Socialism has figured large not only in the news but in my personal intellectual life lately.
First there was Bernie Sanders.
Then there was a conversation with a friend, about the merits of public versus private land ownership.
Then there was another conversation with the same friend, about public versus private funding for education.
And finally, I read Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, which makes the case for socialism based on observations of the working class poor in northwest England.
So when I was looking for a new book to pick up, I thought it was time for one that’s been on my to-read list for a while: Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. According to the Goodreads blurb, Klein makes the argument that corporations exploit national disasters such as Hurricane Katrina to “advance radical privatization,” undermining public schools and public safety nets, even if they have democratic support, in favour of corporately-sponsored ones.
I’m not very far into it yet, largely because it’s a grim read. But it is a compelling read, touching on questions such as whether we should export American economic theory to other countries and the extent to which the US government should fiddle with national industries. I hope to write at least one other post on it.
Till then, here’s the Teaser Tuesday blurb, from randomly-selected page 56:
The Keynesian revolution against laissez-faire was costing the corporate sector dearly. Clearly what was needed to regain lost ground was a counterrevolution against Keynesianism, a return to a form of capitalism even less regulated than before the Depression. This wasn’t a crusade that Wall Street itself could lead – not in the current climate. If Friedman’s close friend Walter Wriston, head of Citibank, had come forward and argued that the minimum wage and corporate taxes should both be abolished, he naturally would have been accused of being a robber baron. And that’s where the Chicago School came in. It quickly became clear that when Friedman, a brilliant mathematician and skilled debater, made those same arguments, they took on an entirely different quality. They might be dismissed as wrong-headed but they were imbued with an aura of scientific impartiality.
A Note on Teaser Tuesday:
This is a new blog series I’ve been working on. It’s a fun, semi-weekly post in which I open whatever book I’m reading to a random page and share a few sentences from it. I originally heard of Teaser Tuesday through the blog Running in My Head, though it seems to have originated from the Books & a Beat Blog. Feel free to chime in via your own blog with whatever you’re currently reading.