The documentary The Shock Doctrine is adapted from the manifesto by Canadian journalist and activist Naomi Klein (well-known from No Logo). Klein argues that the rise of capitalism in various countries can always be traced back to a disaster, revolution or war, much like the shock therapy that psychiatric patients had to undergo in the 1960s.
Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, who also directed The Road to Guantánamo, turned Klein’s controversial book, which provides an alarming and alternative vision of historic events such as the Pinochet putsch and the fall of Soviet Union, into a film. Klein argues that the free market economy, one of the United States’ main export products, has never been introduced on a voluntary basis in countries like Russia, Poland, Chile, South Africa and the Middle East, but always followed a disaster, whether or not political in nature. As a doctor administering in this economic shock therapy, she designates economist Milton Friedman as the main culprit. Through a reconstruction full of archive images and interviews with protagonists at the time, Winterbottom and Whitecross show that every time capitalism was introduced a small group of people achieved great wealth, whereas the masses were left increasingly impoverished.