The Shock Doctrine in Haiti
Paul, Katie, Newsweek International
Byline: Katie Paul
Bottom feeders follow closely on the heels of disaster. After Hurricane Katrina, private security contractors landed in New Orleans to guard against looters. After the Indian Ocean tsunami, Asian governments pushed aside coastal villages to make way for resort developers. That kind of profiteering is standard fare. But is it organized? That's what author Naomi Klein says in her book The Shock Doctrine. Klein spoke with Newsweek's Katie Paul about what she's watching out for this time around in Haiti. Excerpts:
You've noted how disasters are perfect opportunities for "disaster capitalists" to move in and profit. Are you seeing evidence of that so far in haiti?
The shock doctrine is the use of disasters to avoid democracy--using the dislocation following a disaster to say that people aren't able to make decisions, so someone else needs to do it for them. But that means policies are pushed through very quickly--unpopular policies that were often on a wish list for elites anyway, but that can suddenly be implemented because people are either traumatized or literally wiped out. In the case of Haiti, the Heritage Foundation didn't even wait 24 hours before they called for the Obama administration to reform Haiti's economy. We've already heard talk of a Marshall Plan for Haiti--by Haiti's largest foreign investor, a cell-phone company. Now, they may have very good plans. But the point is that Haitians are not being included in the planning.
Isn't cell-phone service important right away? Lack of communication is a big problem in the relief effort.
Absolutely. When it comes to distributing aid, speed is of the essence. But it's entirely inappropriate to be setting priorities that Haitians will have to live with for decades. …