November 2010

One of the anti-divorce arguments is that “what God has joined together can’t be undone by man”. Keeping in mind that the pro-divorce movement is only asking for a divorce in the case of civil marriages not faith ones, this argument goes directly against the principle of a secular country.

However, even worse than that, I find this outright offensive and discriminatory towards those thousands of Maltese citizens who are either atheist or agnostic. Offensive not only towards the civil right to divorce, but also a more basic right – getting married.

How could “God” unite two people when at least one of them does not even believe that God exists? Should these person/s deny their lack of belief and pretend they believe in God in order to be ‘awarded’ the right to get married?

Unfortunately, as to how much secular a country should be there seems to be quite a controversy. However there is nearly a consensus that everyone can practice whatever religion s/he wants unless it breaks the country’s criminal laws. Yet, while not believing in God and getting married are not criminal offenses, this argument that only God joins people in marriage is a grave denial rights towards the largest religious minority in our country.

Without any flicker of doubt, this is the best non-fiction book I’ve read by the time of writing.

Canadian journalist Naomi Klein clearly demonstrates how savage capitalism has been introduced while people were under “shock”, be it a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or a military coup. A kind of capitalism where Trade Unionists are the enemy, everything is privatised, workers’ rights are unheard of. Where the least amount of people are employed, for the least amount of wages which in turn leads to maximum profit by the fewer amount of people. A system where despite massive layoffs, unemployment benefit is considered an unnecessary burden.

Contrary to general opinion, it is next to impossible for this type of capitalism devised mainly by economist Milton Friedman, to operate in a democracy. Starting from the Pinochet coup in Chile 1973, Klei, goes chronologically through modern world history to show how countries like Poland, China, South Africa and Iraq were forced into this ideology in times of “shock”. It ends with the exploitation of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka.

Unlike conspiracy theories found online or by pseudo-journalists, Klein has complete public documentation for every single fact mentioned in the book. She also has a theory on the reason why some conspiracy theories regarding such matters originate (for example that Sept 11 was an inside job). It is that these disasters were used as an opportunity for profit for the few against the absolute majority, to the extent that people started to believe that the profiteers caused the disasters themselves (including the Tsunami). The Shock Doctrine shows that while they didn’t create them themselves, thanks to Friedman’s ideology those profiting from disaster were well prepared to exploit it while it was happening. They did this in those crucial weeks, days or even hours when people were so shocked and confused that they were willing to accept literally everything for a little temporary refuge, including selling their countries.

Reading this book may make a person feel bitter and helpless in front of this orgy of extreme greed. Thankfully in the last Chapter “Shock Wears Off”, Klein describes what people all over the world have been doing against this doctrine, and explaining how the best way to fight it is to be prepared for it.

A must read for any activist or concerned individual.