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Monday, March 31, 2008

The IMF & Rivers of Blood

Naomi Klein's shocking and overwhelming work The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism continues to shock and overwhelm. The suffering wrought throughout the world by the "free market" ideology of the late University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman is almost incalculable. Klein documents how the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have served as primary agents of the Friedmanite ideology, along with Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, formerly of Harvard University, the latter serving as advisor to the governments of Bolivia, Poland and Russia at times of crisis, with devastating results for the citizens of these nations.

Klein cites (pp. 261-62) an open letter of resignation from the IMF written in 1988 by long-time staffer Davison Budhoo, a London School of Economics-trained economist. In his letter, Klein writes, Buddho "characterized the IMF's entire program of structural adjustment [for crisis-torn nations] as a form of mass torture in which ' "screaming-in-pain" governments and peoples [are] forced to bend on their knees before us, broken and terrified and disintegrating, and begging for a sliver of reasonableness and decency on our part. But we laugh cruelly in their face, and the torture goes on unabated . . . . Today I resigned from the International Monetary Fund after over twelve years, and after 1000 days of official Fund work in the field, hawking your medicine and your bag of tricks to governments and to peoples in Latin American and the Caribbean and Africa. To me resignation is a priceless liberation, for with it I have taken the first big step to that place where I may hope to wash my hands of what in my mind's eye is the blood of millions of poor and starving peoples . . . . The blood is so much, you know, it runs in rivers. It dries up, too; it cakes all over me; sometimes I feel that there is not enough soap in the whole world to cleanse me from the things that I did do in your name.' "


Patty McNally Doherty said...

I just bought The Shock Doctrine and thank you for bringing it to my attention. I'll let you know what I think. I am most interested in discovering for myself if this will explain to me why Alzheimer's research is underfunded.

Thanks for sharing your incredible mind with us, it's such a powerful tool you've got. While politics on the global stage can be entertaining, the only difference any of us can make is on the local level, in our own towns and cities. And sometimes, when even THAT can't be accomplished, we can only make a difference on our own street. When that effort is beaten back, we are left with making a difference in our own families. And as you might guess, when that too fails, then we make a difference in the only place we really can, our own lives.

Silly of me, really, to ask my government to act in a more healthy and stable way than I myself am will to act. I always think about that. If my life were a country, what would it be like?

I'm rambling. Later.



Richard McNally said...

The Shock Doctrine will incontestably explain the funding crisis that Alzheimer's research faces.

Fascinating question: If my life were a country, what would it be like?

In mine, the principles of the French Revolution would govern: freedom, sister- and brotherhood, and equality. Equality would lead to measures to rectify the income inequality that exists in this country, which, as Obama has pointed out, is the greatest at any time since the Great Depression. Redistribution of wealth would be effected through measures such as limiting the amount of assets that individuals are allowed to pass on to their heirs, and reasonable public funding of presidential and congressional elections. That would mean people like you and me, Patty, could run for office, provided we got enough signatures.