Read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine!

Naomi Klein explains it all for you in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. I highly recommend it.

The offenses committed at the highest levels of the United States during the past eight years were no accident, nor the result of bumbling idiots, nor a mere individual venality.

They were the logical, policy-based outcomes of the past 28 years of "free market" policy in the United States, and of the last 43 years (since Indonesia's 1965 coup) as practiced by the U.S. abroad.

The book helped tie together the last several decades of U.S. policy in a way that had simmered in my brain, but had never quite cohered so clearly. I learned a lot about what really happened in South America in the 1970s, for example, as well as in Russia in the 1990s.

Klein begins the book with an excruciating illustration of the effects of "brainwashing" experiments conducted at McGill University in the early 1960s. These were in fact regression techniques designed to break down personalities. The same tactics relabeled as "harsh interrogation techniques" and used throughout the world by the U.S. in the last seven years, in a way that previously only U.S. clients had carried out directly.

These techniques affirm the importance of narrative in our lives: "Without a story, we are, as many of us were after September 11, [2001,] intensely vulnerable to those people who are ready to take advantage of the chaos for their ow ends. As soon as we have a new narrative that offers a perspective on the shocking events, we become reoriented and the world begins to make sense once again. Prison interrogators intent on inducing shock and regression understand this process well.... The same is true for wider societies. Once the mechanics of the shock doctrine are deeply and collectively understood, whole communities become harder to take by surprise, more difficult to confuse -- shock resistant." (pp. 458-9)

It reminds me of the days on Quaker blogs, circa 2005 or 2006, when several of us were talking about "personal narrative theology" as a 21st century approach to theology.

This was a great line, too: "The only prospect that threatens the booming disaster economy on which so much wealth depends -- from weapons to oil to engineering to surveillance to patented drugs -- is the possibility of achieving some measure of climatic stability and geopolitical peace." (pp. 427-8)

Finally, there was a section in which she compares the concept of "The Rapture," when the saved are swept up into Heaven, with the understanding that wealthy people have that they will be swept up and away from their gated communities by helicopter in any big disaster, so they don't need to worry.

On earth as it is in heaven, indeed.

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