Park Scholars meet to discuss 'Shock Doctrine'

By: Meg Malone

On Sept. 12, the Park Scholars gathered for the fall semester book review after reading the first 353 pages of Naomi Klein’s book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” The book, which tackles how crisis has historically been used as a way to force free market policies in various countries, is an international bestseller and has earned numerous honors.

In his opening address to the Park Scholars, Matt Fee, director of the Park Scholar program, said that he wanted to do an “issues book” for this year’s book review that would be pertinent to students regardless of their major.

The discussion was based on the introduction and first four parts of Klein’s book. The decision to split the book over both semesters was made to allow for more in-depth discussion, as well as create a link between the semesters where students could apply the discussions to things like the freshman “Globalization and Media” class, study abroad and the senior service trip, Fee said. The scholars will meet next semester to discuss the rest of “The Shock Doctrine” on Feb. 20.

    For the discussion, scholars were divided into five groups, each facilitated by a Park faulty member. Facilitators for this semester’s book review were Fee, Associate Dean Virginia Mansfield-Richardson, Assistant Professor Jack Powers, Assistant Professor Todd Schack and Scholar in Residence Vadim Isakov.

Elise Kain, a senior CMD major from Mantua, N.J., said her group discussion focused a lot on the diffusion of responsibility evident in the various case studies.

“The people who came up with the economic plans didn’t take responsibility for the military actions that were taken against the people and the people who were just following directions used that as an excuse– that they were just following orders,” Kain said. “It’s just a very complex issue when you talk about economic doctrines and political processes.”

    The book discussions were followed by two film screenings to supplement the content. This first film was Rachel Boynton’s “Our Brand is Crisis,” following U.S. strategists’ role in the Bolivian presidential election of 2002 and the ensuing political crisis. The second film shown was Patricio Guzmán’s “Chile, La Memoria Obstinada” (“Chile, Obstinate Memory”), about Chilean people viewing Guzmán’s earlier film “The Battle of Chile,” about the overthrow and death of Salvador Allende, for the first time in their country, exposing old memories and new truths about the past.
“The films really complemented the discussion because they showed very much the political environment in those countries in South America,” Kain said. “We were able to see how the public reacted to those people and behind the scenes a little bit on the economic policy that was involved.”

Originally published in Park Scholar Program: Park Scholars meet to discuss 'Shock Doctrine'.

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