"I think for the first time in my life I can see how people just throw in the towel. I never understood that before. But it's hard. I guess I'm saying I can see the appeal of not bashing my head against a wall. But then you look at people who have made the decision to become cynical and disengaged. Really, just look at those people. Look where it leads, ha ha. They don't look relieved to me, they look self-loathing. I won't allow myself to go there." –Naomi Klein, The Glasgow Herald
The Shock Doctrine is a huge book. It's daunting. But a "developmental" urge inside my head said, There is shit going on out there and you need to know about it. Coercive things have revealed themselves in the world, so opaque, so raw, yet so fucked up. You should know: I grew up near Glasgow in the 70s and 80s, a place once infamously known as "No Mean City," so unlike my adopted home of Toronto. How things have changed.
This response is not a book review. The Shock Doctrine is a brilliant journalistic work and should be read by everyone. There. That's my review. Instead, this is a conversation about the areas that the book doesn't have the space to cover. As a card-carrying Integralist, I love to attend to these other "things": reality in the four quadrants as best as I can see it. The Shock Doctrine lays out how the ruling elites of our time use systemic anti-personal, anti-social, and anti-cultural shock (coercion, assault, torture, murder, political propaganda, media manipulation, ownership of the courts and officers, and brazen and horrific injustice) as a way to destabilize all quadrants, in many social spheres, across the world. This book is a solid, well-researched, and mandatory read, mandatory because what Klein might call a "war on all of us" is affecting our world completely. I also suggest that you read this book as a tactic: as the saying goes, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." It may seem a bit melodramatic to say that there is a war against all of us, but there truly is one. And if you don't believe me, don't be a coppertop: read the book.
Klein's book provides sobering, unrelenting exposure to the "objective" reality of the current situation. However, she doesn't spend much time on the "subjective" experience of shock, that is to say that shock is a felt experience, mentally and physiologically. By the time you finish the first chapter, you may feel that subjective experience of shock in your mind and body, and the shock will continue to worm its way in. It's a bit like reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, though the world that Klein describes is unfortunately not a work of fiction.
A Quick Quadrant Primer (pass this by if you already know this stuff)
The quadrants are a map that illustrates how we experience the world. This map splits the perspectives by which we view our 'experience' into four areas, quadrants. We already use quadrants, but we don't normally use them quite this way. We normally use them in grammatical perspectives: 1st Person, 2nd Person, 3rd Person, 3rd Person plural. That is to say, I, WE, IT, or IT'S.
The graphic below defines their relationship to each other, what they cover, and what the do not. In simple terms the left hand quadrants cannot be seen by anyone, they are 'subjective' or 'personal'. The right hand side of the quadrants are provable, since they are the land of the 'objective' and 'impersonal'. As you might already guess a lot of us get hotly into debate about these things. Is love real? Is God real? Does property have more rights than a human? What is democracy? Who has moral authority? What is authority?
So in Quadrant terms:
UL = Upper Left Quadrant = I = 1st person perspective: Individual/Subjective: My thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Experience and consciousness.
LL = Lower Left Quadrant = WE = 2nd person perspective: Collective/Subjective: Our rituals, shared sense of us, shared sense of community, traditions and norms. Culture and Relationships.
UR = Upper Right Quadrant = IT = 3rd person perspective: Individual/Objective: My body, my actions, that object, its actions. Body, behavior, objects, observable phenomena, actions. The things we do, or things objects do that can be observed.
LR = Lower Right Quadrant = ITS = 3rd person plural perspective: Collective/Objective: Systems, analyzing, planning, designing, monitoring, procedures, regulations, infrastructure and nature.
The CIA develops the 'clean slate'
The Shock Doctrine opens with the story of a McGill University psychiatrist, Dr. Ewen Cameron, who in 1957 was awarded a large research grant through CIA intermediaries to conduct experiments on his patients in an attempt to create a "clean slate" in their minds. Cameron converted old horse stables behind his clinic into isolation rooms for his experiments. The program's purpose was to wipe out the developed cognitive awareness and memory of his patients, what Cameron called mind blanking, so that new behaviors could be installed. Under the guise of "new" treatments, the minds of these unsuspecting patients were overwhelmed by severe electroshock therapy, extreme sensory deprivation, chemically increased sleep duration (up to 65 days), and also intimidating isolation treatments, sometimes lasting 35 days at a time. Cameron stated that "the purpose of the experiments was to wear the patient down." The experiments resulted in permanent changes to the patients'ability to know where they were and who they were. What Cameron probably didn't realize was that his experiments marked the beginning (in the West, anyway) of scientifically establishing the best practices of torture — under the guise of understanding counter-torture techniques for downed US airmen. It is important to note that the survivors of this atrocity instigated a class-action lawsuit against the CIA in the 1980s, and they won. But the damage was done: the evidence of how best to torture was verified and incorporated into the Kubark, the CIA's Standard Operating Procedures manual for interrogation and torture. At this point in the book, we begin to see (in Quadrant terms) the process by which the UL/LL (the individuals internal sense of self, and the individuals internal sense of relationships to all others), can be manipulated by the UR's (observable actions, techniques and behaviors) nasty work, now codified into the LR (systems, administrations, protocols, doctrines) in the CIA's manual for torture.
Psychological warfare: making a clean slate of the masses
By overwhelming the human experience through shock, those in the elite began to have the tools and a keen understanding of how to fulfill their ambition to gather more power, by attacking nation states through the use of mass shock (military strikes, coups, economic sanctions, economic collapse, natural disasters, any event so extreme in nature that leaves an entire population disoriented and severely compromised in their normal activities and habits of living). These mass shocks are a systematic nation-wide form of creating a "clean slate", replacing what was there with what the elite want to be there: more for them, less for us. Klein goes into extraordinary detail in the rest of the book, exposing how the systems and techniques of the shock doctrine have been applied in countries all over the world – Chile, Russia, Bolivia, Argentina, South Africa, Iraq and even the USA. Klein names the players, shows the connections, and exposes the collusion.
Interference. It's a word that literally means to strike another, with synonyms such as "meddle" and "tamper" along for the ride. The Shock Doctrine lays out the systematic national interference against humanity carried out by various people in power since the 1950s. But national interference is not new. It's simply evolved more since wars began. The common dichotomy seems to be the one that Martin Buber and lately Ian McGilchrist have focused on: the difference between two major human styles of relating, and their antipathy toward each other. These are the subjective (personal) I–Thou relationship and the objective (impersonal) I–It relationship. To put this more simply and more generally, in the I-Thou format one might connect to people easily on an interpersonal level, and in the I-It format one might be less skilled with humans relating, in some ways a little more 'autistic', less socially skilled, less personal, less emotionally attached to other human beings. McGilchrist's book The Master and His Emissary points to the eerily similar qualities of each hemisphere of the brain to each relating style and its ways of seeing the world. The left side is detailed, quick, and in the moment, while the right side sees the whole, the connections, and the hidden patterns. The left side Knows, the right side Believes. In addition, in the 1980s Jean Baudrillard developed arguments about the increasing power of the "object" over the "subject" in modern society, and the way in which protest and resistance were increasingly absorbed and turned into fuel by the symbolic "system" of capitalism: in Integral terms, the Right Quadrants (objective experience - quantifiable things, science, statistics, institutions, the letter of the law) subjugate and dismiss the Left Quadrants (subjective experience - feelings, beliefs, relationships, art, culture, the spirit of the law) . Simply put, one view sees people as individuals, the other as inanimate objects. One is happier with a clean slate, the other with a messy yet more human plate.
Readers of Harvard Professor Robert Kegan may note that this dominance of object over subject, in developmental terms, would essentially "stop" human development: no further learning or questioning occurs, as the system perceives that all problems have been solved. This is probably what Frances Fukuyama had in mind when he wrote The End of History. And it really nails how far a conflated and therefore simplistic ego will go in trying to understand and report on 'reality'. To see the quadrants in terms of both of these oppositional styles is to see the ongoing battle in our own heads, and in the heads of the elites.
The rise of the system of the individual
Vision without action is a daydream
Action without vision is a nightmare
After the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced The New Deal based on the specific economic principles of John Maynard Keynes, which introduced the welfare state and financial market regulation. As Klein states, "The market crash of 1929 had created an overwhelming consensus that laissez-faire had failed and that governments needed to intervene in the economy to redistribute wealth and regulate corporations."
Like any shadow, power and greed were merely suppressed during and after The New Deal. One man was working hard on another way to re-introduce laissez-faire capitalism. His name was Milton Friedman, and he was a crafty little bastard. He toiled away on his free-market policies in the 50s and 60s, and no one paid him much attention bar a few fervent supporters. He worked at the Chicago School of Economics, and his gang of players were know as The Chicago Boys. During those early years Friedman invented a closed economic system (in Integral terms, he omitted the LL, the space of relationship) by disengaging his system from the needs of the many (the 99%). Friedman believed in unfettered markets, deregulation, denationalization of crown corporations or any state run operation, no social programs, no socialized medicine. Roads, water, energy, hospitals, defense, everything would be owned by corporations – since in his mind corporations are more efficient. Efficient using humans as expendable resources and governments reduced to archaic and useless institutions. This made it much less complex and suited his ideology. In other words, a system that cleans the slate of all need for governments to care of their citizens. This is the exact thing that The New Deal was set up to prevent, but Friedman was out to dismantle it. He was successful, because along came Nixon.
Nixon and the United States government were beginning to see social democracy in Latin America as a problem — even though these countries were considered "jewels of Keynsian economic success," but that isn't how Nixon felt about it. Instead, strategically that success was communicated to the rest of the world's citizens as the "rise of communism." Nixon and Kissinger cared only for US corporate interests in South America (Klein for example shows how ITT funneled $2 million into the hands of an alternative right-wing political party in Chile), and this is when they got Friedman involved, in order to help re-engineer South American economic ideology in favor of US corporations. These countries were getting poorer and losing control of their economies, owing to US corporations siphoning off the wealth, these countries wanted a more holistic nationalized democratic economy. Nixon had a problem, and in Freidman he had a solution – a man who could clean the slate. As Klein puts it, "It was Nixon who would give the Chicago Boys and their professors something they had long dreamed of: a chance to prove that their capitalist utopia was more than a theory in a basement workshop — a shot at remaking a country from scratch. Democracy had been inhospitable to the Chicago Boys in Chile (under Allende); a dictatorship would prove an easier fit (Chile under Pinochet)."
Klein goes into detail about how Chile and its democratically elected President Salvador Allende, were targeted. The country was re-engineered with massive planning, co-opting a Chilean University Economics department and filling it with teachers and students trained at the Chicago School prior to the assassination of Allende. A corporate-backed totalitarian apparatus involving Pinochet and the Chilean military was built, targeting and torturing activists and the populace in a reign of terror. This is when the shock doctrine gets established as the ultimate power play in all quadrants to change the economic system from democratic to free market via dictatorship. In this way, the shock doctrine combines Ewen Cameron's techniques of individual shock with national economic and political shock to create the "clean slate." Friedman's economic system could only be engaged by using well-planned brutality and massive administration. The messiness of humanity is easier to order if you shock them into being supplicant and afraid. It is an efficient method, but obviously it's a theory in a vacuum, a closed system. It's an I–It relationship, where humans are object, a system of the individual. This is why it appeals so well to the ruling elites of our time: it turns the 'mass' into an 'it' with a single will, which must be subjugated for their own 'good', and they will do everything to keep it that way.
A Quadrant reading of the Shock Doctrine Order of Battle
UL: Destabilize sense of individual autonomy and economic potential, creating cataclysmic and sudden fear, fear that drops an individual's developmental altitude and Maslow level. Sense of meaning and purpose is replaced by security needs and fear of reprisal.
LL: Infiltrate economic commons ideals with free-market unfettered ideals by coercive means: assault, torture, and murder citizens, union organizers, leaders, politicians, activists, and elders opposed to unfettered Capitalist theories (the State's new ideology). Use less aggressive means in more democratic countries to divide and conquer the middle class, for example, converting a massive nationalized home and apartment rental market into private home ownership at bargain prices (UK in the mid 1980s), creating a "haves" and "have-nots", explicitly constructed civic polarity.
UR: Political manipulation of facts through media, acts of misinformation, deceit, propaganda, obstruction of facts. The acts and techniques in creating an utter smoke screen of their real purpose for national, corporate, and elite personal gain. All techniques have devised in advance.
LR: A massively planned (and over the decades, refined) economic, media, political and policing systems approach to all of the above using shock as the ripe field for action. A very nasty closed system used covertly to wrest the commons from the citizens of the world, for a new world order, without the people of the world really knowing what's being done to them.
The Shock Doctrine then takes apart what happened using this Order of Battle in Argentina, Bolivia, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Iraq, and the United States itself. Did you ever wonder why Nelson Mandela's vision never became an economic reality? In South Africa, the whites held onto total control of the banks, through background deals with the IMF and World Bank and saddled the new ANC government with loans, denationalization and austerity mandates. The ANC never gained access to the means to run their own economy. They were cheated. Ever wonder what really happened with Gorbachev? In Russia, free-market reforms were essentially strong-armed on the people of Russia by Jeffrey Sachs (a Friedman disciple), the IMF and the elites system, creating vast inequality, making millions of Russians unemployed, and allowing for the rise of crime and oligarchy. In the United States, the main proponents of the Iraq war and their cronies in the administration developed and invested in private companies to become security and construction consultancies and gave them tenders that would traditionally have gone to the nation of occupation's OWN citizenry. By comparison the Marshall Plan worked to great effect because the majority of reconstruction was purposefully put into the hands of the German people themselves, not 'contractors for profit.' During the Bush/Cheney era, the US political administrators were creating personal profit directly from their own public legislation, now that's efficient corruption!
The most powerful sense I have of The Shock Doctrine is the relentless pursuit of free-market ideology and how brutally cruel and rank it is, how far it has infiltrated, and how we can feel its anti-LL focus. For those of us who have some rudimentary systems thinking capacity, a closed system, like Friedman's, is the most efficient system. An open system is much more complex and much more difficult to attend to. Thus Friedman's idea was based on false efficiency - without the LL (the complex human relational area), and of course was doomed to failure. Doomed because humanity may slumber when 'times are good', but historically humanity always rises against oppression, always. But what an enormous price has been paid because of our own ignorance, and what an incredible level of deceit the elite continue to engage against the majority of the human race. This has been the most strategically managed war in the history of the planet. Think about that for a moment. It is quite overwhelming. That's the "feel" of the shock doctrine.
The shock doctrine and the triune brain
How does the brain respond to propaganda? We can look at Fox News as an example of propaganda. News is objective and factual, like science, and on that basis people can make decisions based on "the facts." Propaganda is ideology disguised as fact, someone's opinion disguised as news. The most obvious recent propaganda of importance was the WMDs in Iraq. This was propaganda because it was not based on facts. Nevertheless, we were told that Iraq "had WMDs." But good critical thinking dissects the propaganda – for example look at these two statements: The tests are positive, you have cancer and we need to operate immediately OR The reports are inconclusive but I think you have cancer and we need to operate immediately. Propaganda plays on our fears and stokes our sympathetic nervous system, our fight, flight, and freeze response. Which Doctor do you want to give that scalpel to?
Depth psychologist Ginette Paris in her book Heartbreak conveys the triune nature of our brain in psychological and symbolic fashion, which is helpful in communicating what's going on in a mind under duress. In her book she describes the three main parts of the brain as actors on our personal inner stage. The reptilian brain, autonomous and reactive, is responsible for survival: fight, flight, freeze, fuck, and food. It's the crocodile in us that sheds no tears — it has no "emotional centre". The next brain sitting on top of the first is the limbic, or mammalian, brain. This is the social and emotional centre, as unconscious as the reptilian brain, and with the cognitive range of an average 18 month old. The limbic brain is therefore not logical and contains our fear-processing and memory equipment. These two particular systems are activated and traumatized by shock: think PTSD, death of a spouse, abuse, assault, etc. This area can be called the "puppy brain" because it cries for its mom and wags its tail with unconditional love. The puppy is highly emotionally and socially sensitive.
These are the two areas that the shock doctrine is actually attacking. This is why propaganda works on lots of people: the 'puppy' brain wants to fit in socially, be loved, and feel okay with others, and is also concerned about its security if everything is okay. What shock does is to enlarge the amygdala, a vital system in the puppy brain, with powerful consequences, making our triune brain go into overdrive with fear, stress, and anxiety. Unable to find peace or safety, we regress to simpler survival techniques and smaller worldviews – more puppy-like. This is the clean slate's aim, what the CIA developed and codified: we become slaves in our own mind. The third actor in our mind is the cortex, or the "wise human". This part's job is to calm the reactivity of the reptilian brain and to look after the puppy and care for it. This requires work. Most of you reading this know to which work I speak. It is extremely hard work, because the "wise human" is bombarded by the "puppy" and the "crocodile", and its job is to calm that cacophony, but when overwhelmed it cannot do so effectively. To be completely clear, we lose our objectivity when we're in shock. We cannot use our critical thinking skills and therefore cannot see when the wool is being pulled over our eyes, our options and solutions diminish with the effect of shock. Propaganda and the shock doctrine work on the "puppy" and the "crocodile", while we need to counteract that and engage our "wise human".
A call to arms
So where are we right now? What are the ramifications of the shock doctrine, and what can I make more coherent not only for myself, but for others? Time is running out. The planet is in an ecological death spiral, and the elite only care about themselves, not their legacy or responsibility. Considering the recent Occupy Integral dialogue, there is the prime question of waking up and growing up that informs the Integral perspective. I would suggest that to understand the "enemy of the people" (the dismissal of the LL by the system of the individual) is to understand the scale and scope of the powers that be, and the consciousness, shadow, and worldview that creates this power. The shock doctrine's tools and strategies have been honed by a professional body that in some form will have to be "broken up" and "woken up," this will no doubt come as a shock to them too, and as I suspect the elite will fight wholeheartedly against it. What I see is that we now have a choice between radical disruptive activism and/or incremental reforms. The problem with disruptive activism is the engagement of a further "shock" to the already-shocked populace, and the problem with incremental reform is that it creates a slow-moving target for the 1% to strategize against, given that they have the reins of the lawmakers and capital flow in hand. Gradualism, as it's called, is not a strategy of war, unless the enemy is in a castle that can be surrounded and cut off from resupply. We do not have the luxury of infinite time. Climate change is a huge long-term economic, social, and political catastrophe waiting to happen. We're stuck with activism, so what should we be active in? Everything we can be. And so, during this time of activism there will be a "transcend and include" process that will evolve. Development of consciousness, our evolutionary process of adaptation, works amazingly well and intuitively with challenge IF we can apply the 'wise human' and not become a clean slate. Are you feeling that challenge yet?
We are indeed at war, we need to take the red pill and wake people up one by one, group by group, audience by audience, in the way our audience needs to hear it, as soon as possible, by as many of us as possible. Bring the 'wise human' back to them with care and attention, strategically, tactically, and with the sense of integrity of a larger purpose. This is in some ways the fight of our lives. But at this level of complexity there is much to attend to, and there's no model for attending to it. But...
As C.G. Jung said,
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakes.
We can, if we're brave, see our preferences and blind spots, as well as those of others. The blind spot of Friedman et al. is their lack of capacity in the LL, their lack of empathy. Friedman's intellect and theories could not be matched and countered in the LR owing to the preponderance of people with similar mindsets in power. It remains that way. The groundswell of youth around the world that can see the lack of care and statesmanship of their elders will eventually counterbalance the power level, but only if there is a LR manifesto to embody real principles that contain all quadrants working interdependently. As a checklist, it would look something like this:
Upper Left: Are we allowing for individuality of meaning and expression? Uniqueness.
Lower Left: Are we allowing for the care of all humans? Interdependence.
Upper Right: Are we engaging in practices, behaviors, and actions that engage the capacity for these UL/LL necessities? Truly integrally objective about the subjective.
Lower Right: Are we building strong systems of government to enact these principles through participation at all levels of society in every corner of the world, creating the moral imperative to engage in life-serving systems for hundreds of years to come and building a psychologically and developmentally sustaining civilization?
Of course, keen observers may have noticed that these questions orient from my own LL perspective. In the discussion of economics, this is indeed where it also belongs. Economics is not a science but has been reimagined as such by Friedman and the elite. They have used the tools of shock. This book is a vivisection of their methods. It's an exposé of the system that has spawned Augusto Pinochet, Margaret Thatcher, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, and of course Fox News and all those other smart people in the room. These things are not mutually exclusive. These people have found a space in the psyche and jammed a wedge in to break down the development of the rest of us. Anger is always a good way into the warrior spirit, and I think we are all getting pretty angry. That's encouraging. Anger from an Integral crowd would be a blessing.
1. Get mindful. Meditate the hell out of your amygdala. Reduce your fear.
2. Get pumped. Face some dragons. See how limitless your pain threshold can be.
3. Get joy. The most unselfish purpose in the world will give you endorphins.
4. Get language. Stop being abstract, right now. Speak with your balls/ovaries. People listen.
5. Get wise. Tune-up your BS detector. Make it detect a closed system a mile off.
6. Get simple. Powerful ideas come from crazy ones simplified.
7. Speak out. The system of the individual abhors a moral compass.
8. Don't panic. Get a towel, and never throw it in. We are hitchikers in our galaxy.
9. Help everyone do the same. Share what you know.