Shocked!

by Don Boudreaux on September 7, 2007

in Books

Among the nice perks of blogging here at the Cafe are the several offers of free books that come my and Russ’s way each year.

With that background, here’s a letter that I just sent to the Marketing Director at Henry Holt, publisher of Naomi Klein’s latest book, The Shock Doctrine; this gentleman e-mailed me this afternoon with an offer of a free copy of this book.

Dear Mr. Rhorer:

Thank you for your e-mail offer of a free copy of Naomi Klein’s latest book attacking capitalism.  I accept.

I note, though, that Ms. Klein’s previous best-seller, No Logo – which you call “groundbreaking” – was praised by the PBS show Frontline as ”an impassioned critique of marketing’s effects on culture and citizenship.”  Is Ms. Klein aware that the major American corporation publishing her new book is trying to drum up sales with mass e-mails from – of all people! – its director of Marketing?

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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Nasikabatrachus September 7, 2007 at 6:45 pm

"The Shock Doctrine"–I've never heard of something (outside of really inane comments on Youtube) that is so bent on proving that the problem with the free market is the power of corrupt, exploitive governments.

Brad Hutchings September 7, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Classic. After reading No Logo, I feel like I could have written it as a caricature of the capitalism haters I know. Well, it would have been 20 pages long, but you get the point.

ben September 7, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Ironies abound. Does Ms. Klein not see the irony in railing against the system that gave her the laptop on which she types this stuff? The various mediums on which her ideas are communicated?

Lee Kelly September 7, 2007 at 8:19 pm

"Ironies abound. Does Ms. Klein not see the irony in railing against the system that gave her the laptop on which she types this stuff? The various mediums on which her ideas are communicated?" – ben

I suspect Ms. Klein does not attribute the existence and advancement of technology to the market, or believes that such technology and its advancement can be achieved in an alternative system to capitalism.

shawn September 7, 2007 at 9:13 pm

…hehe…have you *seen* russian computer equipment? :)

Incidentally…have any of y'all read 'the rebel sell' ('nation of rebels' here in the US)? It's a quite intriguing book, written by a 'left' pair of philosophers, which first turned me on to economic/political thinking, but particularly interesting because they're *quite* critical of the foolishness of ms. klein's thinking. After my 6 months or so of libertarian/classic liberal reading, I'm interested in going back and reading 'rebel sell'.

If any of y'all have read it, i'd be interested to hear what your enlightened eyes saw. :) Here's a snippet from an article that's related to the book:

What we need to see is that consumption is not about conformity, it’s about distinction. People consume in order to set themselves apart from others. To show that they are cooler (Nike shoes), better connected (the latest nightclub), better informed (single-malt Scotch), morally superior (Guatemalan handcrafts), or just plain richer (bmws).

The problem is that all of these comparative preferences generate competitive consumption. “Keeping up with the Joneses,” in today’s world, does not always mean buying a tract home in the suburbs. It means buying a loft downtown, eating at the right restaurants, listening to obscure bands, having a pile of Mountain Equipment Co-op gear and vacationing in Thailand. It doesn’t matter how much people spend on these things, what matters is the competitive structure of the consumption. Once too many people get on the bandwagon, it forces the early adopters to get off, in order to preserve their distinction. This is what generates the cycles of obsolescence and waste that we condemn as “consumerism.”

As Pierre Bourdieu reminds us, taste is first and foremost distaste—disgust and “visceral intolerance” of the taste of others. This makes it easy to see how the critique of mass society could help drive consumerism. Take, for example, Volkswagen and Volvo advertising from the early 1960s. Both automakers used the critique of “planned obsolescence” quite prominently in their advertising campaigns. The message was clear: buy from the big Detroit automakers and show everyone that you’re a dupe, a victim of consumerism; buy our car and show people that you’re too smart to be duped by advertising, that you’re wise to the game.

Full article that these quotes came from: 'THIS' Magazine Article.

shawn September 7, 2007 at 9:15 pm

and….is there something subtle about "shCOKEd"? :) I read that 3 times before i realized it was misspelled.

colson September 8, 2007 at 12:30 am

Maybe a subtle reference to how much she had to do to get to the level of anti-capitalist paranoia she is appears to be in.

colson September 8, 2007 at 12:44 am

I usually try to avoid this, but there's a great song by the band King Missle (the guys who did Detachable Penis) called "It's Saturday". The article of shawn's link reminded me of it:

I want to be different, like everybody else I want to be like
I want to be just like all the different people
I have no further interest in being the same,
because I have seen difference all around,
and now I know that that's what I want
I don't want to blend in and be indistinguishable,
I want to be a part of the different crowd,
and assert my individuality along with the others
who are different like me
I don't want to be identical to anyone or anything
I don't even want to be identical to myself
I want to look in the mirror and wonder,
"who is that person? I've never seen that person before;
I've never seen anyone like that before."
I want to call into question thevery idea that
identity can be attached
I want a floating, shifting, ever changing persona:
Invisibility and obscurity,
detachment from the ego and all of it's pursuits.
Unity is useless
Comformity is competitive and divisive and leads only to
stagnation and death.
If what I'm saying doesn't make any sense,
that's because sense can not be made
It's something that must be sensed
And I, for one, am incensed by all this complacency
Why oppose war only when there's a war?
Why defend the clinics only when they're attacked?
Why are we always reactive?
Let's activate something
Let's fuck shit up
Whatever happened to revolution for the hell of it?
Whatever happened to protesting nothing in particular, just
protesting cause it's Saturday and there's nothing else to do?

Ray G September 8, 2007 at 1:03 am

Reminds me of some libertarian commentator – I forget who – that visited an NPR gift shop. The humorous commentary that I don't recall verbatim amounted to "Oh look, I can buy kitschy baubles with NPR logos in order to support their crusade against capitalism."

LowcountryJoe September 8, 2007 at 7:48 am

Shawn, reading the quoted review from Wired Magazine was entertaining.

This is how I view it: there is a certain amount of human activity dedicated toward impressing others that one would want to impress so as to gain acceptance, because in doing so and being sucessful at both, the activity will have lead to one's overall satisfaction.

The philosphers should stop right there and chalk it up toward our tendency to maximize our utility, with acceptance being a highly desireable item for human pursuit, in most cases.

The trend-setting Lefty is no different with these pursuit save for some key differences, some of which involve the intense desire to be authentic, edgy, a little dark, and to be excusive…only not so exclusive so as to be the only one with the same 'taste'.

All the talk, all the buzz-words, all the focus on being 'cerebral' (whatever that really means), is just a means to self-identify another person with the same 'tastes'…at least until those particular buzz words and the like become too mainstream and lose their ability to serve as the 'exclusive mechanism'.

Lee Kelly September 8, 2007 at 9:56 am

Shawn,

Thanks for the article. Good read.

It neatly explains a phenomenon which I am sure all libertarians are aware of, though rarely make explicit, nammely the painful irnoy of "counter-culture."

However, I cannot support the authors' conclusion, which seems to suggest that its okay to sacrifice liberty in order to provide the incentives to undermine "consumerism."

It seems that it is yet another call for the preferences of the enlightened few, to take precedence over the benighted many.

A society without such competitive consumption would be an exceedingly boring society. It is from our attempts at differentiation that new ideas arise, many of which may just be well worth holding onto in the long run.

Why the desire to be different, and the incentive of others to cater to that desire should be treated as a problem, is beyond me.

TheOverfloater September 8, 2007 at 11:01 am

Haha!! Love it! It is just so obvious that people like Naomi Klein will try anything to pursue their collectivist agenda. Her arguments are just like John Kenneth Galbraith’s and others which believe that we are somehow being manipulated by marketers and advertisers. What arrogance! If only we could have their guidance.

It just goes back to what Milton Friedman said: A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it … gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

These ‘enlightened’ thinkers are opposed to personal freedom and will come up with an array of phony ideas to subvert the free and open society.

vidyohs September 8, 2007 at 11:07 am

What puzzles me is the number of people who pontificate on "what the people" want or do and all of their pontification is on what they see through their narrow little lens of preconceived notions. (Whew!)

Believe it or not there are many people who buy Nikes because they fit well, are durable, and give them the performance they are looking for. Many buy BMWs because they did their due diligence on autos and decided that the BMW was optimum for their needs and fit their budget. And so on and so on for most everything one can name as a consumable.

Personally, I believe that the people of America who do buy consumables based upon being seen as in "the in crowd" are in a small minority, some of whom are very visible in our culture. Because of that visibility it appears that they are more numerous than they really are.

And that means mistaken conclusions drawn by such as Ms. Klein and those mentioned by shawn.

TheOverfloater September 8, 2007 at 11:26 am

Update!!

The associated press reports that Osama Bin Laden slams capitalism !

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070908/ap_on_re_mi_ea/bin_laden_video

If we can link Naomi Klein, and other collectivists to Bin Laden, then perhaps people can reject all of this anti-capitalist rhetoric.

Lee Kelly September 8, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Bin Laden is a textbook socialist. He depises liberty and understands a 'just society,' to be a society ehere his preferences are enforced on everyone else, and seeks to achieve it by any means which is expedient.

In the pursuit of Jihad, every act which might quicken the coming worldwide Islamic rule( which is, by the way, inevitable) is morally acceptable. Does it not all sound vaguely familiar?

John Pertz September 8, 2007 at 12:06 pm

UGH

Naomi Klein

Does anyone see the injustice in Naomi's complete un-abashed plagiarism of Thortein Veblen's work. I mean has this women contributed one single meaningful original idea to anti-capitalist scholarship. I mean I really dont mind if someone wants to write a book about why capitalism is so awful but she does it in such a cheap manner. Regurgitated Marx, Veblen, and Galbraith gets real old after a while.

Ray G September 8, 2007 at 12:27 pm

bin Laden did mention Chomsky and Michael Scheuer – the failed CIA analyst turned Jewish conspiracy monger – as authors that American ought to read.

Nice plug huh. . .

John September 8, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Have a look at this video about the book. The comment below the video is me. I didn't want to get into the gory details of how brutally silly and dishonest the argument is.

Lee Kelly September 8, 2007 at 2:36 pm

"Have a look at this video about the book. The comment below the video is me. I didn't want to get into the gory details of how brutally silly and dishonest the argument is." – John

I am staggered by how bad the argument is. Does she seriously think that Milton Friedman advocated that…

(a) profit drive every aspect of life?
(b) trickle-down theory?
(c) eviscerating government services?

or that he advocated the free market so he could…

(d) create waves of unemployment?
(e) send prices soaring?

or that the phrase. "only a crises, real or perceived, produces real change," is anything other than a comment on the inefficiencies of government in responding to problems?

I mean, "trickle-down" theory. In the words of Thomas Sowell:

"There have been many economic theories over the centuries, accompanied by controversies among different schools of economists. but one of the most politically prominent theories today is one that has never existed among economists–the "trickle down" theory."

The moment anyone mentions "trickle down" theory is the moment when you know that someone really has no idea what they are talking about.

John September 8, 2007 at 2:45 pm

Lee,

I was truly astounded at how Naomi Klein seriously puts 2 and 2 together and then divdes by 2 and gets the alphabet!

What a whacky and galactically unsound premise. She actually said "liberating price controls" like it was a BAD THING and then tried to conflate it with massive unemployment and soaring prices!!!

My god. She's totally lost!! Talk about walking toward from the setting sun INTO the Rocky Mountains and wondering why it isn't getting warmer! So I guess the Sun doesn't generate heat based on my data! Sheesh!

Daniel Earwicker September 8, 2007 at 3:43 pm

The Guardian newspaper is advertising this new book like crazy, along with supporting material on the web, such as this page useful links so you can learn more about Milton Friedman:

http://books.guardian.co.uk/shockdoctrine/story/0,,2164135,00.html

And their summary of the book is "Naomi Klein's explosive new book exposes the lie that free markets thrive on freedom. In the first of our exclusive extracts, the No Logo author reveals the business of exploiting disaster." This tells you everything you need to know about the book, doesn't it?

It's certainly true that the free market will thrive on any situation (disaster or otherwise) better than any known alternative. What's just as certain is that it did not create the disaster Klein focuses on, namely the Iraq war. That was entirely the work of a government that apparently believed it was acting in the best interests of everyone else.

Lee Kelly September 8, 2007 at 3:55 pm

In a rather typical move by people such as Naomi Klein and a newspaper like The Guardian: it is not enough that their opponents might be mistaken or misguided; no, they are in fact liars who secretly agree with Ms. Klein, but for whatever selfish motive continue to profer outright falsehoods.

John Pertz September 8, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Honestly, you can put everything that Naomi Klein rights in the right wing ideologue hack column. You know what Im talking about when you walk through the politics section at Borders and see the Michael Savage-Rush Limbaugh books. Naomi is the socialist Rush Limbaugh.

Craig September 8, 2007 at 6:26 pm

I think OBL is trying to shore up support on the left, esp. college/university students who lean that way, who already despise the US for being the poster child for capitalism. In that regard, mentioning Chomsky the Great is pretty clever, just like Chavez did. Great way to get 'the leaders of tomorrow' on your side, though most will grow out of it by the time they're 25 or so. Nice try though!

sethstorm September 8, 2007 at 7:07 pm


It's certainly true that the free market will thrive on any situation (disaster or otherwise) better than any known alternative.

However, it leaves quite a trail of disaster that is only justified by it happening to a "minority of people". It also forgets when some disasters happen (and were normally solved with some well-tuned regulation).

Merely just waiting until all your opposition dies out isn't much of a plan to convert people.

Jim Bjaloncik September 8, 2007 at 8:39 pm

Having read the Publishers Weekly commentary for this book on the Amazon WEB page, I can already see that this is a waste of 576 pages of paper and ink. And why do I suspect that Klein has a degree in Marxist sociology and basket weaving, and not economics? I'm looking forward to Prof. Boudreaux and Roberts reading this rubbish and then tearing it into itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie shreds. Should be quite entertaining.

John Pertz September 8, 2007 at 9:04 pm

I seriously doubt Russ and Don will bother to read the book. If you are into Naomi then Veblen and Marx will work just fine. They are the originators of every anti capitalist idea that Naomi uses in her works. Like I said earlier, she is not known as an original theorist. Her fame endures because of her activism and fancy repackaging of very old ideas.

Craig September 8, 2007 at 9:40 pm

Come to think of it, OBL could also be lashing out against capitalism/globalization because it's the one thing that is truly a threat to his ilk continuing to have influence at all.

Regarding Klein, it's funny how much esteem she's held in. Anyone who's even somewhat familiar with economics and the real effects of free trade (as opposed to the selective negatives so often held up as representing the whole) can see just how out to lunch she is. Which says a lot about papers like the Guardian.

Gil September 8, 2007 at 11:50 pm

How quaint that Libertarians would dismiss such a video as mere leftist propraganda. So what of the people rounded up? Ne'er-do-well lefty Socialists who are better off dead to let the freedom-loving righties flourish as they should? Or that was the Government's fault, especially the CIA? That would remind me of a notion of someone hiring an assassin to kill me and I'm supposed to solely blame the assassin. Many a rich bloke got the government to do the dirty work so why not blame certain aspects of Capitalism? To say that real Capitalism uses 'no force and fraud' is bunk as well. Either that or you have a huge burden of proof as to why people who use violence as a means reaps huge profits are going give it all up for a simpler, gentler Capitalism just because a misty-eyed Libertarian says so.

Lee Kelly September 9, 2007 at 7:12 am

Gil,

"How quaint that Libertarians would dismiss such a video as mere leftist propaganda."

I don't think any of those who have responded so far have "dismissed" the video as "leftist propoganda." Instead, everyone here is quite willing to accept that Naomi Klien is honest, that she really believes such rubbish. In fact, you are the only person to describe it as "propoganda" at all.

It is neither the case that anyone has casually "dismissed" her view, but have noted that it is a terrible argument, and in some cases provided more detail as to why. In other words, people have given the video a rational appraisal and found it seriously wanting, to describe that as "dismissing" the argument is disingenuous.

Gil, I realise that it would be convenient for you if libertarians were guilty of all the same intellectual vices as their opponents, since it would provide you with a handy "you too!" response to every and all criticism libertarians level against socialism, the welfare state, socialised medical care, or whatever else.

This, however, is more wishful thinking than substance on your part, since libertarians are overwhelmingly not guilty of those same vices. In fact, I think it is fair to say that libertarians are cut from a different cloth, one that few on the "left" or "right" understand, in part betrayed by their reluctance to see past the left to right political spectrum, which leaves no place for libertarianism.

Regarding the remainder of your argument, I can only say that it is as bad as Ms. Klien's. To think libertarians support everything that occurs in societies you have designated "capitalist"? That's absurd. In fact, I would not think it inappropriate to say that libertarians do not support capitalism, since what most people understand as capitalism bears so little resemblence to what libertarians support.

Moreover, for all the objectionable events that occur in societies which closer approximate libertarianism, they are far fewer than the atrocities that occur in even less libertarian socieities. It is fine for you or Ms. Klien to point out, and oppose, particular events in society, I do too. However, the relevent question, hardly ever asked, is: compared to what?

In other words, if you compare the world to some make-believe utopia, in which violence has been eradicated, political corruption a thing of the past, scarcity and shortages no longer, then of course you will find the real world seriously wanting, if not an intolerable evil.

If, however, you compare today with history, you'll note that in no time or place in human history, have so many people ad it so good. There are problems, to be sure, but these problems have been far worse in the past, and historically lessened as socieities have come to approximate more and more toward the libertarian ideal.

Regards,
Lee

John Pertz September 9, 2007 at 10:03 am

Gil

I will be as short as possible. Most libertarians deplore the scholarship of left wing anti-capitalists because they label government malfeasance as capitalism. Libertarians have always maintained that if democracy is not properly constrained then it will be captured by special interests. Honestly, is Naomi all that far away from what Tulloch and Buchanon argue? Instead of swallowing the poison pill this women out and out lies and argues that what is ruining society is "free market capitalism" which has never really existed. Her enemy is democracy, she just needs to wake up and realize it. Honestly, the closest example we have to the Friedman ideal is Hong Kong, which she somehow fails to lambaste in her polemic. Honestly, when it comes to Naomi, all I can say is move along. Whatever point she is trying to make has already been argued a million times before. Its the same argument just repackaged. I cant believe this women has gotten three books out of the same thesis.

Daniel Earwicker September 9, 2007 at 10:19 am

sethstorm: [The free market] leaves quite a trail of disaster that is only justified by it happening to a "minority of people". It also forgets when some disasters happen (and were normally solved with some well-tuned regulation).

If disasters happen to only few people, as is the case when experiments are carried out on a small scale, rather than killing millions, as occurs when central planning inflicts experimental conditions on everyone, surely the former situation is preferable to the latter. Also you must be aware that 'well-tuned regulation' is not the antithesis of the free market but a basic requirement that must underpin it.

Gil: Many a rich bloke got the government to do the dirty work so why not blame certain aspects of Capitalism? To say that real Capitalism uses 'no force and fraud' is bunk as well.

A non-corrupt government would not carry out the dirty work, nor would a competent government allow the use of force or fraud. Any such activity should be criminalised, unless the government is negligent or corrupt. And a large government is always a negligent and corrupt government.

The "rich bloke" who uses government agencies to deliver force or threats should certainly be locked up as a criminal. Then those government agencies that aided and abetted him should be shut down and their revenues returned to their original owners. Where's the sense in publicly funded organised crime, or organised idiocy?

I'd have no hesitation in condemning (as a purely hypothetical example) the local boss of a soft drinks company for bribing a third world government official to get them to lock up union leaders without a fair trial, but only someone as confused as Ms Klein would try to turn this into evidence that the mere sale of soft drinks itself is immoral. Bribing and false arrests are immoral, capitalism itself is innocent. When a criminal claims to be a capitalist they are attempting to protest their innocence.

It is actually very easy to tell capitalism and criminality apart and to apportion blame accordingly. Only with considerable efforts by heroes like Ms Klein is it possible for any confusion to arise and be sustained.

Gil September 9, 2007 at 11:11 am

'Tis interesting how Libbers get to define their idyllic version of Capitalism and get to throw everything else in the 'Socialist' bin. Capitalism in its raw form I'd guess simply means investment, trading and private ownership. There's nothing in the dictionary to say a criminal organization that can give good return on investments to their criminal investors as 'Socialist'. If violent thieves have no intentions of 'sharing the wealth' but rather seek their own profits based on their initial outlay then it's still Capitalism, just a unfortunate type of one. Doubley so if they can maintain their ongoing profits. 'Tis also sad the way because I might criticize the real world aspects of Capitalism that I can sound like a 'Socialist advocate'.

Lee Kelly September 9, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Gil,

Theft is by definition not the same as trade. I do not trade my DVD player for the broken window and shelf space the crook leaves behind. The very term 'free trade' is highly misleading, because what other kind of 'trade' is there, 'unfree trade' perhaps? Oh wait, that's just theft again.

So tell me again, how is a criminal person or organisation consistent with your own definition of "capitalism," namely "investment, trading and private ownership"? The whole idea of "private ownership" in conjunction with "trade," means that privately owned goods cannot exhange hands except by choice, which leaves no room whatever for theft.

Now, I do not mean to suggest that criminality and corruption cannot exist and thrive within a capitalist economy, but rather that it is indicative of the breakdown of capitalism, and is quite inconsistent with the principles of capitalism of which you yourself outlined for us.

I would also draw your attention to the fact that you are arguing against libertarians or classical liberals, not capitalists. There is a subtle, but important difference which so far seems to have evaded you, in that libertarians champion liberty and political institutions to preserve that liberty.

The capitalist economy is just something that happens when people are left free to make their own choices, and allowed to follow their own preferences and interests. The ebbs and flows of the economy are no more just or unjust than changes in the weather, and there is nobody to blame if society does not develop as some person or group would prefer.

It is certainly true that many societies with capitalist economies fall apart, and that many terrible crimes are committed. That, however, would seem to miss the fact that a capitalist economy may be butressed by a wide range of different political institutions, which may be more or less effective at preserving liberty by combating crime and corruption.

If we survey history, it is rather apparent that where liberalism has been most realised, and by consequence a capitalist economy established, the great many people have arisen from poverty, escaped slavery, pursued new technology, and greatly reduced crime and corruption. In short, laid the precursors to civilisation, the best any group of human beings has ever had it.

In the future, if you wish to engage in criticism of libertarianism, then please try and understand what the libertarian position is, it will not do for you to simply reel off a list of facts or accusations, without first checking to see if they are in any way inconsistent with the position you intend to criticise.

Regards,
Lee

Troy Camplin, Ph.D. September 9, 2007 at 1:12 pm

This is what happens when all shame is eliminated from a person's physche and from the culture in general.

lowcountryjoe September 9, 2007 at 2:34 pm

…There is a subtle, but important difference which so far seems to have evaded you, in that libertarians champion liberty and political institutions to preserve that liberty.

The capitalist economy is just something that happens when people are left free to make their own choices, and allowed to follow their own preferences and interests…

Lee,

You are correct with everything that you have written above. The only mistake you are making is engaging in a dialogue with someone who has sympathies for the thieves but is just too ignorant (or worse, too conniving) realize (admit to) it. I have seen these differences and explanations of liberty and trade be explained to Gil on numerous occasions in the last month and yet Gil is not remembering past dialogue or chooses to ignore that the explanation have been made. The behavior can only be explained as conniving or ignorance.

John September 9, 2007 at 3:00 pm

LC Joe,

Well said. I can only say that Gil and those like him remain unconvinced even though they have yet to say anything to refute it.

Is is really willful and conniving? I do not know.

In the case of Kein's premise, shown in that video I linked to above, there's simply nothing there that represents a good argument on how libertarianism and/or free markets cause the bad things she points out. She makes outrageous claims that people have refuted for hundreds of years. Yet, nobody who agrees with Klein seems able to make a valid argument to defend…but they continue to insist she's right anyway. THAT'S the frustrating part.

They hold fast yet say nothing logical to defend their stance.

vidyohs September 9, 2007 at 7:44 pm

LC Joe & John,
Tis precisely what I said to murigeo some weeks ago. murigeo, gil, Plac Ebo, et al. are not here to learn or to share, they are here to argue, disrupt if possible, and confuse if they can.

To debate them, or argue with them is the same as arguing with a devout Christian or Muslim, the socialist religion is just as strong in the hearts of its faithful. They know what they don't know and evidence, reason, and rational are not going to change their minds.

John Pertz September 9, 2007 at 9:28 pm

Nobody has problems with markets. EVERYBODY'S beef is with government. Klein's thesis about renegade or bully capitalism is easily found in any book by Tulloch or Buchanon. Klein just choses to argue that capitalism is the problem, when it is so painfully obvious that it is government.

Troy Camplin, Ph.D. September 9, 2007 at 10:36 pm

Well, if you read Marx's definition of "capitalism" — and you should, since he was the one who coined the term and, thus, gets to define it — then I think most of us would agree that capitalism is a problem. Marx does not identify capitalism with free markets, but rather with a great deal of government involvement in the economy. Since Marx does not directly equate capitalism with free markets, perhaps neither should we. In fact, when people rail against capitalism, we should pipe up and say, "I agree. Capitalism does suck. That's why I'm in favor of free markets." Part of the fun will be in watching the person become very confused.

Gil September 9, 2007 at 11:06 pm

"to debate them, or argue with them is the same as arguing with a devout Christian or Muslim, the socialist religion is just as strong in the hearts of its faithful."

Geez I think the same thing in reverse. Did I mention I don't care much for public ownership of the means of production? Oh wait it's the eternal battle between Libertarians and Socialists. Oops my bad. X(

Oh well too bad that I'm brainwashed by the Big Bad Public Edumacation System to love Libertarianism without question, by-golly-gosh-gumdrops. Then again maybe there's a mystical historical link – Moses <-> Mises. Wow! Maybe it's true! All true!! ≡8O

Mark September 9, 2007 at 11:31 pm

The air of superiority that these type of people make in their attacks on capitalism are astounding. These Luddites feel that they are the real intellectual source of all thought in the world.

You will recognize the poses when you meet people insulated from the market, like government bureacrats, teachers, and hack journalist. They are snooty and these people do not understand how uneducated they truly are.

John September 10, 2007 at 12:06 am

Hey Gil,

instead looking for side scraps to sink your teeth into in order to make a comment, why not take one aspect of the video's economic claims that we disagree with and explain why we are wrong.

Sam Grove September 10, 2007 at 1:07 am

The missing term is 'merchantilism'.

Libertarians oppose merchantilism which might be described as business socialism.
We oppose merchantilism because we oppose socialism.

Perhaps communism can be described as 'single owner' merchantilism, with the government being the sole owner of the means of production and distribution.

Sam Grove September 10, 2007 at 1:22 am

A friend of mine described an occurance in Sweden where he had attended an ISIL conference.

After one of the sessions, attendees leaving the site came upon some Marxist protesting the 'capitalists' attending the conference. The attendees sought to purchase their Marxist literature as souveniers.

At the sudden increase in demand for their litereature, the protesters conferred briefly and raised the price of their literature.

The libertarians then applauded the Marxists for demonstrating market forces in action.

LowcountryJoe September 10, 2007 at 6:06 am

Gil,

If you would like to quibble on definitions of words, perhaps we should start with the words "liberal" and the word "liberty". After doing so we could then discover how closely aligned with the two you are. And then after that, we could discuss the particular details regarding just how it is that you're not in favor of the public/collective ownership of the means of production…ought to be real interesting when the topics veer into health, education, and financial planning.

tiger September 10, 2007 at 6:09 am

Don, Do not bother reading this book. Just the forward indicates that is childish, unresearched, silly and paranoid. She believes capitalists revel in others misery and even pray for it. She is clearly a committed socialist and has been given a platform for her wacky sentiments with this new book. Steer clear, there is just no point.

Lee Kelly September 10, 2007 at 6:52 am

Troy,

If the term 'capitalism' is highly misleading, then the term 'socialism' is doubly so. The policies championed by socialists, with unerring consistency and unintentional irony, are typically anti-social.

A far more appropriate name would be 'coercivism', and makes a nice contrast to 'liberalism'. It would also explain, for those such as muirgeo and Gil, why libertarians name almost everything they oppose as 'socialist'.

John Pertz September 10, 2007 at 10:42 am

Correct me if I am wrong but Naomi has pretty much been involved in the progressive movement since birth? I think her parents were rather hard core movement types who were extremely disenchanted with modern society. I think that is her background story if I remember correctly. I mean this is a woman who has spent her entire life locked in a world of extreme confirmation bias. She has had almost ZERO exposure to alternative thought, which is evident by her shameful branding of Mr. Friedman. Im telling you she is the Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh of the socialist crowd.

muirgeo September 10, 2007 at 11:37 am

Been gone for a bit and have a busy morning coming but just wanted to toss my two cents in as always.

To keep it succinct I think I understand the content of Klein's message even though I've not read either of her books.

The point to me is that I am amazed that anyone calling themselves a liberal economist seems comfortable calling the current world economy a capitalist free-market economy. It seems to me anything but. As I understand it Hayek and his peers argued for a unplanned bottom up approach to the economy. This economy seems anything but. With the WTO, The World Bank and GATT it seems a planned economy from the top down.

Regardless of Klein's presumed hypocrisy marketing on the scale we see is simply a form of coercion and control. The dollars spent and the resultant success of said marketing is all one needs to see the point as true.

Please Dr Boudreaux explain to me how this is not a planned top down economy. I'm not so sure this economy wouldn't have Mr Hayek rolling in his grave. It seems nothing like what he wrote of in the Road to Serfdom.

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