Capitalizing on Disaster

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Naomi Klein, Canadian anti-globalism activist and author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Metropolitan Books, 2007) says corporate capitalism exploits catastrophes (like Katrina, 9/11, the tsunami) to gain control of markets.

The Shock Doctrine is available for purchase at

Book signing at Barnes and Noble in Chelsea (located on 6th Avenue between 22nd & 23rd Streets), Tuesday September 18th at 7pm


Naomi Klein

Comments [46]

Gary Krasner

Looks like the leftist conspiracy folks found brian's blog. Look Mark, Bob Woodward and others confirmed that Rummy wasn't pushing for invasion of Iraq. That fantasy belonged to the neocons---not Rumsfeld. Though like others, he wanted to know if Saddam had a role in the 911 attack. Who wouldn't. Saddam was the likely suspect. But Rummy was so involved in his pet project (transformation into a lighter and faster military) that he didn't focus enough on Iraq after the invasion.

THAT may be his legacy, unfortunately for him. But not privatization of the armed forces. Privatization had already begun before Bush was elected in 2000. And it was determined by the economics. The Pentagon's budget was reduced as a percentage of federal expenditures, and shifted to a volunteer force. Again, before Rummy was Secretary. The three factors (and more) I mentioned above had dictated privatization. The fact that republicans naturally like privatization philosophically was incidental.

Sep. 18 2007 11:46 PM
Alex from EV, NYC

Thank you!

Sep. 18 2007 04:44 PM
mark Brown from or

Last Comment:

for our country.

Which needs to include:

National (mandatory service for X years)
National Health Insurance
and more stuff, including a RETURN to the PRIVATE
and original ideas.

Including the UN-privatization of the ARMY, and our COUNTRY

And I wish BRIAN or the producers would really read this stuff!

See my latest(?) blog entry for a discussion of a new reconstruction administration we need in our country

Sep. 18 2007 12:37 PM
mark Brown from or

Joe (comment # 21 :)

...snip...Aren't the signs pointing to a police state (IMHO)...

mark sez:
That's what The May 11, 2007 NSPD-51 (National Presidential Security Directive #51) sets up.

That the PRESIDENT can DELEGATE a "DICTATOR" (my words...) in the event of a
NATURAL DISASTER (read Katrina?) or Terrorist ATTACK!!
(see original discussion on 5/24 here

and follow up comment HERE:

AND PLEASE Google NSPD-51 for yourself!

And here's the real question....
WHY has there not been ONE word in the mainstream media (not blog-o-sphere) about NSPD-51?

NOT a single word, yet we will be THROWN into a dictatorship because of this!

Mark Brown.

websige is my location!

Sep. 18 2007 12:30 PM
mark Brown from or

on hold...for segment..
Remember several facts...

1) RUMSFELD (And CHENEY) were the KEY architects of the Privatization principle.

They kicked me off and said call in tomorrow...

See MY BLOG for a FULL listing of CHARGES against Donald Rumsfeld.

Here is a SUMMARY of Rumsfeld's Rules, and pointers to ALL of his rules:

or ... (without the http info...

and.. HJS: There IS NO difference between blackwater and a band of mercenaries. THEY ARE mercenaries!


We need a segment or SERIES of segments on UN-privatizing the ARMY!

Sep. 18 2007 12:23 PM
Gary Krasner from Queens

Ms. Klein's thesis is flawed on at least two points with regards the privatization in the military:

First, armed forces training today is far too intensive and technical to have a potato peeler in the mess hall pick up a rifle and go our on patrol.

Second, Pentagon's expenditgures of just15% of the federal budget (down from 45% during vietnam) cannot afford to keep tank mechanics and cooks and truck drivers on the military payroll during times they are not needed, such as when our forces are not deployed anywhere or at war.

And being a volunteer force, you will not get any recruits joining if they realize that they may be assigned mess hall duties or guarding some Iraqi diplomat. Many join today to move up in rank and make a career of it.

Sep. 18 2007 11:51 AM
Alex from EV, NYC

Apologies, of course I meant NK.

Sep. 18 2007 11:47 AM
Alex from EV, NYC

Could you please post a comment to let me know when NW will be reading? THNX!

Sep. 18 2007 11:46 AM
ab from nyc


I totally agree. The word "Libertarian" really doesn't mean what it used to mean. These modern "libertarians" are not libertarians at all in the classic sense.

Sep. 18 2007 11:44 AM
chestine from NY

Sarah Hughes are you the skater? did Naomi answer your excellent question?

But wait a minute Naomi you live next door! Tell us who you like for president!

Sep. 18 2007 11:43 AM
J.C. from Minneapolis

[sorry, I first posted this under the wrong topic!]

I'd like to quibble with Ms. Klein on the point that a miltary draft would guarantee some sort of deep reflection about going to war.

I think it's pie-in-the-sky thinking to believe that a draft would stop war or slow down the drive towards it. Why wouldn't the existence of more troops in the military simply increase the pressure on those who oppose a war to "shut and 'support' the troops"?

I also think that the idea that a draft will prevent war in the U.S. ignores the fact that standing armies threaten democracy. Since Ms. Klein is talking about conservatives using crises to force through normally controversial ideas, wouldn't a larger army (full of draftees) mean that American presidents would be so very tempted to start wars and conflicts with all those troops? After all, what president would hate the popularity that war can bring?

I think the problem (if there is one) of America not thinking about war lies in other traits in the body politic and not with the draft or lack thereof.

(Oh yes, I also disagree that the draft ended the Vietnam War, but that's another topic.)

Sep. 18 2007 11:43 AM
ab from nyc

Excellent answer Naomi! I agree, the idiotic notion that the slate was wiped clean after 9/11 as if we were starting from year zero, was just propoganda for the far-right to exert control and enable themselves to easily put forth their "free-market", "privitization", fascisto-corporate ideas!

Sep. 18 2007 11:42 AM
AWM from UWS

After Katrina the legion of right wing pundits pointed out that the true failure of the disaster was the fact that entitlements and dependence on gov't services rendered people helpless and unprepared.

They really live in a compassion vacuum.

Sep. 18 2007 11:40 AM
Ryan from NYC

Associating the Bush Administration & Milton Friedman is unfounded.

The Bush Administration issues government contracts w/o competition (for example Halliburton). Free-market thinking holds that issuing government contracts can only work efficiently through market processes if competition for such contracts exists.

Sep. 18 2007 11:40 AM
Mike from Jersey City from Hoboken, NJ

Brian, could you please advise Ms. Klein that Charter Schools are public schools, not private schools.

Sep. 18 2007 11:39 AM
jeapes from Manhattan

Without judging the merits of privatization and uber capitalism in the words of Robert Reich. The notion of disasters prompting ideologically led instituitional change in not restricted to Milton Freidman. Did not FDR use Depression and World War II to push forward the New Deal?

Sep. 18 2007 11:39 AM
chestine from NY

Where will we find a candidate who is willing to say that capitalism is a good thing as long as it is kept IN THE SERVICE of the society. How difficult a concept is this? BALANCE is crucial to democracy

Sep. 18 2007 11:38 AM
Shawn from NYC


I have not read Naomi's book but I think what is more important is the massive transfer of wealth that allows "trust fund babies" like Erik Prince to create companies like Blackwater.

The use of inherited wealth (by conservative and liberal) by the affluent provides enormous advantage. It is beyond exploitation of disaster --this wealth allows "trust fund babies" the purchase of apartments in NYC, the creation of small businesses, etc. I think that is the more important issue.

Sep. 18 2007 11:36 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

Even if charter schools ARE cheaper, the things should be whats best...government is great for saying we are saving money, but should profit (or no loss) be the main thing...

Sep. 18 2007 11:36 AM
Trevor from LIC

"Libertarians" today equal nothing more than self-congratulatory corporate mercantile fascists. They embrace "individualism", Ayn Rand and some libertarian principles because it is most beneficial for them to do so to gain power, not because its what they actually believe in. Try reading a real libertarian like Ed Abbey, not the disgusting and intellectually impotent "Kudlow and Company".

"Neocons" are a strange libertarian-corporate mix of fundamentalist policy-setters that have used Marxist doctrine when it best suits them (the historical narrative that all countries will eventually fall to free markets, rather than Marxism, as Marx said) but use multinationals to displace sovereign governments and exploit foreign populations.

Sep. 18 2007 11:35 AM
eric fluger from jersey city

i agree with most of ms klein's general crtiicim of libertarian ideology and how it's fequently applied (and could probably add some). however, i also think that distinctions must be made between policy and implementation.

for example, the general pros and cons of out-sourcing is a different topic than well executed and poorly executed out-sourcing.

[some of the problems with the current admin handing their buddies no-bid contracts sound more like implementation problems.]

however, perhaps implementation problems are to be expected from administrators who have a generally negative view of government. it's been said that "turning to a neo-con to administer a government program is like turning to a chritian scientist to perform an appendectomy."

Sep. 18 2007 11:35 AM
Daniel from Brooklyn

As long as we're on the subject of Katrina, it's worth pointing out that levee construction and maintenance in New Orleans was in the hands of the public sphere. The levees that failed were designed and built by the Army Corps of Engineers, right? Infrastructure and public services performed by such institutions are not immune to the faults that Ms. Klein writes about in the private sector.

Sep. 18 2007 11:35 AM


Can you ask if Naomi if the charter schools in New Orleans are cheaper to run than public schools?

Sep. 18 2007 11:34 AM
ab from nyc

This is a very important piece. I totally agree, this movement toward privatizing everything and leaving everything to be handled by the free market is a direct attack on our democratic system which will leave us with nothing but a oligarchical corporatocracy.

Sep. 18 2007 11:33 AM
Donald Johnson from Bay Ridge

About the core functions of government: I remember, a couple of years ago, a comment from Trent Lott, after a hearing on the NASA budget, saying that the budget would be approved if NASA can show how somebody can make some money from it.

Sep. 18 2007 11:31 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

So lets project this to the next "Shock" event...what do we lose, what agenda is pushed? Aren't the signs pointing to a police state (IMHO)...

Sep. 18 2007 11:30 AM
Daniel from Brooklyn

And it is CRAZY that any people who oppose the war we're in are supporting conscription. It might be worth remembering that the Vietnam War raged on for a decade even as the army relied on the draft -- a draft that the children of the wealthy and powerful managed to avoid then, and would in all likelihood manage to avoid if it should return.

Sep. 18 2007 11:29 AM
AWM from UWS

What about the invasion of Panama?

1. Mission to remove a tyrant

2. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush Sr. involved

3. Tyrants gov't replaced with US friendly gov't that disbands the army

4. Result US gains control of the Panama Canal, a tremendous financial & geopolitical advatage

I sense a pattern here...

Sep. 18 2007 11:28 AM
Tim from Greenpoint

What rules govern these private contractors?

How is this different or more legal than me hiring some guys with bats down the street to do my dirty work for me?

Sep. 18 2007 11:28 AM

i don't know for a fact but from my little knowledge Blackwater mercs get paid much better than our troops and I think that's horrible.

Sep. 18 2007 11:27 AM
Trevor from LIC

I support involuntary conscription of individuals into the military, simply because it DOES reinforce democracy and civic mindedness.

Sep. 18 2007 11:26 AM
Daniel from Brooklyn

Ms. Klein undoubtedly has some valuable critiques to make. But when she rails against how "fundamentalism" among Chicago school economists leads to a distorted worldview, she makes me wonder if her own worldview is free of such fundamentalism. Her work to me in the last few years seems overbroad in its effort to encompass so many aspects of politics, culture, economics, and history in order to formulate a unified theory that ends up being a rehash of her basic political sympathies.

Sep. 18 2007 11:26 AM
Tom from New York City

New Orleans Model. Isn't it market forces that have people moving into areas below sea level? We then extend aid of 117 BILLION of public money to clean up the mess very inefficiently.

Sep. 18 2007 11:25 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

Good call James....

Sep. 18 2007 11:25 AM
Daniel s NYC from New York NY

I would like to know what Naomi Klein thinks of the front runners for the presidential election 08 This could be interesting..

Sep. 18 2007 11:24 AM

Just for kicks, couldn't we describe the Govt-Contractor nexus not as the realization of free market ideals, but as their perversion? Not "free market" at all, but utterly corrupt, crony-driven, and opaque. All these things go against the transparency that is such an essential ingredient for a truly free market.

So perhaps the system is "marketist" or "corporatist," but there's also a good free market case against it as well.

Sep. 18 2007 11:22 AM
Sarah Hughes from New York

Naomi-you were great last night at the Society for Ethical Culture. This is my question: your suggestions for people to act against this military-industrial complex are mostly grassroots, like educating yourself on the issues. How does America's upcoming presidential election factor in? Has disaster capitalism permeated Capitol Hill too deeply for a change in administration to make a difference?

Sep. 18 2007 11:21 AM
barry from manhattan

Even if the school is fantastic, thats not the point?

Sep. 18 2007 11:21 AM
barry from manhattan

Or that they have "more faith" in BWater, which by the way is made up of ex-military only better paid.

Sep. 18 2007 11:16 AM
Trevor from LIC

Thank you Naomi Klein for letting me know I'm not crazy, there are others who are drawing the same conclusions about what is happening to public policy and collective brainwashing (Friedman's influence, etc.).

Sep. 18 2007 11:15 AM
barry from manhattan

They wont act against US interests.

Sep. 18 2007 11:14 AM
Teresa from New York City

Why aren't government officials being protected by troops? Doesn't this imply that the officials don't have faith in them?

Sep. 18 2007 11:13 AM
hjs from 11211

what the difference between blackwater and a band of mercenaries?

Sep. 18 2007 11:09 AM
Trevor from LIC

I plan on buying the book or at least checking it out at the library-- the public needs to hear more voices like this.

Sep. 18 2007 11:08 AM
Robert from NYC

I watched Naomi Klein on Democracy Now yesterday discussing her book and she makes excellent points on the dangers of unchecked and encouraged corporate capitalism. Hopefully lots of people will read her book and wake up to the dangers. I plan to read it soon. And no I'm not her agent nor do I even know her personally.

Sep. 18 2007 11:05 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

This will be a good show...let me get some popcorn so I can sit back and enjoy.

Sep. 18 2007 09:47 AM

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