Park Scholars Meet To Discuss Naomi Klein's Book "The Shock Doctrine"

Park Scholars attended a group book review of Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” on Saturday, February 20th, in the Park School of Communications. This was the second meeting of a two-part book review that began in October of last year.

Following opening remarks, scholars split into small groups for discussion. This semester’s discussion facilitators included Associate Dean Mansfield-Richardson, Scholar in Residence Vadim Isakov, Assistant Professor Jack Powers, Assistant Professor Todd Schack, and Park Scholar Director Matthew Fee.

In this semester’s reading, “The Shock Doctrine” presented scholars with examples of corporatist restructuring and disaster capitalism, including the booming tourism industry in Sri Lanka after the tsunami disaster, the Iraq War, and the massive changes in New Orleans following Katrina.

Senior Park Scholars related “The Shock Doctrine” to their recent service experience in New Orleans, identifying important issues such as the unequal distribution of wealth, the privatization of education through charter schools, and the capitalization of crisis situations by both corporations and individuals.

In the early afternoon, scholars assembled in the Park Auditorium for screenings of short films, documentaries and web clips that supported and enhanced discussion of “The Shock Doctrine.”

Screened films touched upon the major issues presented in Klein’s book. The first screening was a trailer for “The Shock Doctrine” (2009), produced by Mat Whitecross and Michael Winterbottom.

In a web clip screening, Naomi Klein spoke of the capitalist ideals being pushed in Haiti by the United States and other corporatist countries, disguised as “disaster relief.” In order to ensure free market policies do not multiply in Haiti in the interest of corporate America, Klein emphasized that monetary aid should be viewed strictly as grants, rather than loans.

To provide balance to the workshop, scholars watched an interview with Johan Norberg, author of “In Defense of Global Capitalism.” Norberg was critical of Klein’s “unsupported” arguments and opposed her “demonization” of economist Milton Friedman.

An excerpt from the documentary “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers” (2006) took a critical look at two companies, Halliburton and KBR, and their corporatist role in the Iraq War. Multiple interviews with former company employees exposed these companies’ abusive and unsafe business practices in Iraq, as well as highlighted the for-profit mentality that dominates our capitalist marketplace.

The final screening of the day was “The Shock Doctrine” (2007), a short film by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein.

This spring, Park Scholars will have an opportunity to speak with Naomi Klein before her speaking address at Ithaca College as the Park Center for Independent Media annual speaker.  Her lecture will be held at 7 p.m. on April 7, 2010 in Emerson Suites.

By Mallory Diamond



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