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review 2017-07-04 19:46
A rallying cry towards unity, care, and humanism.
No Is Not Enough - Naomi Klein

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher, Penguin Books UK-Allen Lane, for providing me with an ARC e-copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I have a long list of books to read and I am trying to organise it somehow, mostly in order of acquisition, but this book arrived just as I had finished reading another book and it stuck in my mind. It is a very current and momentous book, so it was for the best that I read it promptly.

I am familiar with the name of Naomi Klein and I have seen many of her books and read about her and her ideas, but this is the first book I have read by her (I have read some short articles but although I kept seeing books by her that sounded interesting, it was usually when I was doing research on an unrelated topic or at a time when I could not read them and this time I grabbed the opportunity).

The book builds on much of her previous work, particularly on the issue of brands and how they have come to dominate our lives (the subject of No Logo) and also how politics and politicians exploit any disasters and shocks to impose ever harsher neo-liberal economic policies (that she discusses in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism) and applies it to the current situation, particularly to Trump’s election and his policies since.

I started highlighting text through the book, to the point that sometimes I would be doing something and listening to the text to speech version and would have to stop to highlight something. This happened very often and I realised Klein was saying many of the things I had been thinking and some that I had not thought of but I recognised and agreed with as I read them. Her reflections about Trump as a brand and his presidency as the latest feather to add to this brand made sense (I learned new things about him and was reminded of others that had long forgotten but helped to build up a clear picture). It was curious that she referred to his time in the Apprentice and his appearances in WWE (televised professional wrestling) as (in a certain way) training for what was to come. She noted that some of his behaviours during the campaign were very similar to those of the fighters in WWE. And lo and behold, a few hours after I had read that part of the book, Trump tweeted the doctored video of one of his appearances in the WWE putting the CNN logo instead of the head of Vince McMahon, whom he was pretending to punch. And if I had already thought that was a very convincing comparison when I read it, even more so now.

The book is well-written, easy to read (well, or not, depending on what your point of view and your political leanings are), and develops the thesis that although many are shocked by Trump’s rise to power (and Brexit), it was not a total surprise, and there are people, organisations, and even whole countries who have resisted the move towards materialism and brands where only things, money, and profits matter, and where fingers are pointed at sectors of the population (immigrants, asylum seekers, ethnic minorities, women, environmentalists…)  who become the scapegoats for a situation they are the victims of. Klein looks at many of these groups and populations and how they have resisted the situation and taken a stand but she also notes that something else is required. Resisting and saying no is important, and it does not matter how big or small we are, we can all do it, but we need to find something to aim for, something that can unite us and something we can fight together for.

She discusses in detail the importance of trying to find common ground, rather than working for small goals, and states that the way the political centre has tried to introduce minor changes will not suffice. As an example of what could be done she focuses on the meeting that took place in Canada, bringing many groups together (unions, environmentalists, indigenous people, women’s groups, groups working towards racial equality…) and that produced the Leap Manifesto, because they think a leap is required to truly change things. We must leap towards hope and dare to embrace a revolutionary way of changing the world.

She notices the rise of dystopian fiction (and films) and the ever growing popularity of some classics (Orwell’s 1984) that she observes are a warning (not necessarily a prediction) and says we need more utopias; we need to be able to think of a better future. And she writes (and as she quotes a big favourite of mine, Oscar Wilde, I could not resist sharing it):

Because, as Oscar Wilde wrote in 1891, “a map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail.”

I read some of the comments on the book, and they are separated along ideological lines. I agree that perhaps she uses examples that might not be as simply black or white as she makes them sound, and I also agree (and thought the same as I read it), that perhaps the Leap Manifesto falls short of going as far as it should (as it offers and statement of good intentions but not much in the way of implementation) although it is an attempt at reaching an agreement and a compromise between very different groups, so it is not surprising that it is not all that radical. I must clarify that I read an ARC copy and therefore did not have access to what I have read are very extensive notes at the end of the final version of the book. Without the notes, it is not a very long book.

The book made me think of an essay we had to write, when I was studying American Literature at the University of Sussex, discussing what could have been done, or rather, what could be done in the present, to somehow repair the gap between whites and African Americans in the US that comes from the time of slavery and was discussed after the Civil War and the freeing of all slaves, a gap that has never been fully resolved (as we all know). At the time of the Reconstruction, the suggestion had been that each freed slave be given 40 acres of land (therefore redistributing the slave owners’ property) and a mule (if you’ve ever wondered why Spike Lee’s production company is called that and never checked, now you know) so they could build up a life for themselves. Of course, that did not happen (or only in few cases) but I remember that after talking to the professor I did write a somewhat utopic essay that he could not fault for its reach, although he could not see how any government would go down that route. (I’ve been looking for it but I think it must have been in one of the floppy disks that disintegrated, although I might have a paper copy. I’ll investigate).  It also made me think about how much emphasis on brands is made, even in the world of writing, and how a lot of the advice to sell anything (a physical product or anything else) is to create a brand and market yourself (rather than the product). As she notes, if you are swimming in the world of media, in whatever capacity, it is very difficult not to be swamped by the allure of branding and its fraught logic. This is something that I have been thinking more and more about recently, and something that I care for less and less. Yes, perhaps this book arrives at the right moment, at least for me, but hopefully for many others too.

As I said, I highlighted a lot of content, and of course, I cannot share it all. But I could not resist and had to share a few bits.

First, one that shows her wit (and that made me write: olé! as a comment)

The truth, which doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous, is that the Trump brand stands for wealth itself or, to put it more crassly, money. That’s why its aesthetics are Dynasty-meets-Louis XIV. It’s why Trump’s relationship to gold is the inverse of Superman’s relationship to kryptonite: Trump crumples when he is more than three feet away from something big and shiny.

This one I think will give you an idea of what the book is about, in her own words:

We have to question not only Trump but the stories that ineluctably produced him. It’s not enough to superficially challenge him as an individual, foul and alarmingly ignorant though he may be. We have to confront the deep-seated trends that rewarded him and exalted him until he became the most powerful person in the world.  The values that have been sold to us through reality TV, get-rich-quick books, billionaire saviors, philanthrocapitalists. The same values that have been playing out in destroyed safety nets, exploding prison numbers, normalized rape culture, democracy-destroying trade deals, rising seas and privatized disaster response, and in a world of Green Zones and Red Zones.

And I love the way she ends the book (do not worry, it is not a spoiler):

 My deepest thanks are for patient little Toma, who missed his mom over these last months, but feels strongly that, “Donald Trump is too rude to be president.

This book is not for everybody and if you really like Trump and what he stands for, or do not care about climate change and other issues such as the rights of women, equality, diversity, the rights of indigenous people… I’d advise you not to read it. If you don’t, I’d recommend you check a sample of the writing and see if it speaks to you. I now know why she is so well-known and respected. A compelling writer, whatever one’s political views.


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text 2015-04-20 15:44
Anyone read this?
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - Naomi Klein What did you think?
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review 2014-05-05 21:14
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - Naomi Klein

I'm largely convinced by this book, though it does feel a bit thin overall, and more than once I found myself shying away from the alarmism that seems to run beneath it. Still, Klein has an awful lot of believable facts on her side; enough to paint the picture of a powerful group of people only too happy to pounce on any crisis for financial and ideological gain. She certainly makes short work of Milton Friedman himself, and doesn't leave much wiggle room for his neocon disciples. She covers a lot of ground relatively quickly, however, and in doing so she doesn't always manage to support her arguments. Once or twice too often, she allows it to rest on circumstance and innuendo. She may be accurate in her assessment, or she may not. And the book is certainly a compelling read. But one suspects that a bit more thoroughness might have yielded more tempered—if less provocative—conclusions. Overall, though, as I began by saying, I buy a lot of what she's selling. I hadn't expected to find much more reason to be cynical about the neocon agenda, but how wrong I was. That said, her concluding chapter is genuinely uplifting, and gives you plenty of reason for hope if you're not uninterested in such things.

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review 2013-09-12 00:00
Shock Doctrine is a good book for understand world economy and politics.
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - Naomi Klein

What take me so long? It is my bad. This is a 5 stars book and a must read for those who want to understand how the system created poor, and how government could systematically oppressed and tortured unionists and activists under the guidance of Milton Friedman and his Chicago boys. 

This is a great book. 

I would say this is a must read for all unionists and workers rights activists. Also must read for anti-capitalists. 

How shock doctrine works 

Currently reading on how US torture detainee based on a Ewen Cameron theory, which is a completely failure and disasters, making many of the psychiatric patients worst than they first start.

Dr. Cameron methods were very successful in destroying a person psychic. But it failed completely on the theoretical "building up" part. 

Milton Friedman (Chicago School of Economics) inspired disaster capitalism, first tried in Chile and then in Indonesia. The un-test economic theory tested on real humans that created poverty, 375% inflation, and ended up with a few foreign investments getting really rich while the local people starved. 

Irresponsible economic theorists. Why didn't we learned about this more in MBA courses? 

Milton Friedman is evil

That's what you get when you read the book. 

The Chilean economy would not have changed without the mass killing and arrests of people. The Shock made the change of economy possible. It is the other side of the coin that label "free market". 

The Argentina repeated the tragedy with torturer say they are implement a cure. Hundreds of children born in the torture camps are then sold or given to fucking shit religious Christians to raise in capitalism and Christianity. 

Why Christians didn't talk about this kind of fucking shitty act when they spread their fucking shit Christian message? This should be known to everyone who ever talk to a fucked in the head Christian. 

The horrible Milton Friedman was trying to implement his economic experiment in UK and US. During that time Nixon, although giving Friedman as adviser, practice Keynesian economic policy where the government implement protection of the working class and the poor and not willing to privatize state access. 

It is hard to read how the evil Milton Friedman had visited China, and like other guests of the dictatorship government, praised it progress while ignoring the lack of freedom, the lack of rights of its people, in 1988, just before the shock doctrine started on 4 June 1989. The decision of killed and imprisoned people was to protect capitalism. 

90% of the people who got rich afterwards are related to the leadership of the awful Chinese government. 

shock-doctrine website

Look what I've found. The website for searching background and her analysis of what she thought had happened.

How we fight back 

The pet hate of Naomi Klein should be Friedman and his gang of Chicago school of economics.

The horrible stuff that these men did, by making a big profit out of wars and disasters would make you want to re-think why we looked up to rich white guys like this, that are rotten to the core. 


The examples given, from Latin America to New Orleans, to Thailand should leave you, at least, want to know more what's happened in these countries. And how the rich get away with so much, while the poor didn't get the basic necessary like electricity and water. 

This is not an easy read. It takes time to have the idea sinks in, and try to imagine how the foreign corporations, World Bank, use loan to force government who was in trouble selling off their most valuable assets at a price closer to a garage sales.

And you would be happy to learn that, while the most evil villain Friedman had died, his followers were in jail for the crimes they committed in robbing countries of their assets. 

The most inspiring story, would be how the Thailand fishermen take back their villages after the Tsunami (yes, these economists take advantage of the disaster and wanted to drive out the villages and build resort and golf courses), that they break through the barrier, went home and started rebuilding. They fight by occupation, and the rich are not able to drive them away with so much media attention. 

Lesson they have learned from Sir Lanka where the villages were first wiped out by the Tsunami and then by the Friedman economists.


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review 2013-08-02 00:00
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - Naomi Klein Klein spins an interesting yarn about the connection between capitalism, neoliberal politics and torture. Whether some of the details are true is up for discussion. Whether her thesis is an indictment of "disaster capitalism" or of plain old human nature is another big question.

The connection between neoliberalism and free-market capitalism hardly seems disputable. We saw it in Chile with the Chicago School, we saw it in American foreign policy at the dawn of the 21st century. As for the use of political "shocks" to bring about change—that's basically common sense. People use times of upheavel to effect change.

But the whole torture thing is hardly confined to the capitalists' camp. Everybody tortures everybody else. It's silly to insist that torture is somehow exclusive to capitalists. To be fair, Klein's not arguing that. But neither is it fair to blame capitalists for torture while conveniently ignoring everybody else. (Again, Klein doesn't ignore the other side, but she hardly devotes enought ime to it.)

Sure, there might be a link between political upheaval, laissez-faire capitalism and torture, but anybody with a decent knowledge of 20th-century history could easily write a book connecting political upheaval, Communist ecomonimic policy and torture. Klein's accusations are oddly non-specific for her to be pointing the finger exclusively at disaster capitalism. And when she really digs in and starts lobbing grenades, the attentive reader is forced to take a step back and double-check all of her research. It's easy to twist the facts to fit a particular narrative, and readers who want to make any sense out of this story will need to play Editor with Klein's book.

It's not all bad. After all, Klein has a point. But her point is just too unscientific: if she wanted to show conclusively that disaster capitalism is solely at fault, should she not have also established the innocence of all other parties? Saying "disaster capitalism is evil" does not necessarily imply that globalization and socialist economics are saintly and virtuous. Finding the truth with the help of The Shock Doctrine is a bit of a balancing act. At least Klein got us up to the rafters.
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