John Gray here reviews very positively Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism which advanced the thesis that capitalism inevitably is advanced by the disruption of warfare. Written almost a decade ago as the neo-liberal debacle in the wake of the second Iraq War was emerging, Klein’s book is still very relevant, particularly as some Republican voices in the US are talking up armed conflict as a ‘solution’ to the US’s relationship with Iran.
Gray writes: Klein believes that neo-liberalism belongs among “the closed, fundamentalist doctrines that cannot co-exist with other belief-systems … The world as it is must be erased to make way for their purist invention. Rooted in biblical fantasies of great floods and great fires, it is a logic that leads ineluctably towards violence.” As Klein sees it, the social breakdowns that have accompanied neo-liberal economic policies are not the result of incompetence or mismanagement. They are integral to the free-market project, which can only advance against a background of disasters. … disaster is part of the normal functioning of the type of capitalism we have today: “An economic system that requires constant growth, while bucking almost all serious attempts at environmental regulation, generates a steady stream of disasters all on its own, whether military, ecological or financial. The appetite for easy, short-term profits offered by purely speculative investment has turned the stock, currency and real estate markets into crisis-creation machines, as the Asian financial crisis, the Mexican peso crisis and the dotcom collapse all demonstrate.”
Since 2007 one could add further crises and disasters to those cited, not least, the rise of ISIS in Iraq and the disillusion with the EU and Eurozone projects.