Thursday, July 31, 2008

Deathly Shocked!

Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine tells us all we never wanted to know about how the neocons have used narrow (and shockingly bad) economic theory (specifically, the Chicago School's, originally emanating from Milton Friedman) to ruin economies throughout the world (and doing the final tap dance on ours here in the U.S. as we cringe along to their tune) that were then rebuilt along self-serving Friedmaniac lines. Chicago School proponents were ominously present at the ouster of democratically elected representatives throughout the Southern Cone (not to mention Indonesia, et al.). At her website you may read reviews, buy the book, and view the movie by Alfonso Cuarón (who also directed Children of Men) which is an official selection for the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. They say leftwingers have no sense of humor, but you've just got to give those righties cred for having absolutely no sense of irony. A sample of this book's contents follows (emphasis marks and commentary are mine):
General Augusto Pinochet and his supporters consistently referred to the events of September 11, 1973 (catch that date?), not as a coup d'état but as "a war." Santiago certainly looked like a war zone: tanks fired as they rolled down the boulevards, and government buildings were under air assault by fighter jets. But there was something strange about this war. It had only one side. (p. 75) . . . . In the years leading up to the coup, U.S. trainers, many from the CIA had whipped the Chilean military into an anti-Communist frenzy, persuading them that socialists were de facto Russian spies, a force alien to Chilean society - a homegrown "enemy within." In fact, it was the military that had become the true domestic enemy, ready to turn its weapons on the population it was sworn to protect. (p. 76) . . . . For the Chicago Boys, September 11 was a day of giddy anticipation and deadline adrenalin . . . . on the day of the coup, several Chicago Boys were camped out at the printing presses of the right-wing "El Mercurio" newspaper. As shots were being fired in the streets outside, they frantically tried to get the document printed in time for the junta's first day on the job. The proposals in the final document bore a striking resemblance to those found in Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom:" privatization, deregulation and cuts to social spending - the free-market trinity. Chile's U.S.-trained economists had tried to introduce these ideas peacefully, within the confines of a democratic debate, but they had been overwhelmingly rejected. Now the Chicago Boys and their plans were back, in a climate distinctly more conducive to their radical vision. In this new era, no one besides a handful of men in uniform needed to agree with them. Their staunchest political opponents were either in jail, dead or fleeing for cover; the spectacle of fighter jets and caravans of death was keeping everyone else in line. (p.78) . . . Even three decades later, Chile is still held up by free-market enthusiasts as proof that Friedmanism works. When Pinochet died in December 2006 (one month after Friedman), the New York Times praised him for "transforming a bankrupt economy into the most prosperous in Latin America," while a Washington Post editorial said he had "introduced the free-market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle." The facts behind the "Chilean Miracle" remain a matter of intense debate. Pinochet held power for 17 years, and during that time he changed political direction several times. The country's period of steady growth that is held up as proof of its miraculous success did not begin until the mid-eighties - a full decade after the Chicago Boys implemented shock therapy and well after Pinochet was forced to make a radical course correction. That's because in 1982, despite its strict adherence to Chicago doctrine, Chile's economy crashed: its debt exploded, it faced hyperinflation once again and unemployment hit 30 percent - 10 times higher than it was under Allende. The main cause was that the piranhas, the Enron-style financial houses that the Chicago Boys had freed from all regulation, had bought up the country's assets on borrowed money and run up an enormous debt of $14 billion. The situation was so unstable that Pinochet was forced to do exactly what Allende had done: he nationalized many of these companies. In the face of the debacle, almost all the Chicago Boys lost their influential government posts, including Sergio de Castro. Several other Chicago graduates held prominent posts with the piranhas and came under investigation for fraud, stripping away the carefully cultivated facade of scientific neutrality so central to the Chicago Boy identity. (p. 85) . . . The Argentine junta excelled at striking just the right balance between public and private horror, carrying out enough of its terror in the open that everyone knew what was going on, but simultaneously keeping enough secret that it could always be denied. In its first days in power, the junta made a single dramatic demonstration of its willingness to use lethal force: a man was pushed out of a Ford Falcon (a vehicle notorious for its use by the secret police), tied to Buenos Aires's most prominent monument, the 67.5-meter high white Obelisk, and machine-gunned in plain view. After that, the junta's killings went underground, but they were always present. Disappearances, officially denied, were very public spectacles enlisting the silent complicity of entire neighborhoods. When someone was targeted to be eliminated, a fleet of military vehicles showed up at that person's home or workplace and cordoned off the block, often with a helicopter buzzing overhead. In broad daylight and in full view of the neighbors, police or soldiers battered down the door and dragged out the victim, who often shouted his or her name before disappearing into a waiting Ford Falcon, in the hope that news of the event would reach the family. (p. 90) . . . . The juntas of the Southern Cone made no secret of their revolutionary ambitions to remake their respective societies, but they were savvy enough to publicly deny what (Rodolfo) Walsh was accusing them of: using massive violence in order to achieve those economic goals, goals that, in the absence of a system of terrorizing the public and eliminating obstacles, would have certainly provoked popular revolt. To the extent that killings by the state were acknowledged, they were justified by the juntas on the grounds that they were fighting a war against dangerous Marxist terrorists, funded and controlled by the KGB. If the juntas used "dirty" tactics, it was because their enemy was monstrous. Using language that sounds eerily familiar today, Admiral Massera called it "a war for freedom and against tyranny . . . a war against those who favor death and by those of us who favor life . . . . We are fighting against nihilists, against agents of destruction whose only objective is destruction itself, although they disguise this with social crusades. (p. 96)
I could quote all of this amazingly perspicacious work of genius; however, you should GO GET A COPY and read it!!!!! (For your own self defense at least.) Suzan __________________________________

No comments: