Thoughts on Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine

I have only read a hundred pages of Naomi Klein’s shocked doctrine, but I thought that it was a very valuable work so far. It should not be judged either as an work of economic history as an all-encompassing theory of capitalism.

Even so, pointing out the commonality between New Orleans, Chile, and Iraq was very valuable. Making such a point does not exclude a certain degree of voluntarism associated with capitalism. Rather, it exposes an unseemly side of capitalism that is not frequently discussed.

The connection between the dreadful psychological experiments in Montréal and Hayek in Chile is not necessarily fanciful.  The author was grateful that I pointed out to her that Hayek spent the last years of his life developing The Sensory Order, a book that expanded on the ideas of Donald Hebb, who began the work that culminated in the atrocious psychological programming of Ewen Cameron.

I am halfway through another fascinating book, written by two very conventional economists on the history of world trade.

Findlay, Ronald and Kevin H. O’Rourke. 2007. Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).

I have not yet reached the period of the Industrial Revolution, so thoroughgoing capitalism was not yet part of the story. The following quote suggests the flavor of the book:

xviii-xix: “The greatest expansions of world trade have tended to come not from the bloodless tatonnement of some fictional Walrasian auctioneer but from the barrel of a Maxim gun, the edge of a scimitar, or the ferocity of nomadic horsemen …. For much of our period the pattern of trade can only be understood as being the outcome of some military or political equilibrium between contending powers.”

1 comment so far

  1. manwithoutqualities on

    “The author was grateful that I pointed out to her that Hayek spent the last years of his life developing The Sensory Order, a book that expanded on the ideas of Donald Hebb, who began the work that culminated in the atrocious psychological programming of Ewen Cameron.”

    Three points:

    1. The Sensory Order was published in 1952 – forty years before Hayek’s death!!
    2. Hebb and Hayek came to their connectionist-like theories independently of each other.
    3. Precisely in what way did Hayek and Hebb’s models influence Cameron?


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