A People’s History of the World

About half way through Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine,  and I see this book as a furtherance of Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.  Even though these stories take place outside the United States,  there are US players,  often working behind the scenes to stir up situations leading to the overthrow of governments that are ‘unfriendly’ to the interests of corporations that have strong U.S. ties.  And of course,  all of it in this case is tied to the economic shock philosophy of Milton Friedman, famed award winning economics guru of the University of Chicago,  and hero to corporatists around the globe. 

I ditto Dan’s high recommendation of this book (see #6 on this list).  

This book is excellent, well-written,  and infuriating. 

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About Theoblogical

I am a Web developer with a background in theology, sociology and communications. I love to read, watch movies, sports, and am looking for authentic church.

17 Replies to “A People’s History of the World”

  1. Theoblogical Post author

    gator,

    It’s not the market per se; it’s the things that so often are considered neccessary for “letting it work”. When there’s so much suffering involved at the lower ends, that is what in Christian tradition is called “unjust” conditions.

    As for “fact”, these are “facts” as you see them. “Facts” often are used selectively, as well as just accepted as such because that is the worldview that direct us to “see” in that way.

    I would likewise suggest that you have the same problem as well (separating “fact” from “opinion”. There’s always much more “opinion” involved in everybody’s “facts”. I tend to take the view that “love of money” and absolutizing forces that are all too “convenient” for our own “way of life” is to blur “fact” with “opinion”.

    Anyway, thanks for your input.

    Dale

  2. gator80

    Thanks for the tip on creating a link. Here’s a try, hope it works.

    At this stage I think we just need to agree to disagree. You obviously feel a strong aversion to the market despite what I believe is significant evidence that it works better than any other system. I’d urge you to be careful in separating facts versus opinions and I certainly urge you to keep an open mind and reseach different opinions…maybe even some economists! I appreciate the discussion.

  3. Theoblogical Post author

    as to “whether [I] recognize that it has led to unprecedented improvements in life spans and standards of living”, it does for a certain percentage of people….depending on where …..in the case of these radical reform “hit em before they know what hit ’em” ….I don’t believe in it…..and I certainly am not a believer in “leave it to the market”……people are just too darn selfish in general, and it seems to work in reverse, so that the more people have, the more they want, and the more isolated they are from other groups, they tend to rationalize their support for the “programs” —-

    re: the links: (I just add the <a href=”linkURLhere”>text for link</a>

    it’s not disingenous, it’s just suspicion. I think it’s morte like “denial”—-I would like to think that if Friedman were to connect his advice and the advice of his students to various countries that ended up causing such hardships, that he would rethink the methods of undertaking such reforms…..Friedman simply seems to have never spoken of the way his “economic shocks” were carried out. (btw, chek out page 399 of the Two Lucky People reading……Friedman uses the exact term “shock treatment” to refer to his suggestions….. )

  4. gator80

    (How do you create a link in a post? I like that you did that and have one that I’d like to refer you to.)

    I think it is clear that Friedman supported the economic reforms in Chile, believing that increasing economic freedom improved the chance of civil and political freedom. In the same book you linked to (“Two Lucky People,” Appendix A) there is dcoumentation, including the fact that Friedman turned down two honorary degrees because he didn’t want to have that interpreted as support for the regime. It is disingenuous at best to imply that he either supported, tolerated or ignored the abuses committed by Pinochet.

    Whether or not Chile was an economic success can certainly be debated. You seem to feel that Chile is the example that proves your theory that Friedman supported ‘Shock Therapy’ and your related belief that free markets somehow reduce choices. I’m trying to understand how you feel about the free market in general, and whether you recognize that it has led to unprecedented improvements in life spans and standards of living.

  5. Theoblogical Post author

    The “choices” that the poorer people have become more and more limited if prices rise (which they do when controls are lifted suddenly as part of the “all of a sudden” reforms that , for example, Pinochet implemented (but this could apply to most of the Chicago School-driven “snap reforms” overseen by Friedman disciples.

    The glowing reports Friedman gave totally ignored the less than desirable effects it had on the non-rich.

    There was a 1982 Newsweek article where Friedman roundly praised the “economic miracle” of Chile without so much as a mention of the all the humans rights atrocities that were committed along with them. (BTW, I found a another blog post where you were taking someone else to task for all the same observations. You really make the rounds, don’t you?)
    Check out this excerpt from Friedman at Google Books where he does the praise of “The Miracle”

  6. gator80

    Hmmm, sent you a reply yesterday but don’t see it. I’ll try again.

    I said something to the effect that, since I seem to have trouble interpreting your comments, maybe you can help me understand who exactly the people are who you say “are left with hardly any choices.” Are you referring specifically to Chile here or is that a comment regarding market economies in general?

    Also, are you saying that Friedman gave ‘enthusiastic reviews of Chile under Pinochet?’ (I don’t want to put words in your mouth…or keyboard.) What did he say?

  7. Theoblogical Post author

    If you read my comment more carefully, you see that my use of “administer” refers to the FIXES, not the economic theory behind it. These were “reforms” deemed advisable by Friedman, and the results of these had catastrophic efffects on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. HIGHER unemployment. HIGHER standard of living.

    Your statement “I”™m not sure how leaving people free to make their own choices is analogous to an authoritarian parent. ” seems awfully preconceived and is typical of free-market fundamentalism thinking, because , in reality, most of these people are left with hardly any “choices”. This is language employed by the well-off, and is exactly what Friedman omitted in his enthusiastic reviews of say, Chile under Pinochet. A VERY large chunk of Chileans who actually had to live in the society after Pinochet took power and initiaited his Friedman-advised reforms are NOT so glowing about the “good” of the “free market”.

  8. gator80

    Dale,

    You certainly know what you meant, so if I misread your comment I apologize. I would suggest being a bit more careful with your wording, though. I’ve reread your comment a few times and I suspect others might interpret it the same way I originally did.

    This next comment may also be a ‘wording’ issue, but Friedman actually wanted the opposite of ‘administering’ the economy. He wanted people to be left alone (as long as they are not hurting others) and free to make their own choices. I have trouble understanding why so many people have a problem with that! That also applies to your authoritarian parent example. I’m not sure how leaving people free to make their own choices is analogous to an authoritarian parent. Isn’t the opposite also true here? By that I mean isn’t it the government, with its regulations, taxes, tariffs and other interventions into people’s lives, the authoritarian parent?

    You may be right that some people take it as a ‘given’ that the free market is the answer. Others, to my point, take it as a given that the free market is the cause of our problems. So that leads to stalemate unless we actually look at the evidence in the real world. To me the evidence is overwhelming. The living standards of people in free market eocnomies are significantly higher and have grown significantly faster than those in controlled or non-capitalist economies. I’d be interested to learn of economies that are not fundamentally market oriented that have exceeded the performance of market economies. I can assure you Milton Friedman, who did not operate from pre-conceived notions, looked carefully at such data before drawing conclusions(go back and read him again!).

  9. Theoblogical Post author

    It may be that Friedman could be considered akin to the super-authoritarian parent who ends up being harmfulto their children, out of some super-disciplinarian complex that blinds them to the damage they are inflicting on their kids. All of this done to “help them be tough”, and had no intentions of inflicting lasting damage on them as persons. His “discipline” is his system (what he puts onthe level of “science” — whichseems to melike a master stroke of “preconceived-notion-itis” toelevate to “science”, since the results in so manyof those “successful experiments” were so disastrous for the majority of the people and infrastructures of those countries

  10. Theoblogical Post author

    I DO assumme, however, that he WAS aware of the mass privitization, and fully supported that. The Freidman philosophy does indeed get an appropriate laberl as “free-market fundamentalism”, and he does everything but DEIFY it

  11. Theoblogical Post author

    YOu totally misread me in changing this:
    “praised the “results”, which included (but did not mention) privatizing everything in sight, “disappearing” political opposition, etc.

    to this:
    “he praised the “˜disappearing”™ of political opposition”

    See the difference? I know he was not praising the actual “hidden” results/consequences (and indeed may not have even been aware that they had this effect)…..but the point I was making that in these places where he visited and advised, the “shock” programs were carried out in each case by those he advised….and it is UNMISTAKABLE in his language that he pushes the idea of painful reforms that must be “administered” —and he (or the Chicago School) sent many “disciples” to those countries who WERE indeed there , guiding the programs.

    Speaking of pre-conceived notions, the notion of “free markets” as somehow self-correcting and ableto good all on their own is a prime example of such notions, guided by the “profitability” that such “science” can bring about (for the ones doing the “preconceiving” and implementation.

  12. gator80

    Dale,

    “Trickle down” carries some perjoritive baggage, but Friedman certainly believed that economic growth is in everyone’s interest.

    You seem to have a habit mixing some facts (“he visited the country”) with complete fabrications (“he praised the ‘disappearing’ of political opposition”). That makes a serious discussion very difficult!

    You seem to be operating based on certain pre-conceived notions, which is actually not unusual, but you also seem unwilling to consider new perspectives.

    It’s your blog, so you can do whatever you want, but the level of discourse is also up to you.

  13. Theoblogical Post author

    Would you say Friedman is a “trickle-down” believer?

    And no , visting a county doesn’t mean unequivocol support, but he made the policy recommendations, and then praised the “results”, which included (but did not mention) privatizing everything in sight, “disappearing” political opposition, etc. And he seems to dismiss the accompanying mass unemployment and inflation as “temporary and neccessary”, even though the mnass unemployment and inflation stayed ridiculously high.

  14. gator80

    Dale, I’d be interested to know what you read by Friedman that seemed to you to support shock therapy.

    Surely you don’t mean to imply that ‘visiting’ a country implies unequivocol support for its policies? And what “plans” and “methods” are you referring to? You’re throwing around a lot of vague innuendos.

    If you think Friedman’s priority was to “serve the corporations,” I doubt you have read him carefully.

  15. Theoblogical Post author

    I HAVE read several things that he said, and it sure seems like it to me. He DID visit and consult with those countries, and he continued to emphasize, while knowing what was happening as his “plans” were put into effect, that these were the methods being used, and it seems his major emphasis was that it took extreme measures to fix the problems.

    Naomi Klein isn’t the only one who have noticed these economic “plans” that have been put into place to serve the coroporations (see a book called “Overthrow”). It’s nothing new.

  16. gator80

    Unfortunately, Dale, Milton Friedman did not espouse a shock philosophy! That is intellectually dishonest propoganda by Naomi Klein. I urge you to read what Milton Friedman said, then decide whether Klein is being fair.

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