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The Shock Doctrine (2009)

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An investigation of "disaster capitalism", based on Naomi Klein's proposition that neo-liberal capitalism feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance.

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Drawing surprising connections between market methods and CIA torture techniques developed in the 1950s, the film explores how well-known events of the recent past have been theaters for the shock doctrine, from Pinochet's coup in Chile, to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, to the war in Iraq today.

Director: Jonás Cuarón
Stars: Naomi Klein
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ewen Cameron ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Dr. Ewen Cameron)
Janine Huard ...
Herself
...
Herself
...
Himself (archive footage) (as Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
Milton Friedman ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Donald O. Hebb ...
Himself - Doctor (as Donald Hebb)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Edward Korry ...
Himself - Former US Ambassador to Chile
Augusto Pinochet ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Herself (archive footage)
Orlando Letelier ...
Himself (archive footage)
Michael Townley ...
Himself
Arnold Harberger ...
Himself
Jorge Rafael Videla ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Jorge Videla)
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Storyline

Naomi Klein gives a lecture tracing the confluence of ideas about modifying behavior using shock therapy and other sensory deprivation and modifying national economics using the "shock treatment" of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School. She moves chronologically: Pinochet's Chile, Argentina and its junta, Yeltsin's Russia, Bush and Bremer's Iraq. A trumped-up villain provides distraction or rationalization: Marxism, the Falklands, nuclear weapons, terrorists; and, always, there is a great shift of money and power from the many to the few. News footage, a narrator, and talking heads back up Klein's analysis. She concludes on a note of hope. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Documentary

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Release Date:

3 March 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Doktrina soka  »

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| (work in progress)

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Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
Naomi Klein: A state of shock is something that happens to us not only when something bad happens. It's what happens to us when we lose our narrative, when we lose our story, when we become disoriented.
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Connections

References Fargo (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

original soundtrack excerpts
from The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)
Written by Michael Nyman
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User Reviews

 
Half a case
3 September 2009 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

We're all familiar with economic shock therapy, the idea that sometimes a massive destabilisation of the economy is the first step towards recovery. What Naomi Klein argues in her book, 'The Shock Doctrine', is that chaos is not just an occasionally necessary precursor of reform, but it rather exploited or at worst engineered by reform's proponents, because the consequences of the changes proposed would not be accepted by the people if offered to them a la carte in a less pressured environment. Michael Winterbottom's film develops Klein's arguments, and presents a fairly conventional alternative history of the world. But there are still some interesting details: I didn't know that it was Eisenhower, of all people, who first warned about the military-industrial complex; and it's welcome to see a different interpretation of what happened in Chile in the 1970s to the outrageous story told by Niall Fergusson in his recent BBC series, 'A History of Money'. Yet I still felt slightly disappointed by this film, because while it exposes the lies of the new right to be friends of freedom and democracy (by showing how they need to suppress freedom to get their ideas through), it doesn't address the other part of the argument, namely, whether their economic ideas are basically sound. Perhaps it does indeed take unpopular policies to rescue broken economies; one can dispute that this belief justifies coercion, but should a rational people accept shock as a price worth paying? There are lots of good arguments that say no, but the film doesn't make them; the case that equality is an aid to the efficiency of a country, as well as a moral good in itself, is here taken for granted, although this is arguably the key point of difference between left and right. I fear that this film will not convert anyone while the right's most insidious claim, that a competitive jungle is, however distasteful, the best of all possible worlds, goes unchallenged.


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