Magazine article Management Today

Books: To War with Capitalism

Magazine article Management Today

Books: To War with Capitalism

Article excerpt

While this is a solid, well-researched rebuke to our times, its adversarial approach reduces the prospects of a receptive audience, says Magnus Goodlad.

This Changes Everything

Naomi Klein

Allan Lane, pounds 20

Capitalism vs the Climate is the subtitle for Naomi Klein's third book The reader is not left in suspense for long as to which side the author will take, or about the style of her approach. The introduction places Sarah Palin in the capitalism corner, against the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the climate corner. Klein's latest book is broader in scope than her first two, No Logo, which set out in powerful terms the consequences and casualties of multinational corporate globalisation, and The Shock Doctrine, an equally strident assault on government use of political dislocation to introduce or accelerate market liberalism, but encounters many common foes and is written in a similarly iconoclastic style.

This Changes Everything is a thorough, well-researched and in many ways impressive book. Naomi Klein works at the Donna Tartt as opposed to the Barbara Taylor Bradford rate of literary output, with intervals of seven to eight years between publications. This is evident in the breadth of her coverage of a complex and important subject. The book has many sensible conclusions but I fear its impact will be lessened by its polemical, at times almost conspiracy theorist tone towards 'an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process and most of our major media outlets'. Frustration over inaction and short-termist 'quarterly capitalism', with decisions driven by the next quarterly earnings statement, although often entirely justified, reduces the impact of an otherwise powerful and well-argued message.

Klein describes the 'denigration of collective action and veneration of the profit motive' as having 'infiltrated virtually every government on the planet, every media organisation, every university, our very souls' This has more of the stern rebuke from the comfort of permanent opposition, the Tony Benn of later years, than the desire to engage constructively and work with such institutions on near-term achievable measures. Let not the best be the enemy of the good.

She correctly challenges the relentless pursuit of GDP growth as an outmoded and increasingly dangerous way of measuring the relative strength of economies. She illustrates some of the harmful consequences, a theme also echoed by Al Gore in his equally compelling but far more measured treatise, The Future, released last year. …

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