Last night we went to watch The Shock Doctrine at the RSA....
After a 2009 packed with high impact environmental films: The Age of Stupid, End of the Line, Pig Business, The Vanishing Bees... 2010 looks set to kick off with some films that don't leave you feeling depressed and saddened and helplessly thinking 'oh dear'. The Shock Doctrine, directed by Michael Winterbottom and 'starring' Naomi Klein takes us to the next step; it makes you angry, motivated and ready to take to the streets. The next step after that, something that was brought up during the Q&A is that we need an alternative ideology to follow, economically and politically; we also need a leader, where is the next Che Guevara (without the violence, or maybe with it?)? Neither are currently obvious.
The Shock Doctrine is a film you have to lean forward, listen intently and concentrate on right the way through, it is like an Adam Curtis doc, but not quite as good. The basic premise is the same as Klein's book. Klein argues that wars as well as economic, environmental and terrorist shocks have been used systematically by neo-liberal governments to hurry through public sector reforms in the shape of mass privatisations of just about everything. The end result is inequality of the kind so well described in the book: 'The Spirit Level'. We live in society in which the rich are very rich and the rest of us are sleepwalking in a bubble of escapism, idly letting our public services slip away as everything is privatised and run for profit. The villian according to Klein is Milton Freidmann, whose extreme free market economics was ushered in by Reagan and Thatcher via Augustus Pinochet and Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo and has since guided the policies of nearly all the rest of the worlds governments.
Where does this film leave us? It leaves me wondering whether the UK and US population at large will wake up to the domestic and global inequality that results from extreme neo-liberalism.. I am left wondering whether a digital technology inspired documentary led revolution will give rise to a mass movement of individuals rebelling against free market economics. What we have at the moment is a society in which being financially rich is the main game, everyone wants money and fame. While this mindset persists, which it does so thanks to the mass media, a grassroots movement is unlikely, it is akin to asking people to fight against what they are striving to achieve for themselves... people still believe that they can be super rich, when it is painfully obvious that only a lucky, small elite can ever be. But while individuals harbour this belief and cling to it, their expectations remain high and they go on living as Selfish Capitalists.