“The Future” is Here and It’s Really Shocking

Back in the Seventies, a wave of “futurists” analyzed forces at work in society and speculated on their consequences. If you were around at the time, you might have read “Future Shock” by Alvin Toffler; it sold more than 6 million copies.

Canadian author and film maker Naomi Klein probably didn’t buy Toffler’s book; she wasn’t even born until 1970. But she has carried on the tradition of the futurists – which I suppose really began with prophets like Jeremiah, a few thousand years earlier, and continued through writers like Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.

I see Naomi Klein as a “futurist” because the trends she describes in her books point the way to likely events – some of which are already beginning to take shape.

And I believe one such “likely event” is the collapse and reinvention of American society.

In “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,”  which was published in 2007, Klein (pictured above, right, with husband, Avi Lewis) examines the global rise of “free market” democracy.

And she explains in detail how wars, terror attacks, economic meltdowns, competing ideologies, political and economic shifts, and natural disasters have been exploited to impose neoliberal fundamentalism around the world.

She calls it the “shock doctrine.”

Klein argues that it is easier to impose radical “free-market” policies when the citizens of a country are in shock. She describes this as part of a capitalist strategy called “creative destruction.”

I would describe America today as being “in shock” – from the Nine-Eleven attacks and their aftermath, devastating military adventures, an economic meltdown, massive and unrelenting unemployment, and all the resulting misery and anxiety.

And I wonder whether unseen hands are skillfully manipulating political and social trends to produce “creative destruction” as the prelude to a Brave New World in which the power of global corporations is unchallenged, and where the welfare of mere people is sacrificed to the Golden Calf of profit (illustration, above left, is “Adoration of the Golden Calf” by Nicolas Poussin).