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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Quote of the Day: “A crisis of the moral economy.”

by matttbastard

The greatest irony of the Thatcher crusade is that its economics pulled against its ethics. I doubt if the idealised abstinent, puritanical, self-respecting Grantham of her imagination ever existed in the real world. It certainly didn’t exist in her Britain. As a quick reading of the Communist Manifesto would have warned her, free-market capitalism is, of its very essence, subversive. It is restless, heaving, masterless, wonderfully dynamic and creative, but, in itself, utterly amoral. The hot breath of the cash nexus dissolves the ties of faith, community, family and tradition. And, as Friedrich von Hayek pointed out more vigorously than any critic of the free market, entrepreneurial success has nothing to do with merit or fairness. It is about satisfying wants and even at times about creating or manufacturing them; and the wants are as likely to be bad as good. The speculative frenzies and spectacular frauds that have studded its history are of its essence, too: among the forces that drive it, greed, credulity and the herd instinct loom much larger than the rationality that most economists celebrate.

– David Marquand, The warrior woman

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The Rhetoric of Bollocks (or, Has John Pilger Always Been Such an Insufferable Prick?)

by matttbastard

Get over it, change-junkies!

Shorter John Pilger: “Both parties are the same! Vote Nader!” (h/t O-Dub for inspiring the distillation, with pwofessional pwogressive thumb-sucker David Sirota providing the original purity mash.)

To save y’all the trouble of ever having to suffer through a martyr-posing Pilger polemic again, let me summarize the tiresome formula:

John Pilger loses the plot somewhere up his ass; bravely inserts his own head in a daring rescue attempt, despite overwhelming suppression efforts on the part of the Ruling Elite.  Repeat, ad infinitum, until you’re ready to beat yourself to death with the collected works of George Orwell.

Awesome.  Can’t wait for 4 more years of doctrinaire paleo-lefty contradiction-heightening, delivered in a hectoring, teeth-itchingly self-righteous tone of rote high dudgeon and affected disgust directed towards The Absolute Worst Empire in teh World–Evar (oh, and of course Israel, which is still number two with a depleted-uranium-tipped bullet!)

Sweet Jesus, I hate purity trolling.

(That said, I will throw down with anyone who disses my homie Robert Fisk.)

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Bush’s New BFF

by matttbastard

“So, uh, George, my shoulders are a bit tight atm…”

Well, isn’t that cute:

First it was “Steve.” Now it’s “Yo, Harper.”

U.S. President George W. Bush’s penchant for slangy speech was always apparent from the nicknames he bestows on reporters, and it doesn’t stop with other leaders.

Yesterday, as leaders of the G8 chatted with the heads of seven African nations, a televised feed of their summit in Japan picked up some of the chit-chat before a closed-door meeting, including Mr. Bush’s casual style of address with the Prime Minister of Canada.

Mr. Bush slung a casual arm over Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua for a chat, until he caught sight of Stephen Harper. “Yo, Harper!” he called, bringing him over for an introduction.

Sorry, Tony — there’s a new poodle in town.

h/t Chet

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To Former Poodle (And Current Lap Dog) Tony Blair, On Behalf Of Myself And 86%* Of The Nation

by matttbastard

natodutch.jpg

Here’s an extension for you.

“The worst thing you can ever do is back away in the face of opposition just because the thing is too tough to do even though you know it is the right thing to do…

“If we’re going to fight this terrorism effectively, we have to show that we are as determined as they are, believe in what we’re doing as much as they do – and do not give up, but stay the course… .

“If we give up in Afghanistan, then we will be under increasing pressure right around that region.”

Um, we already are under “increasing pressure right around that region,” Tony.

38 years, 160,000 troops and “thousands of engineers, police instructors, economists and agricultural experts”; you can’t slip past these menacing impediments to utopian vanity by once again breaking out the sandpaper lubricant of hoary, can-do rhetoric.

Dude, face it: as a (non) strategy, “stay the course” was old–hell, DO-fucking-A– long before it was even conceived; all the 9/11 non-sequiturs in the world won’t change the cold, hard fact that Afghanistan is lost. After six+ long, bloody years, the political measures necessary to perhaps at least partially salvage the quagmire will not fucking happen.

This is what they call reality, Tony; hopefully you (and Uncle Steve) can one day reconcile with it after such a lengthy separation–before more lives are needlessly pissed away.

Update 10.28: Canada poised for world domination?  Sweet–no more having to apologize for Bryan Adams.

*Yes, 86%.

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