Naomi Klein stopped by the Colbert Report this week to chat about her book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and to give her perspective on the current financial crisis.

After much sparring with host Stephen Colbert, Klein was able explain her theory of “disaster capitalism”- the idea that leaders use the “shock” following disasters like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina to enact controversial policies, foster the military industrial complex, and concentrate power and capital in the hands of the very few. As an example she cited the machinations of Republican Congressman Richard Baker, who after Hurricane Katrina said “We couldn’t clean out the public housing projects, but God did.” In saying this, Klein asserted, Baker was admitting to the fact that he and his colleagues wanted to use a “horrible disaster to push through [a] pre-existing agenda.”

Klein summed up her argument with a nod to the Bush administration’s complicity in the creation of the current economic meltdown: “They spend seven years just transferring public money into private hands, [and] their final act is taking private debt and transferring it into public hands.” Even Colbert couldn’t argue with that.

Marissa Colón-Margolies

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