Friday, August 08, 2008

North Coast Journal Reviews "Shock Doctrine"

Shane C. Brinton reviews Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" in this week's North Coast Journal. I've mentioned this book a few times here at We Do Not Consent, but since I never got around to writing a review, I'm glad to see the Journal run this. I will be sending a letter to the editor thanking them, and making a variation on just the one point I want to make here now. Brinton's review concludes:

If this book has a weakness it is, perhaps, Klein's apparent belief that the "shock doctrine" is something new and that she has cracked the case. While Milton Friedman's cold, calculating brand of capitalism is especially disgusting, the use of collective trauma for political and economic gains was around long before he was. Klein hasn't discovered something new so much as she has explained how a very old strategy is manifesting itself in even more atrocious ways. Still, this is an extremely well written, enlightening book, one of the best by a left-wing author in the last decade.
Brinton is totally right on about Klein not discovering something, but rather showing us more repeating patterns, or "historical echoes," to use Naomi Wolf's term from "End of America." I think this is a very effective way to create context and aids us in re-framing the way we discuss many of America's myths, such as so-called "free markets," "free press," and "free speech." Brinton didn't go there, unfortunately, and perhaps even lazily reinforced the shallow and unnecessary paradigm of Klein as "left-wing." I wish instead he had pointed out that the current echoes playing out have always defined what has been called fascism.

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