Thursday, November 01, 2007


More on Naomi Klein's book

Hmm. Looks like the same ol' world outside the window. I know, I know: it's a brand new day!© Today is the first day of the rest of your life!™

However, "Same shit, different day" is more appropriate.

The sky is blue; the deciduous trees are naked; and it could be a lot worse.

Still working my way, digesting my way, through Naomi Klein's new book. She's done an excellent job so far. She starts with a history of ECT—shock treatments. The original idea was to destroy the personality so a new improved one could be implanted. the originator thought that only through that method could an unhappy, psychotic, crazy person be brought to "sanity." The strength and numbers of shock treatments given to patients, though, make you wonder about the sanity of the person giving them. The experts believed they knew what made a happy functional person. Uh-huh. The entire psychiatric profession should go sit in penance for decades over that gig.

From the mental tortures inflicted via shock, Klein details the origins and philosophy of the "Chicago School" of economics. The Chicago School, Milton Friedman's baby, believe in the free market. The free market means no government interference in commerce whatsoever—and almost no government at all. The idea is that the free market will fix everything if it is just let alone. Wages will set their own level. Profits will soar. The workers will be happy. Everything will work just fine, if only...the government gets out of the way. Before it gets out of the way, however, it has to remove any and all hinderances to the operation of the free market—wage supports, taxes, regulations, unions, social services, and anything else that requires excess taxes. Excess taxes are those used to pay for things like highways, health care, schools, noxious inspectors, laws that impinge on the absolute freedom of the market to determine everything—because everything can be done by private individuals and businesses operating for profits.

Wow. Talk about idealism! Friendman's theories are as ungrounded as Marxist economics, as bouyant as nitrous oxide, and as realistic as Disneyland.

The reference to Marism: just like Communism requires government action, so does the theory of the free market. Both systems, of course, promise to evaporate the state, eventually. But in the meantime, well, the government has to use coercion to bring about Utopia.

Klein moves on to the example of the southern cone of South America: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, as places where the ideas of the free market were first applied, with U.S. help. The application of Friedman's theories required "shock treatments" to the countries, which were seen as left-wing and potentially dangerous to American and trans-national businesses. Just as the original ECT was seen as a way to blast away the old, "unhealthy" personalities, shock was seen as necessary to destroy all vestiges of the existing societies and economies. Those economies were not pure capitalist. Capitalism, though, was seen as God's gift to the world. Since it was God's gift, any means of bringing it about was OK.

Enter Pinochet, the Argentinian Generals, and assorted other torture-loving regimes, lovingly supported by the U.S.A., the C.I.A., the School of the Americas, mega corporations, and such. Price regulations were removed, wage supports dropped, dissidents killed, and the free market ran amok. What's fucking awful about this is that the U.S. supported and often helped run these terrible vicious governments. Remember how hard it was to get the U.S. to boycott South Africa or Pinochet's Chile? That was because we liked—we loved—those governments. We helped torture, we helped bomb, we helped murder and starve those people who got in the way of the free market.

The people who arranged and helped these authoritarian governments are war criminals. They should be sent to tribunals and made to answer for their heartless crimes. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld included.

The truth is, America is living on the blood of other nations. Every sweat shop, every broken strike, every Thai sex shop—America is supporting that. We're Americans, and we're living off that human misery. Mostly, like Ward Churchill and others have said, Americans are good germans. We don't see anything, we don't smell anything, we don't see any mass graves—leave us alone so we can drive our SUVs and buy our trendy clothes!

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