Naomi Klein

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Naomi Klein

Born May 8, 1970 (1970-05-08) (age 38)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Occupation journalist, author, activist
Subjects anti-globalization
Spouse(s) Avi Lewis
Official website

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


[edit] Family

Naomi Klein was brought up in a Jewish family with a history of left-wing activism. Her parents moved to Montreal, Canada from the USA in 1967 as war resisters to the Vietnam War.[1] Her mother, documentary film-maker Bonnie Sherr Klein, is best known for her anti-pornography film Not a Love Story.[2] Her father, Michael Klein, is a physician and a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Her brother Seth Klein is director of the British Columbia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Her paternal grandparents were Communists who began to turn against the Soviet Union after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and had abandoned Communism by 1956. In 1942 her grandfather Phil Klein, an animator at Disney's, was fired as an agitator after the Disney animators' strike,[3] and went to work at a shipyard instead. Klein's father grew up surrounded by ideas of social justice and racial equality, but found it "difficult and frightening to be the child of Communists", a so-called red diaper baby.[4]

Klein's husband, Avi Lewis, comes from a similar leftist background. He is a TV journalist and documentary filmmaker. His parents are the writer and activist Michele Landsberg and politician and diplomat Stephen Lewis, son of David Lewis, one of the founders of the Canadian New Democratic Party, son in turn of Moishe Lewis, born Losz, a Jewish labour activist of "the Bund" who left Eastern Europe for Canada in 1921.[5]

Klein and her husband live in Toronto.

[edit] Early life

Klein spent her teenage years as a mall rat, obsessed by designer logos.[6] As a child and teenager, she found it "very oppressive to have a very public feminist mother" and she rejected politics, instead embracing "full-on consumerism". She credits two crises with changing her outlook. First of all, when she was 17 and preparing for the University of Toronto, her mother had a stroke and became severely disabled.[7] Naomi, along with her father and brother, took care of Bonnie through the period in hospital and at home, making educational sacrifices to do so.[7] That year off stopped her "from being such a brat".[6]

She made it the next year to UofT, when the second event unfolded. The 1989 École Polytechnique massacre of female engineering students proved her wake-up call to feminism.[8][6]

Klein's writing career started early with contributions to The Varsity, a student newspaper, where she served as editor-in-chief. She dropped out of university to become an intern at the Toronto Globe and Mail, followed by an editorship at This Magazine, the Canadian equivalent of the US-american The Nation.[4]

[edit] Career in journalism

[edit] No Logo

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 to perceived inaccuracies.[9] No Logo became an international bestseller, selling over one million copies in over 28 languages.[10]

[edit] Fences and Windows

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.

[edit] Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia

Klein has written on various current issues, such as the Iraq War. In a September 2004 article for Harper's Magazine,[11] 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.[12][13] The 2008 film War, Inc. was partially inspired by her article, Baghdad Year Zero.[14]

[edit] The Take

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.[15]

[edit] 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[10] translated into 20 languages.[16] 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 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.[10]

The publication of the book took her career and public profile to new highs on both sides of the Atlantic, with the New Yorker judging her "the most visible and influential figure on the American left — what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were thirty years ago." On the 24th February 2009, the book was awarded the inaugural Warwick Prize for Writing from the University of Warwick in England.

[edit] Other activities

Klein once lectured as a Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics.[17]

Klein was the keynote speaker at the first national conference of the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians. In light of the Israeli bombing of Gaza in January 2009, Klein made the case for a boycott of Israel to bring about the "end of the occupation", in line with the mass movement against South African apartheid.[18]

Klein ranked 11th in an internet poll[19][20][21] of the top global intellectuals of 2005, a list of the world's top 100 public intellectuals compiled by the Prospect magazine[22] in conjunction with Foreign Policy magazine. She was the highest ranked woman on the list.

[edit] Criticism

Klein has been criticized by The Economist, which claims Klein ignores the good capitalism does in the world and holds naive or nebulous ideas for alternatives.[23] In response, Klein has described a tendency to 'ignore the reporting, attack the author'.[24] 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.[25] Reviewing the book, Jonathan Chait (senior editor of the 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."[26]

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 noting 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.'[24] Norberg has subsequently responded to Klein's defense.[27]

Klein has also been criticised from the left. She was criticized in Z Communications for her portrayal of Peron in her documentary film The Take, which they felt made him appear to be a social democrat.[28] Also, her August 2004 Nation column 'Bring Najaf to New York' was cited by several prominent liberal opinion makers as an example of left minded people making excuses for far right movements. Klein argued that Muqtada Al Sadr's Mahdi Army "represents the overwhelmingly mainstream sentiment in Iraq."[29] She went on to say "Yes, if elected Sadr would try to turn Iraq into a theocracy like Iran, but for now his demands are for direct elections and an end to foreign occupation".[29]

Christopher Hitchens, a former Nation columnist, responded, calling her position on the Iraq War "reactionary" and arguing that Klein, along with Tariq Ali and Michael Moore were "fellow travelers with fascism"[30] (as he alleges that Ali had called for 'solidarity' with the insurgency, and Moore had compared Iraqi insurgents to the Minutemen). Marc Cooper, also a former Nation columnist, attacked the assertion that Al Sadr represented mainstream Iraqi sentiment and that American forces had brought the fight to the holy city of Najaf.[31] He wrote "Klein should know better. All enemies of the U.S. occupation she opposes are not her friends. Or ours. Or those of the Iraqi people. I don’t think that Mullah Al Sadr, in any case, is much desirous of support issuing from secular Jewish feminist-socialists."[31] Norman Geras wrote on his blog, "Klein's willing to cut him [Al Sadr] some slack. He's only a theocrat, after all, who wants to turn Iraq into a theocracy like Iran; he's not of the Republican Party".[32]

[edit] Books

[edit] Filmography

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Video: Naomi Klein at last night’s town hall". September 4, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  2. ^ Biography of Bonnie Sherr Klein (*1941): Filmmaker, Author, Disability Rights Activist Library and Archives Canada
  3. ^ Tom Sito: Disney Strike of 1941: How It Changed Animation & Comics Animation World Magazine, July 19, 2005, retrieved on March 25, 2009
  4. ^ a b Larissa MacFarquhar (December 8, 2008). "Outside Agitator: Naomi Klein and the New Left". The New Yorker. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  5. ^ Extended story by Avi Lewis: Who do you think you are? CBC television
  6. ^ a b c Katharine Viner (September 23, 2000). "Hand-To-Brand-Combat: A Profile Of Naomi Klein". The Guardian. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  7. ^ a b Bonnie Sherr Klein (Spring 1993). "We are Who You are:Feminism and Disability". Abilities. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  8. ^ "Naomi Klein: The Montreal Massacre". Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
  9. ^ "Nike's response to No Logo". Nike. 2000-03-08. Archived from the original on 2001-06-18. 
  10. ^ a b c The Nation | Unconventional Wisdom Since 1865
  11. ^ Naomi Klein (September 2004). "Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia". Harper's Magazine. The Harper's Magazine Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-09-09. 
  12. ^ Klein, Naomi. Interview with Amy Goodman. Democracy Now!. Pacifica Radio. 2004-10-13. (Interview). Retrieved on 2009-02-17.
  13. ^ Klein, Naomi. Interview. The Persuaders: Interview Naomi Klein. PBS Frontline. PBS. January 22, 2004. Retrieved on 2009-02-17.
  14. ^ Ryan Gilbey (August 31, 2007). "I'm basically a brand (article about John Cusack's career)". The Guardian.,,2159038,00.html. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  15. ^ Kim Phillips-Fein (May 10, 2005). "Seattle to Baghdad". n+1. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  16. ^ "Author Spotlight: Naomi Klein". Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  17. ^ "Visiting teaching fellows". London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved on 2007-09-09. 
  18. ^ Guardian 10 January 2009
  19. ^ Herman, David (November 2005). "Global public intellectuals poll". Prospect Magazine. Prospect Publishing Limited. 
  20. ^ Lakshmi Chaudhry (January 27, 2005). "What Are We Fighting For?". Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  21. ^ Democratic Rights in Wartime Feb, 2005[dead link]
  22. ^ "Prospect Magazine List of Top 100 Public Intellectuals". Prospect Magazine. Prospect Publishing Limited. Retrieved on 2007-09-09. 
  23. ^ Why Naomi Klein needs to grow up - The Economist, November 7, 2002
  24. ^ a b Naomi Klein (September 2nd, 2008). "One Year After the Publication of The Shock Doctrine, A Response to the Attacks". Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  25. ^ Johan Norberg (May 14, 2008). "The Klein Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Polemics". Cato Institute. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  26. ^ Jonathan Chait (July 30, 2008). "Dead Left". The New Republic. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  27. ^ Johan Norberg (September 4, 2008). "Three Days After Klein's Response, Another Attack". Cato Institute. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  28. ^ Daniel Morduchowicz (September 20, 2004). "The Take". Z Space. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  29. ^ a b Naomi Klein (August 26, 2004). "Bring Najaf to New York". The Nation. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  30. ^ Christopher Hitchens (September 7, 2004). "Murder by Any Other Name: The rest of the world may be tiring of jihad, but The Nation isn't". Slate. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  31. ^ a b Marc Cooper (August 27, 2004). "Najaf to New York? Better: New York to Najaf.". Self published blog. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  32. ^ Norman Geras (August 27, 2004). "The state of Naomi Klein". Self published blog. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 

[edit] External links

[edit] Media

Metadata: see Wikipedia:Persondata -->

NAME Klein, Naomi
SHORT DESCRIPTION journalist, author, activist
DATE OF BIRTH May 5, 1970
PLACE OF BIRTH Montreal, Quebec
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