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Now is the Time to Resist Wall Street’s Shock Doctrine

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by Naomi Klein
September 22, 2008

I wrote The Shock Doctrine in the hopes that it would make us all
better prepared for the next big shock. Well, that shock has certainly arrived,
along with gloves-off attempts to use it to push through radical pro-corporate
policies (which of course will further enrich the very players who created the
market crisis in the first place…).

The best summary of how the right plans to use the economic crisis to push
through their policy wish list comes from Former Republican House Speaker Newt
Gingrich. On Sunday, Gingrich laid out 18 policy prescriptions for Congress
to take in order to “return to a Reagan-Thatcher policy of economic growth
through fundamental reforms.” In the midst of this economic crisis, he
is actually demanding the repeal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which would lead
to further deregulation of the financial industry. Gingrich is also calling
for reforming the education system to allow “competition” (a.k.a.
vouchers), strengthening border enforcement, cutting corporate taxes and his
signature move: allowing offshore drilling.

It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the right’s ability to use this
crisis — created by deregulation and privatization — to demand more of the
same. Don’t forget that Newt Gingrich’s 527 organization, American Solutions
for Winning the Future, is still riding the wave of success from its offshore
drilling campaign, “Drill Here, Drill Now!” Just four months ago,
offshore drilling was not even on the political radar and now the U.S. House
of Representatives has passed supportive legislation. Gingrich is holding an
this Saturday, September 27 that will be broadcast on satellite television
to shore up public support for these controversial policies.

What Gingrich’s wish list tells us is that the dumping of private debt into
the public coffers is only stage one of the current shock. The second comes
when the debt crisis currently being created by this bailout becomes the excuse
to privatize social security, lower corporate taxes and cut spending on the
poor. A President McCain would embrace these policies willingly. A President
Obama would come under huge pressure from the think tanks and the corporate
media to abandon his campaign promises and embrace austerity and “free-market

We have seen this many times before, in this country and around the world.
But here’s the thing: these opportunistic tactics can only work if we let them.
They work when we respond to crisis by regressing, wanting to believe in “strong
leaders” – even if they are the same strong leaders who used the September
11 attacks to push through the Patriot Act and launch the illegal war in Iraq.

So let’s be absolutely clear: there are no saviors who are going to look out
for us in this crisis. Certainly not Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs,
one of the companies that will benefit most from his proposed bailout (which
is actually a stick up). The only hope of preventing another dose of shock politics
is loud, organized grassroots pressure on all political parties: they have to
know right now that after seven years of Bush, Americans are becoming shock

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