The Best of Times? The Worst of Times?

Whether we live in the best of times or the worst of times (or both), no doubt we do live in both the blessing and curse of exceedingly interesting times. At the “worst of times” end of the scale, we find the “shock doctrine” and the rise of “disaster capitalism” as promulgated by Naomi Klein. Her book The Shock Doctrine is now out in paperback. If you’re not familiar with this, check out the first video below and/or the book at Amazon. The film is gritty, definitely polemical, but can open a worthwhile space for reflection on the history of the last 30 years as well as the current administration’s responses to the economic “shocks” of the failure of capital markets and the rapid rise of oil prices.

For a much more optimistic view of the world, take a look at the second video. Paul Hawken gives a brief introduction to his narrative of “blessed unrest” which he develops in his book of the same name, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World. His enormous claim is well captured in the subtitle. Thanks to Chauncey Bell for his gift of a copy of the book.

The third video presents Hawken elaborating his story of blessed unrest for an hour at Authors@Google.

Both interpretations lie on the margins of the usual narratives about our times. The interesting stuff usually does. While I have issues with both, I’m happy to have them helping me in constructing an understanding of our world and in navigating in it.

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