Jeffrey Sachs: The Strange Case of Dr. Shock and Mr. Aid (Counterblasts)
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An investigation of Sachs’s schizophrenic career, and the worldwide havoc he has caused.
Jeffrey Sachs is a man with many faces. A celebrated economist and special advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he is also no stranger to the world of celebrity, accompanying Bono, Madonna and Angelina Jolie on high-profile trips to Africa. Once notorious as the progenitor of a brutal form of free market engineering called ‘shock therapy’, Sachs now positions himself as a voice of progressivism, condemning the ‘1 per cent’ and promoting his solution to extreme poverty through the Millennium Villages Project.
Appearances can be deceiving. Jeffrey Sachs: The Strange Case of Dr Shock and Mr Aid is the story of an evangelical development expert who poses as saviour of the Third World while opening vulnerable nations to economic exploitation. Based on documentary research and on-the-ground investigation, Jeffrey Sachs exposes Mr Aid as no more than a new, more human face of Dr Shock.
confronted on the topic, describing him ‘bristling’,82 and ‘his baritone voice jumping an octave’.83 A Boston Globe portrait of Sachs from 2001 describes an everyday encounter: He arrives on Capitol Hill. Ninety minutes later, after seeing several members of Congress, Sachs heads for the World Bank. He walks into its sleek lobby … ‘Hey, aren’t you Jeff Sachs?’ says a man who sidles up to him. Sachs smiles, and the two exchange pleasantries. It turns out they are both going to the same meeting …
of health as a universal human right, the Commission’s report was built around Sachs’s reduction of health to a factor in labour productivity, and set out a policy framework that was entirely consistent with neoliberal fundamentals. ‘Public spending should be better targeted to the poor’, with private health provision encouraged in most other cases.48 Governments and international institutions should encourage the pharmaceutical industry to supply low-income countries with essential medicines at
attempt to recreate Adam Smith’s account of the origins of capitalism. According to Smith, capitalism originated through private smallholding farmers accumulating capital by dint of their own frugality, and putting it to work in the process of further accumulation, leading to the division of labour and the growth of trade, and resulting in the peaceful emergence of a commercial society of small-scale entrepreneurs.14 This history, of course, is a fabrication, which Marx scathingly described as
radical rhetoric, these performances were consistently directed against the emergence of a revolutionary political consciousness. On one occasion, in which Sachs was holding forth on the evils of the Koch Brothers and Exxon Mobil, an activist interrupted him and asked, ‘Are you saying that corporations should not be in private hands?’ – to which Sachs forcefully responded: ‘No! I’m saying that corporations should do business. They should stop trying to run our country …’ The activist then raised
capitalism”, without the excesses of individualism, social disintegration, relativization of values, and so on’.192 Understood in this sense, fascism is an ideology in which capitalism is cleansed of its constitutive antagonisms, in which ‘everything must change so that everything can remain the same’,193 and in which internal contradictions are displaced and reframed as evil external agents, up to and including the capitalists themselves.194 This definition of fascism is disturbingly reminiscent