This awesome book was published in 2007, well before the 2008 banking crisis and the current (July 2011) USD and EUR crises. Having read its very well written 590 pages, with another 70 pp. of references, this reader is very worried and scared about what our rapacious, trans-Atlantic friends and its UK-based allies' current plans are with regard to Europe and its currency.
Naomi Klein, a Canadian journalist/activist provides an intellectual biography of Milton Friedman and how his ideas were put into practice by his followers, first in dictatorships like Chile, later in more democratic contexts, with its main tenets developed during the Cold War. MF called for "hollow" states worldwide, outsourcing as many tasks as possible to private companies deemed to be more effective and efficient than state agencies and companies.
The obvious examples of poor economic performance were countries behind the Iron Curtain and their satellites, where the State was the dominant but inefficient motor of the economy, stifling private enterprise. They could not be reformed from outside during the Cold War. Instead, developing countries under the sway of Keynesian ideas about mixed economies became targets for structural adjustment, liberalization and privatization. Efforts to change policy gradually were soon abandoned for the more effective shock doctrine', starting with Chile.
Crises, shock events came to be seen as helpful, nay, preconditions for swift adoption of economic shock therapy. Crises were anticipated, simulated, even provoked like in the Asian crisis in the late 90s. NK provides ample evidence of the methods to administer 'shock therapy' and of their immediate, sorry results in terms of job losses and sudden poverty.
Naomi Klein's message is disturbing: an intellectual history of applying shocks in psychiatry, economics, warfare and counter insurgency. Also, NK's convincing history of the application of economic shock therapy in dozens of countries over the past 40 years, and all the lies, subterfuges to explain the misery of the victims. Because NK convincingly presents in her case study about Iraq all the 1990's US big men in Iraq as liars with a big financial stake in a positive outcome. In what? In companies involved in warfare abroad and in homeland security...
NK explains a long series of American diplomatic and war adventures in terms of opening new markets for its own corporations. What worries this reader is that a concerted attack is underway against the EUR by hedge funds, banks, rating agencies, the IMF, picking on Greece one day, Italy the next, Spain tomorrow, France next week. Why? To scare and panic China into converting its massive Euro reserves back into USD? To shock and awe EU member states into more privatization and further downsizing of the state?
US-multinationals eye and would love to run for profit our prisons, social security systems, hospitals, old people's homes, etc., etc., relying on our tax payers and banks for loans, whilst downsizing and poorly paying the fewer remaining staff, and remitting a fortune in profits to the US.
Despite its great music, films, literature, its high standards of investigative journalism, its technology and science, this reader distrusts the US more than ever, thanks to this terribly worrying book about modern-day colonialism and financial terrorism. Highly, urgently recommended.