On Becoming Shock-Resistant

e090205A.jpgThere’s a bit of blogging going on about Naomi Klein‘s new book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” and her website features tons of info, including video. I think the best and most interesting piece about what she’s revealing regarding human rights and disasters is in her own words in this excellent Salon interview, snip:

(…) Unafraid of controversy, Klein goes one step further in her new book than most progressive economists. She contends that in the aftermath of these various disasters, not only democracy but also human rights fall by the wayside — all in the name of freedom and the free market. Klein compares economic shock therapy to the horrific experiments conducted on psychiatric patients in the mid-’50s by a CIA-sponsored Canadian doctor, in which patients were subjected to drugs, electroconvulsive therapy and sensory deprivation in an effort to replace their problem behaviors with a more compliant personality. If a personality can be remade, so, too, a nation. The film, with its stark images of ECT, excerpts from CIA torture manuals, footage of Nobel economist and shock-doctrine promoter Milton Friedman glad-handing Pinochet, Thatcher and Reagan, and images of natural disasters (the Asian tsunami, 9/11) makes her message visceral: Be informed, be shock-resistant.
(…) In New Orleans the disaster was being used to finish the project of transforming the Gulf Coast into a “tax-free enterprise zone,” as the Heritage Foundation called it.
In this book you talk about how certain businesses thrive after disasters like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. What are the most lucrative businesses?
One of the things that really struck me is how the stock market responds to hurricanes and terrorist attacks. The most significant change in recent years is that the stock market now responds favorably to terrorist attacks or narrowly averted attacks. A whole class of stocks jump — disaster stocks, like surveillance companies. Homeland security is now a $200 billion industry.
There is a new level of integration between homeland security companies and media companies. General Electric, which owns NBC, has been in the weapons industry for some time but has become very active in the homeland security business. They recently purchased InVision, which provides bomb detection for airports. Since 9/11 InVision has received $15 billion in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security — more such contracts than any other company. A company like that gains from the atmosphere of crisis and fear that is spread through media outlets. It’s war against evil everywhere with no end. That’s a war that can’t be won, and you couldn’t ask for a more profitable business plan. The only thing that threatens it is peace.

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