FROM THE STANDARD: Naomi Kline’s Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism was written in the wake of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. It looks at how (capitalist) elites use moments of crisis to make power grabs while the normal checks are offline and/or the political opposition and media are swept up in a ‘unity’ mantra that prevents them acting to protect democracy.

“Believers in the shock doctrine are convinced that only a great rupture – a flood, a war, a terrorist attack – can generate the kind of vast, clean canvasses they crave. It is in these malleable moments, when we are psychologically unmoored and physically uprooted, that these artists of the real plunge in their hands and begin their work of remaking the world.”

We’ve seen this around the world time and again from Julius Caesar taking the Dictatorship for ten years after the civil war, to the Reichstag fire and the Enabling Act, to 9/11 and the PATRIOT Act, to the imposition of fascist laws by the First National Government during the 1951 lockout. And, now the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and Reconstruction Act (CERRA, or Gerry Brownlee Enabling Act).

There’s another element to the shock doctrine that we’re seeing in New Zealand. Not only has National taken the chance to seize dictatorial power over the country, it also used the media’s focus on the earthquake to slip through things like the Foreshore and Seabed legislation’s first reading, which would normally have drawn far more coverage.

ACT’s latest round of knives in the back is simply a welcome bonus for National in this context. The media’s attention has been further diverted to the point that most people are fully unaware of Ministers’ new powers. There is not a single article or opinion piece in any of the weekend papers that mention CERRA because they’re all about Garrett.

There has been no mainstream analysis of the Orders in Council that have already issued, including one that allows trucks to drive overloaded anywhere in the country and another removing Canterbury councils’ duty to ask to community before leasing assets or violating their Plans. The councils are not even required to consider the economic and social ramifications of their actions anymore.

The shock doctrine takes advantage of the human weakness to get swept up in panics, the ‘we need to do something, this is something, we must do this’ fallacy…

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