Award winning journalist John Pilger examines the role of Washington in America's manipulation of Latin American politics during the last 50 years leading up to the struggle by ordinary ... See full summary »
The creators of Debtocracy, analyze the shifting of state assets to private hands. They travel round the world gathering data on privatization and search for clues on the day after Greece's massive privatization program.
Debtocracy seeks the causes of the Greek debt crisis and proposes solutions sidelined by the government and the dominant media. It follows countries like Ecuador that created debt Audit Commissions and tracks this process in Greece.
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.
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
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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The question on my mind after seeing The Shock Doctrine was whether ends justify means. Quite possibly, this is the question Klein wanted to be asked, because much of her case regards the distasteful means taken in order to further free market economics, tactics which the very proponents of these dogmas may feel they want to disassociate themselves with. However, my question was about Klein's/Winterbottom's own tactics.
The film uses all methods that we've grown used to from modern politics: cherry-picked facts, "proofs" by emotionally-charged metaphors, hinted claims of guilt by association, sound-bite slogans that are repeated incessantly, and, of course, scare tactics. Sad to say, I've come to expect these things from political candidates that need to make their points in a 30-second TV appearance. I've even come to expect them in rating-seeking news programs. But have we stooped so low that these tactics are now par-for-the-course in documentaries, where a film-maker has 90 minutes of canvas to make a clear, compelling, and well-argued case? I happen to agree with Klein's stance that extreme capitalism is dangerous, and I think what we are seeing in both Europe and China in recent years (e.g. the collapse of Chinese nation-wide education and health policies) are just further proofs of the narrative Klein forwards. However, I don't see that there is a well-argued case here that would convince someone claiming that any change, good or bad, rarely happens in a peaceful way, or that the ultimate outcome of privatization is better than the alternative. In fact, only a handful of minutes of this film are devoted to the question of what the final outcome of extreme capitalism looks like, historically, and these minutes are full of unsubstantiated claims thrown into the air in what is exactly the tactic Klein warns against: shock a person for just over an hour, and suddenly that person becomes much more open to suggestion, at which point you can sprinkle some of your favorite dogmas on him.
So, perhaps this film does a good job with all those who are willing to be convinced by visceral arguments, the likes of which have, unfortunately, come to dominate the public discourse, but I rather promote those who educate people to think. Scaring people to make the choices you think are right... well, that's what this film is all about. Isn't it?
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