FEAR and DISORDER and … INCREASED UNCERTAINTY are the CATALYSTS for CHANGE, in all Governments of the world, whether we like it or not.
Here’s my hypothesis: Big Business is in bed with Big Government is in bed with Big Science … is in bed with Big Religion.
What say you?
Radical Social and Economic Engineering.
There seems to be a new way of advancing corporate goals.
Well, it is not necessarily ‘new’ as it has been at work since the seventies. THis method of advancing corporate goals is – using moments of collective trauma (like the current Covid Crisis) to engage in radical social and economic engineering.
THe idea of exploiting crisis and disaster has been the modus operandi of Milton Friedman’s movement from the very beginning – this fundamentalist form of capitalism has always needed disasters to advance.
There has been a huge learning ground from the bold experiments in strict adherence to the shock method/doctrine in Iraq and New Orleans. Human rights have simply been violated, not by sadistic acts carried out by antidemocratic regimes … but in fact, committed by Governments of the day … human rights violations committed with the deliberate intent of terrorising the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical free-market ‘Reforms”.
This happened in the seventies in Argentina and then these Chicago SChool policies was experimented on the people of Chile in the eighties.
As Friedman understood –
“The atmosphere of large-scale crisis provided the necessary pretext to overrule the expressed wishes of the voters and to hand the country over to economic ‘technocrats.’
Friedman and his Chicago School followers and movement have been conquering territory around the world since the seventies .,.. Methodically exploiting moments of shock in other countries – foreign equivalents of 9/11, starting with Pinochet’s coup on September 11, 1973. However, it is not until the September 11th, 2001, that its vision had been fully applied in the country of origin: the US of A.
The Corporatist… the New World Order.
Back then, The Bush administration immediately prounced on the fear generated by the attacks, not only to launch the ‘War on Terror’ but to also ensure that it is an almost entirely a FOR-PROFIT venture. New INdustry boomed to life, breathing new life into the faltering U.S. economy.
Former U.S President Roosevelt had earlier warned of the far-reaching tentacles of the military-industrial complex. This went further than that… known as “Disaster Capitalism Complex”, saying –
“This is global war fought on every level by private companies whose involvement is paid for with public money, with the unending mandate of protecting the United States homeland in perpetuity while eliminating all “evil” abroad. In only a few short years, the complex has already expanded its market reach from fighting terrrism to international peace-keeping.. To municipal policing, to responding to increasingly frequent natural disasters.
The ultimate goal for the corporations at the centre of the complex is to bring the model of for-profit government, which advances so rapidly in extraordinary circumstances, into ordinary and day-to-day functioning of the state – in effect, to privatize the government. “
Essentially, the radical privatization of war and disaster/crisis … is a shape-shifter, forever changing its name and switching identities – in most of the world it is called ‘neoliberalism’ but often referred to as ‘free-trade’ or simply ‘globalisation’.
All these incarnations share a commitment to the Policy Trinity –
- the elimination of the public sphere (privatisation of many of not all traditional government-run services)
- total liberation for corporations (we see corporations having powers that go beyond the powers of the individual as a legal entity)
- skeletal social spending… (the requirement for parents to work from home in the pandemic and have their children stay away from school is a test for the government to slash their subsidies for childcare, for example)
The Chicago School of thinking supports a system that erases the boundaries between Big Government and Big Business. This is neither liberal, conservative or capitalist. As best selling author, Naomi Klein said –
“It is CORPORATIST!”
The new world order?
“And what is this?” You may be asking.
She goes on to say –
“It’s main characteristics are huge transfers of public wealth to private hands, often accompanied by exploding debt , an ever-widening chasm between the dazzling rich and the disposable poor and an aggressive nationalism that justifies bottomless spending on security”
And also –
“The Corporatist state tend to include aggressive surveillance (once again, with government and large corporations trading favours and contracts), mass incarcerations, shrinking civil liberties and often, though not always, torture.”
Questions need to be asked of the necessity of the changes to the social frabric of life that we live. Where are the Opposition spokesmen? Why are they not speaking out or at least questioning the validity of measures adopted? Every movement is monitored (scanning in and out – increased surveillance).
Why the silence?
Here’s my hypothesis: SHOCK THERAPY is at PLAY again … but this time, FRIEDMAN enthusiast who are in Leadership positions of Nations, see it PLAYED out on a world scale, thanks to COVID CRISIS.
Everyone is cooperating.
If we look back in history… in the eighties, The members of the Emergency team secretly put in place by Paz, the President of Bolivia, had one mission in mind: IMPLEMENT the surprise Policy changes. The plan’s main author, the planning minister: Bedregal, likened them to fighter pilots attacking an enemy, saying –
“We have to be like the pilot of Hiroshima. When he dropped the atomic bomb he didn’t know Jay he as doing, but when he saw the smoke he said:
And that’s exactly what we have to do, launch the measures and then: Oops, sorry!” That’s what happening during this covid outbreak.
This idea that policy change should be like launching a surprise militia attack is a recurring theme for economic shock therapists.
In SHOCK and AWE: Achieving Rapid Dominance, the US military doctrine published in 1996 that eventually formed the basis of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the authors stated that the invading forces should –
“seize control of the environment and paralyze or so overload an adversary’s perceptions and understanding of events so that the enemy would be incapable of resistance.”
The thing is that Economic Shock works according to a similar theory: the premise is that people can develop responses to gradual change – a slashed health program here, a trade deal there – but if dozens of changes come from all directions at once, a feeling of futility sets in, and populations go limp.
Just sit back and reflect on what’s happened in our countries so far … since the covid outbreak and see the mega benefits flowing to large companies like Amazon, Facebook and many Information Technologies companies.
Increased Sense of Hopelessness in the Masses’ psyche is key to Success.
This sense of hopelessness was instilled in Chile in the 20th century and Brazil and Bolivia in the 80s. For instance, the BOlivian planners required radical measures to be adopted at the same time, and all within the first hundred days of government.
The President, Paz’s team insisted on bundling the entire revolution in one executive decree, containing 220 separate laws and covered every aspect of economic life in the country, making it the equivalent (in scope and ambition) to “The BRICK”, the huge blueprint written by the Chicago Boys in preparation for Chile’s Pinochet’s coup.
The plan could not be amended in any way. It was the economic equivalent of SHOCK AND AWE.
Are we seeing this playing out in countries throughout the world, right now… taking advantage of the Covid crisis? More small businesses go out of business and bigger developers go in and change the whole landscape?
That’s the way it’s always been, anyway, hadn’t it?
What is the Shock Doctrine?
“What is the Shock Doctrine?” you ask.
It was in 1982 that Milton Friedman wrote the highly influential passage that best summarises the shock doctrine:
“Only a CRISIS – ACTUAL or PERCEIVED – produces REAL CHANGE. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the polically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”
This became the KEY MESSAGE for all economic graduates from Chicago BOOTH. Allan Meltzer elaborated on the philosophy, saying –
“Ideas are alternatives waiting on a crisis to serve as the catalyst of change. Friedman’s model of influence was to legitimize ideas, to make them bearable, and worth trying when the opportunity comes.”
Here’s the scary part: the kind of ‘crisis’ Friedman had in mind was not military but economic.
This is how he thought it should play out: in normal circumstances, economic decisions are made based on the push and pull of competing interests – workers want jobs and raises, owners want low taxes and relaxed regulation, and politicians have to strike a balance between these competing forces.
However, if an economic crisis hits and is severe enough – for example, a currency meltdown, a market crash, a major recession, a disease breakout (the covid virus we are experiencing) – according to him, this economic crisis BLOWS everything else out of the water, and leaders are liberated .. yes, LIBERATED to do whatever is necessary (or said to be necessary) in the name of RESPONDING TO A NATIONAL EMERGENCY.
Have a look at this covid virus and the way the governments of the world actually ALL AGREE and cooperate like never before. This is the first time I have seen ALL governments ACT in UNISON on any matter.
Look at how each state premier here in Australia enforce curfews whenever they feel like it (or base the decision on one case of the covid for example). There is absolutely NO OPPOSITION to the Government of the day. Has any air time being given to the OPPOSITION parties? How is it that the governments of the day in each country (and in AUstralia, each state) rush through so many laws during this period of ‘lock-down?’
I think there is much much more going on here and it is thanks to Friedman. Crisis (of any kind), are in a way, DEMOCRACY-FREE ZONES – effectively, GAPS IN POLITICS as usual … when the need for CONSENT and CONSENSUS DO NOT SEEM TO APPLY.
This, I believe, is what has been transpiring right before our eyes. CHANGE FORCED on society, right before our noses, under the disguise of the current ‘crisis’. Without dialogue, without discussion, without consensus.
Efficient? Yes. Effective? Yes.
TESTING GROUNDS of CHICAGO SCHOOL Policies.
In the seventies and early eighties, Friedman and his corporate underwriters had attempted to mimic this process with their unique brand of intellectual disaster preparedness…. Producing a ten-part miniseries FREE TO CHOOSE.
This series, by the way was sponsored by some of the largest corporations in the world, including – Getty Oil, Firestone Tire & Rubber CO., PepsiCo, General Motors, Bechtel and General Mills.
Are you surprised by the Big Business support? Nope!
At the first time Friedman articulated his crisis theory in the early eighties, the U.S. was in a recession – double whammy of high inflation and unemployment. The Chicago SChool Policies, now known as Reaganomics … was not implemented because even Reagan didn’t have the balls to implement the kind of sweeping shock therapy that Friedman dreamed of, the kind he had prescribed in Chile.
The testing ground would have to be somewhere in the South Americas … a Latin American country. And where? Bolivia, of course.
Who in society bears the Brunt of the Economic Pain?
Ricardo Grinspun, a professor of economics specialising in Latin America at York University said that –
“With the Kenesian or developmentalist process involving key stakeholders – government, employers, farmers unions and so on. With this process, the parties come to agreements over income policies, like wages and prices, at the same time that stabilization measures are implemented.”
In sharp contrast, the Chicago School Way –
“The orthodox approach is to shift all the social cost onto the poor through shock therapy.”
So, who in society bears the brunt of the economic pain? What happened in Bolivia, clearly points to the Poor.
Is this happening on a larger scale? Are the Richer countries unfairly dumping the brunt of the economic pain on the poor? What about within each country … are the poor marginalized even further? Is the middle-class being thinned out even further? In Bolivia, for example, the Shock Therapy had the same effects that it had in the rest of the region:
A small elite grew far wealthier while large portions of what had been the working class were discarded from the economy altogether and turned into surplus people.
What did Bolivia demonstrate as a ‘test case’ for the Chicago School Way of Thinking?
Bolivia had shown that wrenching shock therapy still needed to be accompanied by shocking attacks on inconvenient social groups and on democratic institutions.
It also showed that the corporatist crusade could advance by these baldly authoritarian means and still be applauded as democratic because elections had taken place … no matter, how completely civil liberties were suppressed in the aftermath or how fully democratic wishes were ignored. (It was as lesson that would prove particularly handy for Russia’s Boris Yeltsin, among other leaders, in the years to come).
In this way, Bolivia provided a blueprint for a new, more palatable kind of authoritarianism, a civilian coup d’etat, once carried out by politicians and economists in business suits rather than soldiers in military uniform – all unfolding within the official shell of a democratic regime.
So, is this current crisis and how governments have allowed it to play out … over an extended period, one of the several benefits of what transpired in Bolivia all those years ago (and still felt by the citizens today).
Economic Re-engineers seek a CLEAN SLATE.
Like all other dangerous ideologies, the Chicago School desire for total beauty … for unattainable purity, the economic engineers desire a clean slate on which to build a re-engineered model society.
This desire is like having God-like Power, to totally CREATE depends on CRISIS and DISASTERS. This kind of freedom to re-engineer society uninhibited, is only possible in times of cataclsimic change – when people with their stubborn habits and insistent demands, are basically blasted out of the way – moments when democracy seems a practical impossibility.
These followers of the Chicago School Shock doctrine believe that ONLY a great rupture – a flood, a war, a terrorist attack – can generate the kind of huge, clean slates they crave on which to work on their designs, uninterrupted. This is what they crave most.
And during these periods (and intentionally extended periods) of increased uncertainty and fear allows for great flexibility for these Chicago supporters. They get to work and introduce changes (that are free of debates), when the masses are psychologically adrift and physically uprooted and confused.
These students of Friedman’s framework then go about their work of re-making the world.
I sit back and go … “wow!”
Where will this take us. I am powerless to di anything, we all are. There are restrictions on gathering numbers … (using reason of covid). What can anyone do … people will not take a stand… as people fear too much already.
We need to stand together … but that seems highly unlikely.
Unless there is blood shed. Collectively. Let’s hope it never gets to this stage. What is needed is decisions to be collectively made – with all stakeholders of society. Nobody wants civil unrest. We’ve had enough examples in history.
Let’s ALL pray. That There is increased transparency from those in positions of power and there is effective communication.
Our world NEEDS it.