system two

system two
start-up thinking in the enterprise

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Shock in reverse....

I enjoy Naomi Klein's books. Plato it ain’t, but Fences and Windows was a particularly interesting read – the literary equivalent of the difficult second album delivered in an understated, thoughtful and well researched way. Her example of the Zapatista rebels has lived with me for many years.

So although I buy the basic tenant of her new book, The Shock Doctrine (I bought it from Chomsky 30 years ago but it bears repeating) - she’s wrong about this particular economic shock. Or rather, she’s wrong about outcomes.

What we are witnessing in the US is the shock doctrine going awry. The angry, spasmodic, almost primal reaction to Obama, like that first tickle in your throat before a flu, just doesn’t feel right. As it loses shape, for the first time in many years, the military industrial complex appears to be genuinely rattled.

This shock, whether orchestrated by design or negligence (although of course initially welcomed by elites) has resulted in unpleasant, disappointing and unforeseen outcomes for them. Whether because of the sheer scale of the upheaval, the time since the last or because of the transformation of everyday lives by digital, social technology – things have not gone to plan.

Having weathered the storm, printed money and safeguarded the interests of the rich, the alternative political colour is meant to get all hot and bothered, question the status quo, champion the cause of the disgruntled majority and then do noting until the storm had passed.

Instead an aberration. A glitch. The most leftfield of presidents, tolerated as a token also-ran to the safe pair of Clinton hands, storms the barricades. Poor minorities deciding to vote – this will never do….

Having dropped into the white house on a black swan of genuine populist feeling, this anomaly, this messiah to the majority, now looks, frankly ridiculous to many Americans. We are living through the political equivalent of the awkward morning after a one night stand, taking a shower and finding your underwear. This guy actually wants to change stuff. Shock is meant to drain, not charge political batteries......

No Guantanamo – well ok, was bad for business anyway.

Green issues – ditto.

UK style healthcare – well, kind of but we’ll tear the guts out of it in committee.

No European Missile shield - hang on a moment!

A wide ranging review of all military spending? Are you mad? You stop that Boy and you stop America - that $623,000,000,000 a year defines us....

This is shock gone wrong. We might hope it is a precursor to a new 21st century. One molded in a more human form, around sustainable, connected, diverse, balanced lives. But we shouldn't hold our breath....

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