For some time, I have wondered at the adulation towards Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” by people who I know and respect. Finally, I’ve decided to brave it, and as I’m about halfway through, Jon Chait gives it a massive, ten page review. He’s gentler on it than I am, but that doesn’t mean he’s nice to it.
Klein’s relentless materialism is not the only thing driving her to see conservatives merely as corporate puppets. … Her ignorance of the American right is on bright display in one breathtaking sentence:
“Only since the mid-nineties has the intellectual movement, led by the right-wing think-tanks with which [Milton] Friedman had long associations–Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute–called itself “neoconservative,” a worldview that has harnessed the full force of the U.S. military machine in the service of a corporate agenda.”
Where to begin? First, neoconservative ideology dates not from the 1990s but from the 1960s, and the label came into widespread use in the 1970s. Second, while neoconservatism is highly congenial to corporate interests, it is distinctly less so than other forms of conservatism. The original neocons, unlike traditional conservatives, did not reject the New Deal. … And their foreign policy often collides head-on with corporate interests: neoconservatives favor saber-rattling in places such as China or the Middle East, where American corporations frown on political risk, and favor open relations and increased trade. Moreover, the Heritage Foundation has always had an uneasy relationship with neoconservatism. … And the Cato Institute is not neoconservative at all. It was virulently opposed to the Iraq war in particular, and it opposes interventionism in foreign policy in general.
It ought to be morbidly embarrassing for a writer to discover that the central character of her narrative [Friedman] turns out to oppose what she identifies as the apotheosis of his own movement. And Klein’s mistake exposes the deeper flaw of her thesis. Friedman opposed the war because he was a libertarian, and libertarian conservatism is not the same thing as neoconservatism.
Seriously, do people really believe her when she says that Israel scuttled the peace process to benefit its anti-terrorism industry? How the hell is this narrative even slightly believable?