Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shock the Monkey

Naomi Klein, via Jane Smiley, makes some interesting points about 20th century history in the Americas. This kind of thing has been documented recently by Democracy Now!. Amy Goodman has talked extensively with John Perkins, who calls himself a former "economic hit man," and has written two books on what Klein calls the "shock doctrine." But what's truly interesting about Klein's analysis, and something Ms. Smiley doesn't pick up on, is that it is simply an extension of the Monroe Doctrine we all learned about as children.

Follow Ms. Klein's examples, and find one that isn't in the Americas. Now note that precisely what has been done in America, thanks to people like Milton Friedman (and we should not overlook Grover Norquist. I've pointed out before that Bush is merely doing to the country what Norquist did to Texas.), has been done almost exclusively in the Americas, as Perkins repeatedly points out. Coincidence? I think not.

Compare, for example, what Perkins says:

And we do this, typically -- well, there are many ways to do it, but a typical one is that we identify a third-world country that has resources, which we covet. And often these days that's oil, or might be the canal in the case of Panama. In any case, we go to that third-world country and we arrange a huge loan from the international lending community; usually the World Bank leads that process. So, let's say we give this third-world country a loan of $1 billion. One of the conditions of that loan is that the majority of it, roughly 90%, comes back to the United States to one of our big corporations, the ones we've all heard of recently, the Bechtels, the Halliburtons. And those corporations build in this third-world country large power plants, highways, ports, or industrial parks -- big infrastructure projects that basically serve the very rich in those countries. The poor people in those countries and the middle class suffer; they don't benefit from these loans, they don't benefit from the projects. In fact, often their social services have to be severely curtailed in the process of paying off the debt. Now what also happens is that this third-world country then is saddled with a huge debt that it can't possibly repay. For example, today, Ecuador. Ecuador's foreign debt, as a result of the economic hit man, is equal to roughly 50% of its national budget. It cannot possibly repay this debt, as is the case with so many third-world countries. So, now we go back to those countries and say, look, you borrowed all this money from us, and you owe us this money, you can't repay your debts, so give our oil companies your oil at very cheap costs. And in the case of many of these countries, Ecuador is a good example here, that means destroying their rain forests and destroying their indigenous cultures. That's what we're doing today around the world, and we've been doing it -- it began shortly after the end of World War II. It has been building up over time until today where it's really reached mammoth proportions where we control most of the resources of the world.
With what Smiley reports on what Klein says:

Why did Bush and Cheney go to war? Well, where do they get their fortunes? The Shock Doctrine works perfectly for them. As for that 45% below the poverty line, well, once the globalizing manufacturers exported the well-paying US jobs, then the globalizing financiers moved in and sold the newly impoverished working class a few sub-prime mortgages guaranteed to take whatever else they had. Then the financiers screamed for a bailout, and Bernanke gave it to them. The free market, you might say, is working perfectly now, at least according to its shock principles.
Our efforts are, of course, world-wide, and concerned with natural resources like oil; think of Nigeria. But it is in the Americas that we have had the most baleful and most insistent impact. Which is one reason Hugo Chavez worries so many people in American government and business today. He represents the new leadership Klein speaks of, and the people of those countries who are now:

...cannier and more resistant to the shocks administered to them by Bushco and their own ruling classes. Having endured "Disaster Capitalism" for several decades, they understand their own self-interests better and aren't as easy to fool.
Intersting, too, the European Union (while they have their own problems and hardly represent the basiliea tou theou) seem to be doing just fine without Friedman and Norquist (and James Monroe's doctrine).

No comments:

Post a Comment