The Shock Doctrine (2009) Poster

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10/10
Outstanding!
sanjeev-sarpal3 July 2010
After watching this film with a few friends (one of which was a former World bank employee), we had a rather mixed and somewhat heated conversation in the cinema bar. The film is basically a summary of the book, which talks about the ideas of Milton Friedman and how they have been used to influence world affairs. However, for those of you who may find the film 'superficial' I would recommend the book, as there is much more detail. Regarding the objectivity of the film, I don't believe that it's anti-American or anti-capitalistic (as my world bank friend remarked). Quite the contrary, it is very balanced and in my opinion Klein does not point a finger at a company without first presenting the facts. I think what a lot of pro-capitalists probably find annoying about Klein is that she brings the whole idea of multinational dirty dealings and currents affairs into the spotlight. After all, Halliburton, Shell, BP, the World bank etc. are far from angels when it comes to making money! I for one, commend the producers of this film and Mrs. Klein for a job well done!
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A Compelling History Lesson
SolidChris3 September 2009
The adaptation of Naomi Klein's book 'The Shock Doctrine' seems to have been quite convoluted. First Alfonso Cuarón and his brother teamed up with Klein to make a 6 minute short film almost as a way of advertising the book.

This is just a taster for the larger issue at hand. Whitecross and Winterbottom's feature-length documentary is a journey into the meat of the matter. Each of the snippets from Cuarón's film are expanded and the story is told over a grand, even epic, scale. This is the story of an economist called Milton Friedman and his idea. Perhaps not just an idea, given the remarkable effect of Friedman's 'idea' it just doesn't seem like a big enough word, but it will have to do. The idea is one that sounds attractive, it is beguiling in its simplicity and more than that, it offers the chance of a kind of utopia - it is the notion of the 'Free Market'. Klein's book, and this film, describe how Friedman's ideas on Free Market economics went from being a marginalised backwater of economic theory to being the reasoning behind so many international events in recent years. It is the story of how deregulated trading isn't a Utopian saviour but a dangerous and unpredictable beast powerful enough to bring a country to its knees.

The argument is drawn clearly and with enough evidence to be compelling; from the military coups in Chile and Argentina through the right wing governments of Thatcher and Reagan, a stop off with Boris Yeltsin and the collapse of the Soviet Union and ending with our current embroilment in Iraq – Naomi Klein has drawn a path connecting all these events to the economic ideas of Milton Friedman. At points the power of the message is a little overwhelming, it made me angry to see the atrocities committed in the service of enacting national changes. To see the rich get rich and the poor, well the poor get eaten up by the system. It is horrible and brilliant. Sickening and yet so very clever, so smart as to be almost admirable – but that doesn't make it right.

They are preaching to the converted with me, but I urge you to seek out this film. Find it and watch it and understand some of the underlying ideas that run our lives on a day to day and nation to nation basis. A word of warning though, you might get angry.
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8/10
The Extremes
sergepesic9 April 2013
Obviously, the opinions about this powerful documentary will be sharply divided. Liberals, and proudly I am one of them, will approve and cheer, and conservatives will call it communist propaganda and other such drivel. I lived in both communist and capitalist society. With the incredible youthful passion I fought communism and it's limits on free speech and artistic expression. And over 22 years ago I immigrated to the USA. And, it was a sobering experience. There is a freedom of speech, nobody limits the artistic expression( mostly because nobody gives a damn about art-the dying form). And there is the most troubling of all for me. The mighty dollar, the only pertinent thing. It really is all about money. Everything else takes the back seat. The extremes of socialism didn't work, because repression doesn't last forever, but, on the other hand, the extremes of ruthless, greedy capitalism, do not work either. The culture of ME,ME,ME is ultimately barren and lonely, and the impoverished will eventually rise up in arms, and who wants that. Nobody reads the dusty volumes of history books. If they were, we might be living in a different world.
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7/10
Fantastically Educational
ghbarratt-128 September 2012
The numerous examples provided in this documentary very effectively support the conclusions that Klein is making. This is NOT a conspiracy film by any stretch. This is just a history lesson that has you draw your own conclusions. It makes a major point that should be no surprise to any of us - that "shocks" have been opportunistic to the powers that are determined to promote their success above the general welfare. I appreciate this documentary because it focuses on important truths that too many of us refuse to accept even though the evidences are overwhelming. The documentary might be a little overwhelming for someone who is not familiar with the facts presented since they are presented in such volume so quickly. The documentary could have easily been twice as long, but I suppose that is what the book is for.
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7/10
Half a case
paul2001sw-13 September 2009
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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9/10
The World of the New Order : Disaster Capitalism
michael-bond7 December 2014
As the economic incentive for peace is lost or defeated, and is increasingly replaced by investment in an endless and un-winnable 'War on Terror', and the capitalistic exploitation of disasters, both natural and man-made, there is a danger that one part of human society will begin to look increasingly like Israel, with its walled-off areas, and massive 'homeland security' apparatus…. and the other like Gaza…… This film by Michael Winterbottom, based on Naomi Klein's terrifying book 'The Shock Doctrine :the Rise of Disaster Capitalism', attempts to show how we arrived at this critical point in history. The film is faithful to the themes of the book and makes good use of contemporary newsreels and pertinent interviews, some conducted by Ms Klein herself. An important documentary, thoroughly recommended.
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8/10
A compelling presentation of Naomi Klein's book in feature film documentary
JohnRayPeterson29 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I read all the other reviews about the film, not the book. The divergent opinions and points of view on the case Klein makes for the harmful principals of the Milton Friedman values of an outright free market system and the erroneous view that it promotes social freedoms and vice-versa even and especially by using Shock Programs to stimulate an economy into Free Market, is a view of the case I share with Naomi Klein. I don't however, at least no more, believe in the Keynesian economics principal as the unfolding of events in the global economy of today disprove its theory's conclusion; time has disproven that.

The movie, if you listen carefully to the words and the message of Klein, is a challenge for all of us not to accept any theory that sounds like the words of a preacher. Instead we're to listen to our hearts and mostly our reason and then only, do something about it instead of contributing to our society's demise by doing nothing. The wisest advice any person can ever give, receive or act upon is learning from history and not allow it to be erased for the benefit of the few pariahs.
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Needs more Mike Yanagita
tieman648 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"You were such a super lady!" - Mike Yanagita (Fargo)

Michael Winterbottom, one of Britain's more daring film-makers, takes a break from feature films to direct "The Shock Doctrine", an interesting documentary based on a book by Canadian journalist Naomi Clein.

The documentary essentially says three things. Firstly, that big corporations in search of new markets benefit when governments import a neoliberal economic system, often as a result of pressure from the US, and that this often has catastrophic consequences for ordinary people.

Secondly, that political leaders have turned to "brutality and repression" to crush protests against their ideologically inspired programmes of privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts.

And thirdly, that certain "shocking events" (The Falkland War, The Gulf Wars, coups in Chile, Argentina and Russia, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 etc) have been used, or even created, for the purpose of stealthily introducing unpopular reforms in the wake of these crises.

So essentially something big and bad is designed to happen in order to distract the populace from some sneaky law being implemented, or some massive privatization deal being granted. IE- capitalists have taken advantage of natural and man-made disasters in order to promote their free market ideals, or outright concocted such shocks.

Unfortunately, whatever merits the documentary has are eroded by its overly ominous, overly conspiratorial tone. Winterbottom sees macro plots and macro conspiracies, instead of chaos and confusion. He sees complex plans and careful scheming instead of a more general exploitation of opportunity. Yes, the film offers great analysis of corporatism and various authoritarian governments, and highlights how crises are used by governments to coerce people, but this shouldn't be surprising to anyone who realises that governments routinely use coercion even in the absence of shocks. And of course a focus on macro conspiracies misses the mundane conspiracy of simple, white-bread capitalism and debt based banking.

Elsewhere Winterbottom makes a big deal out of Milton Friedman's assertion that reforms are best made during crises. This is odd, since almost every reformer/revolutionary, from Paine to Marx, has said the same thing. Winterbottom also implies that the "crisis equals opportunity" idea is unique to Friedman and that Friendman has "evil intentions", but neither of these claims are particularly believable.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the documentary is Winterbottom's choice of music. He uses the famous theme tune from the Coen Brothers' film, "Fargo". Thematically it's an apt song choice. "Fargo" pretended to be a "true story" but was really a work of fiction, its lead character (a police detective played by Frances McDormand) learning to suspect everyone and not take people and things at face value. Winterbottom's film may not be entirely convincing, but at least it instills a healthy air of distrust and urges us to question our surroundings.

7.5/10 - This documentary isn't in the same league as Winterbottom's "Road to Guantanamo" and "Welcome to Sarajevo", two of the better political films out there, but it's still fairly interesting and packed with little moments of insight. Props must be given to Channel 4 for funding, not only this documentary and several of Winterbottom's films, but also for financing some of the more daring British film-makers over the past decade.

Worth one viewing.
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6/10
Prophetic, disturbing,... but ultimately flawed.
imdb2-556-92398312 April 2012
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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9/10
The Shock of Truth
EdgarST30 December 2017
It is as old as humankind is, but we only react when our stomachs are empty (and that is not a privilege of Marxist regimes). All over the world the ordinary people look the other way when told that actions have always been taken to control our planet (and of course its economy). I was not surprised with what I saw and heard in this fine documentary, but my info about the who, what, where and when of the whole Neoliberalism business was too vague. Therefore, when I see a film like this I appreciate to be illustrated, but I am mainly surprised at the wickedness of some human beings. My only regret is that "The Shock Doctrine" is a product from a specific time; it was made in the first decade of this century, so it ends with the Obama government. Nevertheless, the information it gives us is still valid to analyze the present. If you prefer to label this as leftist, propaganda or biased thought, well, it is your right to do so and believe in what you want. From my perspective, I do believe that such option leads us all to remain blindfold. I do not pretend things are exactly as described here, but the film does help to make us aware, a bit wiser and conscious that our rights are violated on a daily basis. We best stop believing it happens in "other countries". All of us, up and down, left and right, white and black, are subject to the decisions of evil, greedy persons, persons as those that were expelled from the temple in the Bible, as those that complain about the holocaust they were victim of, without thinking about all the wrong they do to people around the globe with their avaricious economic plans.
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10/10
General and personal shocks
lreynaert1 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This formidable movie based on Naomi Klein's mightily important book, explains how the financial 'elite' uses shocks (crises) for implementing its 'free market' gospel, or, better, to increase its economic power and concomitantly its own financial interests.

Economics (general shocks) In his mightily important book 'The Secrets of the Federal Reserve', E. Mullins reveals how the financial 'elite' manipulated market prices and provoked the Wall Street Crash of 1929. What they didn't foresee was the gigantic economic slump and the massive unemployment that would follow the crash. The US government had to intervene in the economy with a 'New Deal': breaking up the banking system and impose regulations and governmental interventions in the economy. The 'New Deal' weakened significantly the grip of the financial oligarchy on the US economy. The 'free market' gospel propagated by the Chicago School of Economics (Milton Friedman) is nothing less than a frontal attack on the legislation provided by the New Deal. The gospel defends deregulation and privatization of the economy instead of regulation and governmental intervention (through its institutions and enterprises). The gospel tries to prove and to justify that free market policies (the old order) are far better than those imposed by a government. The implementation of a deregulated and privatized (by selling off government possessions) economy was first tested in Chile and Argentina after military coups (shocks). It didn't work. The deregulation of the US financial system ended in a worldwide financial collapse of the banking system, which had to be bailed out by governmental intervention (the people's money) at a staggering cost of thousand of billions of dollars worldwide, a mind-boggling anti-shock treatment.

Psychiatrics, psychology (personal shocks) The movie starts with the experiments of Ewen Cameron on psychiatric patients in Canada. He tried to control (break) the minds and to reprogram (clear) the psyche of his patients with electroshocks and drugs. His methods are now used on political prisoners ('terrorists'). By creating shocks (heavy bombardments, grotesque lies, false flag operations) and also after 'natural' shocks (floods) the 'elite' tries to instill fear into the population in order to control their will, to implement their policies and, in fine, to prevent or to obstruct the establishment or the functioning of a real democracy.

Reactions Reactions against 'elite' shock doctrine policies must come from 'below', from the people, whose money was squandered in order to bail out the reckless speculations of 'too big to fail' mentalities. The solution will not come from those who want to 'fight' climate change by commodifying the atmosphere (trading carbon dioxide emissions).

This movie and its extras are a must see for all those who want to understand the world we live in.
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10/10
very good
miloservic10 January 2018
Friedman is like a leader of a cult as to economics? that's a joke, even some senior scholars don't give a shit. i studied economics for 6 years, at last i finally understand what economic is , it's not a science as it claimed at all, it's only a tool, a tool for brainwashers to control people's think.
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2/10
One sided Communist propaganda at it's finest
ermanator_x-122 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
My 15 year old son came home with this "documentary" yesterday, and I decided that I better keep an eye on what he was watching.

While I will credit the tremendous amount of research that went into this movie, I would have to say that it is fiction based on true historical events. The communist spin that was put on this is abysmal. Don't get me wrong, while being a firm believer in an open market system, I do see the pros and cons of both Capitalism and Socialism. However, this story only looks at the dirty underbelly of the free market system while allowing the viewer to believe that living in Soviet Russian or East Germany was as fine as a summer frolic on the beach until evil capitalists defeated the communist way and ruined the whole party. They even make the fall of the Berlin Wall seem like a tragedy that capitalists couldn't wait to exploit.

The use of the same propaganda phrases used over and over again in this movie sickened me on more than one level. Comparing Capitalism to shock therapy, which was linked to and compared to torture and interrogation methods. They then made reference to (insert capitalist pig here) using any political, social, or environmental tragedy as "instigating the shock treatment" or simply "the shock" by using it as a way to defeat the will of the people who they are enforcing their capitalist regime on.

At the end of the movie, I felt that I had to have a debriefing session with my son and his friend. While many of the unfortunate events that took place in the film were indeed blood on the capitalists hands, there is more blood on the hands of socialism/slash communism than even the Third Reich. I had to explain to him that while there was a rough transition from communism to capitalism in Eastern Europe, it was not unfortunate event that the Soviet Union broke and the Berlin Wall came down. I had to inform him that it was no picnic living in the Soviet states and that many had risked and lost their lives in order to climb the wall or flee other Communist states.

It really is a shame that people forget history and that it really is doomed to repeat itself. I would recommend anybody who watched this to balance it out by learning about the bloody rise to power by the Soviets. Watch a documentary about Stalin, or the Chernobyl melt down and how the Soviets mishandled it and allowed their own people to suffer by having too much pride for western help.

The bottom line here is that films like this are powerful form of propaganda and should be taken with a rather large grain of salt. It's just too bad that impressionable 15 year olds lack the knowledge, experience, and reasoning that is needed to watch this.

2 stars is generous and is only given because the video was well researched and well made.
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8/10
Even if you don't agree...
tenshi_ippikiookami21 March 2016
This is a movie you should check out. Aristotle said that "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Well, going back to the start of the review, even if you think that what Naomi Klein is talking about is pure nonsense, "The Shock Doctrine" is a movie to watch, precisely even more if you don't agree with the ideas it presents.

Basically the movie talks about how capitalism aliments itself on conflict and shocks, meaning that it is very good at distracting the attention from the important to some event that is terrible, but not the most terrible. For example, it talks about how the United Kingdom got into the Falklands War, and how that distracted public attention from the strikes and the civil unrest that was ongoing in the country. Does it all sound a little bit conspiratorial? It does, but it is also true that when something like a war happens, people's attention will be centered on that event, and it will become a situation of "us" vs. "others". Even if you don't believe that happens on purpose, it is true that systems, being it capitalism or other, may take advantage of those situations.

But that's for a politics or international relations class. Going back to the documentary, "The Shock Doctrine" presents its ideas in a very clear and easy to understand way, and it gives enough examples to see why they say what they say. In that respects it does a very nice job. It also does a good job in making the viewer think and analyze situations. And it is very interesting to try to see things in a different light from the "official" view of things.

As Aristotle said, you don't have to accept it. Or agree with it. But it doesn't hurt to think.
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7/10
The rich getting richer, that's what capitalism is all about, nothing else.
deloudelouvain7 January 2021
Although the subject of this documentary is the kind of material for heated discussions afterwards that will leave me with a headache and anger, I have to say it was interesting to follow. I'm not sure capitalists will like this documentary though, for sure not the big multi-national coorporations, as it only proves nothing good comes from capitalism, unless you're on the receiving end. It's just another example of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer. In a world where the poor dominate in large numbers they're still dominated by an elite of ultra rich people. One day this will come to an end once we reach the point of no return but that won't be in our lifetime. The documentary contains a lot of influent people, from dictators to 'normal' world leaders, a lot that should be hanged in my humble opinion. Stories about torture look like the most normal thing in the world to those people, making the rich even richer seemed to be their only goal, and for that they have to control the masses by shock doctrines. It's all well explained if you take time to listen and try to understand. I'm glad I watched it, it won't change much of my pessimistic view of the world, it rather fortifies it.
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1/10
Pure stupidity...
eduard-zavadskij8 March 2012
Shameless propaganda. Naomi Klein is an activist, with no economic or business understanding whatsoever. It is a shame that in modern times a primitive, incredibly biased and ignorant work like the "shock doctrine" can be a bestseller.

She denounces capitalism (a system the vast majority of countries are using in the world: China, Russia included) which has helped so many poor countries escape the shackles of failed socialist economics (only North Korea and Cuba remain - see how those are doing), like it is some sort of bogeyman. Clearly, she has never had a course in development nor macro economics - and yet she is somehow supposed to be this great visionary? What a joke.

But most annoyingly she accuses Milton Friedman of being responsible for the actions of the Pinochet regime. That's like accusing Henry Ford for drunk people dying in car accidents, or accusing Chinese for all the paper cuts in the world. It's actually even worse, since how the economy is structured has nothing to do with how oppressive the government is. What is most shameful, however, is that she never actually bothered to research that Milton Friedman was a person who promoted personal freedom and liberty to people above all, and that he personally resented what the Pinochet regime did. (though most likely she did, but just lied)

A shameless propaganda, that insults Milton Friedman, accuses him of doing something he never did. A economic failure of a book/movie. Naomi Klein is either incredibly ignorant, or pathetically black-hearted to lie in such a way.
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5/10
Meandering, unfocused, conspiracy theory driven mess with some pertinent analysis mixed in
xluna-6505827 June 2017
The popularity that Naomi Klein has garnered oddly reminds me of Paolo Coelho...sometimes depth can be very aptly simulated...

When the documentary started out by mentioning sensory deprivation I thought it would talk about how lack of real information (or perceived lack of information) can shape the human psyche and how this is used as a means of political control (during the Arab spring, every government that faced upheaval tried to close off its population and muffle the internet). But nooooo.....it conflated sensory deprivation with physical torture thus managing to say nothing new or interesting about either. Then it veers into electric shock therapy because....documentary logic....and then compares it to the economic doctrine of "shock therapy" as envisaged by Friedman. These two things have similar names but are comparable in as much as the Razzies are comparable to the actual raspberry fruit...See, in the world according to this documentary, every time you drink raspberry juice....you taste Halle Berry's tears.

And it just goes downhill from there as the documentary meanders in paranoid stupor towards telling us that all sudden political and social change is part of an evil plot and it always ends bad, capitalism is the source of all that is rotten and Friedman is a bad dude.

Of course, while it spends some time on Russia (but don't worry, the analysis is not too deep or in any way tries to capture the complexity of the situation there), it neglects to mention what happened to countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic which have successfully used "shock therapy" in their transition to democracy and the free market after the fall of the Berlin wall....because cherry-picking is fun. Also let's not talk about the former Eastern Block countries that adopted Gorbachev's gradual reform route and how that turned our for them....because that would be pointing out that while a sudden switch to capitalism can be risky and painful....sometimes it may just be the lesser or 2 evils.

The hell with that, it's far more fun, and easier to get more attention, if you pick an idea that you find "edgy" (someone or something is out to get you), an evil shady boogie man (Friedman) we can all boo at, and then throw everything and the kitchen sink into your version of reality until it somehow starts to make sense, at least if you can't be bothered with nuances or the real complexity of geopolitics and how it's never just one variable that determines an outcome as huge as a country plunging into disarray, but many factors influencing each other in subtle ways.

I don't think capitalism is above reproach and there are many fair criticisms of both capitalism as a doctrine and the flavor it has acquired in contemporary times. I also don't think that the idea that crisis situations make us more willing to accept things we would not normally accept is without merit. But the way these 2 ideas are tied in "Shock Doctrine" is painfully contrived and the documentary overall has both the clarity of thought and the logic of your average conspiracy theory flick.
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6/10
Do yourself a favour and read the book
roxlerookie24 November 2019
The book is rather long, but its breadth makes it impossible to fit into a single documentary format. Also, I found the editing poor, simply put. She is pushing her own agenda and needed to follow her narrative to make a book out of it, of course, but calling her a communist or reducing this to capitalism vs communism is missing the point. It's also not fair to say she uses the world capitalism instead of cronyism. I would most certainly disagree with a lot of her suggestions if she were in power, but she isn't. The narrative she presents in the book is compelling, and calling her names or dismissing her because she's on the wrong side of a bipartisan system is not going to advance anything.
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