• Warriors & Rebels

    • This Canadian has set herself apart because she elaborated an inflammatory thesis surrounding the way capitalism grows stronger after disasters.

    Naomi Klein, the “shock doctrine” and the era when capitalism is strengthened by catastrophes / 

    Ever since Marx wrote his precise deconstruction of capitalism in the nineteenth century, this economic and social system has captivated the most diverse minds, earned praises and complaints, some remain in awe of the apparent perfection of its gear while others are shocked by the cold and inhumane nature of its machinery.

    Among these thinkers is Canadian born Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, an analysis where she proposed a hypothesis of how capitalism takes advantage of great tragedies, natural or social, to reap its own benefits and become stronger.

    Klein comes from a family in which activism and a critical attitude have always been present. Young Naomi was always in touch with a vision of the world that was characterized by questioning reality due to her paternal grandparents (dissident communists from Stalin’s regime) and her parents (hippies that moved from Montreal to the United States to oppose the Vietnam War).

    Hence, her almost obsessive interest in malls and shopping centers, consumerism and the manner in which these practices tacitly imposed the idea of “the feminine”. On the 6th of December of 1989, when a young twenty-five year old, Marc Lépine, massacred 28 students in classroom in the École Politechnique of Montreal, killing six of the nine women in the room because he was “fighting feminism”, some of her ideas began to take shape, in an attempt to elucidate that other type of violence the system exerts on  individuals, much more subtly, the tension between different beliefs, the desires and means to confirm and satisfy them, almost always through contradiction.

    The work that launches Klein into the list of essential critical thinkers of our era was No Logo, published in 2000 and which undoubtedly is one of the first studies to evidence the corporative empire that represents the behavior of contemporary capitalism, where great national economies have been displaced by companies with global presences whose financial influence transcends into political and cultural spheres. Combined with an insatiable thirst for consumerism that is encouraged from different platforms (mass media and university classrooms), corporations control and are in charge of making decisions, openly now, and Klein made their insolence the main topic of her book.

    While there were other publications in the meantime, Klein’s next big publication was The Shock Doctrine, a provocative and abundant study on the possibility of catastrophes creating ideal conditions that enable capitalism to support its financial accumulation. Klein particularly analyses Milton Friedman’s and the School of Chicago’s ideas on the free market, usually addressed as “neoliberalism”, which has tried to impose itself in most countries since the 1980s. While, at times, Klein’s proposal can sound like a conspiracy theory, she bases her argument in historical examples (like the reforms implemented by Augusto Pinochet’s administration in Chile, or the privatization of public schools in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina). She also references the theoretical developments of economists like Schumpeter, who defends the idea of “creative deconstruction” as one of the last stages of capitalism.

    It’s important to note that The Shock Doctrine was adapted into a documentary by Jonás Cuarón, using a script written in collaboration with Alfonso Cuarón, which can be viewed YouTube.

    In terms of her praxis, Klein has participated in several anti-Semitic or at least non-conformist movements, among these the protests against the military attack on Iraq during George W. Bush’s term in office and the Occupy Wall Street movement, which rose against financial voracity. In recent years, Klein has joined environmental causes; she insists that ecologic catastrophes represent opportunities for great corporations and enterprises because they can profit from crises; in contrast, the Canadian sustains that these conditions could also foster people’s shock, a “a historical moment to usher in the next great wave of progressive change”.

    Naomi Klein is one of the authors that we must urgently get to know if we feel curiosity for the economy and our era’s society. This is not a complacent idea; on the contrary, her work is rigorous, combative, and perhaps necessary to confront the contradictions that the system is trying to overcome in order to benefit the masses.

    Tagged: Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, society, economy, critical thinking