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Book Review: "Doppelgänger" by Naomi Klein

3/5 - not perfect for Klein, but definitely better than Wolf...

By Annie KapurPublished about a month ago 5 min read
From: Amazon

“Narcissism(Grandiosity) + Social media addiction + Midlife crisis ÷ Public shaming = Right-wing meltdown.”

- "Doppelgänger" by Naomi Klein

I would like to start with the fact that initially, I had no desire to read this book. I read the first chapter quite a few months ago - the introduction - and I thought it was terribly written no much how much I actually agreed with it. However, after reading No Logo by the same author, I decided to force my way through it. I am glad I did. After the introduction, the book gets so much better. But it also freezes up again in places in which the argument is enlighted, but the phrasing is poor and sounds more like a rant than an analysis.

As Naomi Klein makes her latest appearance (pun intended), she goes through how often she has been mistaken for Naomi Wolf, right-wing libertarian author of The Beauty Myth. Going through the COVID conspiracies, Klein states that though she had never spread a single one of these conspiracies - Wolf had.

Here is a comment I wish to make: before reading this book, I knew about the confusion between the two women but have never actually been confused myself. This was mainly because I knew what both women looked like and in my head, they were completely different people. I admittedly run into Wolf's works more than I do Klein's as I read The Beauty Myth whilst at university. I only started reading Klein more recently and was less familiar with her written works, knowing her appearances, talks and the sounds and styles of her more than her essays and research. Wolf, on the other hand, I had never really listened to. I had only read her.

From: Amazon

Klein then goes through how lockdowns made this confusion worse as their digital avatars became representatives for their authentic selves. People were reduced from personalities with lives to boxes with a limited word count on a child-like billionaire's personal playground. Though both women sit on opposite sides of the political spectrum with Klein advocating for Bernie Sanders and Wolf standing close to righ-wing nutjobs like Steve Bannon, both of them are distrusting of elite powers in public health (especially regarding the USA and its capitalist structure for medical care).

This makes everything especially difficult during lockdown as these problems are amplified and both women are genuinely saying the same things but are stuck on different sides of politics. Klein is interested in how the USA can actually work a public health system but seems completely disinterested in doing so as it will not protect the pockets of the elite. Wolf is a conspiracy theorist who pushes harmful theories about what the government has put in the vaccine to control the general population and how vaccine passports will help with that.

This brings us on to the social media argument in which Naomi Klein states that it is a huge place where everyone is trying to show that they are unique, all in the same way. We become ascribed and associated in a method of personal branding. And all of this involves having already read Naomi Klein's No Logo - which I find terribly ironic just as she does. I find that this is a weird tangent to go off on to but may explain why she keeps getting mixed up with Naomi Wolf. However, it makes for a bloated and shaky argument no matter how much I like reading it. I did however prefer when she started talking about social media policing being a threat to democracy no matter which side of the political spectrum you believe in.

From: The New York Times

I think a lot of her arguments made about social media and personal branding require you to have read No Logo and so, they tend to look a little hollow to the person who hasn't read it. It then becomes very repetitive for those who have read it. I actually wish that part where cut from the book because it linked to the overall arguments in very, very shaky ways. She could have discussed the basis of getting mixed up with Wolf on a Jewish Female basis more because honestly, that part was a lot shorter in my opinion but held more weight.

Naomi Wolf went through a virtual death during the lockdown years which was the reason she ended up working with Steve Bannon and so, Klein looks at this as part of Wolf's 'grift' in which she is becoming a mouthpiece for these weird conspiracy theories based purely on her own experience with being policed by social media. Now, this is all well and good, but when she goes off on a tangent about January 6th, I felt like I would die inside because it goes on forever without making any major arguments. This is kind of how I felt about The Beauty Myth too ironically. It could be a little shorter and not go off on to weird tangents that make no sense.

A point I did enjoy reading was how Steve Bannon even gets an audience. He uses a process of 'othering' to identify his audience as outliers, making them feel as though they are a special part of something bigger than them. It is the same technique that exclusionary religions use to rake in more people into their systems and agendas. The idea of being the 'chosen few' often makes people more inclined to do what the speaker wants and though Wolf may not utilise this, Bannon definitely does.

From: Penguin Books Australia

Steve Bannon's right-wing grifter status only rose when he was found out to be a raging racist and so, ironically, his words have become more popular with minorities. Honestly, I'm just surprised he still has a platform with the amount of lies he tells almost consistently. I can take Ben Shapiro, I cannot take Steve Bannon and his strange nostalgia for the days where Black people didn't have any rights whatsoever. He lies in the regions of Alex Jones for me - a conspiracy theorist who has turned themselves into a caricature of American Conservatism.

From her Jewishness to her stance on climate change, from Bernie Sanders to COVID lockdowns, from warrior-mums of the USA, to disappearing down the alt-right rabbit hole, from QAnon and January 6th to Occupy Wall Street - Naomi Klein basically gives us every last detail of why she's being mistaken for Naomi Wolf and why this is probably not a good idea for her own personal brand of left-wing liberalism. Though it is a slug to get through at times, it does make some very good points and features a lot of Klein's own witty journalism as we stroll through various aspects of her life. Understandable although sometimes slow, it gets average marks for its efforts in explaining 'the mirror world'.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

Secondary English Teacher & Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

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Comments (1)

  • angela hepworthabout a month ago

    As someone who has indeed confused the two, I might have to read this! Also, hard agree on the Steve being Alex Jones levels of bad for me as well. That guy sucks.

Annie KapurWritten by Annie Kapur

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