The 'Shock Doctine' short film

A Film by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein, directed by Jonás Cuarón

"When I finished The Shock Doctrine, I sent it to Alfonso Cuarón because I adore his films and felt that the future he created for Children of Men was very close to the present I was seeing in disaster zones. I was hoping he would send me a quote for the book jacket and instead he pulled together this amazing team of artists -- including Jonás Cuarón who directed and edited -- to make The Shock Doctrine short film. It was one of those blessed projects where everything felt fated." - Naomi Klein

From the Naomi Klein site

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

In THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world-- through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts.... New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.

Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism – the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock – did not begin with September 11, 2001. The book traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.

The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas though our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Fast Facts, Shocks and their Aftermath from the Shock Doctrine Short Film

Chile, 1973

  • 50,000 tortured
  • 80,000 imprisoned
  • Public spending cut by 50%
  • Incomes for the rich up 83%
  • 45% of population in poverty

Wars – Falklands War, 1982

  • 910 people die
  • Thatcher's popularity doubles
  • She privatizes gas, steel, airlines, telephones
  • She declares war on unions
  • Thousands are injured
  • Unemployment triples
  • Number of poor increases by 100%


  • China 1989 – hundreds killed
  • Thousands jailed and tortured
  • China becomes sweatshop to the world
  • China embraces "free market" capitalism
  • Factory wages: $1/day

Russia, 1993

  • Yeltsin attacks parliament
  • Hundreds killed
  • Parliament burned
  • Opposition arrested
  • 72 million impoverished
  • 17 new billionaires created

Terrorist Attacks – New York, 2001

  • Attacks launch "War on Terror." It is privatized.
  • US spy agencies outsource 70% of their budgets
  • Pentagon increases budget for contractors by $137 billion/year
  • Department of Homeland Security spends $130 billion on private contractors

Invasions – Iraq, 2003

  • The most privatized war in modern history
  • US decrees 200 state companies will be privatized
  • Hundreds of thousands killed
  • 4 million displaced

Natural Disasters – Sri Lanka, 2004

  • 35,000 dead
  • Coastline handed over to hotels and industry
  • Nearly 1 million displaced
  • Fishing people forbidden to rebuild homes by the sea

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