The Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein speaks about her new book at CCPA event
September 5, 2007

(Vancouver) Footage of Naomi Klein speaking about her new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, is now available online at or

Klein appeared at a sold-out CCPA fundraiser in Vancouver in February.

The following is a brief excerpt from her speech:

"Disaster zones become a sort of fast forward version of the culture we have right now. We leap ahead, and suddenly we see what we’ve been building. In New Orleans, it was climate apartheid. Race, and money, buys survival…In these disaster zones, the ranking of life, is really what this economic model is about. And as climate change deepens, we will see it more and more, as more disasters happen.

When Hurricane Katrina hit…somebody wrote —it was a sort of mea culpa by a neoliberal—that the breaking of the levies in New Orleans will be for neo-conservatives what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for communism. That it will collapse their ideology because their ideology showed its true brutality in that moment. It was the neglected public sector, the levies themselves that people had been saying “fix them, fix them, fix them,” and they didn’t fix them, they just let them crumble. And the public infrastructure of New Orleans was so weathered that it couldn’t handle the mass evacuation.

So this all coalesced, and everyone saw it, this disaster that is hidden in plain sight every day, and suddenly there was nowhere to hide it. And we saw the residents of New Orleans—the poor, working class, mostly African American residents of New Orleans on their roofs, asking for help, and help not coming.

Many of us thought this would be a moment, the moment, to put the ideology on trial. It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen for the reasons the CCPA is so important. Because we weren’t ready with our policy ideas, our proposals to say, “this is the way you rebuild this city.”…We didn’t say, “This is a new deal for New Orleans and this is what it would look like.” So they ended up with the corporate new deal.

Why did that happen? It happened because they’re ready. Who’s they? Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, there was a meeting at the Heritage Foundation….representatives of all the big right wing think tanks, and the Republican Study Group in Congress. They made a list. Thirty two free market solutions for Hurricane Katrina.

The first one was to roll back labour standards in the region, so you could hire whoever you wanted at whatever wage you wanted. Next one, instead of rebuilding the public schools, give parents vouchers they can use in charter schools. Roll back environmental standards. Turn the Gulf Coast into a free market enterprise zone – that’s what they called it – basically tax holidays…

Within days, Bush is championing every single one on the list…They were ready. It’s easy to be ready when you have the same solution for every problem…It’s the same solutions no matter what the crisis…That right wing think tank complex was so ready that they descended on New Orleans within hours. And today, you can see their handiwork…"


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