The Shock Doctrine 7: Sheep Farming in the Falklands (Or, The Revolution Will Not Be Monetized)

by matttbastard

Chapter 6: Saved by a War Thatcherism and its Useful Enemies

(Previous posts here, Sarah’s posts here.)

“Creating a useful crisis is part of what this will be about….[s]o the first bunch of communications that the public might hear might be more negative than I would be inclined to talk about (otherwise). Yeah, we need to invent a crisis and that’s not just an act of courage, there’s some skill involved”

Former Ontario Education Minister John Snobelen

Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady.

She’s presented by many as one of conservatism’s patron saints, a great leader who, through sheer force of will, pushed back against the excesses of the post-WWII British welfare state. Yet her sweeping program of Friedmanite deregulation and rollback of worker’s rights has also been dubbed by many commentators a ‘revolution’.  Though seemingly incongruous, the term is fitting; as the National Review famously declared in 1987, Thatcher’s ultimate goal was “nothing less than the reshaping of British political and economic life as that has been understood since 1945, by Labour and Tory alike. [emph. mine]”

Klein outlines in Chapter 6 how Thatcher used the political capital raised via the war in the Falklands to not only unite the nation, but to finance her radical neoliberal economic reform agenda, despite a previously skeptical public. Klein also notes that the controversial yet popular military endeavour coincided with the penning by Friedman of a passage that she says “best summarizes 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 politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.””

The so-called ‘crisis hypothesis’ was utilized to great effect, at least in a political context, by Thatcher, according to Klein:

“Between 1084 and 1988, the [British] government privatized, among others, British Telecom, British Gas, British Airways, British Airport Authority and British Steel, while it sold its shares in British Petroleum.

“Much as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, would take an unpopular president and hand him an opportunity to launch a massive privatization initiative (in Bush’s case, the privatization of security, warfare and reconstruction), Thatcher used her war to launch the first mass privatization auction in a Western democracy.”

As Sarah notes, despite their widely-accepted status as heroic conservative icons, pro-market radicals like Thatcher and US president Ronald Reagan enacted their policies in direct opposition to conservatism.  A so-called ‘conservative’ brazenly utilized a crisis to enact revolutionary change–coopting political theory traditionally the domain of the far left.   In a post highlighting the days events at the ongoing G20 summit, Sarah points out that it was conservative leaders Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy who were pushing for stricter regulations of global financial markets, rather than left-of-centre leaders like Barack Obama or Gordon Brown:

For Sarkozy to call for giving capitalism a conscience–well, it underlines the difference between French conservatism and American, but it also points out that state regulation and control over capital markets is not actually a shocking, strange idea, and that the rapid deregulation was actually the revolutionary idea.

Rather than promoting pragmatic, prudent conservative economic platforms, Thatcher (and Reagan) instead grabbed hold of the most extreme of Milton Friedman’s theories and ran with them Jamaican sprinter style.  The fact that ‘socialists’ like Tony Blair eagerly took  the baton passed to them by purported ideological opponents and carried it over the finish line only serves to further illustrate the fact that adherence to radical free market economic theory transcends the traditional left-right political axis–and, ultimately, that Thatcher’s revolution was indeed sucessful beyond her wildest expectations.

Next–Chapter 7: The New Doctor Shock Economic Warfare Replaces Dictatorship

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If You Kids Don’t Shut Up I’m Gonna Turn This Plane RIGHT Around!

by matttbastard

Via Jay Rosen (by way of Sarah), I see that the Villagers are still primarily concerned with the circumference of their navels (which also corresponds with the breadth and depth of their shallow egos):

The standard form during “joint press availabilities” — bureaucratic lingo for press conferences where leaders from two different countries stand next to each other and take questions from reporters — is that each official’s press corps gets the same number of questions.

Well, during the joint press availability on Wednesday with Mr. Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the ornate British foreign office near 10 Downing Street, Mr. Brown called on the U.K. press corps for four whole questions. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama only called on the White House press corps, which schlepped (granted, on a really nice United 777 charter) across the Atlantic to scrupulously chronicle his first overseas trip as president, thrice.

Mr. Obama even tried to cut off the press conference after six questions had been asked—most dealing with the growing rift between the United States and the rest of the world over how to fix the global economy. “All right?” he asked, in an “O.K.-we’re-done-I’m-outta-here” way.

Because of this unforgivable slight, Helene Cooper wonders if Obama is trying to ‘muzzle’ the White House press corps (and pines for the good ol’ days of Condie Rice–OMG SHOEZ!) Seriously, what the hell happened to Cooper? When did she morph into the quintessential whiny-ass titty baby?

“Waaah Obama isn’t bein’ nice to us. MOOOM!”

Apparently the brats in the beltway need fresh binkies to suck on.

You know, it says a lot that, during a time of global economic upheaval and uncertainty, a member of the White House press corps earnestly believes that not getting asked an extra question by the POTUS at an international presser is a matter of grave import.  One would hope that Cooper would take some heat from her colleagues for her demonstrative outburst. Alas, they were likely cheering her on from the sidelines, shouting ‘YEAH! TRUTH TO POWER!’

Because, sadly, the Villagers live in an isolated upper-middle class bubble, sequestered away from the rest of the nation (and its petty problems) in an insular gated community filled with an endless parade of cocktail parties and trivial sniping.  To the average Washington correspondent, meeting with the Great Unwashed is presented as an exercise in cultural anthropology, eg, John King’s Sunday morning diner round-tables with Real Americans (if you cut them, they BLEED! I know, crazy!) At this point, it’s all too clear that they are essentially writing for each other; the conversation is entirely circular, even if the 4th estate have deluded themselves into believing that the general public actually gives a rat’s ass about Ed Henry’s game day ritual.

Yeah, politics is all just a fucking game to them. Winners and losers, gaffes and ‘body blows’–political journalism as play-by-play sportscasting. Which is why, in this context, it is perfectly natural for Helene Cooper to be (passive-aggressively) “keeping score.”

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