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The Shock Doctrine in the Time of Coronavirus in the USA

Updated: May 11, 2020

In the image: the EPA proposes expanding Port Everglades offshore dump.

The Shock Doctrine proposed by Naomi Klein argues that neoliberal free market policies (as advocated by the economist Milton Friedman) have risen to prominence in some developed countries because of a deliberate strategy of "shock therapy". This centers on the exploitation of national crises (disasters or upheavals) to establish controversial and questionable policies, while citizens are excessively distracted (emotionally and physically) to engage and develop an adequate response, and resist effectively.

The Coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic shock we are going through in 2020 is an example of a shock where, if Naomi’s doctrine is true, we would be able to see governments implementing unpopular policies.

Here is the author explaining these unpopular policies at the national level.

For this research project, we will look at environmental protection and controversial projects in Florida and the US, and try to find out if our governments exploit the population’s distraction to push through unpopular projects and policies.

Here are a few examples: Port Everglades, Florida proposed Toll Roads on Florida’s West Coast (M-Cores Suncoast Connector) and EPA pollution rules.

Take them one by one and try to find out if this dynamic plays out. The links below are intended only as a starting point.

  • The EPA Proposes Expansion of Port Everglades Offshore Dump

  • The Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES)

  • The EPA, citing the Coronavirus, drastically relaxes rules for Polluters

Naomi also argues that times of crisis don't always go the Shock Doctrine way. Sometimes, they create an opening for great progress and gives as example the 1930’s when the Great Depression led to the New Deal.

Can you imagine a course of events in which our present situation leads to great progress?

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