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September 11, 2007

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine

I have a feeling that this new book, Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, is going to get a pretty thorough pasting. John Lloyd (who does know his Russia, he was FT chief out there in the 90s) is most unimpressed with her knowledge of the place.

• the fact and failure of the 1991 putsch against Gorbachev (which she describes as a simple grab for power by Yeltsin) which ended any lingering authority in the Soviet presidency and the Communist party, whose destruction removed the backbone of the whole system;

She describes the first coup as a power grab by Yeltsin? Eeek! It was an unsuccessful power grab by Soviet hardliners. Not sure if anything else she writes on the subject can be trusted (even to be factually true, let alone her interpretation of it) after that.

The conspiratorial version of history, even as its first draft, isn't adequate to understand a process as complex as the Soviet collapse and the Russian transition to some form of democracy and capitalism. Naomi Klein's effort to do so, in two chapters of her latest bookThe Shock Doctrine, isn't so much wrong (some of it isn't wrong) as hugely over-determined by a thesis that puts a cabal of neoliberals in Washington, Harvard and Moscow in charge of destroying the Soviet Union/Russia - and succeeding, at least for a time.

This was, she says, "one of the greatest crimes committed against a democracy in modern history".

The fall of the Soviets is a crime against democracy? What has that woman been smoking?

September 11, 2007 in Books | Permalink


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Haven't read the book. But your ad hominem attacks don't mean that all her arguments can be written off. They might well all be bollocks - but selectively choosing a couple of mistakes makes you look defensive Tim.

Tim adds: I was offered a copy to review but declined it. I take it as a given that anything written by her is going to be bollocks.

Posted by: Mark EJ | Sep 11, 2007 9:21:59 AM

If her arguments are as wonky as the viral marketing campaign they've been trying (sending puff emails to right-ring libertarians), she'll need all the help she can get.

Posted by: Mr Eugenides | Sep 11, 2007 10:15:13 AM

"I take it as a given that anything written by her is going to be bollocks."

this is meant to be a *response* to:

"But your ad hominem attacks don't mean that all her arguments can be written off."


Tim adds: *explanation of*

Posted by: dsquared | Sep 11, 2007 12:18:20 PM

by the way, the clauses "does know his Russia" and "was FT chief out there in the 90s" don't really support one another all that well. The FT printed some of the most unimaginable horseshit about Russia in the 1990s.

(Otoh, if it's true that Klein blames Sachs for the HIID disaster then that's pretty unfair. He wasn't really on that project and the whole thing had been thoroughly broken (by Shleifer) before it was handed to him)

Posted by: dsquared | Sep 11, 2007 12:24:50 PM

Given her track record, it is quite reasonable for Tim to assume that anything written by Naomi Klein is likely to be worthless.

Posted by: paul ilc | Sep 11, 2007 7:54:40 PM

I'm torn here as I take it as a given that anything written by John Lloyd is going to be bollocks.

Posted by: Justin | Sep 12, 2007 12:40:03 PM

...or Tim Worstall...

Posted by: Alex | Sep 13, 2007 2:31:26 PM

Naomi Klein has an axe to grind and anything she writes, factual or not will be dismissed by every thinking person. "The collapse of the Soviet Union and it's relacement with market capitalism was the greatest crime ever to befall a democracy?" Statements such as this which appeared in her latest rant: Shock Doctrine, give evidence aplenty of her worthlessness and dishonesty as an author.
Naomi Klein is not to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Mike MacDonald | Sep 13, 2007 10:32:09 PM

Ever seen the third Indiana Jones film? When asked why he continues to hold onto his diary, Sean Connery responds:

"It tells me that goose-stepping morons like you should try reading books instead of burning them."
Delivered in a hilarious accent.

Shut the hell up and read the book. I don't care if you have some personal tiff with Klein - you don't dismiss entire works because some knob tells you that he thinks one of her facts is incorrect (it isn't. Read the goddam book and you'll see he's completely mis-quoted her.)

Hell, I've made my way through a couple of Ann Coulter's vile diatribes... at least read the work before you choose to disagree with it...

Posted by: jjr | Sep 14, 2007 4:24:40 AM

I wholeheartedly agree with the last post. You show your ignorance and narrow-mindedness by damning literature that you're unfamiliar with.

Posted by: bluefire | Sep 17, 2007 1:51:11 PM

Remember what I said; "Every thinking person will dismiss her writing", as worthless tripe. And it is. The quote I used was from a Toronto Star interview about her new book. You'll find it in Shock if you read all of it, which I doubt either of you did. Perhaps you should read some of her material on South American socialism if you want a good laugh.
Also, sign your posts with your names. "Bluefire"? What sort of bullshit handle is that? Don't want anyone to know who you are, eh? I can see why.

Posted by: Mike MacDonald | Sep 29, 2007 1:52:19 AM

From the lack of snide comebacks to my last post, I see that all you so-called experts aren't so expert after all. Without personal attacks on stationary targets, you have nothing intellegent to say.
Naomi Klein isn't the only worthless writer out there.

Posted by: Mike MacDonald | Nov 12, 2007 3:42:25 PM

The lack of ANY comeback to your last post (snide or otherwise) likely stems NOT from silent assent, but rather sheer indifference to what you have to say.

Posted by: Andrew B. Bosma | Mar 6, 2008 6:32:28 PM