Cato Institute
Briefing Paper
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for the employers. Only 7 percent approved of
or the United States during the 1980s, where
the strikers' methods, and 88 percent disap-
reforms were given renewed support in sever-
proved.37 Klein has it backwards. It was not pri-
al elections. These countries are just not suf-
ficiently undemocratic and brutal.
marily Thatcher who used violence to imple-
However, she does deal with Britain under
ment unpopular ideas, it was the strikers who
Margaret Thatcher, and argues that she also
used violence to block popular Thatcherite
relied on shocks and violence to reform.
ideas.
Thatcher won the election in 1983 because of
the boost she got from the Falklands War--
Making Violence Liberal
which does nothing to prove "disaster capital-
ism" as a deliberate strategy, because it was a
war she did not start. Klein never mentions
The essence of Klein's argument is that
that another reason for Thatcher's growing
free-market reforms coexist comfortably with
popularity was that the British economy
the most brutal dictatorships--and not just
improved rapidly at the same time, which
coexist. In Klein's world, the brutality and the
would not fit the argument that liberalization
torture in authoritarian regimes are a way for
hurts people. (One study even looked in detail
the ruling class to force through liberal eco-
at the timing of events and the voters' percep-
nomic reforms. It is important for her that
tion of them and made the case that the
Chile is not an exception, because if it was,
Tories only gained three percentage points
then Friedman might have been right when he
from the war, and the rest from improved eco-
said that the surprising thing was not that the
nomic prospects.34)
market worked, but that the generals allowed
Klein further tries to tie Thatcher to vio-
it to work. Indeed, it is tempting to see Chile as
lence by noting that she closed down the state-
an example that could be used to support
owned coal mines despite the strikes of
Friedman's argument that a successful econo-
198485, an action that did lead to police vio-
my could moderate a brutal regime and in the
lence. "Thatcher unleashed the full force of
end restore democracy. Therefore Klein must
the state on the strikers," according to Klein,35
make the case that several other brutal dicta-
and she mentions specifically the attack on
torships were liberal reformers as well. To
strikers by 8,000 riot police in Orgreave in June
avoid talking only about Chile, she also
1984.36 Klein does not go into any detail, and
includes the Argentinean military dictator-
she tries to make it sound like Thatcher sent
ship of 197683. With these two examples, she
the police to attack strikers because they were
can claim that the Southern part of Latin
on strike. But the violence started because the
America is where "contemporary capitalism
was born."38 She even calls the two countries'
strikers tried to block more mines and stop
governments "Chicago School juntas."39
the miners who wanted to work, and they did
Klein never
There were indeed advisers from the Uni-
it by trying to break the police lines and throw-
mentions that
versity of Chicago in Argentina. There is strong
ing stones until the police retaliated. Ob-
viously there was police brutality, but it began
demand for Chicago economists everywhere,
another reason
as a way to protect peaceful mines, miners, and
so they have been in many places, and this fact
for Thatcher's
policemen, not as a way to impose an ideology
supplies ample material for Klein's conspiracy
growing
by force.
theory. But free-market reforms were barely
More damaging for Klein's case, Thatcher
noticeable in Argentina. In the EFW index of
popularity was
was not implementing unpopular reforms. On
economic freedom from 1 (least free) to 10
that the British
the contrary, surveys during the strike showed
(most free), Argentina moved from 3.25 in
that the public systematically opposed the
1975 to 3.86 in 1985. It is interesting to com-
economy
strikers, and that opposition grew during the
pare these scores with the economic freedom
improved rapidly
strike. In December 1984, 26 percent had the
in countries that Klein mentions as good alter-
at the same time.
most sympathy for the miners, and 51 percent
natives to the brutal "neoliberal" models. Such
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