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The Truthdig Interview With Naomi Klein

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Posted on Jun 26, 2008
Klein Shock Doctrine
independent.com

By Kasia Anderson

(Page 2)

Klein: In fact, it was only dictatorships that were willing to impose these policies for the first decade in the ‘70s. It was Pinochet’s Chile, Videla’s Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay under military regimes that experimented with Chicago-school economics. It wasn’t until the ‘80s that democratic governments started imposing them. And that’s when Milton Friedman wrote this sentence that I quote in the book: “Only a crisis, actual or perceived, produces real change, and when that crisis occurs, the change that occurs depends on the ideas that are lying around.”

And I think that phrase, “ideas that are lying around,” is really key to understanding how this works. Because it’s essentially a mission statement for the Washington think tanks, which Friedman was tremendously instrumental in building and inspiring and supporting. And, you know, what we saw in the ‘70s and early ‘80s was an explosion of right-wing think tanks whose mission statement really was to get the ideas ready for when the next crisis hits. And in some cases, what we see from a lot of these think tanks is that they also create atmospheres of crisis.

Just for fun, I would look at the list of papers published by the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, looking for how many times the word crisis appears in a paper—“the coming crisis in Medicare,” “the coming crisis in Social Security”—so, they really specialize in claiming that countries are just doomed unless they follow this set of unwanted reforms.

But, to answer your question about natural disasters, the think tanks are instrumental in having the ideas ready, and the best example to me is Hurricane Katrina ...

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Anderson: Yeah.

Klein: ... because the levees broke, and the state—all three levels of government failed—municipal, state, federal. And really, the whole thing was an indictment of this very ideology. Everyone was saying, “Where is the government? Where’s the government when you need it?” And maybe this whole idea of vilifying the state wasn’t such a great idea after all. And even people like Jonah Goldberg were saying, you know, “Where’s big government when you need it?”

And I think a lot of people assumed that Katrina would be a wake-up call, an ideological wake-up call. There was one writer who said it should be for the neocons, the breaking of the levees should be for the neocons what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for Communists. And you know what, it should have been, but it wasn’t, and it’s for two reasons: One, progressives were tentative and unwilling to really, I think, fill the breach with ideas of our own for how to reconstruct New Orleans in a completely different way, in a much more democratic way, and also to talk about global warming when there was a feeling of, you know, we don’t want to be. ... You often heard people say ... “This isn’t a time for politics.”

Anderson: Right.

Klein: Well, meanwhile, at the Heritage Foundation, two weeks after the levees broke, they had a meeting—and we have the minutes from this meeting, which we can link to. ...

Anderson: On the Documents and Resources section?

Klein: Yeah, yeah—we definitely should link to this one. The heading on the document is. ... Well, first of all, the people who attended the meeting were from a variety of right-wing think tanks, as well as the Republican Study Group—highly placed Republican congresspeople. And they came up with 32 free-market solutions for Hurricane Katrina. And it was everything from give parents school vouchers instead of rebuilding the public schools; mixed-use housing instead of repairing the public housing; drill in ANWR [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] ...; build more oil refineries. I mean, it was just the wish list!

And so what you see there is just, you know, the readiness of the right—aided by these think tanks, funded by multinational corporations and the richest families in the United States—to seize on a crisis that they themselves created with their ideology to push for more of the same. I mean, Katrina was a catastrophe, the flooding of New Orleans was a catastrophe created by heavy weather linked to global warming, because the increase in category 5 hurricanes is directly linked to warming ocean temperatures, and weak infrastructure, which is linked to the systematic neglect of the public sphere as a result of the campaign to destroy the New Deal.

And what is their solution? It’s more fossil fuels ... and destroying the public infrastructure altogether. And the fact is much of this has happened. The public housing in New Orleans is being destroyed. The hospitals—the public hospital in New Orleans is still not open, Charity Hospital. The school system ... has been handed over to charter schools.

Anderson: So you would say that think tanks having these ideas lying around is kind of a way of cuing each other with their inside language to potential future opportunities?

Klein: Well, I mean, the ideas are the same no matter what the crisis is. They just get rebranded to meet the crisis, right? So, suddenly privatizing Social Security is an economic stimulus to deal with the recession. And suddenly, you know, school vouchers are part of reconstructing from a hurricane. It’s the same ideas. So, it’s easy to have them lying around, because you’ve got the same answers to every problem.

And we’re seeing it now with this huge push, led by [Newt] Gingrich, now picked up by Bush and McCain, to deal with the cost of high gas prices by drilling offshore, and they want to drill in ANWR—Gingrich does, and a lot of the right-wing think tanks. So whatever the crisis is, it’s an opportunity to just push harder for the same old policies that they haven’t been able to get through without a crisis. ... As soon as ... people started to really talk about recession, [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson started talking about privatizing Social Security—a huge piece of the Bush platform that they could not get through without a crisis.


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By software development london, August 14, 2009 at 4:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That was inspiring,

It’s fun to read all of the comments. I’m not ging to judge

Anyway, thanks for the post

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By TAO Walker, July 1, 2008 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

Ms. Klein could well have sub-titled her work “Anatomy of a Global Rape and Pillage.”  What us surviving free wild natural Human Beings are watching to see is whether the captive hordes of domesticated peons (american ones prefer “pioneers”)who’ve provided all the blood-sweat-and-tears (and have virtually nothing to show) for it are in the end going to let their tormentors get away with it.

Ms. Klein says she’s “....optimistic.”  Our tame two-legged Sisters and Brothers better hope it’s for good and sufficient reasons….rather than just more mandatory whistling past the graveyard. 

This old Savage is neither dis- nor encouraged by the state of “current affairs.”  Looks like it’s all up-in-the-air right now, and might come down either way.  Anyhow, as she so wisely reminds us, “disaster” and “crisis” are definitely two-edged swords.  So maybe it’s the wannabe “masters-of-the-universe” who’re really the deepest in Bush “doo-doo” (or Reagan voodoo) these days.

Now that IS a happy thought.

HokaHey!

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2008 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment

Max: Here are some additional comments on McCain from NARAL on issues that you apparently believe are not very important.  McCain voted 20 times to block a woman’s right to access to birth control; voted to eliminate Title X and deny millions of women basic health-care services ranging from birth control to breast cancer screening, voted against choice 125 times out of 130 opportunities since 1983 and said that Roe v Wade should be overturned.

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2008 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

Max, you can traipse back over the years and come up with McCain votes that might seem progressive for a Republican, but the question is which John McCain you are referring to.  Keith Olbermann examined McCain’s flip-flops on a wide array of issues, such as he was for McCain-Feingold before he was against it.  Olbermann refers to McCain’s as the “Double Talk Express.”  I prefer Orwell’s “Doublespeak” or even “Doublethink.”  Right now McCain is thoroughly embedded with the oil cartel.  His campaign is loaded with the industry’s lobbyists, and the policies he is advancing are those desired by Exxon-Mobil, the company that is probably the single greatest threat to the environment today.

I have had no problem telling you when and where I disagree with Obama or that he was my third choice.  I’m afraid, however, that you lack the intellectual ability (or integrity) to concede when you are in agreement with him.

For you to ignore the fundamental differences between Obama and McCain on so many issues that truly matter reflects not an objective assessment but instead the blind mumblings of a Nader partisan.

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By Max Shields, July 1, 2008 at 4:11 am Link to this comment

Ernest,
“No difference between Obama & McCain on anything important?  I suppose you do not feel climate change is important..”

Look I’m not here to make a case for either of these tired worn out cliches. Just look at McCain’s record in the Senate on climate change and compare to Obama’s.

I see absolutely no case for Obama other than the fear created by Dems for McCain. This is business as usual. Rather than offer real change; make a stand, Obama slides over to the right with the greatest of ease. (And I don’t think it’s purely to find a middle ground I think Obama really is a Repub-lite; it’s not just political manuevering.)

A real progressive agenda would stand four-square on all the major issues, not equivocate and more than lean right. The Dems regularly loose when they do this; but here I think they’ve got a genuine DLRer. Obama has received massive sums and his large donators - dollar-wise - aren’t small donars but large ones. He’s received significant dollars from Pharma, Defense (that alone is incredibly dependent on fossil), Insurance and a host of other major Corporate interests. The people giving small donations like the idea of Obama. It takes a while the public to get passed the hype to catch up but they are. Just look at Obama’s history on oil and PAC money:“PACs and lobbyists aided Obama’s rise
Data contrast with his theme”
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/08/09/pacs_and_lobbyists_aided_obamas_rise/

How can you talk about where the money is coming from when it’s Obama who refused to take the public funding? Whether you believe he’s getting the money from small donars or not is irrelevant because it leaves the door wide-open for big money and influence to flow as never before.

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By cyrena, July 1, 2008 at 4:01 am Link to this comment

I know this is for the CA PDA organization, but it includes information that any progressive Democrats may be interested in. (or I hope). In other words, if there is not already a local PDA chapter in your state, this will provide whatever you need to start one.

******

California PDA on Air America Tuesday July 1!
Tune in online here and listen to Mimi Kennedy co-hosting CLOUT with Richard Greene. “PDAir America” will welcome endorsed California Congressional Candidates Bill Durston and Steve Young, and PDA California Organizers including Dr. Bill Honigman and Marcy Winograd.

Richard Greene has been very supportive of PDA, and we hope to show our support for him by listening to “Clout” at 6:00 PM PDT daily.  Click here to listen to the live stream. We need to drive up the online listener numbers up to keep “Clout” on the air with PDA!

CLOUT is all about what PDA does. Richard focuses on what we as progressives have to do, like electing progressives to Congress to hold Obama and Pelosi’s feet to the fire, and keeping Congress working on the Progressive Agenda. Together, we have CLOUT!

Richard writes: “I reached out to PDA in hopes that Tuesday nights could become the Progressive Community’s 2 hours on radio—every week, same time, same Bat Station. If tomorrow we could show a serious bump in stream numbers, 2,000 or more PDA members who log on at the beginning at 6:06 Pacific and stay (I would love for them to also call in and jam the call lines—866-303-2270), this would give me enough CLOUT! to keep this kind of community radio on the air.”

California is the leader of the progressive movement, and PDA’s California team is counting on you to click in, tune in, and listen!
Listen, call in, support PDA on the Radio tomorrow evening, 6 PM Pacific!

Yours in the Movement,
Tim Carpenter
National Director

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By cyrena, June 30, 2008 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller,

Glad you saw the Naomi Wolf video. I wasn’t even aware of this recent one, which includes some extra stuff from when I attended a lecture she provided here, before her latest book. (which is excellent).

This was also posted, (if you want a list of these 10 steps – I got chills and had nighmares when I first read these steps) in the Guardian over a year ago. Since then, there’s a good collection of various articles on this, (we put them together for a course in the Winter term of this year) to tie it together. I believe they should all still be available.

Meantime, I really appreciate this video, because while I’ve been horrified by this stuff for some years now and screaming about it…most folks really have NOT found anything particularly fearful, and it seems like it’s because they aren’t aware that this stuff is even happening. My family has been thinking I’ve been over-exaggerating these major concerns, and I don’t have the same talent as Naomi has in explaining what all of this MEANS! And why they should be scared silly. (or in the case of the kids, sillier than they already are.)

Anyway, I said that to say that I’m grateful for the video, since not everybody has the time or opportunity to follow this stuff reading, or can attended these lectures. Seeing the video makes it easier than me trying to explain it. And, I wouldn’t have know that this lecture was available on video if you all hadn’t mentioned it here. So thanks.

Her book is worth the purchase as well. I don’t think it was that expensive. Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine was more, but it should be available in softcover soon, if not already.


Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
Naomi Wolf
Tuesday April 24, 2007
http://w/ww.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329789179-110878,00.html

It Could Happen Here
Joe Conason
Feb 19, 2007

This is an excerpt from his book


http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2007/02/19/conason/print.html


The Bill of Wrongs: The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006
Dahlia Lithwick


http://www.slate.com/toolbar.aspx?action=print&id=2156397

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By cann4ing, June 30, 2008 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

Max, your last post has got to be one of your most disingenuous.  First, from Webster’s, “partisan:  a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause or person.”  Nader didn’t display much in the way of party loyalty when he dumped the Greens but I believe his followers are adherents to Nader, the person, and his cause.

No difference between Obama & McCain on anything important?  I suppose you do not feel climate change is important, for McCain opposes Sen. Boxer’s Climate Security Act—Obama supports it.  McCain, who is the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from the oil, coal and gas industries (2d to Kay Bailey Hutchinson R.Tx) supports off shore drilling, opposes a windfall profits tax and has stated that he would be opposed to requiring the oil industry to invest their windfall profits into alternative energy.  (Obama precisely the opposite).

NARAL not only gave McCain a zero rating because he flip-flopped on Roe and now opposes a woman’s right to choose (Obama supports it) but McCain went so far as to even vote against a bill requiring insurance companies to pay for prescription birth control.

You may think the right to have a court determine the factual basis for executive detention (habeas corpus, a right dating back to the Magna Carta) is insignificant.  As an attorney, I, a majority of Justices on the Supreme Court, and Barack Obama, the Magna Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law School think it is a very big deal—a fundamental shield against tyranny.  (I suspect if you asked Ralph Nader, he would agree).  McCain and the fundamentalists in robes who already occupy four seats on the Supreme Court feel otherwise.  McCain and the Federalist Societ subscribe to a “Unitary Executive” theory that is not merely radical but subversive in that it would spell an end to separation of powers and extend to an American president the power to rule as Hitler did, by executive fiat.

Your “no difference” propaganda does not gain credibility simply because you are fond of repeating it.

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By Vince Liberty, June 30, 2008 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

Klein says;

““Friedman first learned how to exploit a large-scale shock or crisis in the mid-seventies, when he acted as an adviser to the Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet.”

BZZT! Wrong, Naomi, he FIRST learned to exploit a large-scale crisis when he and Beardsley Ruml, president of Macy’s, instituted income-tax witholding on behalf of the Roosevelt Administration at the start of World War II;

http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj14n3-1.html

(yes it’s from the Stato institute, but read it, it’s a good analysis.)

At the same time, with the New Deal, FDR had already pretty well organized the US economy, at least at the top level as a corporatist state following Mussolini’s pattern. This is on top of the creation of the Federal Reserve (which socialized the costs and privatized the profits of money and banking in the US) and the imposition of the income tax itself (which immorally enslaved the population to the federal government).

Though there was finally economic recovery after WWII, the free market died a slow, agonizing death and has never been resurrected.

What people like Naomi Klein, and the older Milton Friedman call capitalism is actually a tightly-regulated system of state corporatism. There is no more capitalism.

But “Disaster Capitalism” SOUNDS so much better than “Disaster State-Corporatism” and serves the socialist impulse better than “Disaster Fascism”.

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By Vince Liberty, June 30, 2008 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

BZZT! Wrong, Naomi, he FIRST learned to exploit a large-scale crisis when he and Beardsley Ruml, president of Macy’s, instituted income-tax witholding on behalf of the Roosevelt Administration at the start of World War II;

http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj14n3-1.html

(yes it’s from the Stato institute, but read it, it’s a good analysis.)

At the same time, with the New Deal, FDR had already pretty well organized the US economy, at least at the top level as a corporatist state following Mussolini’s pattern. This is on top of the creation of the Federal Reserve (which socialized the costs and privatized the profits of money and banking in the US) and the imposition of the income tax itself (which immorally enslaved the population to the federal government).

Though there was finally economic recovery after WWII, the free market died a quiet death and has never been resurrected.

What people like Naomi Klein, and the older Milton Friedman call capitalism is actually a tightly-regulated system of state corporatism. There is no more capitalism.

But “Disaster Capitalism” SOUNDS so much better than “Disaster State-Corporatism” and serves the socialist impulse better than “Disaster Fascism”.

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By Max Shields, June 30, 2008 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,

Partisan is not synanomous with agenda. I don’t think you can make that case from the root of the word partisan: Etymology: Middle French partisan, from north Italian dialect partiźan, from part part, party, from Latin part-, pars part.

Nader certainly has a series of issues which he sees as root causes to our foundering system. These are not being addresssed by either Parties or Candidates. In other words he is meta-partisan if we want to play word games.

The existing two party system is dysfunctional. I think you’d be hard pressed to find real differences between Obama and McCain. Let’s take nuclear energy. McCain has recently said he’s for it. Obama says he’d consider it. Invading Iran. McCain seems to be more inclined. Obama has indicated that he wouldn’t hesitate to use force if he thought Israel was jeopardized or if “he” thought Iran was in the process of developing a nuclear weapon. McCain wants to keep health care private; so does Obama.

We can go right through the list and even include areas like same sex marriage. McCain is against; Obama doesn’t agree but wouldn’t oppose. And on and on and on.

Other than FDR - and his story is complicated by many factors - there’s little to put your hat on with one party vs the other; particularly with regards to war and foreign policies which are integral to domestic.

The problem, Ernest, isn’t that Dems and Repubs haven’t shimmied this way and that over the centuries. The problem is that it is all a game because they are not kept honest and they own the rules, lock stock and barrel. “You stand here, and I’ll stand there.” It’s as JG has said a rigged system. And it almost seems natural to have a rigged system after all of these years. It’s like two old fighters going at it for the thousanth time. They know each other’s every move, every muscle twitch and so it’s all mechanical. They can only fake the audience by giving them a show, because there is literally nothing for them to fight about….their old and tired (regardless of the age of their bodies).

It’s time for change!!!

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By cann4ing, June 30, 2008 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

Max, Nader may be running as an “independent” but that does not make his agenda non-partisan.  To the contrary, Nader’s overall agenda is quite partisan.  It is a progressive agenda with which, for the most part, I agree, but certainly a partisan agenda.  The areas in which I disagree with you and Nader are limited but significant.  First, I disagree with his and your continued insistence that there is “no difference” between Republicans and Democrats—I have repeatedly touched upon massive evidence to the contrary.  And I disagree with the “tactic” of a third party strategy and Nader’s role as the perennial footnote of U.S. presidential campaigns which is but a fool’s errand.

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By Max Shields, June 30, 2008 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Ernest,

You’ve managed to contort/distort pretty much everything I’ve written and dwelled on the Kennedy statement. This may work in a courtroom, but it’s more transparent here. I said that Kennedy was in on the coup and that the result of the coup was the killing of Diem. End of story.

Not that clarification will help, but Nader is an Independent not a partisan. You’ve said you agree with Nader on the issues. So do I. So how does that make me a partisan - he doesn’t belong to a party.

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By cann4ing, June 30, 2008 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

Oh, just a brief addition, Max.  Your suggestion that you are simply trying to tease out history as opposed to partisan revisionism doesn’t measure against the Nader agenda you have carried out since you began posting at Truthdig—an agenda in which you repeatedly assert that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans; Obama and McCain, and you conveniently ignore each and every instance in which fundamental differences appear, such as the one I previously highlighted over appointments to the Supreme Court.

In this instance you stated the widely held belief that JFK ordered the assassination of Diem—a belief which is the product of a forged documents.  Rather than conceding that perhaps what you thought you knew was not so, your comeback was, well, he was the POTUS.

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By cann4ing, June 30, 2008 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

Max, the absurdity of your retort, after all he was the POTUS, can be exposed as follows.  If Lane is correct, and I believe he is, the CIA and anti-Castro Cubans plotted and carried out the assassination of JFK—something not only documented at length by Lane in “Plausible Denial” but later verified by way of E. Howard Hunt’s death bed confession.  Using your logic, since JFK was the POTUS at the time the plot was being hatched, JFK is the one ultimately responsible for his own death.  Hmmmm, not a very convincing retort, Max.

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By Max Shields, June 30, 2008 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

Ernest
“JFK did indeed accept the already existing plans for the Bay of Pigs and approved operation Mongoose, which included efforts to assassinate Castro, but Lane documents that he then underwent change—fundamental change that posed a threat to the imperial designs of the men in charge of the CIA and that is why he was killed.”

First, I NEVER SAID that JFK was in on the original plans for the Bay of Pigs; but there was a continued effort to “get” Castro during his (JFK’s) administration. You can blame it on renegade CIA all you want but HE was the POTUS. He was a relative hardliner regarding his world-view and intervention. His presidency was cut short and so much can be speculated on but he was no soft-power liberal from all accounts.

Was he changing his mind about Vietnam? Quite possibly but during his administration with his for-knowledge, the Diem government was toppled resuling in the death of Diem. We can bat this around but I’m not exaggerating nor putting undue blame on Kennedy. He is not alone in his stance. He was a cold warrior; as was Truman. I’ve got no dog in this fight regarding Dems/Repubs.

I’m trying to tease out the history rather than the partisanship revisionism that paints our Presidents as Great (Reagan, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, etc.). These were significantly flawed Presidencies in ways that cost the lives of many thousands of innocent human beings. FDR’s soft-power in Latin America was certainly a significant improvement but it was still based on a doctrine of Manifest Destiny only instead of guns it was through US Corporate dominance.

But you keep putting “words” in my “mouth”. Perhaps not intentially. What Kennedy may or may not have wanted to happen that happened under his administration can be debated. But it speaks to his sense of the world and his ability to signal that forceful intervention was not his agenda (I don’t think he was ever clear on that given his campaign leading up to his election.)

Kennedy was certainly not the most agregious. In many respects, Reagan takes that prize; but certainly 3 million Vietnamese dead as a result of the escalated war in Vietnam needs to be shared by both Johnson and Nixon. Vietnamese lives were cheap; such is the view held by imperial empires.

And, quite frankly, I see no real difference between the two candidates before us today. I’ve yet to hear an American leader (other than Kucinich) show any remorse for the slaughter of children in Iraq and Afganistan. Where’s Obama’s rhetoric on that?

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By cann4ing, June 30, 2008 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

Max, many of the things you claim are “quite clear” turn out not to be so clear after all.  Many things have occurred which have been beyond the knowledge and consent of the POTUS, and your “quite clear” link between the Diem assassination and Kennedy turns out to be a forgery.  JFK did indeed accept the already existing plans for the Bay of Pigs and approved operation Mongoose, which included efforts to assassinate Castro, but Lane documents that he then underwent change—fundamental change that posed a threat to the imperial designs of the men in charge of the CIA and that is why he was killed.

Just days before his death, JFK told the Inter-American Press Associates in Miami that the US would “not dictate to any nation how to organize its economic life.”  When French journalist Jean Daniel, conveyed to Castro JFK’s position, Castro not only told Daniel that he believed Kennedy was “sincere,” but that he believed Kennedy “still has the possibility of being, in the eyes of history, the greatest president of the United States, the leader who may at last understand that there can be coexistence between capitalists and socialists.”

As to RFK, the man at one time served as staff counsel for Senator Joseph McCarthy at a time when McCarthy was engaging in his red scare, but like his brother, RFK changed, and much to the better.

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By Max Shields, June 30, 2008 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

Ernest
It is quite clear that the Kennedy admin (exception, Bobby Kennedy) were responsible for the coup that led to Diem’s death.

Kennedy ran on a militaristic “platform” in 1960, running away from the Eisenhower desire to reduce military interventionism. So, I think it is you who are buying into the fanciful notion that JFK and LBJ were such wonderous administrations in this regard.

Kennedy was sideblinded with the Bay of Pigs, but persisted to go after Castro. The point, again, is that while some of this was botched or not entirely his direct doing, his administration was much more militaristic than the one that came before. And of course there’s our man Truman. Now when it come to military involvement and dropping A-bombs he takes the cake. Another D; or are you going to tell me that you have an author that refutes that it was really the Commander In Chief who decided to drop those horrific bombs on Japanese civilians?

I will say, that FDR was exceptional in many ways, not least of which was his Good Neighbor policy (something Hoover had raised, but clearly FDR deserves full credit for a significant, though momentary change in American approach; but still US always held the upper hand). But I would argue (and some would say his actions pushed the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor, but for now let’s pass on that) he is the exception (perhaps lonely exception.)

All of these things happens when a nation, its leadership intervene through a superior, many times racist attitude that belittles the life of others and so recklessly destroys and murders. You can pretty that up, but that’s the raw truth.

Who the hell were we to topple the Diem government? You’ve heard of Nuremburg no doubt. What does it say about the ultimate crime against humanity?

I rest my case.

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By jersey girl, June 30, 2008 at 4:40 am Link to this comment

trouble:  I know. That’s how they’ve arranged it. Funny how it’s always the least progressive candidates who get the nomination, huh?  It’s never a real populist.  Why do you think that is?

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By cann4ing, June 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

Max, I see that you have bought into the widespread but entirely erroneous belief that JFK ordered the assassination of former South Vietnamese President Ngo Dihn Diem. 

Mark Lane’s “Plausible Denial” includes excerpts from the sworn testimony of E. Howard Hunt, wherein Hunt admitted that, long after Kennedy’s death and at the behest of Charles Colsen, Hunt had undertaken to forge State Department cables in order to implicate Kennedy in the assassination.  Hunt accomplished this by drafting cables that could no longer be found in sequence in the State Department’s files because they had been transferred to the Kennedy library.  Hunt copied the forged cables, then forward copies to “Time” and “Life.”

JFK provides the perfect example of overstatement by Noam Chomsky.  Citing Ray Garthoff “Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis,” but no direct sources, Chomsky asserts a mere ten days before his assassination, JFK approved a CIA plan to target a Cuban oil refinery, power plant etc.

Lane, while acknowledging an initial JFK approval of Operation Mongoose, upon learning that Gen. Lansdale sent three teams into Cuba, a “furious” RFK cancelled all “sabotage and militant operations,” then abandoned Mongoose altogether.  Lane claims the CIA killed Kennedy because he intended to dismantle the CIA after an expected 1964 victory, had issued National Security Action memo 263 containing a blueprint for a total withdrawal from Vietnam and was seeking an accord with Castro, a point supported when Kennedy, thru Ambassador Wm. Atwood sent French journalist Jean Daniel to convey to Castro that he, Kennedy, accepted that “the ‘economic colonization, humiliation, and exploitation’ visted upon Cuba were at least in part due to” US policies; that the two countries could “coexist” despite different economic systems—a point reiterated by JFK during an 11/18/63 address to the Inter-American Press Ass. in Miami.

Lane’s position on the intent to dismantle CIA is bolstered by the fact that, after the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy fired its director, Allen Dulles, Dep. Director Charles Cabell and Richard Bissell, Dep. Director of Plans and issued a National Security Action memo which would have eliminated the CIAs ability to initiate operations which required anything beyond the use of handguns.

Both you and Chomsky have proven far too ready to accept anything negative about JFK because negative information fits your central thesis about the consistency of the imperial project, but, at least in this instance, the facts belie the thesis.

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

Outraged

He wrote at least 1/2 dozen books. P&P;is the best known and would be considered his opus.

But his focus is on common wealth. Those who “cannot” work are not excluded in any fashion. I’m not sure that any economics gives special attention to “non-work”. His claim is that all state income can and should come from the value on land - a term that is inclusive of all natural resources. If implemented as he presents it it would pay an annual stipend to all citizens regardless of whether they can work. Pension/social security would be replaced by this.

Land value (something we do not create, but which society provides value) would be rented and the rent would be returned to the community to pay for infrastructure, schools, social services and as I mentioned a stipend to all citizens. This is laid out in much detail and has been implemented in part in the USA, most extensively out-side the US. I will not go through the entire work, but it is just not accurate to talk about his thinking as if it did not consider all human beings regardless of ability to work.

Thank you for mentioning that it is on line, and I would encourage anyone interested to read it. It is a great work, some say he is one of 5 of the greatest thinkers of all time.

That said, I do not think a single thinker or book speaks to the entire set of human needs (limited though those are). So, I would say a complement to HG is the Chilean economist - Manfred Max-Neef.

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By Outraged, June 29, 2008 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment

Re: Max Shields

You mentioned the book “Progress and Poverty” by Henry George.  The book in its entirety is available on line (free) if any-one’s interested.  I’ve read chapters here and there, it’s definitely interesting.  A cursory look at Henry George’s position is that EVERYTHING is based on the “worker” and it appeared that he gives no thought or attention to those who cannot work (elderly, disabled) at least not in the portions I read.  So to me then one could not eradicate poverty.  However, I also did not read the full context….possibly he does address that very RELEVANT issue, I don’t know. 

Anyway, the link for anyone who’s interested:

http://www.henrygeorge.org/pcontents.htm

And an excerpt (Chap. 3):

“In these cases, we see that wages in money are the same as wages in kind. Is this not true of all cases in which wages are paid for productive labor? Isn’t the fund created by labor really the fund from which wages are paid?

Now, the argument may be made that those working for themselves get nothing if some disaster spoils the work; but those working for an employer get their wages anyhow. This is not a real distinction, however. Generally, any disaster that prevents an employer from benefiting from labor also prevents the employer from paying wages. On the whole, labor done for fixed wages produces more than the amount of the wages. Otherwise, employers could not make any profit.

Production is the source of wages. Wages come from the fruits of labor—not the advance of capital. Labor always precedes wages. This is true whether wages are received from an employer, or wages are taken directly from the efforts of the workers. Wages paid by an employer imply the previous rendering of labor by the employee for the benefit of the employer. This is true whether paid by the day, week, or month, or even by the piece.

Though it is obvious the way I have explained it, many important deductions are based on the opposite position. How can it be considered plausible that wages are drawn from capital? It begins with the assertion that labor cannot operate unless capital supplies it with maintenance. The unwary reader agrees that labor must have food and clothing in order to work. Having been told that such items are capital, the reader then accepts the conclusion that capital is required before labor can be applied. From this misdirection, it appears to be an obvious deduction that industry is limited by capital. That is to say, that the demand for labor depends on the supply of capital. Hence, it appears to follow that wages are set by the ratio between the number of laborers looking for employment and the amount of capital available to hire them.

A fallacy exists in this reasoning that has entangled some of the brightest minds in a web of their own spinning. But I think our discussion in the previous chapter will enable us to spot the error. It is the use of the term capital in two different senses.”

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

JG,
I didn’t say Obama was going to change much, but he’s the lesser of two evils and that’s the only choice we ever get.  I know I contradict myself sometimes not having an airtight mind like some people here, but this political stuff begins to drive me mad.  I listened to an interview with Hemingway’s son today on NPR.  He said, “Literature is what smart people do instead of dope.”  There is a need to get away from this stuff and art does it.

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

By troublesum, June 29 at 3:37 pm #

“...They think voting is a big deal.  After they vote he’ll tell them to sit down and shut up.’

BINGO!!!

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment

Trouble: “We didn’t give it to them if that’s what you’re getting at.  They took it”

Than who did?

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,

I don’t think either JG or I meant that that is the only significant date; but it does connect with a very important moment and one that should be noted as pivotal.

Ernest, I’m not talking about “perfection” or “achieving egalitarian…”, I’m talking about what the US government has done over 2 hundred years and about one hundred years in partnership with corporations in the world around us. I’m not suggesting that it all began with Allende.

The history is long and consistent with Manifest Destiny. Of course Johnson followed this path; and so did Kennedy who had the elected leader of S. Vietnam assassinated and replaced. Check out Tim Weiner book on the CIA and Kennedy - Legacy Of Ashes.

The problem Ernest is you still think there’s a “santa claus” and he gets elected POTUS whenever there’s a D after his name. It aint so. So, equivocate all you will that’s what you’re trying to pass off here as if I’ve come along to rain on your parade.

There are books written by reputable historians and social critics who consistently paint a salient picture that you want to reduce to “less than perfect”.

But that’s the difference. If Kucinich were to swing and endorse Obama, than I would conclude he chose Party over Principles; you’d say, see, even Dennis had to support the Dem (‘cause by virtue of the D he’s better).

Btw, Jeff Faux has done some good work.

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

People like Obama come along every few decades to get people excited about elections.  He has apparently brought millions of new voters into “the political process.”  They think voting is a big deal.  After they vote he’ll tell them to sit down and shut up.

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

Max,
We didn’t give it to them if that’s what you’re getting at.  They took it.

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By jersey girl, June 29, 2008 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

trouble.. you posted “As the other wing of The Party, Democrats are complicit in 90% of what Bush has done which is why they won’t impeach him.  They voted almost unanimously for the patriot act twice.  They have approved of the illegal wiretapping.  They gave him a green light in Iraq and another in Iran”

NOW tell me how Obama will change things for the better?  Obama voted for every bill to fund the iraq war which he says he wouldn’t have voted for.  He voted for the patriot act.  He won’t vote against the fisa bill compromise though he said he would BEFORE he was the nominee..now he has NO problem compromising our civil liberties.  He’s talking terrorism just like the cowboy president and calling Iran a “threat”. He wants to reach across the aisle to the republicans instead of saying.. Oh HELL NO! We’re gonna do things differently now!

Now go and argue he’s using doublespeak to get elected and it’s all a ruse to get in office.  Yea right, that’s why his backers are the huge investment bankers, nuclear industry and his advisors are imperialists. To say nothing of him being an aipac appeaser. 

Damn, you screwed yourself to the wall with your own words and then you want us to believe Obama is really that much different than McCain?  And dont’ give me the supreme court nomination as an argument.  The dems let Roberts and Alito in.  Without their votes, they wouldn’t be sitting on the court.  And seeing Obama moving so quickly to the right, the odds are he will pick a moderate at best.  There is no indication he will choose a liberal judge. Even if he does, you think the republicans will gave like the dems did?  Ha!

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

“Its nice to think the powers that be would just cave if people started holding meetings isn’t it? “

Who said anything about “powers that be” caving in?

First, where do you think their power comes from?

Let’s hold up the mirror. But what’s more futile than marching off like lost lambs and voting for the same ol same ol?

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

Max,
Its nice to think the powers that be would just cave if people started holding meetings isn’t it?  In South America it has been a continuous struggle for a hundred years against facist dictators backed by Washington.  And then there are the right wing death squads.  Do you think that the military-corporate state would just fold if we start having meetings?  David Dellinger used to say in his public talks that the FBI has a list of people to round up at the first sign of trouble and that his name was on it.

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By cann4ing, June 29, 2008 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

Max & JG:  If you only date disaster capitalism to 1913, what term would you use to describe the imperial conquest of the Phillippines commencing in 1898.

The problem I see with both of you is that you are so Hell bent in asserting some perceived shortcoming in Klein’s analysis that you miss the core issue.  Klein never asserted that U.S. imperialism began with the 9/11/73 overthrow of Salvador Allende.  What she is describing is simply a new and more aggressive imperial strategy, the beginnings of which can be found in that event.

Jeff Sachs’s role is discussed by Jeff Faux in “The Global Class War” in which he describes a “colossal arrogance” in the neoliberal effort to remake the world in the American economic image, an effort which seeks to justify “uncompromising methods—the ‘shock therapy’ or the ‘big bang theory of social change.’  Lawrence Summers, the Clinton administration’s point man for the global makeover, along with…Jeffrey Sachs, demanded that the countries in debt to the U.S. Treasury, the IMF, and the World Bank transform their economies overnight, that they immediately decontrol their prices, privatize their state enterprises, create stock markets, and rip up their subsidies to food, medicine, housing and other basic necessities of life.”

If that sounds strikingly like Friedman, it is because it is—and it is precisely what the Clinton administration and the DLC embraced when they betrayed the working class base of the Democratic party by joining with Bush and Reagan in ramming NAFTA through on the fast track.

But, this was not the philosophy of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter or any other Democrats who had applied New Deal/Keynesian economics, and it is not the philosophy of the present day progressive wing of the Democratic Party. 

Yes, the ideal would be to rein in the military industrial complex, put an end to U.S. imperialism and replace the greed based capitalist system with democratic socialism, but are the two of you so blind that you cannot recognize the fundamental distinction between Keynesian economics and the radical form of capitalism advanced by the Chicago School?  Is everything in your narrow universe either black or white with no subtle gradations?

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By jersey girl, June 29, 2008 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment

Max:  Good point.  I wasn’t aware the republicans had a monopoly on sending our sons and daughters off to war.

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller,
I like the Wolf video too.  There are so many daily events which go unreported like Wolf finding her name on “The List” and then finding the letter from HLS in her suitcase.  Chilling.

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By jersey girl, June 29, 2008 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment

trouble: No doubt McCain is unstable. There is no way he will win in November unless another election is stolen. Is there?

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Troublsum

“He wants our children, our grandchildren and great grandchildren…..”

So, when haven’t we been at war (or major conflict or infiltrating and toppling governments)?

Just curious with your prognosis, it sounds like status quo.

Want change - get a hold of your local community, start town hall meetings (real ones with full participation, not questions to candidates) and start to create the world we and the rest of life deserves. The rest of this is lazy BS (pretend democracy between commercials).

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By Leefeller, June 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

Troublesome,

Checked out the Naomi Wolf video, many of us see the hand writing is on the wall she helps connect the dots,  her list of 10 things to the fall of a Democracy, (I say Republic)  we need be aware and help others be made aware.  She ended by saying we need to prosecute the criminals in office, makes sense to me.

We do need our Constitution back.

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

This election will matter.  McCain shows signs of mental confusion associated with aging.  That together with his love of war for the sake of war spells disaster.  He wants our children, our grandchildren and great grandchildren…..

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

JG, Good to “see” you again. The Greenwald piece is right on the money.

“Actually, the rise of disaster capitalism started with congress in 1913 with the founding the the federal reserve.”

Right again! That’s when local currency was displaced by Fed. legal tender. It was the beginning of the end for democracy because we lost the most vital part of local economy - the ability to monitor local economic health. Once we aggregated everything to the Feds we lost all connection to local civics and community. We were sucked into a blob and we’ve been playing by that tune ever since.

The severeing of that connection was the final dagger in the heart of any sort of meaningful democratic control over our destiny. Fed legal tender positioned us for the Great Depression and the roller coaster ride we’re on today.

I don’t know how, say, San Franscico’s balance of trade is, but I bet it has very little to do with the mess at the national level. There is no real national economy and all the the indices that follow are meaningless fabrications.

This is what neo-classical economics has given us. Classical economics has been ripped from all American University economic programs. That’s why no one knows one of the greatest American thinkers - Henry George. His whole economic around common wealth and land has been relegated to the academic trash bin. HG was the leading economist of his day, the widest selling book in economics of all times (Progress and Poverty), second to Mark Twain in World-wide recognition, considered a genius by Tolstoy, Einstein, Dewey and many more. Ran against T. Roosevelt for Mayor of NYC and won - except the Dem machine refused him the win. World traveler - his theories are implemented in Australia, New Zealand, Singapour, Denmark, South Africa and many other places including cities and towns in PA with incredible results. Delaware has several intentional towns using his common land theories.

Meanwhile, back in make believe, we’ve got the Friedmans and Sachs and the rest of the corporate global economist preaching capitalism to the world and intervening in the most horrific fashion. Their motto: got to get the “savages” to see the light of our superior “civilized liberalism”. And when they refuse (as in Iraq) T. Friedman has some chice racist words to ponder.

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By jersey girl, June 29, 2008 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

Naomi’s book is nothing new to those of us who have been paying attention for several years.  Actually, the rise of disaster capitalism started with congress in 1913 with the founding the the federal reserve.  That’s when the wealthiest of the elite took control of our republic.  It took them many decades to reach their final endgame but here we are. A one party system ruled by their corporations.  We the people are just pawns in their game of total domination.

Elections? They mean nothing. The game was rigged long ago my friends. We can’t win that way.  It’s a shell game.  When we all wake up to that fact, and only then, can we can seriously discuss what needs to be done to affect REAL change.

BTW:  Hey Max ! I understood what you meant by “acerbic”.  Sheesh, people get so hung up on the semantics of a word instead of reading the context of the sentence to get the gist of the author’s purpose in using it.

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

That other pinko-leftist Naomi - Wolf, that is, also has a shcking book out there THE END OF AMERICA.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjALf12PAWc

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

One point which Klein makes which I haven’t seen before is that the “shock and awe” bombing with which the assault on Iraq began was a clear violation of the Geneva conventions because its intent was to shock and terrorize the civilian population.  This is a crime against humanity on a much vaster scale than anything bin Laden has perpetrated.

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

Milton Friedman is an easy target. He’s neo-classical/Chicago school of economics has been a recent part of US manifest destiny wrapped in neo-liberal “shock therapy”, but he is hardly the first.

What’s interesting is not M. Friedman, but T. Friedman and Jeffrey Sachs. Here’s two guys who march around in sheep’s clothing. These are the guys who push one end and then the other. M. Friedman, Nixon, Bush are transparent in their arrogance. It’s the Tom Friedman’s who want to invade Iraq and create golden straight jackets for third world countries and then turn around and blame Bush for poor execution or become “proponents” of alternative energy. And then there’s Sachs, the shock therapist par excellance for Russia and else where. Countless died due to his little “experiment”. He than becomes the “good” doctor who wants to end world poverty.

The right-wing don’t hide, it’s this liberal brand of interventionism that has played as much (more?) havoc in the world than even the neocons (who’ve only recently known power). They are born off the same tree and infiltrate conservative and liberal administrations.

I do think Klein has some words for these jokers as well. The easy marks can be targeted, but if the progressives don’t get a bead on this type we’ll be in the quagmire of Sudan, or Somalia. American empire is about exceptionalism and it comes in a couple of deadly flavors.

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By felicity, June 29, 2008 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

a_hole79 - I’d venture to say that not a few people who comment on this site didn’t need Ms Klein to tell them what they already knew - if they’ve been even half awake for the last 40 years.

Criticizing Ms Klein’s arguments is easy whereas it’s impossible to deny the historical realities we’ve experienced.

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By cann4ing, June 29, 2008 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

a-hole 79.  You would have done well to actually read “The Shock Doctrine” before buying into a critique from a Libertarian, right-wing think tank that is devoted to the principles Milton Friedman espoused.  Norberg begins his critique by quoting statements from Friedman that suggest benign motives, but then one can traipse out statement after statement by the Bush regime that they were invading Iraq because of (a) WMD, (b) links to 9/11 & al Qaeda, (c) bring democracy and freedom to the Iraqi people.  None of these were valid reasons.

Here is an excerpt from Klein.

“Friedman first learned how to exploit a large-scale shock or crisis in the mid-seventies, when he acted as an adviser to the Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet.  Not only were Chileans in a state of shock following Pinochet’s violent coup, but the country was also traumatized by severe hyperinflation.  Friedman advised Pinochet to impose a rapid-fire transformation of the economy—tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, cuts to social spending and deregulation.  Eventually, Chileans even saw their public schools replaced with voucher-funded private ones.  It was the most extreme capitalist makeover anywhere, and it became known as the ‘Chicago School’ revolution, since so many of Pinochet’s economists had studied under Friedman….Friedman predicted that the speed, suddenness and scope of the economic shifts would provoke psychological reactions in the public that ‘facilitate the adjustment.’  He coined a phrase for this painful tactic:  economic ‘shock treatment.’  In the decades since, whenever governments have imposed sweeping free-market programs, the all-at-once shock treatment, or ‘shock therapy,’ has been the method of choice.

“Pinochet also facilitated the adjustment with his own shock treatments…performed in the regime’s many torture cells, inflicted on the writing bodies of those deemed most likely to stand in the way of capitalist transformation.  Many in Latin America saw a direct connection between the economic shocks that impoverished millions and the epidemic of torture that punished hundreds of thousands of people who believed in a different kind of society.”

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

cyrena,

How does one respond to you? I’m talking about real change and you read “Obama is real change, so what’s up with this guy?” You miss my points so completely as to indicate parallel universes on these topics where Obama is either the text or subtext of any discussion.

It sounds from your posts that your children/ grandchildren know best. It’s too bad that most of the young who support Obama haven’t been there for any of the anti-war marches or protests. They’re leaving that up to Obama (who has no intention of getting all our troops and closing the massive US military base.) If we do scaddle out of Iraq, it will be to go else where.

That’s the fundamental problem with American “democracy” - it doesn’t exist. Vote once every 2, 4, 6 years and go back to your I-Pod.

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

Ernest,

The so-called “progressive wing” of the Dem Party is powerless and few in number. I know your PDA is working to change that. In the meantime, Rome burns.

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By Max Shields, June 29, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Ernest, you are right about who signed it but Nixon greatly expanded it. And Nixon enacted the EPA. And Lincoln (terribly flawed, but considered a great president) was a Repub. So WHAT?

My point is not to apologize for the criminal Richard M. Nixon. So let’s not venture down that red herring path.

Your case for American hegemony to pay for Dem domestic crumbs hardly wins the day. I don’t expect to change your mind because you’ve committed yourself to it. I say our horrific imperial history is bound tightly to our domestic policies. George W. Bush, the drunkard/dope addict is hardly a case to be made for Dems. He’s a strawman for what happens in a nation that has lost its connection to community civics and history.

To settle for the like of Obama is to see Bill Clinton part II to avoid the new demon McCain. These a trumped up msm differences that keep us pretty much where we’ve been. America needs to do what these two parties and their candidates are incapable of doing - begin the process of fundamental transformation of American policies to one which is economically and socally just. That will mean thinking outside of the traditional box. So far Obama and McCain are on the same page and no where near what we need.

DC cannot solve these problems - it is the problem.

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By a_hole79, June 29, 2008 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

I haven’t read this book, but the that Naomi Klein distorts the words and deeds of Milton Friedman isn’t encouraging.  Check out this CATO institute podcast get a glimpse of what I am talking about:

http://www.cato.org/dailypodcast/getfile.php?file=johannorberg_schlockdoctrine_20080625.mp3

The guy featured in this is Johan Norberg, who has also written a thorough debunking of Ms. Klein’s book “The Klein Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Polemics”, which can be found here:

http://www.cato.org/pubs/bp/bp102.pdf

I realize that most of the readers of this site consider free-market think tanks such as The Cato Institute to be evil capitalist propaganda organs, but if you can put aside your emotions and consider the facts, you’ll realize that this book (The Shock Doctrine) isn’t so much based on a fair reporting of facts.

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By cann4ing, June 29, 2008 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

troublesum, I agree with your assessment, but your assessment highlights my disagreement with Max Shields and Ralph Nader.  You recognize that there are two wings of the Democratic Party—a progressive wing reflected by Dennis Kucinich, Robert Wexler and the out-of-Iraq caucus which stands on principles and the rule of law and the corporate wing which is constantly selling out on principles.

Max and Ralph Nader refuse to recognize the distinction.  He treats the matter as if Democrats were all a part of a single, all encompassing entity—The Party—as in George Orwell’s “1984.”

While on matters of substance, you will find me in complete agreement with Nader, whose analysis of corporate America is nothing short of brilliant, when it comes to strategy, Nader’s role as the perennial footnote of presidential campaigns is incredibly stupid.  Since the vast majority of working class Americans are members of the same Democratic Party which Nader consistently condemns, his would have proved a far more effective voice for meaningful change if, instead of starting at the top in 2000, he had targeted the Senate, running as a progressive Democrat in a Democratic primary.

The goal of PDA is to take back the reins of power inside the Democratic Party by challenging the corporatist sell outs during the primaries, one by one.  The fact that there are now 91 members of Congress supporting single payer healthcare is a reflection of the success of the PDA movement, though that success is still well below the numbers needed to capture control of the Democratic Party.  That success would be accelerated if the fractured left stopped spinning off into the futility of third parties and instead focused on the PDA goal.

Capture the Party, the country will follow.

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By Leefeller, June 29, 2008 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

Of couse anyone with half a brain will have concerns and questions of what Obama will do once in the White House,  for I do not claim to have a crystal ball like some.  Actually my concern is more for the House of Repepoos, for who do they represent,  for they seem to be bought and sold like socks? 

My congressman seems to be a fair and balanced,  he is limited,  depending on the policies set by the elite for we have seen little political showing of integrity and accountability, we know policy is not set by the people even though they would tell us otherwise. 

Shock Doctrine seems real enough to me and explains very well why we see what we see happening, for the slow paced demise of peoples rights has been ongoing for much longer then I can phantom to even know.  Bottom line means opportunism demands of the elite who pursue agendas to enhance their coffers and quest for power,  run over any obstacles in the way,  people are nothing but road kill on the highway of elitists   pursuits.

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By AT, June 29, 2008 at 7:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems like Republican Operatives flit around public fund like flies. Wedge issues aside, as long as you keep changing subjects, you will get paid( but not until after you have done time.)

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By troublesum, June 29, 2008 at 2:47 am Link to this comment

As the other wing of The Party, Democrats are complicit in 90% of what Bush has done which is why they won’t impeach him.  They voted almost unanimously for the patriot act twice.  They have approved of the illegal wiretapping.  They gave him a green light in Iraq and another in Iran.  The only thing they have given him any real trouble on is the firing of politically appointed lawyers.  Most of them being lawyers themselves they were outraged that some slick overpaid lawyers got fired by the person who hired them.  That hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans have lost their jobs in the last decade means nothing to them.  Not a single hissy fit.

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By cyrena, June 28, 2008 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

Curious here Max, (at least for those who haven’t read your stuff for a while now, and picked up on your less than disguised purpose)…

•  “…You will not be able to hold Obama accountable if elected; short of massive nation-wide demonstrations (so, far there’s been no appetite for that from our youth who seem content to rally for a “rock star”.)

Tell us Max, have we been able to hold Dick Bush accountable, DESPITE MASSIVE NATION-WIDE AND WORLD-WIDE DEMONSTRATIONS?

I’ve noticed how you somehow seem to exist in mentality that doesn’t even recognize or ever acknowledge what is happening TODAY, or has been occurring for the past 8 years. You simply never even talk about anything that is directly in front of our eyes, right here in the US of A. Ernest mentioned that as well. You always site history, up to a certain point…(maybe 2000?) And you always predict the future in terms of one guy…Barack Obama. He’s like your personal ultimate boogey man. But, everything in-between, you seem to have assigned to the rabbit hole.

What’s up with that? Do you get some sort of ‘frequent poster points’ for every plug that you can log against Obama? When do you collect? Who do you collect from?

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By cann4ing, June 28, 2008 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

Max, Nixon did not “usher in Medicare.”  Medicare was signed into law on July 30, 1965 by President Johnson.  Former President Truman was the first American to enroll in the system.

Your post misses the mark by a country mile.  At no time did I excuse the role of Democrats with respect to U.S. imperialism, though, even in that realm there were certainly fundamental differences—e.g., Carter made no effort to interfere with the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and entered the Panama Canal treaty whereas the Reagan and Bush I administrations launched a terrorist assault on Nicaragua using the Contras and invaded Panama.

You may not want to admit it, but it was the Democrats who brought about fundamental changes in wages and hours laws, OSHA, Social Security, Medicare, the NLRB.  (The one favorable mark on Nixon’s record was the Clean Water Act).  I’m not interested in motives.  I’m interested in results.

As an attorney who has represented severely injured workers, I can directly attest to the fundamental change brought about within the California workers compensation system just as soon as the previous Democratic governor was recalled and replaced by a celebrity Republican—and small wonder, since the major contributors to Arnold’s campaign were insurers, like AIG, that stood to gain a direct financial benefit from the legislation which, under a Republican governor, they were able to themselves write—taking away fundamental benefits from injured workers including the right to determine who your physician will be.

I just got done watching a segment of Bill Moyers Journal in which he revealed how the Bush administration simply removed motion-related injuries from the OSHA reporting requirements—resulting in not only underreporting but a massive increase in serious injuries.

Yes, I like you am appalled when U.S. made munitions destroy the lives of innocent Iraqis, Vietnamese, etc., but I am flabbergasted when people such as yourself are so narrowly focused on what is happening abroad that you cannot so much as fathom the horrible things that have happened to people because of a short sighted inability of some to understand the fundamental difference the choice Democrat or Republican makes in the very lives and livelihood of our own citizens right here at home.

So no, Max, I simply don’t buy into the “there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans” argument whether it is made by you, Chomsky or anyone else—not when there is so much empirical evidence mandating the contrary conclusion.

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By Max Shields, June 28, 2008 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,
And Nixon ushered in Detente and Medicare - but continue to wage war in Vietnam.

I mean what is this Ernest? How many Vietnamese or Laotian or Philipinos, or Niguarquan or Dominicans, or Haitians, or Mexicans, or Chilean or Cuban, or Congolese, or Iraqi, or Afgans or Panamanians, or almost countless other places and lives are you willing to forgive because Civil Rights was passed in 1964? Or because poor people in America got food stamps or whatever.

You think FDR went into office with the notion of Social Security? Do you think he did it because he was a LIBERAL? Tell me you’re not reading those 5th grade weekly readers at this point. Please.

American imperialism is what gives you and me the right to waste more of the world’s resources than most of the rest of the world. Prosperity at the expense of over 2 billion other people.

So, don’t tell me that somehow we can separate this little thing called imperialism and American Empire from what we have here and how we got it and continue to get it.

This is not some little dirty secrete we’re talking about. Double talking about knowing that and backpeddling excuses doesn’t cut it. It’s intellectually dishonest because you know better.

And the two candidates, the Parties and corporate interests they serve are IDENTICAL. Splitting hairs on methods and style hardly save the rest of the world from continued bloody intervention.

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By cann4ing, June 28, 2008 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

Of course Johnson’s Tonkin Gulf resolution was not progressive, Max.  It was based on a lie, just as the current conflict is based on a series of lies.  But Johnson was also the President responsible for bringing about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The reason you see no difference is because your vision is focused exclusively on imperial entanglements—something that prevents you, and Chomsky I might add, from recognizing the distinction or from recognizing the fundamental differences that occur in the lives of ordinary citizens as to whether a Democrat or a Republican is the POTUS.

Consider, when Carter was in office the average CEO annual compensation, at $1.3 million, was 39 times that of the average worker.  By 2005, the average CEO salary was $37.5 million, over a thousand times that of the average worker, who experienced a ten percent loss of real wages during the same period.  The difference in economic philosophy was so great that by 1999, the net worth of just three individuals, Bill Gates, Paul Allen & Warren Buffet was larger than the gross domestic product of the world’s 41 poorest nations and their 550 million people.

Believe it or not, there was a time when Democrats, starting with the Roosevelt administration, actually backed policies that favored the working class.  Now, if you are going to say that Keynesian economics was as much intended to preserve capitalism as well as to ameliorate the excesses embodied in laissez faire, I would agree, but the reality is that programs like Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance, all the products of Democratic administrations, have served as a life line (usually referred to as a safety net) for millions of Americans.

The current betrayal of labor by the Democratic power elite is relatively new, and came when the Clintons and DLC joined with Reagan/Bush in ramming NAFTA & the WTO down our throats.

So while, Chomsky, Nader, and you continue to urge “no difference,” the choice before the American electorate—Democrat or Republican—is a bit more than simply paper or plastic.  For many over a good number of years, it has translated into economic survival.

Does that mean that I disagree that fundamental change is required in terms an increasingly militaristic imperialism—no, of course not.  But I refuse to be drawn into your myopic inability to define everything and every one by the single yard stick of imperialism.

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By Max Shields, June 28, 2008 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,

Your use of Reagan or Bush II to make your case for Party differences is flawed.

First, you can make the case that Nixon was the first to go to China or that Reagan’s relationship with Gorbachev and so this made them unique in their pragmatics over ideology. Or that some of the cabinet members and under-secretaries under Reagan are some of the harshest of Bush and the economics that exists today. I think Reagan’s SoS George Shultz is an ardent advocate for eliminating ALL nuclear warheads world-wide and exemplifies what no Dem Prez has ever aimed for, etc etc etc.

Chomsky (and I would agree) is not talking about a personality here and there in the White House or in the Cabinet post (look at Brezinksi, the uber-cold war war-hawk under Jimmy Carter. In fact, Ford and Carter were the first to bring in the military minded types at this level according to historian Greg Grandon).

What Chomsky means is the alignment to the Washington Consensus is consistent from one administration to another regardless of party. When Nader says there is no real difference, he acknowledges (as does Chomsky, and me)that there are differences; but on the fundamental core issues the parties see our foreign and economic policies as the American way.

That has become ever more hardened over the last 3 1/2 decades in terms of the DLC brand of Democratic strategies and governance. Clinton being the ultimate example because he’s the only one to win the WH.

Do I think Jimmy Carter on Israel over the last few decades has been more right than not? Absolutely. Do, I think Clinton was willing to provide a forum for Israel/Palestinian talks? Sure (not that they were handled evenly).

But all of these administrations are part of a long lineage of modern day imperial endless war. A sane person cannot look at the facts and deny it.

That is what Chomsky, Nader (and me) mean by there’s no REAL difference. Do you think that Lyndon Johnson’s Tonkin resolution and resulting quagmire was “progressive”? (There are literally hundreds,thousands of similar incidents across parties.)

You will not be able to hold Obama accountable if elected; short of massive nation-wide demonstrations (so, far there’s been no appetite for that from our youth who seem content to rally for a “rock star”.)

(I think Parcelsus has indicated he understood, within context, what I meant by acerbic.)

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By Joe R., June 28, 2008 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Shock Doctrine is as important to us today as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book,  Uncle Tom’s Cabin was in the 19th century.  There is so much to learn from Klein’s book.  It scares the hell out of me that there is this type of massive conspiracy. It can be easily seen if you just know how to open your eyes and see.  Naomi Klein opens our eyes to an evil that pervades our entire society and plays by it’s own rules.  It must be stopped.  Slavery is going to be the end result if it is not stopped.

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By cann4ing, June 28, 2008 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

Max:  From Webster’s, “acerbic:  acid in temper, mood or tone.”  Your response to Parcelsus reflects that you simply erred in your choice of words.  If you wanted to suggest that my posts somehow softened the bite of Chomsky and Zinn’s critiques, then you should have said so.

Of course, I hold the greatest respect for both Chomsky and Zinn, but that doesn’t mean that I have to always agree with them.  Like you, Chomsky is constantly trying to make the case that there is no difference between Democratic and Republican presidents—an assertion that is fraught with overstatement, as exemplified by the very different paths taken by George H. W. Bush who parlayed his status as a former president into magnifying his fortune through the Carlyle Group and Jimmie Carter, who has devoted his time since leaving office to Habitat for Humanity, becoming the first former president to visit Fidel Castro and openly critiquing the 40 year illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The difference is also embodied in the following three quotes:

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”—FDR

“The greatest challenge we face is the growing gap between the rich and poor people on earth.”  Carter

“More than anything else, I want to see the United States remain a country where someone can get rich.”—Ronald Reagan.

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By cann4ing, June 28, 2008 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

Freemie, for the most part, I concur with your analysis.  In “The Shock Doctrine,” Klein powerfully links the radical laissez faire economics of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics to dictatorial repression, state terror and torture as part of a blitzkrieg of economic shock and awe in order to force acceptance of radical corporate transformation at a time when societies are reeling from catastrophic events, irrespective of whether those events are the result of natural disaster or man-made.  Her novel analysis exposes neoliberal laissez faire ideology to be as inextricably tied to state terror as Stalinism.

Klein’s work is “ground-breaking” precisely because it removes the veil of neoliberal ideology, exposing the brutal, corrupt and authoritarian nature of the private security state into which the US is continuing to evolve.

However, while Klein acknowledges that “Washington has always regarded democratic socialism as a greater threat than totalitarian Communism, which was easy to vilify and made a handy enemy,” and while Salvador Allende, like Hugo Chavez, could certainly have been described as a “democratic socialist,”  Klein’s focus is on Friedman’s fundamentalist war on Keynesian economics as she repeatedly displays a preference for a “mixed economy”—an unfortunate shortcoming in an otherwise brilliant analysis—one that plays into the corporate media’s fall-back spin that we are now seeing is but a by-product of an incompetent and corrupt Bush/Cheney regime.

While Friedman’s “free-market” ideology is indeed radical, it is not new.  It is a throwback to a broad array of ideological laissez faire mythology and pseudo-scientific social Darwinist theory initially advanced by Herbert Spencer, which became an anti-egalitarian stable of late 19th Century political theorists like William Graham Sumner who suggested millionaires were the “product of natural selection.”  It should come as no surprise that most historians date both the rise of U.S. imperialism and early beginnings of the military-industrial complex to this same Gilded Age.

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mackTN's avatar

By mackTN, June 28, 2008 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

Naomi Klein is absolutely right.  Look at the current mortgage crisis, a disaster of bigger proportions than Enron, which in comparison now looks like a faintly heard warning bell.  You say, well, Lay and others were caught and convicted but they are small sacrificial fry whose demise hardly gums up the engines of profit. 

John Edwards, the presidential candidate whom Nader supported, was the only one who sounded the alarm about the stealthy rise of CORPORATOCRACY.  But he and Nader have been raging in the wind…no one listens.

Land grabs have been taking place all across this country.  Eminent domain allows government to ally with corporations and seize land for municipal purposes, land then handed over to corporate entities. 

Most shocking and unforgivable, the seizure, the theft, of land owned for generations by black families whose ancestors once farmed it.  Black families have lost over a million acres of land to lawyers for corporations and for the most part black families were not even compensated at fair market prices.  Poor people have no recourse against legions of lawyers and municipalities allied with them.  Brilliantly researched by Common Dreams, this thievery continues and it is disgusting.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/1202-03.htm

Read Confessions of an Economic Hitman, which illustrates just how these deeds are done and how our government has been relied on its army of corporateers to accomplish the kind of dirty deeds that the constitution would forbid. 

When Nader denigrates the Democratic Party he knows whereof he speaks.  These “centrists,” since Bill Clinton, believe that aping Republicans is the path to power.  Health care reform—well, it’s not single payer and it leaves the system intact—a bruise, nowhere near a mortal wound.  And the health care companies are now preparing for it so that profits are not threatened.

So few people understand.

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By Paracelsus, June 28, 2008 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

“I’ve notice[d] you seem to dilute the acerbic qualities (what gives them character and punch) of progressives like Zinn and Chomsky. Just an observation.”

Gotcha. Biting they are then. I suppose I reached for an overly literal meaning.

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By Freemie, June 28, 2008 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Naomi Klein is brilliant.  My only criticisms are her allegiance to the left/right paradigm (a false choice) and calling the phenomenon of corporatism/fascism ‘capitalism’ which it is not. Oh yeah, and including global warming into an otherwise highly intelligent expository discussion.

Calling out the Chicago School for the thieving, fleecing, second rate system it is?  Awesome.

Now if Ms. Klein would come over to the light and see that socialism is also the root of much evil and suffering, her work would be revolutionary.

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By Charles E Thomas, June 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We lived in NO for nearly 20 years.  I did a little cooperative work with the Corps, looking at aerial photography for forests, bayous in S. Louisiana.  The engineers were bright, knowledgeable.  The hurricane problem was well understood ... it did not take a cat 5 as on comment suggested. What would sink the city was the storm that came through the Rigeles and into Lake Pontchartrain at just the right tide etc to lift the level of the lake a Cat 5 at low tide,  but maybe a cat 3 at high tide. 
The local engineers knew what was needed, but funding was not forthcoming, several administrations were involved both Dems and Reps. 
This is about infrastructure which has been long suffering while we build WMD systems so expensive they are ludicrous, but make defense industry extremely profitable in every state hence supported by congress beyond any logical restraint.

Our risks and security are much more susceptible to mismanaged natural disasters now that we are spending billions on the war on terror.  This is disaster capitalism indeed.  As we spend more on military weapons systems for non-existent threats, our poor suffered, now it is the lower middle class with the body of the middle class not far behind.

Capitalism as we have promoted it is now our greatest disaster ...

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By Max Shields, June 28, 2008 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

Paracelsus, June 28 at 10:13 am #
said, “In what way are these academics bitter or sour in temperment or speech?”

Here is my direct statement:
“I’ve notice[d] you seem to dilute the acerbic qualities (what gives them character and punch) of progressives like Zinn and Chomsky. Just an observation.”

I’m not saying, certainly not intending to say, that either gentlemen are “bitter”, but that they both share sharp and direct deliveries in presenting their cases. I won’t defend the use of the word beyond this because it loses the point I was trying to get across to Ernest Canning. It can be read differently than intended.

Btw, I found some truth in your earlier post about DC.

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By Ruth MacDonald Wilson, June 28, 2008 at 11:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If tax paying Americans don’t start demanding of their Government, on which they bestow trillions of hard earned dollars, when they can expect to start seeing a fair return on that investment, they will succeed in producing exactly the free standing independent ‘super-corporation’ that this administration, and its ilk, is trying to make of the USGov. It may actually be too late, in that if citizens begin to withhold taxes, the Govt can probably get along now on the fealty (in taxes)  of the corporate aristocracy….just as in the days of landed aristocracies and monarchies…when the King could be depended on to rally his troops on their behalf. The monstrous military power our politicians have allowed the Gov’t to build may assure a return to something like global feudalism. Tom Friedman will love it. Milton couldn’t care less anymore.

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By Paracelsus, June 28, 2008 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

@ Max Shields

“Acerbic is not a word I would use to describe either Zinn or Chomsky.”

DISAGREE

In what way are these academics bitter or sour in temperment or speech?

I find Chomsky unimgaginative and naive, but he is good at documenting U.S. foreign policy, and the American MSM. He is a good primer on a number of subjects, but after awhile one would outgrow him. I appreciate Zinn’s recollection of his bombing mission in Europe. Even “good” wars are evil. So he encouraged me to have a new viewpoint WW II. I went on to research how are enemies were aided by American industrilaists as well as by our banking system, and Wall Street. I think of WW II as avoidable and unnecessary. I thank Zinn for that evolution in thought.

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By Max Shields, June 28, 2008 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Ernest,
“Max, while many will find ways to agree to disagree, you and I have a knack for finding ways to disagree even when we agree.

AGREE


“Acerbic is not a word I would use to describe either Zinn or Chomsky.”

DISAGREE

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By cann4ing, June 28, 2008 at 6:22 am Link to this comment

Max, while many will find ways to agree to disagree, you and I have a knack for finding ways to disagree even when we agree.  Acerbic is not a word I would use to describe either Zinn or Chomsky.

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By Max Shields, June 28, 2008 at 6:06 am Link to this comment

What Obama illuminates most fully for us is the total shame of the American political system, particularly at the national level, where accountability is at best slight, vague and occurs every several years under a duopolistic system of money = winner = takes all.

But why Obama does this in a way that is a culmination of all the faux POTUS races that have come before, is because of the hype and build up of a mega-super-duper change and hope star.

The man behind the curtain, as we see is the SAME; it matters not what they parade in front of us for daily viewing.

And so we have the ultimate in your face rejection of where the American people want and desparately need to go, ripped away in a slight of hand game which leaves us nothing, EXCEPT where we must make, our local and global world what we need it to be, void of war, and built on mutual trust and an economics that is living and trade that is FAIR.

Town halls by, for and of the People are popping up and will transform the body polity, economy, and environment stewardship. Make it happen where you are.

DC will crumble on its own weight of irrelevance.

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By Paracelsus, June 28, 2008 at 3:50 am Link to this comment

I have looked at the parety system in depth, and I know that government in Washington, DC is in open revolt agaisnt its constituents, the American people. The government in DC does not represent us. They use tax money for unpopualr wars and for funding the police state. Voting will not change that. We engage government to uphold the law, not to break it. This government has done nothing but eat out the substance of the American people. This government engages in ruinous economic policies that kill our on manufacturing industries. It is the same ruinous position this land was in when we wer just colonies of the United Kingdom. We have violations of our civil liberties on a daily basis. Again voting will not change this as the the major parties have conspired to war against American citizens with their puppet masters. The republic is gone. The most moderate course action I can suggest is nonpayment of federal taxes. Next we should encourage each state to withdraw from the union as Oklahoma’s state house had ratified. The best we can do is effect change at the local level. The United States government is run by a criminal elite. The republic is gone.

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By paskalis, June 28, 2008 at 1:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m an admirer of Naomi Klein’s writing, but this interview is more of an advertisement-hagiography than anything else.

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By GW=MCHammered, June 27, 2008 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

US

Undermine the System

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By 911truthdotorg, June 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment

Architect Proves “Official” 9/11 Story is a LIE! 

Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, explains in scientific terms how the “official” 9/11 story is a total lie.

Listen: http://www.radiodujour.com/people/gage_richard/ mp3/20080626_jefffarias_richardgage.mp3

Watch his video at: http://www.ae911truth.org

9/11 TRUTH is the only thing that will stop the madness that has happened in this country with these monsters running the show.

Only 9/11 TRUTH will save this country!

Martial law is coming fast - spread the word!

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By 911truthdotorg, June 27, 2008 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

Architect Proves “Official” 9/11 Story is a LIE! 

Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, explains in scientific terms how the “official” 9/11 story is a total lie.

Listen: http://www.radiodujour.com/people/gage_richard/ mp3/20080626_jefffarias_richardgage.mp3

Watch his video at: http://www.ae911truth.org

9/11 TRUTH is the only thing that will stop the madness that has happened in this country with these monsters running the show. 9/11 TRUTH will save this country!

Martial law is coming fast - spread the word!

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By Max Shields, June 27, 2008 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,

Let me just add to your implication that I am just a negative soul, that quite the opposite. I have elsewhere, and you know very well, presented an alternative to what the trajectory of this nation’s imperialism can be. It will take more than the business as usual Repub/Dem pairing off and the futile playing around the edges of PDA (futile because there have always been one version or another of PDA and the fundamental trajectory has not budged one iota).

So, there are clear alternatives and these are not blueprinted manifestos but living transformations in progress. But while these forge ahead they don’t deny the past. We can downplay the past and continue to bring in a new world, but to deny it and partner with it as if the past can be made to conform to some noble words seems naive.

I don’t think this is the message of Klein or Johnson and certainly not Zinn.

To be clear I’m not arguing against the case Klein is making and really wish you wouldn’t distort what I’m saying as if to give credibility to the naive historical perspective “vibrant democratic republic” of yore….

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By Max Shields, June 27, 2008 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,
“You can also engage in nit-picking challenges to the existence of a vibrant Republic by pointing the serious democratic deficiencies reflected by slavery, Jim Crow and the fact that women could not even vote until well into the 20th Century.”

I’m not “nit-picking” or one could say “I am if you are.” But to be serious, this is not simply about a glass half full/half empty optimism/pessimism. I’m talking about a history - yes told by Zinn (how strangely selective you are given the way Zinn depicts the American establishment history and the rancid killing and endless war and you seem to glorify that there are human spirits that demonstrate our vibrant democratic republic (now that’s a twister!). Such spirits exist and existed in the most horrid tyrannical states, that does not make the those states and their missions high spirited or vibrant.

I’m not saying that the principles laid out in the Bill of Rights and Declaration were not high minded and spirited, but they come no where near the reality of how this nation’s forces have been used from the point of inception.

There are good people in America, and else where throughout the world, but we’re not talking about every day people but the centers of power that effect much of life on this planet (and not just human) with such utter disregard (contempt).

I don’t think Klein, Johnson, or Zinn would be so optimistic about our government - about the people? Of course; what else do we have?

(I’ve notice you seem to dilute the acerbic qualities (what gives them character and punch) of progressives like Zinn and Chomsky. Just an observation.)

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By cann4ing, June 27, 2008 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

Max, if you want to look back far enough, one could argue that the U.S. itself is but the product of a 500 year history of a racist-driven European imperial conquest that brought about Middle Passage, slavery in the New World, and later, as the U.S. expansion westward through a genocidal campaign against Native Americans under the racist doctrine of Manifest Destiny.  The modern period of U.S. imperialism could no doubt be dated to the maneuvers that first brought Hawaii under U.S. control in the mid 1880s, followed by a more aggressive expansion and origins of a military-industrial complex in the Spanish-American war.

You can also engage in nit-picking challenges to the existence of a vibrant Republic by pointing the serious democratic deficiencies reflected by slavery, Jim Crow and the fact that women could not even vote until well into the 20th Century.  Yes, Max, the U.S. has never achieved the egalitarian ideals expounded upon in the Declaration of Independence.  It is not and never has been a “perfect Democracy” but then name one “perfect Democracy” that has existed anywhere at any time in human history?

The history of the U.S., like all world history, has been one of class struggle.  There have been periods of relatively greater equality and periods like the current one or the Gilded Age when wealth disparity has produced a reduction in democratic input, but if you take the time to read Howard Zinn’s “Voices of a People’s History of the United States,” you will find what has been vibrant in our Republic throughout—alternative voices which have held greater sway when the power of the forces devoted to the economic exploitation of life are at their lowest ebb.

The problem Max is that you are so fixated on the negatives to be found in the military industrial complex, capitalist exploitation and imperialism, that you neither see nor appreciate the positives, including many to be found at the core of this nation’s founding documents, including a constitution with its rights of free speech, assembly, and due process of law, among others.  Because I see the positives as well as the negatives Max, and because I see the dangers posed by the assault on those constitutional liberties by what Naomi Klein quite aptly describes as “disaster capitalism,” I continue to be of the view that there is a danger that a once vibrant Republic will morph into a fascist “private security state.”

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By msgmi, June 27, 2008 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Natural resoutces are supposed to be products of commercial endeavour, excavated in a manner which it does not abuse the environment, endanger the health of the local residents, and eschews becoming a national security issue. Our oil energy policy had its metamorphysis in the 1930’s when the commercial goals for oil expansion began to be intertwined with gov’t policy-makers in order create a leverage in the Middle East. Once the commercial goals become geopolitical goals, transparency fades into secrecy and national security issues become the driving force for global commercial expansion.  Before the invasion of Iraq, Rupert Murdoch quoted a future price of oil at $24.00/pbl. Indeed, Rupert has political connections and knows best. Dick Cheney had his secret energy meetings at the WH and these meetings could not have been about the Iraqi oil fields, could they? There has been no iota of transparency in our politically driven addiction to oil. Today this addiction speaks for itself based on merit, not the Beltway song and dance.

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By Max Shields, June 27, 2008 at 6:16 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,

Thanks for the clarification, but that is not the point in your post that I was referencing. Rather, it was the mention of a “vibrant democratic republic” as if such a state of being existed in the US and disappeared sometime under the various 20th Century conservative right wing agendas. (Klein’s mention of Kissinger, Reagan and M. Friedman). I think we need to be forthright about our history which was a mix of slavery, imperial conquest and genocide. Our democracy has been very limited, at best, from the beginning and resticted to white land-holding men. Represented form of government dilute democracy and we don’t even have a good handle on representation as we regularly hand over much of our power to people who march off with little to account for until some 2, 4 or 6 years pass.

As to feudalism/fascism, I think both are metaphors because like apartheid they never fully repeat themselves in their first incarnation but only in approximation. Some leeway is than given to their reuse. So, one could rightly make a case for both. The real point is the reference to a state which is contrary to our idealized one - the “vibrant democratic republic” which, again, I say never existed.

Our narrative, thus our reality, needs to emerge, not by imagining a time when some ideal that we need to return to, but by creating it as we “go” the world we want to live in.

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By cann4ing, June 27, 2008 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Max, I never said that the U.S. empire began in the last half century.  My disagreement with Chalmers Johnson’s reference to feudalism pertains largely to the extent that historically feudalism arises in primarily agrarian societies entailing issues of landed gentry.  Klein’s description of the privatized security state most closely tracks the classic definitions of fascism, and I believe fascism is the logical direction forced on a Republic by imperialism and a military-industrial complex.

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By troublesum, June 27, 2008 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

Naomi Klein explains the shock doctrine on democracynow: http://www.democracynow.org/2007/9/17/the_shock_doctrine_naomi_klein_on

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By troublesum, June 27, 2008 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

No one should be concerned about “disaster capitalism” because everything is going to be wonderful when we elect Obama.  Don’t worry, be happy.

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By Jeff29, June 27, 2008 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

Regarding Katrina she says, “to seize on a crisis that they themselves created”.  She is claiming that the Conservatives and large corporations created Hurricane Katrina.  If this is the case, we should definitely let them rule the world because if they have that much control over the elements, they must be God.

I know she is really claiming that global warming caused Katrina and that the Conservatives and large corporations caused global warming.  I won’t even get into the issue of the causes of Katrina, but I just wonder how Miss Klein and her supporters live their lives.  Just she use gasoline?  How about her electricity, where does it come from?  When she travels, does she fly or walk?  What about the products and services she uses everyday?  Does she take any responsibility for her part in contributing to global warming?  What is she doing any differently than the evil conservatives?  My guess is nothing, but then again, I’m sure the rules don’t apply to her.

If people want to make the air and water cleaner, if they want to be good stewards of the earth, I am all for it, but the hypocracy that comes from many regarding this issue is absolutely ridiculous.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 27, 2008 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

We have to get beyond thinking liberal/conservative when it comes to the welfare of our citizens and especially those who need help. 

What the hell does neo- this and neo- that have to do with a government’s responsibility to work in the best interests of all its citizens?

We’ve all been duped. 

Think tanks?  Bosh!!

Foundations?  More Bosh!

There’s something really wrong in a country where a Bush can be president for eight years and it takes a two-year campaign to replace him.

Either you’re for the people or you’re not.  End of story.

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By Carlos, June 27, 2008 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think that this story dovetails nicely with Greg Palast’s ‘Armed Madhouse’.  Disaster capitalism is particularly heinous when the disaster is manufactured (ie:War)

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By felicity, June 27, 2008 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Truthdig. 

Using a crisis when people are suffering and therefore so vulnerable to put in place programs and policies that will benefit you personally - the horror defies all words.

Apart from that ugliness, fear and the threat of rising taxes just about comprise the entire Republican campaign this election year.  What is wrong with letting Bush’s tax cuts for the rich fade into welcome oblivion?  According to any and all Repub mouthpieces, doing so will kill small business persons. Why doesn’t someone ask for the Repub definition of a ‘small business.’  Two employees?  Ten employees?  A thousand?  What’s the average income of the small business person?  Over 250 grand/year? Maybe, but I really doubt it. Does the Bush tax cut really apply to the average small business person? 

So much of what I call Republican Jabberwocky goes unchallenged by Dems, the media and even the guy on the street.  If we can begin to discredit, expose, kill the ‘ideas’ lying around just waiting to be plugged in at a time of crisis, we’d at least have taken a first step to combatting the effects of ‘disaster capitalism.’

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By Jan De Bont, June 27, 2008 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Keep writing these brilliant articles. Naomi Klein’s book is a must read for everyone who is fed up with the gutless and blind MSM and want to get some real insight in what dangerous direction this country is heading.

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By jim, June 27, 2008 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

This is an excellent article. It is easy to miss underlying reasons for political actions. The right wing agenda continues…with different crises.
Well done Kasia!
Jim Baltzell

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By mrmb, June 27, 2008 at 11:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really admire this woman. I have heard her on radio before read her book and all I can say is that she has done an amazing work of political, economic, social and geo-political analysis.

She has woven a complete picture of what our imperialist / zionist domination of this planets is all about, how it works and evolves, who are the actors and players, the tools they use, the savagery and brutality they employ, the human cost of it all, and yet how its all packaged and marketed and presented as freedom and progress and etc….

God bless her, she has done a major service to all!!

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By dale Headley, June 27, 2008 at 10:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Klein has put her finger on it when she points out that this has all been about the right wing’s obsession with destroying every remnant of the New Deal.  That paradigm virtually created the middle class in this country, and they can’t stand it.  They yearn for a return to the 1920’s, when all economic activity was directed towards making the rich richer, and relegating the majority of Americans to a poorly-paid lower class that had no choice but to work for the enrichment of the upper classes.  In a surreptitiously videotaped meeting several years ago of extreme right wing ideologues, Grover Norquist injudiciously exhorted the gathered elite to “destroy the middle class!”  And every single action taken by George Bush in the last 7 1/2 years has been aimed at that goal.  Unfortunately, Bush has been extraordinarily successful.  He finally got his real “mission accomplished” recently when the Iraqi parliament was bribed and intimidated into accepting control of their oil by foreign companies like Exxon, Shell, and Chevron.  The Iraq War is a perfect example of the use of a crisis by the wealthy to become more so.

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By jmmartin, June 27, 2008 at 10:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I lived in New Orleans 14 years, from May 24 1991 until September 4 2005. Klein’s research and analysis only confirm
what many of my friends and neighbors and I knew all along
about the desire of the business community in New Orleans to
maintain a permanent underclass of undereducated, unskilled
workers to do the menial jobs that undergirded the tourist
industry.
  Someone needs to research the way in which the political
elite of New Orleans kept that city dependent on tourism,
while the business community never established itself as
the arbiter and the decider regarding how to attract new
businesses and industries to New Orleans.   

For too long, New Orleans acted like a plantation owner who
depended entirely on one crop, cotton, and who depended on
slave labor to pick that cotton. Analogously, New Orleans
has acted like a plantation owner with only one crop,Mardi
Gras, with Jazz Fest as a smaller acreage, dependent on the
tourists, playing the role of slaves, to produce that crop
of tourist dollars that sustained its economy until Katrina.

Now that the poor laboring class has essentially found itself
unwelcome to return to New Orleans, as evidenced by the
destruction of public housing and the transformation of
the school system to primarily a voucher based student body
that Klein documents, I take no comfort in realizing that
the chickens of neoliberalism and the free market have
come home to roost.

I love New Orleans. As an internally displaced person since
Aaugust 29 2005, I know I can never return to live there and
pay elevated rent to free market landlords and developers. 

My heart breaks with every bit of hard, dark cold facts of life that indicate New Orleans will never recover its charm, attraction and its irresistible nonchalance due to the
selfish, self-serving and elitist economic and social policies that Klein examines.

I cannot help but ask one question that has bothered me
since Katrina struck:
How much of a role did neoliberalism and dependence on the
free market play in causing the construction of inadequate
and flawed levees that drowned over 1800 people in New
Orleans? I can only conclude what everyone in authority
has argued: Hurricane Katrina did not destroy New Orleans:
the greed of human beings destroyed New Orleans. 
I pray I am wrong, but I believe nothing the free market
can do will resurrect New Orleans to the place where I
lived and loved living for 14 years.

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By Max Shields, June 27, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Ernest,
“Johnson is correct except in concluding Klein is describing a “headlong flight back to feudalism.” What she exposes is something new and different—a once vibrant democratic republic morphing into a “privatized security state” in which all semblance of a public interest is in the process of being extinguished; a hollowed-out, for-profit government that merely acts “as a conveyor belt for getting public monies into private hands….” “

While terms may change, only the stuff deemed palatable for public education history courses, thinks we were “once vibrant democratic republic…”

I just don’t get this idea that American Empire began in the mid-20th Century. It just aint true. American ideals have always been hypocritical to the nth degree. US imperial efforts throughout Latin America and the world at large is legend with atrocities and anti-democratic and racist hegemony.

While, I’m not refuting Klein and her metaphor, nor am I, at this time, questioning her notion that tactics have morphed; it is just plain delusional to think that our Corporate/Government policy has not been seamlessly consistent. It’s very important to get that if we are to have any hope of changing it.

Calling it right wing may ease the conscience of liberal/hawk/neo-liberal trader, but it has a far broader ideological span than Kissinger/M. Friedmen/Reagan. To deny it is to be complicit in its perpetuation.

Chambers Johnson DOES understand this.

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By Gloria Picchetti, June 27, 2008 at 8:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Last night when the market tanked I laughed and laughed. Where is Georgie chatting up privitization now? Ownership Society? Only to the priviledged class!

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By omop, June 27, 2008 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

It might be just one person’s take or a more and deeper symbiosis between Ms. Klein and a certain Dr. Mehdi’s take on the [in]famous Kama Sutra from whom I have excerpted the following:

Contrary to the general impression, Kama Sutra, the ingenious 8th century treatise, is not entirely and explicitly about eroticism and sexuality.

The narrative and the text of the book deals with multi-faced lifecycle phenomena and carefully examines the nature of events in the external world and how those events affect the inadvertently induced imagination of human conduct, including spirituality, wealth and pleasure.

Kama Sutra is an imaginative expose of human behaviour by which mortals seek the pleasure of the body and soul and attain psychological self-gratification.

The concept, in itself, is as much about erotic ecstasy as a source of physical pleasure and emotional power as well as about human relationships in a wider context - the socio-psychology of pleasure and power combined together as one.

Carried to a curiously metaphoric interpretation, Kama Sutra is about control and the attainment of the ultimate human pleasure (indeed for some only) - the existentialist experience of the ecstasy of having power over others.

The greater the dimension of this control, the stronger is the sense of pleasure - the higher is the experience of ecstasy!

“The ecstasy of power” once experienced can be miraculous, a mesmerising mirage: it can induce a permanent sense of blissful exaltation of oneself, the possible intoxication of the human mind, the ebullient, excited and hyperbolic state of one’s own existence in which “power over others” becomes the erotic, spiritual, psychological and the only acceptable norm of life - nothing else matters.

On a personal level I and hopefully others might gain from Ms Klein’s critique as to the validity of an “eastern” view as compared to a “western’ view.

Very erudite interview that demands a re -read. Kudos to Truthdig.

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By cann4ing, June 27, 2008 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

Commenting on the cover of “The Shock Doctrine,” Chalmers Johnson observes that Naomi Klein “rips away the ‘free trade’ and globalization ideologies that disguise a conspiracy to privatize war and disaster and grab public property for the rich few.  Klein’s is a long-needed analysis of our headlong flight back to feudalism under the guise of social science and ‘freedom.’”

Johnson is correct except in concluding Klein is describing a “headlong flight back to feudalism.”  What she exposes is something new and different—a once vibrant democratic republic morphing into a “privatized security state” in which all semblance of a public interest is in the process of being extinguished; a hollowed-out, for-profit government that merely acts “as a conveyor belt for getting public monies into private hands….”  Under cover of a never-ending “war on terror,” Klein tells us, the “role of government….is not that of an administrator managing a network of contractors but of a deep-pocketed venture capitalist, both providing its seed money for the complex’s creation and becoming the biggest customer for its new services.”

Klein’s “privatized security state” is, per Ralph Nader, the embodiment of what Pres. Roosevelt described as “fascism” in a 1938 address to Congress.  “The clinical definition of ‘fascism,’” Nader observes, “is when privated concentrated economic power takes government away from the people, turns government into a guarantor, a subsidizer, a covering of corporate power.”

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By Horace S Rockwood III, Ph.D., June 27, 2008 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m a big fan of Ms. Klein, and recall vividly her article in Harper’s a couple of years ago that mentioned her visit to Iraq, where the only construction she observed was going on in huge (permanent?) military bases.

On Katrina, however, she seems to be spmewhat misinformed.  When I visited New Orleans in December 2006, a very knowledgeable guide informed me and my son that the levees were not breached: they were not high enough!  From several sources, I learned that Katrina was not a category 5 storm by the time it hit New Orleans but only a category 3! This puts the onus clearly on the Army Corps of Engineers, who characteristically fall far short in almost every project they undertake.

Finally, the Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago was first proposed for the University of Illinois, but the faculty overwhelmingly objected to it.  You can check out part of that attempt at Inside Higher Education.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 27, 2008 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

Insightful and enlightening, great article explains much of what is happening and why.  Elusive culprits, the elite.  Most people will roll their eyes and go the other way with this article when indeed this may explain so many things.  As we sell our souls to the wealthy and powerful. 

Inane bickering is the standard for most of us, all the while in the background we are being devoured by this monster.

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By jobart, June 27, 2008 at 5:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The video at the end of the story aptly describes Friedman & the Chicago School of Economics’ role in the plight of the people of the world. I’m going to get the book.

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