Incoming White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel recently discussed the next administration's approach to the financial crisis, telling the Wall Street Journal, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Linking politics, crisis and opportunity, Emanuel's sentiments evoked either Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom or Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, depending on your level of paranoia/distrust of the federal government.I'll admit that I've only skimmed Friedman, but Klein's book is a provocative interpretation of social crisis and the ways in which corporations benefit (and people are exploited) in the wake of a disaster. She holds Friedman accountable for the rise of "disaster capitalism," and she identifies his philosophies as the origin of numerous crises precipitated by governments around the world in the past fifty years:
This is how the shock doctrine works: the original disaster — the coup, the terrorist attack, the market meltdown, the war, the tsunami, the hurricane — puts the entire population into a state of collective shock … Like the terrorized prisoner who gives up the names of his comrades and renounces his faith, shocked societies often gives up things that they would otherwise fiercely protect.
Anyway, what's especially interesting about Emanuel's invocation is that (I suspect) at least some of the new administration's policies will reverse the deregulation that Friedman recommended and that his acolytes implemented. Also, like Friedman, Emanuel is from Chicago. Ironic? Deeply.