>> Friday, September 19, 2008
Most of you have probably heard about the Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capatalism by Naomi Kline. If have not you should probably look into it. The central thesis of the book is that the GOP uses disasters both man made natural to advance their agenda when the country is vulnerable. When people are in shock at the events that surround them the neocons take advantage to make profit. What we have seen in the last few days though is the potential democratic answer to that.
Here is a review of Klein's book.
In The Shock Doctrine, journalist Klein trains her sharp investigator's eye upon the flaws of neoliberal economics. This meticulously researched alternative history, ranging from economist Milton Friedman's "University of Chicago Boys" to George W. Bush, brings Klein's argument into the present. Using stirring reportage, she shows the ways that disasters— unnatural ones like the war in Iraq, and natural ones like the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina—allow governments and multinationals to take advantage of citizen shock and implement corporate-friendly policies: Where once was a Sri Lankan fishing village now stands a luxury resort. The Shock Doctrine aims its 10-foot-long middle finger at the Bush administration and the generations of neocons who've chosen profits over people in war and disaster; the effect is to provide intellectual armor for the now-mainstream anticorporatist crowd.
One of the lessons to learn from this is that from disaster and crisis comes opportunity. The current economic situation is just such a crisis. However, instead of seeing the neocons sieze this opportunity to institutionalize their policies that would continue to erode the economic, moral, and legal underpinnings of America we could see the Dems use the power for good.
Just before the Lehman brothers collapse we were looking at an election being fought over lipstick on a pig-in more ways than one. Substance had evaporated from the national discourse with the political pick of Palin as the Vice President. Because that pick was so intensely cynical and political the media had a license to cover the political aspects of the pick, the identity politics. It was 2000 all over again as the substance was taking a back seat to personality. Then the financial bombs bgan to detonate. Lehman, Merril, and AIG three venerated financial institutions collapsed and set off a panic. It was and still is a disaster.
Out of this disaster came opportunity. Obama had the perfect chance to return the election to his playing field, substance. He was able to seize the moment and demonstrate to many people, the media included, that he was a capable and decisive leader in this type of crisis. It also allows him to institute his policies as the defacto prescriptions for the prevention of future financial crisis. He began to own this issue. This is a major point because the economy is something that Dems really, really need to own so that they can start to institute their own policies and reverse the atrocious policies of Bush. The Dems get to push regulation and people realize that this might be a good idea.
The result of Obama's strong economic assault has been the hammering flat of McCain's convention bounce. Obama's demonstration of substance and leadership has also reinforced the narrative on sarah palin who has so far failed to articulate anything that makes sense without a teleprompter. Her numbers are tanking. McCain is taking a major hit in the polls. Things are looking good. However it is an eternity till the election day.
The pace of the media cycle combined with the utter lack of a memory possessed by the American People leaves open the possibility that Obama could lose this increase in support he is seeing while the financial sector tanks. The insidiousness of the right was the way they institutionalized their policies. This is what the dems need to do. Get a liberal plan together and start shoving it through congress, get Obama to submit a Senate version and strike while the iron is hot. That way even if the crisis fades somewhat the Dem policies are in place. Use the leverage against Bush while you can.
We know one thing for sure, politics abhors a vacuum. If the dems are to lazy or too inept to move their policies into the void then the gop will. They are very good at marketing and the people want something done so do not underestimate the GOP's chances of forcing their own version of economic relief, whatever that might be, down the dems throats while they cave.
Maybe we can start a new doctrine, Shock Doctrine Rise of disaster competency?