Politics for the People

Author Naomi Klein speaks out.     By Monica Watson ’12

On Wednesday, April 7, Emerson Suites was filled with people waiting to hear award-winning journalist Naomi Klein speak. Klein is a syndicated columnist and author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Her visit to Ithaca College was sponsored by the Park Center for Independent Media (PCIM).

Politics major Edward Wycliff ’11 attended Klein’s speech after reading The Shock Doctrine in his politics seminar, Witnessing War. Wycliff enjoyed how Klein told stories during her speech instead of just lecturing to the audience.

“One that stood out the most was about Argentina and how the people got together and circumvented the economy to make it work for them because it was failing the entire country,” he says. “It showed how people can make a difference in their own communities without relying on overarching governments to tell them what to do.”

Klein says she wrote The Shock Doctrine to fill in gaps in what she refers to as a “fairy-tale” version of history.

“We’re told that this economic model [capitalism] swept the world on the wings of democracy and freedom — that essentially we got it because we demanded it, we got it because we wanted it,” she says. “And so, what I do with the book is I look at the big-bang moments when this ideology advanced. What you see is that the violence has been cleansed from the story. We are living with a victor’s history.”

She says she chose to write about how war, natural disaster, and economic crises are used by politicians and corporations to legislate economic policies that would not have passed in better times in order to increase awareness of these strategies so that people can resist them the next time they are used.

Wycliff says that inviting influential speakers like Klein to campus is critical for both the Ithaca community and the College as a whole.

“It brings important issues to life,” he says. “Ithaca College is a major college in the field of communications, and independent media is such a big part of that today, and growing. Getting more people from that field [on campus] not only helps [students] educationally, but it also opens up all kinds of ideas and doors for everybody.”