It might be going too far to say that Naomi Klein makes globalization fun. But the Canadian journalist does make highly engaging reading out of such nonsexy topics as how transnational corporations' marketing and money came to dominate our public life. Her 1999 book No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies even dares to be hopeful. Klein sees a grassroots global movement forming-in the streets, yes, but also in shareholders' meetings, workplaces, universities, even sweatshops-to demand "a citizen-centered alternative to the international rule of the brands."
Klein is as careful to note the excesses and co-option of some anti-corporate activism as she is to detail the dire conditions of a sweatshop or deflate corporate image-mongering. But she is certain that anti-corporate efforts are a vital part of achieving human rights and just government around the world, and that such efforts are on the increase. She talked in December 2000 with Sojourners' Julie Polter about the challenges and potential in building a movement that refuses to be branded.
JULIE Polter: Some people dismiss anti-globalization protests such as those in Seattle in November 1999 as just kids breaking windows. Is part of your work to help build credibility for this movement?
NAOMI Klein: Everybody who's involved in this movement spends a lot of time just correcting misconceptions, not just about tactics but about why people are protesting. This is a much bigger concern to me-the fact that a lot of the media coverage presents the protests as narrowly protectionist and nostalgic.
The main challenge for the movement in general is to communicate the goals of the movement better. Not just to the media, but to friends, colleagues, in organizing in general. I've been trying to do my part.