ‘No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies’ (2000) has just completed her most ambitious project to date. With the publication of ‘Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism’, Klein may have achieved what many political leaders, economists and journalists the world over have failed to do during the tumultuous tenure of the current Bush Administration – namely to forensically prove that a ‘rolling coup’ has taken place within the United States that has subordinated its domestic and foreign policy imperatives to corporate interests and naked greed by way of the implementation of ruinous and violent strategies from the Bayou in Louisiana to the banks of the Tigris in Iraq. In the opening chapters of her work Klein introduces the reader to the deeply anti-democratic and laissez faire capitalist ideology of George W Bush’s neo-conservative clique as articulated by its intellectual architect Milton Friedman. Friedman’s philosophy of unfettered right-wing capitalism – characterised by wholesale asset stripping within states to include the totality of their natural resources and manufacturing capacity along with the privatisation of their respective education, health and security sectors – is explored by Klein in the first half of her book by way of a detailed account of the mayhem and misery caused by the neo-cons trademark ‘economic shock therapy’ as implemented in countries around the globe including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, Poland, Russia and Iraq. Klein demonstrates quite clearly the manner in which Friedman’s ‘disciples’ – his powerful admirers and student graduates of the Chicago School of Economics – known as the ‘Chicago School’ or the ‘Berkeley Mafia’ were intimately involved in the dismantling of democratic structures across many continents from the ‘Southern Cone’ of Latin America to Central Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Asia. Among Friedman’s disciples Klein clearly identifies former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld – of whom President Richard Nixon said in 1971, ‘He’s a ruthless little bastard. You can be sure of that’ – former US Chief Envoy to Iraq, Paul Bremer along with a host of other conservative Washington Republican luminaries including US Vice President, Dick Cheney.

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