Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Learning about Shock, and Evil, from Naomi Klein

How Naomi Klein opened my eyes, more than just a little bit, in the Shock Doctrine.

This is not my usual fare, not for reading, not for research, not in general. I'm not completely apathetic when it comes to politics, I vote, and I try to vote with at least some base of knowledge, but I am determinedly middle of the road in my politics, and just as devoted to keeping myself from being dragged into IT. By IT, I mean the anger that I see in everyone's eyes that is embroiled in partisan politics, both sides.

After reading this book, I can begin to understand the anger, but am able to hold it off within me. Yes, I am still in the middle of the road, but better informed, and wary of those that come bearing gifts after floods or fires or anything.

My friend, one of those angry people, told me that if I read one book about politics, and yes, this was my first, read this one. It may be a while before I read another, because still, this is not my regular reading material, but this was powerful. It is the voice of someone that has walked the walk. There is definitely bias in her prose, but it is footnoted, and comes over as "If you'd seen what I have, you'd be biased too."

I usually fly through books, inhaling 700 page volumes from Dan Simmons in a week or two, the 1200 page Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in nearly as short a time, but not this one. I read and reread pages, I let it soak in, I took breaks, and I was disappointed when it was over, and surprised because there are so many pages of footnotes that I didn't realize that I had come to the end.

In searching for images to go along with this post, I found out that a short film has been made about her book as well. Free on Youtube, it was made my the director of Children of Men, apparently a personal friend of Klein's, and gets right to the points she makes in her books. Starting with the theory of shock therapy, and how it destroys a persons humanity, then corresponding to the economics professed by a Chicago economist named Milton Friedman, of whom I had never heard of before this book.

Friedman and his disciples have privatized the world, making the follies that I saw in the Army, as the government tried to run things, look like full-fledged competence.I won't try to explain what I think I understand about it all anymore. It is instead a better idea to simply recommend the book, and the movie. It's less than seven minutes long, and very well done.

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