Electroclash for Accountants: Naomi Klein in PDX Friday, Dec. 7
Canadian journalist Naomi Klein has become something of a poster-woman for the anti-globalization movement since the 2000 publication of her book No Logo. Starbucks and Nike, in particular, know her name—Nike responded both personally and in the press after her book's criticism of Nike's use of "empowerment" branding while employing draconian factory contractors abroad.
So who knows, maybe her upcoming appearance Friday, December 7 (Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Avenue, 7pm), will draw in some ofOregon's scary anarchists and eco-terrorists, denizens of Bush Senior's "Little-Beirut", that we've been hearing about for so long on FOX news and the local CBS affiliate. And watch out for the official-looking suit in the back with the notepad and tape recorder, is all I'm saying.
Still, Klein's books are generally polemics of the reasoned sort, synthesizing information from a broad array of sources to get her point across. In her new book, The Shock Doctrine, she's a little more upset, but no less well researched.
The gist is that the U.S., theWorld Bank, and a raft of business interests are using calamities (military coups, national disasters, floods, riots, etc.) as opportunities to push through undemocratic, hyper-corporatist reforms. While a country is in shock, it loses its critical capacity and so allows changes that otherwise would have been blocked, is the notion. Utilities and resources can then be plucked as grapes from the vines, amid geysers of stolen profits and new jury-rigged laws that perpetuate them.
That change follows calamity is of course nothing new. She links the "shock doctrine" in its capitalist forms largely back to economist Milton Friedman, head of the Chicago School of economics and grand high poobah of "free trade," who favored building new policies on blank slates. But still, political and financial opportunism is much older than Friedman, and open ground--as at ground zero of an earthquake--are always the most fertile for any and all architects, however well-meaning or however sinister. (Each new government, after all, must be preceded by a coup or a revolution). Likewise, Klein's critique of rampant corporatism sometimes bleeds into an antipathy toward all forms of business that's less sustained in argument.
Still: she provides a useful concept--"disaster capitalism"--for talking about the very specific opportunist, corporate monetization (and perpetuation) of human heartbreak propagated. When applied narrowly, not as broadly and polemically as she seems to, it's a more than worthwhile addition to the national debate. She's likewise a compelling speaker, as forays into YouTube bear out.
Speaking of which, Alfonso Cuaron, of Children of Men fame, made a little movie trailer for her book. Every book gets a movie now.
It's first come, first serve, there in the little church. I'd recommend showing up early.