May 25, 2015
The Truthdig Interview With Naomi Klein
Posted on Jun 26, 2008
So, if we look at what’s happening in [China’s] Sichuan province, it’s quite striking, because you have this same phenomenon with the schools, where many schools have collapsed—an estimated 10,000 children were killed in the earthquake. And you have all these photographs of a school that just collapsed completely right next to a building that’s standing intact. And then you have the rage of the parents, and you have this added factor in China which is that the state told these parents that they could only have one child. That was a state policy. And you have these children who represent the hope for six adults—the grandparents and the parents—and now the state that forced these parents to have one child now appears to not have taken care of that child, neglected that child. And, you know, there’s something extremely powerful about the rage of the parent with nothing left to lose. ...
Anderson: I’ve seen those photos.
Klein: Amazing, right?
Square, Site wide
Klein: So, China could end up being a counter-example to the shock doctrine, where I think the predictable response is what the Chinese government has already said, you know, we’re going to build back better, with even bigger factories, you know, and they’ve been very open about this, and we should expect nothing less. China’s economic development model is extraordinarily land-hungry. Any land that is cleared they will obviously redesign, and they will put to the use of their vision of economic development. So, that wouldn’t be a surprise if that happened. They pretty much do that anyway.
But what would be really interesting is if this kick-started a democracy movement in China, and I don’t think it’s out of the question, because China’s in a really tough position right now in terms of timing with the Games. We are seeing repression and a locking down of critical coverage of the earthquake in the Chinese press, but I really feel like there’s only so much they can do. I mean, the Games are in two months, and I think after the crackdown in Tibet, they’re very wary of more backlash.
Anderson: What do you think about what’s going to happen in the Midwest? Any prognostications?
Klein: You know, I don’t have any yet. What do you think?
Anderson: Well, I think that there will be parts of big cities that might be hard-hit, and that might find themselves restructured differently later. I don’t know too much about the city layouts of these places that were affected most, like Cedar Rapids, places like that. So, I’m interested, in kind of a morbid way, unfortunately, to see if something like what’s gone on in New Orleans and other places that you describe in your book—if that’s going to be the case. ...
Klein: Well, I think that ... what’s gonna happen is that it’s intersecting with the global food crisis and the fact that the price[s] of crops are at record highs right now, because of scarcity, and the agribusiness companies like Monsanto and Cargill are reporting record profits in the midst of a food crisis. And I think there will be more land grabs; I think that the few small-scale farmers, independent farmers, that are left are probably going to be gobbled up.
Anderson: Are you at all optimistic about a possible regime change in the U.S., if a Democrat in the White House would, in fact, represent this ... ?
Klein: You know, I’m optimistic about the possibility of social movements in the U.S. demanding a change in ideology. I’m optimistic because I’ve been blown away by the responses I’ve been getting from the book and just how receptive people are to talking about systems as opposed to just people. And I feel like the electoral campaigns—even though [Barack] Obama’s campaign has been inspiring in many ways, it’s also been a way of not talking about politics at a moment when we have so many urgent issues calling out for real policy debates. And instead we have been stuck in the political equivalent of “American Idol,” right?
So, my optimism is entirely contingent on whether we can build counter-movements of the type that generated the New Deal, because I don’t really think it’s about the man in power. I think if we look at Obama’s economic inclinations, this is not where he’s prone to take risks. I think he’s prone to take some risks with foreign policy much more than with domestic economic policy.
Anderson: He’s been criticized for that.
Klein: Well, look at who he appointed as his chief economic adviser.
Anderson: Well, I think that just about does it for me. We will certainly direct our readers and listeners to your Shock Doctrine Web site to look at all the documents and also all the updates. ...
Klein: Great. I’m so pleased that this is happening. Thank you.
Anderson: Yeah, me too, and thanks so much for your time—I’ve really enjoyed talking to you.
Klein: My pleasure.
Klein’s key resources from her book are archived and updated on The Shock Doctrine Web site.
See how disaster capitalism is still figuring into current events in the news.
Also, check out the extensive collection of Shock Doctrine documents archived on the site.
Watch “The Shock Doctrine” film by Klein and director Alfonso Cuarón:
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