17 December 2009

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE (Dir. Mat Whitecross, Michael Winterbottom, 2009, UK) - Disaster Capitalism

Now famously disowned by writer and investigative journalist Naomi Klein, 'The Shock Doctrine' which was broadcast in September of this year on Channel Four follows in the footsteps of recent highly charged political documentaries like Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9-11'. Co directed by Matt Whitecross and British iconoclast Michael Winterbottom, the documentary succeeds in many regards to articulate the core political arguments of Klein's theory of 'disaster capitalism'. However, two aspects of the documentary seemed to work against it, namely the monotonous voice over and the short running time. One could argue that Klein's work would have been better suited for a series of mini documentaries rather than resorting to the simplification of what is a dense narrative. Beginning with work of economist Milton Friedman, the documentary adheres to the detailed case studies disseminated by Klein in her book including the US backed coup of Chile in 1973 that resulted in the overthrow of Allende's democratically elected government and coming right up to date with the shock and awe tactics of the Bush administration in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. All of these examples of disaster capitalism prove that the basis of contemporary capitalism rests largely on the need for vital shocks to the system which have resulted in the enforcement of deregulation and privatization as normal practice. As a vehement political essay, 'The Shock Doctrine' makes for sobering and intelligent viewing.


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