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Shocking

Pretty much the only reason to read TNR these days is Johnathan Chait, who’s one of my favorite liberal writers. His review of Naomi Klein’s recent book is a good read.

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Categories: The Left
  1. July 28, 2008 at 5:27 pm | #1

    He had me at “New Noam Chomsky”. Chomsky has been quiet for quite some time now. I miss him. Is Klein up to it?

    Chait is a liberal, eh? I suppose you’re right about that, as he’s surely a Clintonite, still believing that Kosovo was about suffering Albanians. He also seems to buy into the official premises for invasion of Iraq, so yeah, I guess you could say he’s a liberal. I remember now as I write this that it was liberals who gave us Vietnam. So yeah, I’m Ok with that. He’s a liberal.

    My first exposure to shock doctrine was Cambodia – the U.S. had bombed the country into rubble, and it was Chomsky who reminded us that in those circumstances, it is usually the worst son of a bitch around that comes to power. So the U.S. made the ground fertile for Pol Pot. Shocking – we can’t talk about that, as we never officially did anything bad to Camobida. But Klein’s “shock” doctrine plays both ways. Communists use it to grab power too.

    If conservatism suffers from anything, it is that it is not a popular philosophy – it has to be dressed up as something else or smuggled in Trojan Horses. Often it has to be imposed by force. That is what was done in Chile, Serbia, Iraq, where we imposed the disasters. If that is Klein’s thesis, I’m with her all the way.

    At my current rate of 10-12 pages a day, I will get to her book some time in December. I look forward to it.

  2. July 28, 2008 at 6:16 pm | #2

    Chomsky’s output has always been perplexing to me. It seemed like he wrote a few pieces a year and then they were reorganized and presented in all sorts of articles and eventually a book or two.

    Chait is a liberal, eh? I suppose you’re right about that, as he’s surely a Clintonite, still believing that Kosovo was about suffering Albanians. He also seems to buy into the official premises for invasion of Iraq, so yeah, I guess you could say he’s a liberal. I remember now as I write this that it was liberals who gave us Vietnam. So yeah, I’m Ok with that. He’s a liberal.

    Liberalism is a political philosophy, not a set of beliefs regarding foreign policy motives.

    Shocking – we can’t talk about that, as we never officially did anything bad to Camobida.

    I always get a little skeptical when you say we can’t talk about something. I’ve been aware of our bombing campaign in Cambodia pretty much since I learned about the Vietnam war (my knowledge of which is still pretty bad) and I think there’s generally an entry on it in encyclopedias (if there was ever a standard for the bland mainstream, that’s it). What is it that can’t be discussed?

  3. July 28, 2008 at 8:15 pm | #3

    Chomsky’s output has always been perplexing to me. It seemed like he wrote a few pieces a year and then they were reorganized and presented in all sorts of articles and eventually a book or two.

    He advancing in years and maybe can’t keep up with a taxing schedule. I link to a website that tracks his talks and media appearances, and there’s been nothing since April, and November before that.

    Liberalism is a political philosophy, not a set of beliefs regarding foreign policy motives.

    Liberalism is the sum total of the activities of those we call liberals, in addition. If we have a liberal president, and he attacks a country (just as ‘conservatives’ do, then you can expect liberals to support the action and accept the official explanations. I regard Bill Clinton as a conservative, but i official parlance, he is a liberal.

    I always get a little skeptical when you say we can’t talk about something. I’ve been aware of our bombing campaign in Cambodia pretty much since I learned about the Vietnam war (my knowledge of which is still pretty bad) and I think there’s generally an entry on it in encyclopedias (if there was ever a standard for the bland mainstream, that’s it). What is it that can’t be discussed?

    Between you and me, we can discuss anything. But I suggest you try to find any references to what we did to Cambodia in mainstream (and surely not right wing) media. Go back as far as you want. And the bombing campaign was not minor – we hit them with more tonnage than was dropped in WWII, and the targets were insurgents holed up in the general population – ergo, massive casualties ergo Pol Pot.

  4. August 4, 2008 at 7:18 am | #4

    Chait’s review spurred me to read the book, hurriedly, I admit. I now see that he wrote it for people who do not intend on reading it. It is remarkably off-point and mostly useless unless it is meant as a deterrent to keep people from reading the book itself. It is as if someone reviewed Huckleberry Finn and focused on the construction of a raft as the primary focus of the story.

    Have you read Shock Doctrine? Just curious. What’s your take?

  5. August 4, 2008 at 5:27 pm | #5

    I haven’t read it. What he was describing seems to fit with the other writings of hers I’ve read (which was a while ago, granted).

  6. August 6, 2008 at 2:48 pm | #6

    It’s very thorough, though she obviously is making a case and will occasionally leave out a thing or two that would counterbalance her arguments. It would have been nice to know that Cheney will donate any appreciation of his Halliburton stock to charity, though it doesn’t matter unless all of the company’s executives are of a similar mind. Cheney’s actions in favor of Halliburton are far more important an issue than his own personal enrichment.

    All writers pursue their own ideas with single mindedness. But Chair went overboard and sounded more like a Clinton neolib than an objective observer.

    I doubt there’s much of a rigid philosophy in place that right wingers use “shock and awe” to advance their policies – they are merely opportunists. Conservatives and right wingers do have a problem in that people, left to their own devices, don’t often enact or support right wing ideas. Programs like Social Security and Medicare are wildly popular, much to their chagrin. So they have to push through their odd ideas by whatever opportunistic and non-democratic means they can devise.

    If I draw one conclusion from the book, it is that we are not in a democratic debate with people of a different mind, but in a pitched battle with people who will do anything to win. Anything.

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