Naomi Klein

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Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein (b. May 8, 1970, Montreal, Quebec) is a Jewish journalist, author and activist in Canada, well known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization.

Family

Klein was brought up in a Jewish family which has a history of Left-wing activism, as does that of her husband, Avi Lewis. Her paternal grandparents were Marxists who began to turn against the Soviet Union with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and had abandoned Communism entirely by 1956.[1] Her grandfather, an artist, was fired from Disney for labour organizing.[1] Her father Michael, a physician, was a Vietnam War resister (her parents moved from the U.S. to Canada to avoid the draft[2]) and a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility.[1] Her mother, film-maker Bonnie Sherr Klein, directed and scripted the anti-pornography documentary film, Not a Love Story.[3][4] Her brother Seth is director of the British Columbia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Her in-laws are Michele Landsberg and Stephen Lewis, son of David Lewis. An aunt of Lewis's is married to architect Daniel Libeskind.

Early career

Klein's writing career started early with contributions to The Varsity, a University of Toronto student newspaper, where she served as editor-in-chief. She credits the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre of female engineering students for her wake-up call to feminism.[5] She dropped out of the University of Toronto to become an intern at the Toronto Globe and Mail, followed by an editorship at This Magazine.

Career in journalism

In 2000, Klein published the book No Logo, which for many became a manifesto of the anti-corporate globalization movement. In it, she attacks brand-oriented consumer culture by describing the operations of large corporations. She also accuses several such corporations of unethically exploiting workers in the world's poorest countries in pursuit of greater profits. In this book, Klein criticized Nike so severely that Nike published a point-by-point response.[6] No Logo became an international bestseller, selling over one million copies in over 28 languages.[7]

In 2002 Klein published Fences and Windows, a collection of her articles and speeches written on behalf of the anti-globalization movement (all proceeds from the book go to benefit activist organizations through The Fences and Windows Fund). Klein also contributes to The Nation, In These Times, The Globe and Mail, This Magazine, and The Guardian.

She has continued to write on various current issues, such as the war in Iraq. In a September 2004 article for Harper's Magazine entitled Baghdad Year Zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia,[8] she argues that, contrary to popular belief, the Bush administration did have a clear plan for post-invasion Iraq, which was to build a completely unconstrained free market economy. She describes plans to allow foreigners to extract wealth from Iraq, and the methods used to achieve those goals.[9][10] The 2008 film War, Inc. was partially inspired by her article, Baghdad Year Zero.[11]

In 2004, Klein and her husband, Avi Lewis, released a documentary film called The Take about factory workers in Argentina who took over a closed plant and resumed production, operating as a collective. The first African screening was in the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the South African city of Durban, where the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement began.[12]

Klein ranked 11th in an internet poll [13][14][15] of the top global intellectuals of 2005, a list of the world's top 100 public intellectuals compiled by the Prospect magazine[16] in conjunction with Foreign Policy magazine. She was the highest ranked woman on the list.

The Shock Doctrine

Klein's third book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, was published on September 4, 2007, becoming an international and New York Times bestseller[7] translated into 20 languages.[17] The book argues that the free market policies of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics have risen to prominence in countries such as Chile under Pinochet, Russia under Yeltsin and the United States. The book also argues that policy initiatives such as the privatization of Iraq's economy under the Coalition Provisional Authority were pushed through while the citizens of these countries were in shock from disasters or upheavals. It is also claimed that these shocks are in some cases, such as the Falklands war, created with the intention of being able to push through these unpopular reforms in the wake of the crisis.

The Shock Doctrine was also adapted into a short film of the same name, released onto YouTube. The film was directed by Jonás Cuarón, produced and co-written by his father Alfonso Cuarón. The video has been viewed over one million times.[7]

Other activities

Klein once lectured as a Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics.[18]

Klein was the keynote speaker at the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians (ACJC)'s first National conference.

Criticism

Klein has been criticized by The Economist, which noted that her books have been bestsellers and she has profited from them,[19] though in response to this style of criticism Klein has complained of a tendency to 'ignore the reporting, attack the author'.[20] Johan Norberg has criticized what he described as flaws in The Shock Doctrine. He pointed out instances in which he believes Klein has distorted history and he criticized the book for what he said was a misleading presentation of Milton Friedman's views and actions.[21] Reviewing the book, Jonathan Chait (senior editor of The New Republic) criticized Klein for employing "an extremely crude sort of Marxist economicism," ignoring facts that contradicted her thesis, and "pay[ing] shockingly (but, given her premises, unsurprisingly) little attention to right-wing ideas."[22]

Klein argued that Norberg's and Chait's criticism have been largely fraudulent, arguing that 'most of the attacks on The Shock Doctrine involve manufacturing claims, falsely attributing them to me, then handily tearing them down' and complaining that such criticisms have been overly personal. She wrote: 'Again and again, readers of The New Republic are left with the distinct impression that The Shock Doctrine is a work of opinion journalism, rather than a thesis based on research and reporting.'[23]

Norberg has subsequently responded to Klein's defense.[24]

Klein has been criticized for her portrayal of Peron in her documentary film The Take, which makes him appear to be a social democrat.[25]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/08/081208fa_fact_macfarquhar?currentPage=all
  2. http://departmentofculture.ca/video-naomi-klein-at-last-nights-town-hall/
  3. Not a Love Story: A Motion Picture About Pornography. 
  4. DiCaprio, Lisa (March 1985). "Not a Love Story: The film and the debate". Jump Cut (30): 39–42. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
  5. The Montreal Massacre. Bigthink.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  6. Nike's response to No Logo. Nike (2000-03-08). Archived from the original on 2001-06-18.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Nation | Unconventional Wisdom Since 1865
  8. Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia. Harper's Magazine. The Harper's Magazine Foundation (September 2004). Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
  9. Interview by Amy Goodman about Klein's article, "James Baker's Double Life", October 13, 2004 (video, audio & print transcript)
  10. PBS Frontline: The Persuaders: interview via KQED, November 9, 2004
  11. 'I'm basically a brand' | Interviews | guardian.co.uk Film
  12. "Seattle to Baghdad" - An assessment of Klein's shift from analyzing 90's corporate culture to the War in Iraq, by Kim Phillips-Fein in n+1 magazine.
  13. Herman, David (November 2005). Global public intellectuals poll. Prospect Magazine. Prospect Publishing Limited.
  14. What Are We Fighting For? January 27, 2005
  15. Democratic Rights in Wartime Feb, 2005
  16. Prospect Magazine List of Top 100 Public Intellectuals. Prospect Magazine. Prospect Publishing Limited. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
  17. RandomHouse.ca | Author Spotlight: Naomi Klein
  18. Visiting teaching fellows. London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
  19. Naomi Klein and her flawed brand of anti-brandism The Economist
  20. "One Year After the Publication of the Shock Doctrine, A Response to the Attacks" by Naomi Klein
  21. "The Klein Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Polemics" by Johan Norberg
  22. http://www.tnr.com/story_print.html?id=69067f1c-d089-474b-a8a0-945d1deb420b
  23. "One Year After the Publication of The Shock Doctrine, A Response to the Attacks" by Naomi Klein.
  24. "Three Days After Klein's Response, Another Attack" by Johan Norberg
  25. http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/7824

See also