The shock doctrine is the unofficial story of how the "free market" came to dominate the world, from Chile to Russia, China to Iraq, South Africa to Canada. But it is a story radically different from the one usually told. It is a story about violence and shock perpetrated on people, on countries, on economies. About a program of social and economic engineering that Naomi Klein calls "disaster capitalism."
Based on breakthrough historical research and 4 years of reporting in disaster zones, Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically, and that unfettered capitalism goes hand-in-hand with democracy. Instead, she argues it has consistently relied on violence and shock, and reveals the puppet strings behind the critical events of the last 40 years.
"The shock doctrine" is the influential but little understood theory that in order to push through profoundly unpopular policies that enrich the few and impoverish the many, there must be a collective crisis or disaster—real or manufactured. Klein vividly traces the origins of modern shock tactics to the economic lab of the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman in the 60s, and beyond to the CIA-funded electroshock experiments at McGill in the 50s which helped write the torture manuals used today at Guantanamo Bay. She details the events of the recent past that have been deliberate theatres for the shock doctrine: among them, Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991; and, more recently, the September 11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq, the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. And she shows how—in the hands of the Bush Administration—the "war on terror" is a thin cover for a thriving destruction/reconstruction complex, with disasters, wars and homeland security fuelling a booming new economy. Naomi Klein has once again written a book that will change the way we see the world.