I wondered whether that can be said of Naomi Klein’s new The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Still, at some fundamental level I liked this book. Perhaps I still had the Greenspan memoir too fresh in my mind, but at least this text is alive. Yes she refuses to admit that Chilean reforms, however horrible the accompanying atrocities, did represent a success for market economics. Yes she misstates the role of Milton Friedman in just about everything. Yes she suggests that black children in New Orleans, pre-Katrina, enjoyed equality of educational opportunity. Yes she is naive enough to think that we need only put the good people in power. Yes she repeats many timeworn fallacies about Halliburton. Yes there is a senseless conflation of torture, Iraq, and the Coase Theorem. And so on.
Still, at the heart of this book she pinpoints the discomfort that free market advocates have with democracy. You can go the non-democratic route, you can claim that markets should stand above democracy, or you can reinterpret libertarian ideas as a general framework for social analysis and a program for gradualist democratic reform. Either way, for all her mistakes, Klein has yet to lose this debate.