The F Word: The New American Shock Doctrine

Take a breath. Are you breathing? I noticed the other day I hadn’t taken a real breath in weeks. There just doesn’t seem to be time, under the onslaught of executive orders. If the number one goal of the incoming administration was to  stress civil society they need to dig out Bush’s banner and stand in front of it on an aircraft carrier somewhere: Mission Accomplished. And that, I suspect, is exactly the point. …If Naomi Klein was writing Shock Doctrine today I bet she’d call the Trump term so far one great big shock event. Shocks are intended throw society into chaos… And that’s exactly what’s happened where I am:  protests every evening, new panics every morning.

President Trump is pushing every available panic button and seeing which ones work. Try it: Bald face lie to the press about factual events and see if they can stay focussed; ban immigrants from certain countries and faiths — just try it out; fire all the senior State Department staff the ones with relations with foreign leaders, fire the Attorney General, shakeup the National Security Council.

Create an executive team that’s packed with unaccountable political propagandists and almost no one with government experience.  If the goal was to stress civil society: cities, the courts, the press, the diplomatic corps and the military? Check Check Check Check. Trump’s first weeks in office have done all that brilliantly….So what next? As Historian Heather Richardson has pointed out shock events can work in two ways - Confederate leaders used shock to railroad early Southern States into leaving the union. Lincoln used the same shock to pull together a brand new coalition that rededicated itself to government, “a government of the People, by the people ad for the people.” IN fact… Which way are we going to go? As Anna Julia Cooper told us over a century ago, a bridge is only as strong as its weakest link. The Trump Bannon mob know just where our weakest link is. It’s the one we feel to each other. That prophetically American, always bitterly contested definition of the People. As the Movement For Black Lives forced us to answer: Who’s in “We the People” and who’s out? If we can breath into that, and breath a little, we’ll make it through this. 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.