The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Damn, I’m reading one banger after another. First, Difficult Conversations being just as great a read as the amazing Humankind, and now Naomi Klein also manages to blow me away with The Shock Doctrine. With my thanks to Günther for the tip, I’ll have to admit that it was probably the “hardest” read of the year for me, because it is very long and very thorough. Nonetheless it kept me hooked (and awake longer than I wanted to be on a lot of recent nights).

To summarize, she gives a detailed account of how and why the current capitalist (or rather corporatist) system that is killing us and our planet took hold. But it’s hard to do the way she lays it all out justice. It felt like the missing history book for the past 100 years. Chapter after chapter, things just line up and make more and more sense. Things that you previously “kinda knew”, only heard of in passing or in the news 20 years ago.

What was most interesting to me was the part about the downfall of the USSR, because I was old enough when Jelzin was around to remember him. But all I got from our media back then was that he was a funny drunk. What I didn’t know is what a brutal tyrant he was before drifting into that role, and how Putin’s rise to power already began with the things that Jelzin pushed through. This is of course very oversimplified, but it wouldn’t do much good for me to just retell the book – it’s not possible to improve upon Naomi Klein’s work here. It’s long because it has to be, but it’s as short, precise and spot on as possible.

What does the end of the USSR have in common with Hurricane Katrina, the 2004/2005 tsunami disaster, Poland, South Africa, Chile, many other parts of Latin and South America, and the war in Iraq? Read the book and find out. Seriously, read it. I think I won’t be able to discuss these topics with anyone who hasn’t read this book anymore – which doesn’t mean I take it as gospel, but it covers so many things that are useful common ground to start discussing these topics, that I consider it required reading.