By Henry Delacroix | 25 May 2021
THE AMERICAN SUN — Whether on the streets or on social media, no one can miss the fried mental status of Americans. Some of us have carried on with normal lives during covid lockdowns or the scare, but we see millions living lives of fear and hysteria. It does seem overblown. Using a framework from a pre-financial crisis pop economic book, it is easy to see America is going through an oligarchical imposed episode of shock doctrine. A tool used so effectively in the empire has now been turned inward.
Shock Doctrine is a great title to label the multiple instances where the machinery of big business, the US foreign policy apparatus, and academia could install economic policies known as the Washington Consensus. In short, create a crisis, install a new government, while everyone is reeling this team installs the new economic policies and if there is failure and chaos, keep instituting more and more free trade, free floating prices and wages, and austerity. It is a banker’s delight. Capital can move freely and speculate for quick gains while the masses get burned by the economic shock.
It is not economic shock though, not on its own. Shocks are usually political but can be disaster or war related. Everyone is confused. As the economic changes create chaos, people clamor for the new regime to do anything to ease the pain. Klein uses very clear examples of political disruption (Chile, Poland, Russia, etc) creating an opening for the neoliberal economic agenda and wholesale pillaging of national assets. Post-Asian Flu economic reforms were forced on nations and transformed the entire region. It was always for the same suite of policies: the Washington Consensus. At the end, there is always this stance of changes being set in stone because the IMF & World Bank are there to enforce the rules. No reforms, no loans. No loans if you go back on your reforms. Klein is a standard issue Canadian liberal, but the subject matter and narrative read much clearer today. It was alien and foreign then.
Shock Doctrine was published in 2007, and the 2008 global financial crisis and consequences look straight out of shock doctrine’s neoliberal playbook. Municipal assets have been auctioned off to crony insiders to pay bankers whole. Bailouts made hedge funds and Wall Street bondholders whole while impoverishing Greeks, Italians, etc. The West even saw an austerity wave in the EU to settle the ship after trillions in bailouts and liquidity injections to keep banking institutions alive. We bound our nations to keep a specific piece of the system whole rather than the reverse. […]