what i’ve been reading

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The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein

Two years ago I read John Perkins’ book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, first published in January 2004. It opened my eyes to the true role of the IMF, World Bank, and other so-called aid organizations. John Perkins claims to have been at the center of what I can now call the raping of developing countries by U.S. corporations in partnership with taxpayer funded aid organizations and the CIA. The book’s release met much controversy about whether the author exaggerated the story. I was somewhat skeptical myself, at first. Could these aid organizations really be funneling taxpayer dollars to U.S. corporations under the guise of disaster reconstruction? After all, the book is only about 275 pages with about 10 pages of bibliographical notes.  And people weren’t exactly coming out of the woodwork to back up this guy’s story. There was a lot of debate in the media about this book. But, as far as I could tell, there just wasn’t any corroboration. It was a single man, telling a single story.

Enter The Shock Doctrine, published in 2007 and written by the award winning journalist Naomi Klein. The book is an exhaustive account of the devastating effects of Friedmanism throughout the world. Klein’s premise is two fold. First, that Friedmanism and free market fundamentalism are deliberate systems of class warfare that fleece the common worker and line the pockets of the powerful. And second, that this ideology is so unpopular that it cannot be implemented in any democratic and peaceful way.  There must be some kind of terrible event, be it a natural disaster or war, for people to accept the Chicago School prescription of economic shock therapy. Klein goes deep into every country where this ideology has been tried and inevitably failed. It is about 680 pages of text and about 110 pages of bibliographic notes and references, truly a remarkable, detailed history of what she calls disaster capitalism over the last 30 years.

Although the premises of these books are different, there are striking parallels between the two. As an exercise, I put the indexes side by side and the commonalities were notable, especially the major players. I’ve written about Naomi Klein in previous posts so you may be sick of her, but if you are a taxpayer, a worker, or just a member of the middle class, you should know what the U.S. government and U.S. corporations have been doing in your name and with your money in the last three decades. Although this book is a history from Chile to Iraq, it has extraordinary significance today.

Check out Klein’s recent speech at the University of Chicago in which she argued against naming the economics school after its former professor and founder of free market fundamentalism, Milton Friedman. Also check out my previous post about this book as it pertains to the current economic crisis.


The Little Book, Seldon Edwards

This novel was great fun to read. I won’t give a full review myself. I’ll just say that I picked it up after hearing a 5-minute review on Fresh Air (click Listen Now) and it was right on the money. Check that out and then buy this book immediately.


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