Naomi Klein - Narrator: Re-making people, shocking them into obediance. This is a story about that powerful idea. In the 1950s it caught the attention of the CIA. The agency funded a series of experiments. Out of them was produced a secret handbook on how to break down prisoners. The key was using shock to reduce adults to a child-like state.
Title Card: The following narration is excerpted from the CIA's 1963 and 1983 interrogation manuals.
Narrator: It's a fundamental hypothesis of this handbook that these techniques are in essence methods of inducing regression of the personality... Experienced Interrogators recognize this effect when it appears and know that at this moment the subject is far more open to suggestion and far likelier to comply than he was just before he experienced the shock.
Naomi Klein - Narrator: But these techniques don't only work on individuals. They can work on whole societies. A collective trauma, a war, a coup, a natural disaster, a terrorist attack puts as all into a state of shock. And in the aftermath, like the prisoner in the interrogation chamber, we too become child-like, and more inclined to follow leaders who claim to protect us.
Naomi Klein - Narrator: One person who understood this phenomenon early on was the most famous economist of our era, Milton Friedman. Friedman believed in a radical vision of society in which profit and the market would rule every aspect of life, from school to health-care, and even the army. He called for abolishing all trade protections, deregulating all prices, and eviscerating government services. These ideas have always been tremendously unpopular, and understandably so. They cause waves of unemployment, send prices soaring, make life more precarious for millions. Unable to advance their agenda democratically, Friedman and his disciples were drawn to the power of shock.
Narrator: The subject should be apruptly awakend and immediately blindfolded and handcuffed. When arrrested at this time, most subject experience feelings of shock, extreme insecurity, and psychological stress. The idea is to prevent the subject from relaxing and recovering from shock.
Naomi Klein - Narrator: Friedman understood that just as prisoners are softened up for interrogation by the shock of their capture, massive disasters could serve to soften us up for his radical 'free market' crusade. He advised politicians that immediately after a crisis they should push through all the painful policies at once, before people could regain their footing. he called this method "economic shock treatment". I call it "THE SHOCK DOCTRINE."
Naomi Klein - Narrator: There's one other thing I've learned during my studies of the states of shock: shock wears of, it is by definition a temporary state. And the best way to stay oriented, to resist shock, is to know what is happening to you, and why.
Title Card: [closing title] INFORMATION IS SHOCK RESISTANCE. ARM YOURSELF.