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 MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein

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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:35 am

I'm getting more interested in The Shock Doctrine now. There is a very interesting chapter on South Africa and how the ANC (Mbeki in particular) gave away control over the economy when they first negotiated to form a government. Was it a total neocon stitch up as Klein says, or were the ANC leaders complicit?

I'll be on line tomorrow at 8.30 if anyone wants to chat about Klein, Stiglitz or any other writer they are reading.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:40 am

I read the The Shock Doctrine, there were fingernail marks in it by the time I'd finished, then I threw it away.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:30 am

Oh come on Cookiemonster, give us details. I gave it the once over myself and I didn't find anything too wrong with it. Maybe a bit simplistic on the overall historical detail.

She had an annoying habit of describing how wonderful everything would be if the evil economists hadn't gotten their claws in, as if they just couldn't bear to see a system they didn't favour work so well. Latin America was about to become the wonder of the western hemishphere till the Chicago boys or whoever came and wrecked it. Russia was about to become like an enormous Sweden.

I was under the imression that Latin America was about to go down the tubes anyway at the time.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:37 am

905 wrote:
Oh come on Cookiemonster, give us details. I gave it the once over myself and I didn't find anything too wrong with it. Maybe a bit simplistic on the overall historical detail.

She had an annoying habit of describing how wonderful everything would be if the evil economists hadn't gotten their claws in, as if they just couldn't bear to see a system they didn't favour work so well. Latin America was about to become the wonder of the western hemishphere till the Chicago boys or whoever came and wrecked it. Russia was about to become like an enormous Sweden.

I was under the imression that Latin America was about to go down the tubes anyway at the time.
It was blatant left wing propaganda. The excessive reliance on emotively charged language and her thinly veiled If by whiskey approach, assuming the only people who'll read her book are left-wing "oh isn't this terrible" types. The comparison with - or discussion of - early ECT experiments, a highly emotive subject, in relation to the Hurricane Katrina or the South East Asian Tsunami and the effects afterwards are a bit... shrill. In fact the whole tone of the book is shrill. Whatever about Iraq (I've read most of what she's written about it and enjoyed it) some of the events in the book she explores and attempts to explain or expose are bordering on wild conspiracy theories. 

That said I'm a pro-globalisation, pro-capitalist neo-liberal (or a "conservative, ultra right-wing, rabid pro-life nutjob", as I was called last month) so I would disagree with her exposing our secrets in foisting terrible free markets on the world, wouldn't I? I enjoyed No Logo, it took me about two months to read it and I disagreed with almost all of it but it was a well written thought provoking book. The Shock Doctrine was terribly disappointing and was nothing more than a wild screeching "i hate capitalism" tantrum.

That and she had a go at Friedman, so she's obviously mad.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:49 am

That's fair enough cookiemonster; funny enough I hadn't you pegged as 'one of Them' (crosses cookiemonster off christmas card list).

Let's see, Tom Clonan gave it a very good review. I trust Tom Clonan over you. Ergo, I favour the book.

Emotive language aside (and you sound a little emotive yourself) Neutral ), do you not think she made a good analogy between the tabula rasa theory of ECT and the shock therapies favoured by Friedman's minions? Shrill she may be but can you fault her material?

As for conspiracy theories, that's what cactus flower seems to be getting from the South African chapter too. Innocent ole me simply thought Mbeki was being ludicrously negligent.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:34 pm



Sofa seems to be ready. I'm just popping to the kitchen for some leftovers.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:37 pm



Aw heck. Someone else got there first.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:41 pm



Cocoa it is then.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:46 pm

How's the book going then cactus? I hope cookiemonster hasn't shaken your enthusiasm.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:00 am

905 wrote:
That's fair enough cookiemonster; funny enough I hadn't you pegged as 'one of Them' (crosses cookiemonster off christmas card list).

Let's see, Tom Clonan gave it a very good review. I trust Tom Clonan over you. Ergo, I favour the book.

Emotive language aside (and you sound a little emotive yourself) Neutral ), do you not think she made a good analogy between the tabula rasa theory of ECT and the shock therapies favoured by Friedman's minions? Shrill she may be but can you fault her material?

As for conspiracy theories, that's what cactus flower seems to be getting from the South African chapter too. Innocent ole me simply thought Mbeki was being ludicrously negligent.

I felt maybe she was a bit too kind to the ANC leadership, although I couldn't be sure of it. National liberation movements tend to talk a lot of socialism/marxism, but when they get their feet under the table they often take to the market economy like ducks to water and the leaders are sometimes (but not always) face first into the trough.

Joe Slovo would have been a Stalinist type of Marxist (if such a thing exists) and Mandela himself would be tribal leadership not a footsoldier. I don't know anything about Mbeki, who did the negotiations. I think they may have been predisposed to go along with the "free market" model.

It wouldn't be right to be too down on them, because what really struck me about the South African chapter was the way things were stitched up by the International boys clubs of the IMF and the World Bank. I feel we have been stitched up by them too, along with the WTO and the EU Commission, with our National government either colluding or its eye off the ball.

If the book got under Cookie's skin then it can't be all bad. I was put off by the first chapter. I didn't see the need for the analogy and felt it was contrived, to give a punchy title, and was exploitative of the person she interviewed who had had shock therapy. I already knew about the US torturing people and its not something I enjoy reading about.

Then I went back to it and started to appreciate its breadth - Katrina was definitely interesting and the break up of the public school system was news to me. The South African chapter was also really interesting.
I started to read Stiglitz's "Making Globalism Work" in parallel and they were both the better for the interrelationship.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:13 am

I wonder if Cookie has read Stiglitz. Stiglitz seems to be a Keynesian who has forgotten the difficulties that Keynesianism experienced, including war and inflation. He says things would have been even worse without it. I'm looking forward to reading more to see if he will convince me. The one think I think Cookie got right was that there were economic problems before neocons came along. Its just that their solution was to enrich themselves at the expense of fairly general mayhem and destruction and much more poverty (both in numbers of extremely poor people and as a percentage).

Naomi Klein takes a different line - she obviously doesn't think Keynesianism can work now that the Communist states have gone.
She says (page 253) "Those normal European countries (with their strong social safety nets, workers protections, powerful trades unions and socialised health care) emerged as a compromise between Communism and Capitalism. Now there was no need for compromise...."
"This liberation from all constraints is, in essence, Chicago School economics (otherwise known as neoliberalism or, in the U.S., neoconservatism): not some new invention but capitalism stripped of its Keynsian appendages, capitalism in its monopoly phase,a system that has let itself go - that no longer has to work to keep its customers, that can be as antisocial, antidemocratic and boorish as it wants. As long as Communism was a threat, the gentleman's agreement that was Keynesianism would live on: once that system lost ground all traces of compromise could finally be eradicated, thereby fulfilling the purist goal Friedman had set our for his movement half a century earlier."
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:18 am

Reading the first page or so of the Chapter on South Africa - 'Democracy Born in Chains' - I can see why cookiemonster might have been a bit jaded by the book. It's terribly idealistic and utopian: gangs of oppressed people all coming together in a perfect model of political anarchy and sorting out the country's problems on the back of an envelope.

It reminds me of a book I read called 'We are Everywhere', written by the kind of people who frequent Indymedia and protest marches. It was all about how they were going to sort out the world the proper way. Again, no negativity was allowed.

I thought the first chapter worked well enough as a comparison to shock economics, both in its method and its anticipated aims. I mean the electro-shock therapy of the fifties, I have a feeling the practice has developed somewhat since then.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:28 am

905 wrote:
Reading the first page or so of the Chapter on South Africa - 'Democracy Born in Chains' - I can see why cookiemonster might have been a bit jaded by the book. It's terribly idealistic and utopian: gangs of oppressed people all coming together in a perfect model of political anarchy and sorting out the country's problems on the back of an envelope.

It reminds me of a book I read called 'We are Everywhere', written by the kind of people who frequent Indymedia and protest marches. It was all about how they were going to sort out the world the proper way. Again, no negativity was allowed.

I thought the first chapter worked well enough as a comparison to shock economics, both in its method and its anticipated aims. I mean the electro-shock therapy of the fifties, I have a feeling the practice has developed somewhat since then.

The direct chain of connection between the lunatic guy who invented it as a means of "restructuring the personality" with the intelligence services who used it for torture was interesting.

What I paid attention to in the South African bit was the extent to which the key economic decisions slipped out of the hands of the South African government, or at least the ANC. Do you not see some comparison with the powerlessness of the Irish government in relation to economic measures - currency, interest rate, intervention in the market and so on?
(Although of course the decision to cut taxes in an inflationary boom was a National decision we made that undoubtedly made it all worse).

I share you taste for an objective tone. I think the material ought to ( and generally does ) speak for itself. I also think the book is short on solutions, but then it doesn't really set out to offer an alternative, just to give a damning description and indictment of neconservatism. I think it does achieve that. Have you read Stiglitz? He has far more of an insider's view having been chief economist of the World Bank, but sometimes it would be hard to tell Klein and Stiglitz apart in terms of their critique of the actions of the IMF and World Bank.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:36 am

It happened again, I lost a well-written post. Here's the gist: Stiglitz, who I'm re-reading, would be a Keynesian, but I'm sure he's looked at all the angles. There's a difference between neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism. They were hardly fair in handing out their contracts for example. I was teasing about Patten, he's an obsessive Thatcherite. But he loathes the neocons, from an economic point of view as well as on general principle.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:40 am

I haven't read the current book but I did read Globalisation and its discontents few years ago. I mostly agree with his criticism of the IMF in it (if not so scathing) but then I have so often been critical of the IMF. I may be one of those neoliberal types, but I'm also a pluralist and open to reason and discussion why and were neoliberal policy will and won't work. But Klein's ABC (Anything but Capitalism) attitube just grinds my gears. 
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:42 am

I've met Patten, so I know the form.
What is the difference between neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism? Will Stiglitz explain?

In Ireland we didn't really have the same experience of Swedish/UK style Keynesianism with comprehensive free health care, schooling and loads of good public services.
That makes it harder to see the effects of neo-whichever.
So far as I can see it is about a few bastards having everything. That has been masked here by inflationary boom. When the tide goes out the wreckage will be on full view.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:46 am

Neoconservatism is a political philosophy, neoliberalism is purely an economic one. 
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:48 am

Mmmm, well I think cactus flower is right, she doesn't offer any alternatives, not that she claims to. In that sense she's better than 'We Are Everywhere', who simply thought they offered alternatives but... oh dear God in heaven. I'm sure Stiglitz will come up with a few alternatives. I have to read four more chapters of thwe Iliad before I can take him up again though.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:48 am

cookiemonster wrote:
Neoconservatism is a political philosophy, neoliberalism is purely an economic one. 

Would they be held by the same person? Do they agree with each other?
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:56 am

cactus flower wrote:
cookiemonster wrote:
Neoconservatism is a political philosophy, neoliberalism is purely an economic one. 

Would they be held by the same person? Do they agree with each other?
Depends, Most Neoconservatives would have a neoliberal approach to economics (ie transfer of economic control from state to private enterprise) but would also be - for the most part - socially conservative. However, not all neoliberals are Neoconservatives, like me for example and I am also a social liberal, but not quite a  libertarian. 
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:03 am

cookiemonster wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
cookiemonster wrote:
Neoconservatism is a political philosophy, neoliberalism is purely an economic one. 

Would they be held by the same person? Do they agree with each other?
Depends, Most Neoconservatives would have a neoliberal approach to economics (ie transfer of economic control from state to private enterprise) but would also be - for the most part - socially conservative. However, not all neoliberals are Neoconservatives, like me for example and I am also a social liberal, but not quite a  libertarian. 

That's crystal clear cookiemonster. I'll try and finish one of the Stiglitz's this week - I'm enjoying the nice clear who does what stuff in his books.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:09 am

See, I'm not an ultra-conservative, rabid pro-life right wing nutjob after all!
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:28 pm



Somewhere nice and cool and airy, if anyone wants to talk books tonight. I've have "Making Globalism Work" with me - Naomi Klein's book is hiding under a sofa somewhere. Both books have made the World Trade Talks a little less obscure.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:33 pm

I have to say my purchase of "The Great Deception" made the Eurosceptic mind a little less obscure. It's a great read, though it's something you'd really need to approach with contraception since it's quite dogmatic in its views about Europe and Britain's place in it.
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PostSubject: Re: MN Summer Book Club Choice- Stiglitz and Klein   Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:41 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
I have to say my purchase of "The Great Deception" made the Eurosceptic mind a little less obscure. It's a great read, though it's something you'd really need to approach with contraception since it's quite dogmatic in its views about Europe and Britain's place in it.

Does it explain why so much of Britain thinks it doesn't think it needs Europe? Are they doing a balancing act between Europe and the USA? Even a home market of 60 million or so is not that much in today's global terms.
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