Cato Institute
Briefing Paper
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The Klein Doctrine
The Rise of Disaster Polemics
by Johan Norberg
No. 102
May 14, 2008
Executive Summary
Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine purports to
them, the better to prepare themselves in
advance. Further, Friedman condemned the
be an exposť of the ruthless nature of free-market
Pinochet regime and opposed the war in Iraq.
capitalism and its chief recent exponent, Milton
Klein's historical examples also fall apart
Friedman. Klein argues that capitalism goes hand
under scrutiny. For example, Klein alleges that
in hand with dictatorship and brutality and that
the Tiananmen Square crackdown was intended
dictators and other unscrupulous political fig-
to crush opposition to pro-market reforms,
ures take advantage of "shocks"--catastrophes
when in fact it caused liberalization to stall for
real or manufactured--to consolidate their power
years. She also argues that Thatcher used the
and implement unpopular market reforms. Klein
Falklands War as cover for her unpopular eco-
cites Chile under General Augusto Pinochet,
nomic policies, when actually those economic
Britain under Margaret Thatcher, China during
policies and their results enjoyed strong public
the Tiananmen Square crisis, and the ongoing
war in Iraq as examples of this process.
Klein's broader empirical claims fare no bet-
Klein's analysis is hopelessly flawed at virtual-
ter. Surveys of political and economic freedom
ly every level. Friedman's own words reveal him to
reveal that the less politically free regimes tend
be an advocate of peace, democracy, and individ-
ual rights. He argued that gradual economic
to resist market liberalization, while those states
reforms were often preferable to swift ones and
with greater political freedom tend to pursue
that the public should be fully informed about
economic freedom as well.
Johan Norberg is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of, among other books, In Defense of Global Capitalism.
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