Takedown: The Thomas Friedman Edition

Thomas Friedman is a hack.  Thomas Friedman has always been a hack.  And if past performance is any indicator of future performance, Thomas Friedman will always be a hack.

Why do people in power believe Thomas Friedman is anything other than a hack?  Robert Jensen, in an interview with the author of  The Emperor’s Messenger Has No Clothes, Belén Fernández, says

The answer is simple: Friedman tells the privileged, and those who aspire to privilege, what they want to hear in a way that makes them feel smart; his trumpeting of US affluence and power are sprinkled with pithy-though-empty anecdotes, padded with glib turns of phrases. He’s the perfect oracle for a management-focused, advertising-saturated, dumbed-down, imperial culture that doesn’t want to come to terms with the systemic and structural reasons for its decline. In Friedman’s world, we’re always one clichéd big idea away from the grand plan that will allow us to continue to pretend to be the shining city upon the hill that we have always imagined we were/are/will be again.

Damn… That’s gonna leave a mark.

Perhaps the most inane imperial justification ever proffered by Friedman was this little ditty.

Then we of course have the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention, which posits that no two countries that host McDonald’s establishments have gone to war with each other since each acquired its McDonald’s. This delightful discovery regarding the harmonious effects of American fast food and US corporate dominance is cast into doubt when, shortly after the theory’s birth, 19 McDonald’s-possessing NATO countries go to war with McDonald’s-possessing Yugoslavia.


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4 thoughts on “Takedown: The Thomas Friedman Edition

  1. You seem to have misunderstood Friedman’s relationship to the Golden Arches Theory. Not only didn’t he invent it, but the paragraph of his that you quote refutes it.

    1. Sorry, my misunderstanding. I see that you’re quoting the critic, not Friedman. (My memory is that Friedman himself actually disavowed the rigor of the McDonald’s theory in one of his books. It looks like he disavowed it as a ironclad rule in the 2000 edition of “The Lexus and the Olive Tree”–the edition I read.

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