Posts Tagged 'psychology'

The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, by Erich Fromm

Regarded as one of Fromm’s masterworks, this book mixes psychology, palaeontology and anthropology in its endeavour to address a simple question: why are humans violent? The underlying answer for Fromm is rooted in this social animal’s general condition of unfreedom since the Neolithic revolution some 10,000 years ago. In lengthy meanderings he takes in animal behavioural science, sketches the structure of Neolithic society and produces psychological biographies of Hitler, Stalin and Himmler. But for large parts of the book his central argument takes a back seat. While much of the material is fascinating its fragmentary character surrenders its polemical force. SS

Pimlico; 1997; 688 pages


The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein

Comparing economic theory to psychology and CIA torture, Klein argues that neoliberalism’s rise was intimately intertwined with the notion of ‘shock’, of exploiting populations reeling from man-made or human disasters to implement reforms beneficial to capital. Klein charts the global progress of such ‘shock treatments’ and argues a new form of economy has arisen in recent years: disaster capitalism. It’s a neat formulation but it’s ultimately unconvincing; many of Klein’s examples actually undermine her thesis. Nevertheless, with her customary tight prose the ‘No Logo’ author marshals an impressive array of facts which serve to make this a frequently fascinating history. SS

Picador USA; 2008; 720 pages

Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell