Tyler Cowen gets mean and mad

I’ve now done a full review of Naomi Klein:

Most of the book is a
button-pressing, emotionally laden, whirlwind tour of global events
over the last 30 years: Katrina, the invasion of Iraq, torture in Chile,
the massacre in Tiananmen Square, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and
the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The book offers not so much
an argument but rather a Dadaesque juxtaposition of themes and
supposedly parallel developments in the global market. Above the
excited recitation stands Milton Friedman as the ├╝berdemon of the march
toward global tyranny and squalor…

Often Ms. Klein’s proffered
connections are so impressionistic and so reliant on a smarmy wink to
the knowing that it is impossible to present them, much less critique
them, in the short space of a book review…

Ms. Klein also tellingly remarked, "I believe people believe their own bullshit. Ideology can be a great enabler for greed."

When it comes to the best-selling "Shock Doctrine," that is perhaps the bottom line on what Klein herself has been up to.

Here is the full review; just imagine if I hadn’t liked the book!


Moral opposition to bad things is heady stuff, and allows a self-evaluated purity of motivation which can be intoxicating.

It is only when making positive recommendations that one is forced into the world of shabby compromize and cost-benefit pragmatism.

Which is why it is necessary to judge people, parties, policy-makers mainly in terms of their positive recommendations.


"Where's conservative come from?"

Knee-jerk reaction?

It's not a serious book. "Shock" is more of a rallying cry for people already disposed to hating free markets and capitalism. I don't think Klein even cares what critics say, which to me makes her a propagandist, not a thinker. I mean, even the act of criticizing her book gets a 9/11 Truther-style response from her defenders. If you disagree with her, you're a tool, a capitalist crony, etc etc. I absolutely hate this.

PS I haven't read the book but I can't believe she tries to argue that Thatcher launched the Falklands campaign to fight back against the miners. This is insane. That war was a colossal political risk for her. She sent a naval task force halfway around the WORLD, at a time of political uncertainty for her domestic policies, to fight a war that could have been easily lost. Had she failed, Thatcher would have been toast, and the miners would never have been down.

The campaign against the miners was a totally different operation that involved its own planning. She didn't need the Falklands War to carry that out. Instead, she readied legislation, stockpiled coal and invested in police resources ahead of the confrontation.

Thatcher was a politician of principle. She succeeded because she took dramatic risks on behalf of solid ideas. I'm not a fan of Thatcher's friendship with Pinochet, but come on Klein, get serious...

I never understand people who claim that capitalism is evil, and that state controlled economies are not. States that controlled their economy were the largest mass murders in the 20th century. About 100 million
murdered between the Chinese communists and Soviets alone. How many people has Wal Mart killed? Does Exxon Mobile have a Gulag?

See here for statistics on death by government:


Superb review, Tyler.

Protocols of the Elders of Wall Street. Simply disgraceful.

I also thought the Hayek bit came out of nowhere.

Henley, in Chile there was a general strike and the Parliament requested that Allende be removed from power. Perhaps it was U.S pressure rather than Allende's policies that caused this, but things were pretty screwed up. Pinochet was not initially committed to socialism or free-markets. The generals didn't really know how to run an economy and came to admit that years after taking power, hence the Chicago Boys.

rdf, no one ever said Stiglitz should be ignored for criticizing Friedman. What Dani Rodrik (in no sense a Friedmanite) is upset about is his looking-the-other-way with regard to the nonsense in Klein's book.

Does Exxon Mobile have a Gulag?

Pinochet had a Gulag.


I wonder if Klein is a millionaire? Does she live in a big house? Does she have a nice car?

I wonder...

Wow, GVV, I know many many Indians who would disagree with you! India has been held back for decades by stupid bureaucracy and state intervention; now, at last, the country is growing and getting rich. People have opportunities they never had before, they are healthier, they have choices, and this will improve as the nation grows. Sure, they have a long way to go still. All I can say is to hell with Marxists.


Who are those Indians? May be some of the neo-rich offsprings of liberalisation who are living abroad as non-resident Indians (the superheroes of liberalisation,the modern NRI maharajas) who least bother about the common people.Come to India and live in Mumbai or some other cities or in a village to see the structure of every day life of the layman in India.Then you will realise.
The trickle down hypothesis does not work.
The Nehruvian strategy of development has to be brought back to rescue the poor and the downtrodden.

Did anyone catch Klein in "The Possibility of Hope", a vignette added to the bonus features of the Children of Men DVD? She makes some absurd and blatantly false claims there, then goes on to tell the viewer that her strategy is to stockpile resources and SUVs in Alaska so she and her friends can survive once capitalism has destroyed the rest of the world.

I guess there are markets for the warped view of reality she is selling.

...the passage about how "Chile abandoned socialistic policies for freer markets because the former weren't working well and induced economic crises" confuses me a bit. I mean, there was a coup there, was there not?

Yes, there was a coup because Allende's 'socialistic policies' had produced near chaos. 1,000% inflation, housewives parading in the streets banging pots and pans because they couldn't feed their families, communist thugs beating and killing small landowners in the south....

Georgy Anne Geyer tells the story well in, 'Buying the Night Flight'.


India is still very much a socialist society. Once again, a socialist blames on capitalism the very problems caused by socialism. Outside of the booming IT sector, India is still marked by inefficient government control and regulation. There's a reason we don't see much that says "made in India." Meanwhile, countries with this evil capitalism such as China and Eastern Europe are leaving India in their wake.

First to Pat,

You are misinformed.I am from a govt institution.Quality teaching takes place in Govt-run educational centres where recruitment is strictly according to merit and Public Service Commision's recruitment test and interview results.
Most of the private institutions are run by religious minority groups, for example the powerful Christian church groups where there is reservation for their own community groups and nobody knows about the qualiication of the teachers there.Money and recommendation have an upperhand in private sector teacher recruitments.The running rate for a lecturership in a private college for example is approx.Rs.10 lakhs plus!People value govt run IITs and IIMs more than private sector institutions to cite an example.Capitalism has "improved"the welfare of the neo-rich and the middle classes(who always looks at an opportunity to go abroad with zero loyalty to their home country India).

Now to KRM,

If a construction worker or a domestic servant owns a cell phone that is not a sign of progress.If, as Prof.Sen says new economic policy augments "substantive freedom" and entitles him with capabilities well and good.What is happening now in India? As an insider I see that the new policies improve the above said things of a new elite middle class and the common man is thrown out of the benefits of progress.As Prof.Raj has commented several years before, the intermediate regime improves the conditions of the greedy upper middle class.You are speaking of farmers.You might have read about the suicides of thousands of farmers in Vidarbha region and the States of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala due to the adverse import policies of the govt which is a puppet in the hands of the puppeteers, that is, the international institutions.You are lamenting that agricultural sector has not been fully liberalised in India.One can imagine the results of such a policy-more farmer suicides,crackdown of the central-state relations and agriculture-dominated states'economies and total collapse of the plantation sector.So long as the middle class do not cultivate anything in the soil,they will flourish even through promoting land mafia by engaging in speculative land dealings.


Re: "liked the book",

I guess that was Tyler C's little ironic joke. I like the joke, but of course he's asking to be misunderstood.

In States like Kerala they Christians constitute approx.25% of total population but own 70% of educational institutions including medical ,engineering and management colleges (which are minting money through capitation fees).Christians have powerful political parties and are members of Left and Right ruling party coalition Govts ever since the formation of the State.They are rent-seekers and except the Latin-Catholic (mostly fishermen) congregation all other Christians (both Roman/Syrian Catholics and the Jacobites non-Catholics) are rich owning more than approx.60% of the State's income and assets.Ironically Latin catholics are considered as lower caste by other Christian "forward" castes.
Anyway Christians are wealthy and powerful except the fishermen and the highrange farmers among them.Millions of dollars reach them every year as donations from abroad.

Q: Does Exxon Mobile have a Gulag?

A: Pinochet had a Gulag.

Pinochet is not Exxon. Nor was he even ITT. That the copper mines nationalized under Allende are ~still~ in the hands of the state puts the lie to the marxoid conspiracy theory of Pinochet's rise to power.

And Pinochet did not have a Gulag. He had torture chambers and execution squads. Much like Castro, only on a smaller scale.

Capitalism for me but not for thee!

Her hypocrisy does not just discredit her, it does something far more damaging. It discredits her ideas.

Reading the reviews and comments of Klein's book is like watching pants being moisturized near the zipper by angry pedants. Get over the hysterical reactions and take her book apart like real intellectuals.

GVV (and others)

I am new to economics, so please be kind. However, I cannot help but read the discussion on India and think two things
1. that things are happening as Henry George said they do
2. that his proposed solutions could be effectively applied in dealing with the problems eg of middle class speculation in land

To paraphrase a previous contributor, does not Henry George play the role of setting off the fire alarm AND putting out the fire?

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