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The Shock Doctrine


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#1 Persona

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 10:01 PM

Link to The Road to Guantanamo (2006), the other directorial collaboration between Whitecross and Winterbottom.

Link to Winterbottom's upcoming The Killer Inside Me, based on the 1952 novel by American writer Jim Thompson, out in Chicago in four weeks. Links to previous discussions on: In This World (2002), Code 46 (2003), 9 Songs (2004), and A Mighty Heart (2007).

This may be Winterbottom's year: I don't see a link yet, but his third film this year is also out in Chicago now, called Genova, or Summer in Genoa, and Promised Land is scheduled for next year.

I need input from others on The Shock Doctrine. I definitely want to read The Book it is Based On, by Naomi Klein, who, judging from the doc, seems to tour this book and her theories relentlessly.

The documentary is essentially a retelling of many of the theories in the book. Klein is seen as a featured speaker at many of her appearances, from the University of Chicago, where a lot of her theories began in the 1950s, to other conferences she's toured. (A few even looked like churches.)

The theory can be really convulted when broken down into every minute detail, but essentially it is this: disasters create opportunity for economics in ways that would otherwise be unthinkable. Some disasters are planned, others are simply acts of nature that can be jumped on (Katrina, for instance). There are shocks to the cultural narrative that cause us to quickly forget who we are, our story, where we come from. Shocks cause culture to head into survival mode, and in the process great opportunity arises for government to intervene, and deregulation of government actually begins to create unrestrained capitalism, that causes a handful of people to gain billions of dollars while millions, perhaps billions of others, are left behind. The country you are left behind in may determine how "poor" you actually feel. The poorest of the poor nations know that they are poor, and in those places there is an anger at the powers-that-be. In countries like America and England, well, most of us don't really feel all that poor, do we.

The premise basically holds that free markets are not won through a demand for freedom or justice, but they are brought on by authoritarian and economic rule. The first examples given are in Chile and Argentina, from the late sixties into the seventies, into the UK under Thatcher in the late 70s and through the 80s, and the Bush administration of the 2000s. There are strange coincidences in every situation that show how economic collapse is a manufactured shock to the system, and how multi-national corporations are taking advantage of many societies and leaving damage in the wake of their wealth.

In that aspect, the film is closest related to The End of Poverty?, an excellent doc that describes the last 500 years of "military" or "disaster" capitalism, but The Shock Doctrine really digs in to the last fifty or sixty years.

Some of it is unsurprising, but it is well said, but tight -- too tight. I would need to see this quite a few more times before being able to go into further detail than this very general, brief overview, and I already have the book saved at the local library.

I look forward to other thoughts.
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EDIT: Link to a cleaned up reaction at Filmsweep.

Edited by Persona, 28 May 2010 - 04:37 PM.


#2 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 10:54 PM

Ahem, or link, either way.

The existing thread was originally about the film, and then Alan moved it to the "Literature" section because people began discussing the book on which it was based. But then the thread ended up being about the movie again.

So, either the two threads could be merged into a single "Film" thread, or y'all can consider this a link to the thread on the book on which this movie is based.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 27 May 2010 - 10:57 PM.


#3 Persona

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 02:50 PM

Thanks for the link! We will keep this the film thread. I can't wait to read the book and make a comment there, however most of that conversation is probably dead.

The existing thread was originally about the film, and then Alan moved it to the "Literature" section because people began discussing the book on which it was based. But then the thread ended up being about the movie again.

What film was that? Cuaron had a film about the same subject?

#4 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 11:44 PM

Persona wrote:
: What film was that? Cuaron had a film about the same subject?

Alfonso Cuaron produced and co-wrote the YouTube clip below; his son directed it. I think Cuaron was planning to make the feature film too, at some point, but I could be wrong about that; I'm pretty sure that Klein has distanced herself from Winterbottom's film, though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuyRdJupbvU

BTW, I find all this talk of "disaster capitalism" rather interesting and outdated, given that one could easily argue the current administration has been engaging in a sort of "disaster socialism" (as Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's chief of staff, put it, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste").

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yeA_kHHLow