Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism critically examines unfettered capitalism and it’s prime tool: shock. And in doing so, it manages to provide more than a numbers and policy discussion while reinforcing the notion that an informed citizen is essential to the fight for justice.
Encouraged by Klein’s critical thinking, I researched foreign concepts and events as I read, and realized how little I know and understand about global politics and political shell games. Consequently, I believe that investigative reporters enhance democratic participation, for without their research and contemplation, governments would easily govern us like cattle.
Fortunately, passionate journalists and writers, such as Klein, help us to connect the dots and ask more questions of those in charge of running individual nations or international organizations (i.e. IMF, World Bank, etc.). Questions including why Western countries that toot democracy encourage countries like Chile, Russia, and China to bypass demonstrable democracy on the way to embracing capitalism?
Finding answers isn’t easy, but it’s better to ask questions than to live in ignorance because as Klein points out, countries like Bolivia, Chile and Russia are not the only ones duping citizens. Citizens of democratic, “developed” nations like America and Canada also suffer from government and corporate chicanery. But without increased checks and balances to prevent and correct abuse of power, people will continue to loose their democratic rights and watch their homelands being robbed of natural resources.
Look at Louisiana’s battle to recover from Hurricane Katrina, for example. It’s hard to believe that American citizens would allow their own to suffer as Hurricane Katrina survivors suffer still; but under the light of disaster capitalism, the covert reasons become clear–not the least of which is greed and selfishness. These two vices seem so ingrained in the Bush government that it is able to repeatedly partner with unaccountable contractors who bilk citizens of billions of dollars.
Flying under the radar, these vices re-appear in Sandy Springs, Atlanta to broaden the divide between rich and poor; for as Klein explains, contractor-created Sandy Springs fulfills an elite community’s ambitions:
“Its residents decided that they were tired of watching their property taxes subsidize schools and police in the county’s low-income African-American neighbourhoods. They voted to incorporate as their own city, Sandy Springs, which could spend its taxes on services for its 100,000 citizens and not have the revenues redistributed throughout the larger Fulton County.”
So despite being civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior’s birth and resting place, Atlanta oozes with injustice- -a problem which does not register with the wealthy Sandy Springs residents who welcome isolation. They designed their city to free themselves from subsidizing the riff-raff, and conveniently escape accountability for helping to improve the human condition. Is that just? I believe that’s a question Klein would be happy to hear us ask.
Yes, questioning the status quo is hard work, but The Shock Doctrine is powerful inspiration. It implores us to challenge the powerful now before the costs become too great and irreversible. Now, it seems to say, is the time for informed citizens to assume or demand accountability for the world we’re constructing at home and abroad.