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A terrible book gets a demolition job

I must admit I have tended to view Naomi Klein, the author of No Logo, the anti-capitalist book, as a committed socialist but not obviously a downright liar. If this scathing review of her recent book, The Shock Doctrine, is accurate, then she he has appallingly traduced the late Professor Milton Friedman, accusing him of holding attitudes that he did not actually hold, such as over the recent invasion of Iraq (she claims he was for it, in fact he opposed it). The book, according to the review, reveals that she cannot figure out what the difference between a classical liberal and a neo-conservative is, for example. As the reviewer, Johan Norberg makes clear, a lot of “shock” events, like terrorist attacks, wars and hyperinflation do not work in the interests of classical liberals, but quite the opposite. In Weimar Germany, inflation destroyed much the middle class, helping to pave the way for Hitler. Wars have been used by national leaders to justify big increases in government powers that are often not rescinded. And so on. Klein either knows this, or cannot be bothered to mention it as it does not fit into her thesis.

Anyway, read the review. It is superb.

Apologies: I got the woman’s surname wrong, now fixed.

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21 comments to A terrible book gets a demolition job

  • Ham

    I think you’re getting your ‘progressive’ dullards confused there, Jonathan. Easy mistake to make; they all look alike to me, too. :-D

  • Ian B

    I think you mean Naomi Klein. Naomi Wolf is a deranged feminist who has of late claimed to have “taken on the spirit of a 13 year old boy” and is notorious for her sloppy writing and poor level of scholarship. So, not much different to Klein then, except for the bit about the teenage boy spirit.

    I actually have one of Wolf’s ramblings bookmarked because it’s so gloriously awful. Here she is wailing that porn hasn’t caused a rape epidemic but instead that apparently real women now have a lower market value because of competition from pictures of them(!) (rather than wondering whether they are less prized in the college environment she describes because there are now more women at college- supply and demand, Naomi). She then ends up arguing herself into being in favour of the religous closeting of women. Glorious. lolz. Etc.

  • Timothy

    Good to see I’m not the only one to get the two Naomis confused.

    While Wolf may once have been vaguely sensible for a feminist, Klien has always been certifiable idiot. She burst to notoriety with No Logo, a mish mash of anti-coporate jargon and mild conspiracy theories which was really a sorry attempt to justify her own airheaded obsession with brands and status as a teenager. There is an embarassing video on YouTube of her “debating” with Friedman as to whether socialism or capitalism is the best economic system; Klien doesn’t even understand the terms of the debate, being unaware of the formal definietion of socialism and confusing free market capitalism with state sponsored corporatism. Why Friedman ever agreed to seak to her is beyond me.

  • chip

    Naomi’s husband Avi works for al-Jazeera. Her father-in-law is a former leader of Canada’s socialist party. She and Avi recently made a “documentary” on Argentina. Fortunately, they didn’t have to pony up their own money for this: the Canadian government gave them $200,000 for this unwatchable sludge.

    When Klein decides to leave the capitalist world she detests and takes up residence in a socialist paradise, I will begin to take her seriously. Well, maybe not, but I’d give her two points for integrity.

  • Ian B,

    Today, real naked women are just bad porn.

    Speak for yourself, love.

    That is one of the most insane essays I have ever read (skimmed) and I’ve read stuff from the voluntary human extinction mob. She manages to politicise pubic hair drawing a metaphorical bikini line in the sand, I guess.

    And her Arabian nights flight of fantasy is… Well, it’s nuts. I mean nucking futz nuts. How in anyway shape or form someone has less of a sex-life because they see people other than their wife’s hair (head this time) is beyond me. “Sorry, love, we’ll try again later, I saw the neighbour’s barnet…”

    That piece is exactly why I did a physics degree. It sums up the Minutiae Derangement Syndrome of so much of the arts and social “sciences”.

    She ought not to be allowed out on her own. She’s barking.

  • Sam Duncan

    A Leftist who “[accuses] him of holding attitudes that he did not actually hold” and “cannot figure out what the difference between a classical liberal and a neo-conservative is”? Surely not.

  • Ian B,
    I have tried to resist but I’m gonna have to fisk the Wolfster on CC. OK with you? There’s an H/T in it for you.

  • Actually scratch that. I’d have to read the whole thing.

  • MDC

    Most critiques of liberalism are honest if often in my opinion incorrect, but The Shock Doctrine is sheer gutter academia, riddled with non-sequitur arguments in an attempt to form an overarching character attack. Avoid like the plague.

  • Ian B

    Damn, I always wanted a hat tip. Maybe next time :'(

  • ian

    The stupid think about this book (and presumably Klein) if the Cato summary and quotes are taken at face value is that there is a case to be made:

    All the . . . U.S. corporations that were in Iraq to take advantage of the reconstruction were part of a vast protectionist racket whereby the U.S. government had created their markets with war, barred their competitors from even entering the race, then paid them to do the work, while guaranteeing them a profit to boot— all at taxpayer expense.

    …the trouble is that she seems unable to grasp that cronyism, corporate welfare and the attendant abuses like Enron etc are as antithetical to those who genuinely support free markets as they are to her.

    She could have argued that totally free markets will inevitably end up that way, but she doesn’t. Instead she simply equates two things she doesn’t like so she can use arguments against both without having to think too much.

  • RRS

    But, will it be reviewed in the Economist?

  • I see that that pompous tosser John Gray thinks that The Shock Doctrine is good. I imagine that all the elementary errors of fact and logic made him recognise a soul mate. I assume that, like all Gray’s effusions, this book is full of prophecies of doom already in the process of being proved wrong.

  • lucklucky

    I can confirm to my view unfortunately that Prof. Friedman didnt supported Iraq Invasion, i have read an interview where that issue was raised and was one of the things that Mrs. Friedman disagree with her husband.

  • That review is a brutally witherering dismissal of the book, which does indeed sound ghastly.

  • Kim du Toit

    Wow… socialists lie. Who’d a thunk?

  • n005

    …the trouble is that she seems unable to grasp that cronyism, corporate welfare and the attendant abuses like Enron etc are as antithetical to those who genuinely support free markets as they are to her.

    She could have argued that totally free markets will inevitably end up that way, but she doesn’t.

    She could argue that life itself is evil, since it will inevitably end in death, but she doesn’t. And that’s too bad, because it would really serve to remove all doubt as to the vicious monstrosity of her, and of socialism.

  • Paul Marks

    Brian – John Gray likes the dishonest and worthless book. Thankyou for pointing that out.

    No doubt he regards being interested in getting facts right and in reasoning logically as too “enlightenment” for his taste, and works that reject both factual truth and the rules of reasoning as being good because they reject such silly “enlightenment” stuff.

    Even though respect for both facts (empirical) and reasoning (logical) goes back to Aristotle and before.

    But still that is just another fact – so it, therefore, does not matter.

  • Paul Marks

    I would like to publically thank Rich Paul for pointing out that I typed my e.mail address (rather than my name) above. Although I have no idea how to fix this.

    I can not thank him privately as I pressed “delete” (by mistake) when I read his message in the trash section of my computer system.

    I am absurdly clumsy with computers – and just about everything else.

  • John B

    Excerpts from Klein’s book were published in the National Post (Canada) shortly after it was published. I believe part of the book deals with the post tsunami situation in Sri Lanka and how evil corporations came and bought up ocean front property for hotels/resorts from villagers made destitute by that tragedy. A couple of days later the Post published a letter from someone residing in that area of Sri Lanka stating that he lived there, it wasn’t happening and Klein didn’t have a clue about what she was writing about.