Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shock Doctrined Through Think Tanks

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

I've been reading Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, and what I find interesting, is that American Imperialism over the past half century or so, has followed a pattern.

One laid out by the Chicago school and Milton Friedman. And it was done under the guise of fighting Socialism/Communism, but was really about taking over the economics of other nations, for corporate interests.

Chile provides an excellent example of how the system works.

In an attempt to combat the socialist principles of leading Latin American economist Raul Prebisch, the Chicago School offered free market courses at a Chilean university.

This was the brainchild of Albion Patterson, director of the U.S. International Cooperation Administration in Chile, and Theodore W. Schultz, chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago, who called on Friedman to work his magic.
The two men came up with a plan that would eventually turn Santiago, a hotbed of state-centred economics, into its opposite—a laboratory for cutting-edge free-market experiments, giving Milton Friedman what he had longed for: a country in which to test his cherished theories. The original plan was simple: the U.S. government would pay to send Chilean students to study economics at what pretty much everyone recognized was the most rabidly anti-"pink" school in the world—the University of Chicago. Schultz and his colleagues at the university would also be paid to travel to Santiago to conduct research into the Chilean economy and to train students and professors in Chicago School fundamentals. (1)
Friedman and his gang would also bring the media on board, and not surprisingly, the president of their largest newspaper, El Mercurio, would become Augustus Pinochet's economic minister after the U.S. led coup.

However, another important step in trying to turn the Southern Cone , and indeed the rest of the free world, to the right, came from another faculty member at the Chicago School, Friedrich von Hayek.

Hayek had come up with the notion of the corporate funded free market think tank, that he suggested should "present themselves as civil society". They churn out report after report, poll after poll, all to promote corporate interests.

And Chile was no exception. The most prominent are Libertad y Desarrollo (now the Latin American institute) and Centro de Estudios Públicos , both heralded as the saviour of Chile (next to Milton Friedman, bombs, guns and assassins).

Alejandro Chafuen wrote a piece in April of 2010: Think Tanks and the Transformation of the Chilean Economy

In it he not only praises Libertad y Desarrollo and Centro de Estudios Públicos , but also Canada's own Fraser Institute.
... the Fraser Institute in Canada, ranked today as the best market oriented institute outside the United States. Fraser has a huge influence in a Canada which is overcoming the US in economic freedoms, transparency, and several other areas.
But who is this Alejandro Chafuen?

He is the past President of the Atlas Foundation and a Senior Fellow at the Acton Institute. In fact the Acton Institute was started with funds provided by the Atlas Foundation, and is an extension of the Religious Right.
Atlas was, and is, a major sponsor of the Acton Institute run by former faith healer, evangelical, gay community organizer, and now Catholic priest, Bob Sirico. Sirico ran fundamentalist faith healing meetings until he came out as gay. Then he moved on to the Metropolitan Community Churches and started running the Gay Community Center in Hollywood ... Acton officials got heavily involved in the debate on gay marriage. With Sirico back in the closet (though some conservatives don’t think so) the position they have been taking has been to pander to bigots on the Religious Right.
The Atlas Foundation also helps to finance the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which was started in 2002, by Conservative MP John Weston. The CCF has ties to the Harper government and Canada's Neoconservative movement.

They were also behind attack ads run in the U.S. to oppose Obama's healthcare plan.

Donald Gutstein wrote an excellent book: Not a Conspiracy Theory, in which he exposes the myriad of think tanks and foundations propping up the Harper government. Gutstein tells us to follow the money, and the few connections I provided above, are only a tip of the iceberg.

If we are going to engage in non-violent civil disobedience, it's important to know what we're up against. The media is constantly quoting polls and reports from these groups, to defend or explain this government's policies.

We have to do what Gutstein suggests and follow the money. Google the name of the group or the person quoted. It won't take long to find they belong to some corporate funded think tank or "advocacy" group, many with planted MPs.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (Jason Kenney)
The Fraser Institute (Jason Kenney, Rob Anders)
The Montreal Institute (Maxime Bernier)
The Civitas Society (Jason Kenney)
The National Citizens Coalition (Stephen Harper and Rob Anders)

The list is endless.

Once you trace the origin, email the columnist or own the comments section. Our best weapon is education, including the education of the media. Maybe if we become enough of a pain, they may start providing some balance.

Brigette DePape started something here, putting her job on the line to make a statement. But it's not enough to simply "stop" Stephen Harper. We must fight against the entire movement, before it destroys us.


1. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, By Naomi Klein, Vintage Canada, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-676-97801-8


  1. Great review of Naomi Klein's "Disaster Capitalism". However, you may want to rethink your conclusion about the "media".

    You say that our "best weapon" to influence the media and achieve balance is education..."" You also say that "if we become enough pain, they [reporters/editors] may start providing balance."

    However, it is clear to me that the corporate media will never willingly provide "balance" since it is not their interest. The mainstream media is owned by a handful of entertainment corporations that have no interest other than to support the interests of their owners.

    In the last federal election from hell, for example, 19 of the 20 news companies that represent about 97% of the news market in Canada backed the neo-cons, despite contempt of Parliament, despite corruption, despite refusing to answer questions, despite candidates failing to attend debates, etc.. And, how many examined the Christian nationalism that forms the basis of the neo-cons foreign and domestic policy? The answer is none. Where is the evidence that the neo-cons 'handled' our on-going recession well? I thought they were a disaster, but as in disaster capitalism, the neo-cons are bringing in jets and jails and letting families suffer. Privatize and destroy government - that's the neo-con agenda. Why did the owners of the media back such insanity, tax cuts for the rich and to hell with working families.

    I don't think reporters and editors were ignorant of all the facts. They just ignored them because it didn't serve their corporate interests which is NOT to sell papers. Its to sell advertising, but more importantly, to serve their broader international interests. Profits and tax cuts go over-seas.

    The conclusion if any of this is right is that we should boycott the corporate media entirely! Don't buy it. Don't advertise in it. Stop unions from buying advertising space and forget political spots on corporate media. Obama would never have won if he had relied on the corporate media. Use social media, Build alliances, Rely on community. Use social media!

  2. A compelling book and a must read for anyone who is curious as how it came that the "little people" passed from cannon fodder to corporate fodder, with the help of cannons of course.