The Shock Doctrine

Baghdad Iraq
Iraqi’s attempt to extinguish a van that caught fire on Saadoun Street, in Baghdad, Iraq on May 30, 2004. (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)

Friedman’s radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans’ existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions, many run at a profit, that would be subsidized by the state. It was crucial, Friedman wrote, that this fundamental change not be a stopgap but rather “a permanent reform.” 5 A network of right-wing think tanks seized on Friedman’s proposal and descended on the city after the storm. The administration of George W. Bush backed up their plans with tens of millions of dollars to convert New Orleans schools into “charter schools ” publicly funded institutions run by private entities according to their own rules. Charter schools are deeply polarizing in the United States, and nowhere more than in New Orleans, where they are seen by many African-American parents as a way of reversing the gains of the civil rights movement, which guaranteed all children the same standard of education. For Milton Friedman, however, the entire concept of a state-run school system reeked of socialism. In his view, the state’s sole functions were “to protect our freedom both from the enemies outside our gates and from our fellow-citizens: to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets.” 6 In other words, to supply the police and the soldiers— anything else, including providing free education, was an unfair interference in the market.

The Shock Doctrine

Coping With Surprise

Shock and Awe

Culture of Strategic Thought

Strategic Shocks

Global Strategic Trends

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