September 8, 2007

Shock Doctrine

I told Maggie about my earlier comment on this blog, in which I suggest that future generation will have a low opinion of this generation’s intelligence. But Maggie disagreed, saying that she thought future generations would instead remark on how we were fooled.

And then the next story I read is an interesting one about fooling people.

The Shock Doctrine is a very brief film about the effective use of shock to change people’s minds.

It begins with a CIA-researched and documented technique used by interrogators to regress a subject to a child-like state1. Once the subject has reached this state, he or she can be manipulated by the interrogator who is now in the role of the protecting adult.

High levels of stress to the mind and body — shocking the individual literally and figuratively — produce this state. The film makers go on to suggest that this not only works on an individual level, but with whole populations. A state of shock can make a population vulnerable. They then go on to claim that this has already happened, and that it was essentially a doctrine of Milton Friedman.

And of course they quickly get around to 9/11 and Bush.

One thing they fail to mention, but I think supports their argument, is that people didn’t slowly start to realize they’d been manipulated and decide they didn’t like Bush. Katrina hit and suddenly their surrogate father figure wasn’t fatherly enough. They grew disillusioned and everything went down for Bush from there.

If I were going to write a much longer essay on this, I’d relate this shocking-to-a-childlike-state to the conservative strong father model. And then I’d point out the feminine term “nanny state” oft-used when conservatives malign government intrusion, but rarely heard when they seek the “strong father” forms of government protection they favor.

The film is fewer than 7 minutes long, and worth a look. Agree or disagree, you might still find it interesting.

1 On top of the moral qualms I have about torture, I hadn’t even considered the ramifications of producing childlike vulnerable people.

Posted by James at September 8, 2007 3:34 PM
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