Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Fire sale II

Interesting-ish article on this by John Harris. Good to see someone (other than my own sweet self) can see David Cameron's war on the deficit for what it really is - a cynical, ideological project to strip state assets and advance the private sector. For which he has no mandate.

He forgot to mention, however, that The Shock Doctrine is the literary equivalent of toxic sludge. I hacked my way through all 550 odd pages of it. It needed to be a tenth of the length, as the essential idea of it was pretty slender. Harris sums it up pretty well in a couple of paragraphs, in fact:
The other day, I picked up a copy of Naomi Klein's underrated book The Shock Doctrine, and was reminded of a celebrated quotation from Milton Friedman: "Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

The Klein book, published in 2007, examines how Friedman's instructions were followed, and free-market "disaster capitalism" forced on Iraq, eastern Europe, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, in the wake of wars, natural disasters and revolutions (watch out Libya and Egypt). Four years after it came out, I was struck by a simple and mind-boggling fact. Here, as the coalition sets about the benefits system, marketises the NHS, threatens to do the same to schools and now apparently plans to put the entire public sector out to tender, what crisis was it that set the stage? Answer: that of the very economic model that is being pursued as never before. (1)
There. Saved you a few dollars and several hours of your life, reading The Shock Doctrine.

Don't say I'm not good to you.
1 - "The coalition has sneaked a coup on a sleeping public," by John Harris. Published in The Guardian, 27th of February, 2011. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/27/coalition-coup-sleeping-public)

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