Naomi Klein’s depiction of late-capitalism as feeding off a disaster-prone planet and state-system is provocative and illuminating, even if it seems to be itself a form of “shock and awe” journalism. The great cultural critic of the 1960s, Norman O. Brown, memorably said of psychoanalysis, “[o]nly the exaggerations are valuable,” and so it might be with this critique of the dark sides of recent tendencies in world economic activity. It is notable that the book version of Klein’s article bears the title The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which itself can be read as a sly admission that her account is intended to portray one controversial facet of a much more complex economic reality. Also, it should be understood that most of the attention is paid to the American experience—which has certainly featured a preoccupation with disaster at home and abroad—looking at the combined impacts of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Whether her assessment would be as relevant if the same questions were considered from a Chinese, Indian, Turkish, or French perspective seems quite doubtful.

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