Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Meet Noreena. She is the owner of web page Noreena is not a pop singer who has dropped her last name or taken on a catchy artistic pseudonym. No, she is a bona fide British economist who back in 2001 published a book with the ominous title, The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy. Her Wikipedia entry mentions that according to the UK media she “combines striking beauty with a formidable mind.” So we should be hardly surprised that Noreena has, at this point, achieved near celebrity status - and appeared on numerous chat shows.

Noreena’s first book invited obvious comparisons to Naomi – Klein, not Campbell. Now, however, Noreena has a very different monograph out, Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World. This is a self-help book which breaks down effective decision making into several distinct “Steps” (capitalized). Following these Steps is said to lead to better decisions in our capacity as parents, patients, investors, etc. My sense is that Noreena invites readers to overthink everything. She does make a nod to research indicating that some emotional response is essential to sound judgment, her heart is obviously not in it.

Noreena is understandably keen to promote her new work in an overcrowded marketplace. So she has hit all sorts of media outlets and the corporate lecturing circuit (including but – I assume – not limited to TED) with gusto. Meanwhile, I keep wondering about one thing. How can one so smoothly shift from exposing the evil at the heart of the global capitalist Matrix to the bland promise of “self-empowerment” – or becoming more self-controlled, upbeat, and fitter cogs in the same capitalist machine? Could it merely be the wisdom of middle age? I dearly wish I knew the answer – and then perhaps I wouldn’t be so snarky.