Posts tagged Thinking

“The Porcupine” by Julian Barnes

What I liked about this book was the complexity of its characters. It tells the story of a former Communist dictator being put on trial by the new democratic government. In another author’s hands, it could have been unbearable. The Cold War is often viewed in simplistic terms: we won, they lost, democracy=good, communism=evil. It would have been easy to make the characters into cardboard cutouts, the dictator into some kind of James Bond villain. The reality, of course, is that nobody thinks of himself as evil. We might think… Read More

Excited

I am staying up to watch the US election results. It probably won’t be decided until 4 or 5am UK time, but I wouldn’t miss it. The early results are good. I’m not optimistic that Obama will bring great changes – even if he really wanted to, the system would make it very difficult. I doubt he will seriously address the basic problem of growing economic inequality. But still, it’s important to me to see Americans voting for something good for a change. After 9/11, when I lived there, fear… Read More

The Shock Doctrine

New Left Review 48 carries an interesting review by Michael Hardt (co-author of “Empire”) of Naomi Klein’s new book The Shock Doctrine. Makes me want to read the book. Klein, according to Hardt, draws a parallel between the electric shock therapy of the 1950s and the neoliberal doctrine of economic shock therapy. Electric shocks to the brain were thought to disorient patients and destroy their existing psychic structures, creating a clean slate from which to build up a new, more amenable personality. The same is now being done on an… Read More