Klein on "Neocon Disaster Capitalism"


In the Times of London, the usually acerbic critic Rod Liddle produces a softball interview with anti-globalization activist and No Logo author Naomi Klein, in England promoting her latest anti-market screed, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. After a few soft jibes at her "prêt-à-porter radicalism," Liddle nods along as Klein defines—and swiftly denounces—the so-called Friedmanite "disaster capitalist." He recapitulates:

Disaster capitalism is what happens when fundamentalist neocon economists, of the kind running the United States right now, descend upon a country that has found itself suddenly traumatised by war or the collapse of its economic system or a natural disaster such as a tsunami.

As H&R readers are surely aware, this administration is suffering no shortage of fundamentalists, and Washington can provide neocons by the bushel. But Klein's beef, it seems, is with both the "Chicago Boys," on whom which she blames the Pinochet dictatorship, and the "neoliberalism" of the 80s and 90s, overseen by a diverse group of IMF-boosters, Thatcherites and Clinton administration officials. (And if you still believe that old Pinochet-Friedman chestnut, Brian Doherty has a story to tell you.) According to Klein, libertarianism and neoconservatism are one and the same: "Before 9/11, demands for privatization and attacks on social spending fuelled the neocon movement-Friedmanite to its core-at think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage and Cato."

Such confusion is understandable because, as Liddle points out, Klein "describes herself as merely a 'cultural commentator' which is why, this time, she gave herself a crash course in economics, being untrained in the discipline herself."

What the world needs, she says, is more self-trained economists like, well, Naomi Klein. As she told the New York Times from the celeb-packed screening of her new film at the Venice Film Festival, "Fixing the world's problems has become an increasingly elite affair—a matter between C.E.O.'s and celebrities." Celebrities unlike Tim Robbins and John Cusack, presumably; both of whom provide jacket blurbs for The Shock Doctrine.

Klein's short film, co-written with celebrity director Alfonso Cuarón, can be viewed here.