The Shock Doctrine
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Klein, Naomi
Publisher:  Knopf Canada, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  2007
Pages:  672pp   Price:  $36.95   ISBN:  978-0-676-97800-1
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX7127

Klein chronicles free-market disasters of recent years and advances a theory that we are living in the age of 'disaster capitalism'.

This is really two books in one. The first part is a journalistic survey of the effects of neo-liberal economics on various parts of the globe, from Eastern Europe to New Orleans. This is well-done traditional muckraking journalism, documenting the disastrous effects of privatization, cuts to social spending, and the neglect and deterioration of public infrastructure. As a passionate condemnation of neo-liberalism's effects, it will help to inform anti-globalization activists.

The Shock Doctrine attempts to go beyond description to also offer an analysis of what Klein calls 'disaster capitalism', which she maintains is the current stage of capitalism. This part of the book is much weaker. The central thesis of The Shock Doctrine relies on a superficial and highly selective reading of recent economic history which simply ignores the many counter-examples, and the major trends in those parts of the world, e.g. India, China, Japan, much of Western Europe, most Arab countries, and much of Africa, where the theory doesn't fit the facts. The broader observation that capitalism is a system that both creates and thrives on crises is simply a popularized restatement of theories that left intellectuals beginning with Karl Marx have enunciated in much greater depth.

The strength of the book is that it is a well-written populist indictment of the effects of capitalism around the globe which can lead readers to go on to more sophisticated in-depth analyses.

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