Friday, September 21, 2007

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and The Demise of America's Middle Class

The Shock Doctrine: The Demise of America’s Middle Class

Who is architecting the "shock doctrine" that keeps middle-class America paralyzed when it comes to throwing out corrupt politicians and demanding that "corporatist cronies" and their employees forge a democratic social contract? As wealthy corporate elites continue to drive out America's professional middle class by eliminating them in favor of cheap foreign labor, why can't our citizens -- particularly progressive and liberal Democrats --- address white collar labor abuses by structuring meaningful, enforceable laws to protect our jobs and wages against what Naomi Klein refers to as "disaster apartheid"? While the media rail about corrupt politicos, there is an odd silence from alternative media to investigate which corporate elites are screwing who.

In her new book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein describes how our government has been hijacked by crony capitalists who, with the complicity of think tanks and the media, have set out to destroy public and local institutions. With the largest segment of America's citizens (middle-class) allowing their jobs to be handed away, eroding infrastructures and healthcare now considered a luxury only meant for the ruling elite, this book inspires the question that every citizen of the United States should be asking of each presidential candidate:

Why Can't The United States Frame this Election on Our Disappearing Middle Class and Ask Who in Corporate Elite Circles are Responsible?

After all, politicians are merely the tools of these frat boys controlling what Klein refers to as the "corporate utopia" or executive management cabal which deems itself in charge to redistribute its profits to the third world by eliminating white collar jobs for over fifty million middle class American professionals. While the middle class continues to be sidetracked by social and ideological hot button issues (abortion, genocide and war on other continents, the skullduggery of the Bush administration), crony capitalists have just about picked off the professional middle class right out of existence with nary a whimper. So who are these corporate cronies who schmooze with our Democrat ic controlled Congress? Where are the investigative journalists to inform us of the actual people who are behind driving the middle class to extinction? Can investigative journalists begin to answer the very question "Who is Screwing Who?" that Molly Ivins put forth when she lavished this high honor on the talented, rising star populist political journalist and author David Sirota:

"Sirota is a new-generation populist who instinctively understands that the only real questions are "Who's getting screwed" and "Who's doing the screwing."

The extent to which corporate power has taken over the country and is driving our middle class out of existence by handing over our jobs to cheap foreign labor ought to be the number one priority for each and every citizen who is not a corporate elite -- uh, which would be like 98% of the population. So why is it that in Europe, discussions about the economic blueprints architected and controlled by what Klein refers to as the think-tank infrastructure in this country, which is organized to leap into the chasm right away after disasters strike. The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute amass free market ideas in the same way that women amass closets full of shoes. Klein says that if there's anything the market delivers on, it is a stream of increasingly intense disasters. But here lies the shock and awe rub: The current economic model in America is a slow-motion train-wreck, but we just don't seem to hear about this from either MSM or alternative media. While most political journalists focus on delivering the message from a pay-to-play pulpit and are risk aversive when it comes time to reporting on "who's screwing who", the question becomes: is it the professional middle class en masse that just does not want to hear from journalists how they are being silently annihilated? Or is it that most political journalists control the message by investigating and reporting only so much in order to preserve their relationships with the powerful?

Democratic Social Contract. Is it really the media or are we to blame? At what point does compromise factor in when it comes time for the media to report "who's screwing who?" Or does it even matter? These are the types of questions that Klein raises; questions that leave us wondering whether we as a society really are demanding change at all or do we really, honestly, reject the concept of socio-economic civility entirely and at the end of the day, only want to preserve our individual places in line at the trough?

Technocratic Circles. While politicians schmooze with corporate elites in what Klein refers to as "technocratic circles" who lay off tens of millions of our white collar professionals and replace them with H-1bs, promote corporate tax shelters, gut our infrastructures, America's LIBERAL and so-called progressives idly sit back and ignore the key question of "who exactly is drawing up the blueprint to drive our middle class out of existence?" Which organizations quietly broker deals with politicians to throw out laws that were designed to strengthen the democratic social contract between corporate America and the citizens of this country? How do these organizations go about manipulating "shock doctrine" to control the plebes? One reason we don't read or hear about this silent middle class genocide is that many of our best and brightest college professors with tenure and fixed incomes, however modest -- have become immune to the problem facing millions of their non-academic, white collar neighbors as corporate America and their corrupt political counterparts sponsor "think tanks" to trump up data and churn out statistics in 'support' of handing over white collar jobs to cheap foreign labor, thus eradicating the middle class.

Technocratic Circles of Elites and how they influence "Disaster Capitalism." Follow the money. Klein explains that The SPP (Security Partnership Prosperity) is an example of shock doctrine, which she describes as "an agenda that would have been unspeakable in terms of integration with the United States before 9/11, and in the panic afterwards, in that shock " the SPP agenda moved forward in technocratic circles, and it was presented as a done deal." Note: Technocratic circles like to remain stealth and invisible to the public by keeping under the press radar. They can, however, typically be found schmoozing with each other either poolside behind their gated McMansions or on the Bombardier flex-jet en route to some exotic, lush South Pacific Island the rest of us never even knew existed. So who makes up these technocratic circles who affect how many of our professional jobs get handed over to H-1bs? For starters, look up "venture capitalist" in the Menlo Park, CA phone directory and if you are at a loss for who's name to start with, get a hold of undeclared candidate Al Gore who serves as an advisor to the board of pro-h-1b mascot GOOGLE and ask him just what he would plan on doing to reverse this war on America's educated middle class.. In case you didn't know, businessman Al Gore is chairman of his own London, England based company that brokers carbon credits to other wealthy elites and has ties to Silicon Valley and numerous green energy startups...Now can you spell "disaster capitalism"?

What Social Contract? Klein's shock therapy victim thesis begs the question as to why the professional middle class would allow businessmen with personal profiteering interests to run for office when our social contract is at stake. As the climate changes, why does America's middle class sit idly by while businessmen with stakes in unproven green technology start-ups (like ethanol) continue to benefit from tax subsidies at our expense? With aging public infrastructures that have been starved for almost three decades and erratic weather patterns, climate change undoubtedly is influencing this pursuit of short-term growth that is at the heart of the economic model, as more of these disasters may prove inevitable. If we aren't careful, each of these disasters offers the opening and a rationale for more disaster capitalism at a time when we are in need of a social contract.

Klein: "You can depend on capital to arrive at any vacuum and exploit any weakness. It is not the case that politicians need to facilitate this and fund it lavishly with taxpayer money. What is disturbing is the seamless alliance between government and capitalism."

Shock Doctrine at Work. Klein discusses how once Canadians began learning about the SPP they promptly rejected it. Last month's summit in Montebello, Quebec culminated with this press release "don't worry, nothing's going to happen here." (Note that this summit was closed to the public.) The Canadians did say that they would favor the SPP should there be a disaster-- (that "D" word again) such as a terrorist attack or other 'natural' disaster -- then they would implement tightened integration between security forces in all these countries. So the question becomes, "why can't the three countries coordinate security without losing their sovereignty? Haven't the three countries been doing this since the pony express? What - all of a sudden security in each country have lost their walkie-talkies and high speed internet access? The key thing to note here is that In Canada, the SPP August meeting made headlines where in the U.S., it did not.

Democratic Socialism vs. Unchecked "Free-Market" Capitalism. At the heart of what is driving America's professional middle class to ignore this blueprint toward their socio-economic annihilation, Klein describes the key ideological distinction between Europeans and Americans in the following way: Americans are threatened by the prospect of what Europe understands intuitively and in practice: that social democracy demands corporations take responsibility for public policy that forges the socio-economic contract which provides its citizens a life of dignity and respect that includes health care, job protections, electricity, water, and housing. Did I leave out food? With democratic socialism, markets can indeed thrive in tandem with humane and productive corporate laws that guarantee the rights of its employees as citizens first through much needed civic minded socio-economic models that benefit the public. These socio-economic models currently benefit only a few corporate and political elites. Now, with the internet, we no longer have the excuse that "MSM" controls the message.

What to do? America's academic professionals need to reevaluate their alliances with think tanks that supply horseshit data that fuel American white collar hitmen like Compete America to corporatist cronies that is then picked up by the media as "fact". Our middle class professionals know this is happening and must unite to fight for the right to good jobs here; America's educated professionals deserve to earn more than plumbers per hour and live in good neighborhoods and afford to send their kids to good colleges. As Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) so endearingly said in Legally Blonde when she answered a question about the difficulty of getting into Harvard: "what’s so hard about that?”

But America's Democrats (not the faux ones like Hillary and Bill who crafted NAFTA) will have to unite against this socioeconomic shock and awe and lead this march. Who else is gonna do it? The Republicans? Corporate technocratic circles of elites? HA! And maybe one of these days, preferably not when pigs fly -- some rising star political journalist who has seen it all from the inside out will pick up where the others left off to establish a new precedent for reporting on the corporatist cronies who are architecting the shock doctrine. After all, when it comes to socioeconomic issues affecting our lives, the press has us looking one way when it's usually a sign to look in the other direction.



ucbdan said...

I will never think about disasters and capitalism in quite the same way again. Really gets you asking questions about who is controlling what and how the wealthy few will do absolutely anything to control and/or obliterate the masses who threaten their status. This actually looks like a book worth reading.

Citizen Carrie said...

As far as the ruling class is concerned, the idea of a social contract is dead and buried. They only offered us a social contract when it was in their best interest to do so. Now we(the middle class) have outlived our usefulness and are being consigned to the scrap heap.


2Truthy said...

Dan, I really don't know where Klein stands on booting the forty million plus white collar workers into the streets, but I find her shock doctrine premise fascinating in a time when the media and blogosphere would have previously tossed out her thesis as conspiracy theory.

CC, Oh yes, that damned personal responsibility can buy you a cup of Starbucks latte...:) But isn't the revival of the social contract something to hold over the heads of those politicians who, come November, are going to be pleading for our votes?

sftierney said...

t.t., John Cusack has a great interview with Naomi Klein on Huffpo here

2Truthy said...

sftierney, thnx, I saw this earlier today. Good stuff.

Andrew said...

Dear 2truthy

I admire the passion with which you talk about this subject.

However, I disagree with you about the dissapering white collar middle class.

I cannot talk about the American experience since I am not American, but the Australian experience contradicts what you describe here.

Ten years ago in Australia, many people (myself included) were concerned that professional employment opportunities would be outsourced to low wage countries like China and India. Popular belief suggested this would cause a hollowing out of professional employment opportunities within Australia.

In contrast, today we have record low levels of unemployment, demand for skilled labor exceeding supply in most areas, and the middle class enjoying greater prosperity than at any time before. We are even having to import overseas professionals into Australia in many areas.

Accordingly, I have long stopped believing that the professional middle class in developed countries will dissapear.

However, I admire your passion in relation to this subject.



2Truthy said...

Thanks for your comments. I prefer to describe my writing on this subject as com-passion for the millions of citizens here who are being shit canned every day in order for corporate executives to profit.
Good to hear that you are living in a country where its white collar citizens have abundant job opportunities.
As you know, many American corporations are moving their businesses abroad in pursuit of cheap labor -- not good for millions of U.S. citizens, is it?
When you say that the Australian experience "contradicts" the fact that the American middle class is disappearing, well, the fact is precisely that: American white collar professional jobs are disappearing by being offshored or replaced here - both by cheap labor.