Friday, January 11, 2008

Disaster capitalism's early positive reinforcement

For those plotting the overthrow of Allende just as Suharto's program was kicking in, the experiences of Brazil and Indonesia made for a useful study in contrasts. The Brazilians had made little use of the power of shock, waiting years before demonstrating their appetite for brutality. It was a near fatal error, since it gave their opponents the chance to regroup and for some to form left-wing guerrilla armies. Although the junta managed to clear the streets, the rising opposition forced it to slow its economic plans.

Suharto, on the other hand, had shown that if massive repression was used preemptively, the country would go into a kind of shock and resistance could be wiped out before it even took place. His use of terror was so merciless, so far beyond even the worst expectations, that a people who only weeks earlier had been collectively striving to assert their country's independence were now sufficiently terrified that they ceded total control to Suharto and his henchmen. Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA operations manager during the years of the coup, said Indonesia was a "model operation....You can trace back all major, bloody events run from Washington to the way Suharto came to power. The success of that meant that it would be repeated, again and again."
From Naomi Klein's recent book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, page 69 - my emphasis added.

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