Cato Institute
Briefing Paper
<<  <  >  >>
"The Other Doctor Shock." And of course,
researchers worked with her on the book.
later in the book electrical shocks and shock
Could it be that some of those researchers
therapy are connected to the U.S. military
were given the order to skim through
strategy of "shock and awe" in the invasion
Friedman's books, articles, and interviews for
of Iraq. Shock-Shock-Shock. Get it?
words and sentences that relate to shocks
Hidden in Klein's word games is a real
and crises? The enthusiastic researchers col-
argument--the fact that several dictatorships
lected quotes and gave them to Klein who
have liberalized their economies in recent
made a collage of them to fit her story. That
years and that some of these have also tor-
could explain why she takes Friedman's
tured their opponents. But how strong is this
words to mean the opposite of what the con-
connection? If we look at the Fraser Institute's
texts reveal, and why she is silent any time his
Economic Freedom of the World statistics
words contradict her interpretation, even
(EFW), we find only four economies about
when the contradictions appear in the same
which we have data that haven't liberalized at
interviews and articles that she quotes from.
all since 1980.31 All the others have. Obviously
This is just a hypothesis. But it's a more
attractive explanation than the alternative,
this also means that we will see economic lib-
which is that she is consciously deceiving the
eralization even in brutal dictatorships, just as
There is a very
readers even though simple checks of her
in peaceful democracies.
strong correlation
sources expose the distortions.
Klein relies on her personal interpretation
of anecdotes and examples and never tries to
between econom-
supply broad, statistical evidence for her case.
ic freedom on the
Shock and Awe
It's an understandable omission, because the
one hand and
data don't support her argument. There is a
Even though Klein is wrong about Fried-
very strong correlation between economic
political rights
man, she could be right about her broader the-
freedom on the one hand and political rights
and civil liberties
sis that it is easier to liberalize in times of cri-
and civil liberties on the other. The quarter of
on the other.
sis, and that there is a close connection
countries with the most economic freedom
between economic liberalization and violence
score 1.8 on average in Freedom House's
and dictatorships. She gives examples of dicta-
measure of political rights (1 = most free, 7 =
torships that have liberalized the economy,
least); the second freest quarter gets 2.0; the
like Chile and China, but she also makes a
third; 3.4, and the least economically free
metaphorical case about the relationship
quarter of countries gets 4.4. On average, the
between "shock therapy" in economics and
economically freest quarter is more democra-
electrical shocks as a means of torture. The
tic than Taiwan, and the least economically
free quarter is less democratic than Nigeria.32
connection is that they are both used to erase
the past and create something new--torture is
"a metaphor of the shock doctrine's underly-
Making Liberalism Violent
ing logic."30 And she makes a lot of the case
that electrical shocks have sometimes been
used in countries that have attempted eco-
A 2007 survey from the Pew Research
nomic reform--like in Pinochet's Chile or in
Center shows that there is a plurality in 41 of
Iraq by the American forces.
46 polled countries who think that most peo-
It's not subtle. She begins with Ewen
ple are better off in a free-market economy. In
Cameron, the psychiatrist who used electrical
most countries, an overwhelming majority
shocks and other mind-altering techniques
thinks so. Klein never provides us with any
on unsuspecting patients as part of a Central
countervailing surveys to prove her point
that free markets are unpopular.33 Nor does
Intelligence Agency project. The next chap-
ter, on Milton Friedman and his attempts to
she talk about rapidly liberalizing democra-
promote free trade and free markets, is called
cies like Iceland, Ireland, Estonia, Australia,