REVIEW - No Logo: Money, Marketing, and the Growing Anti-Corporate Movement by Naomi Klein.
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No Logo: Money, Marketing, and the Growing Anti- Corporate Movement by Naomi Klein.
Inspiring! Handbook for the new anti-globalization movement, May 7,
Reviewer: A reader from Northern California:
Naomi Klein has written a well-researched, comprehensive overview of the New World
Order, dominated by brands like Nike, Starbucks and McDonalds. Backed by detailed
statistics as well as onsite reporting, she captures the essence of the pervasive
brand-building pushed globally by the transnationals, including the very real human and
environmental costs. What I really appreciated was her extensive coverage of the
growing resistance to the "brand bullies" in so many different forms. I read most of this
while in Washington DC recently protesting the IMF and World Bank (A16). As a long-time
activist as well as historian, I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in
educating themselves about globalization-related issues. --This text refers to the
A logo rejecter rejoices!, February 4, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Boston:
It's been years since I bought anything from The Gap, Starbucks, Old Navy,
Wal-Mart(Never), and Nike and I'm proud of it. This book describes why we shouldn't buy
things from companies that look at greed as an attractive trait over human decency. This
book is sometimes hard to read because you see your city turning into all that Ms. Klein
describes. Until society as a whole, rejects these megabrands we have no one to blame
but ourselves for human rights abusues we all say are unacceptable. Shame on them,
shame on us.
A call to resist, October 26, 2000
Reviewer: Educator for Justice from Chicago:
I'm impressed with Ms. Klein's book. She has delved into (and maybe nearly drown) in the
most pervasive creature of the new millenium: the corporation and its brand name. She
conclusively shows that the brand name is everywhere, and that the multinational now
defines our attitudes, culture, and value systems. The brand name no longer piggy backs
on music, art, geographical space, sports, and schools for exposure, but rather they
increasingly CREATE these things. And that's dangerous. Dignity, meaning, relevance are
all undermined by corporate "business as usual". But the best, and most inspiring part of
No Logo is Klein's recognition of a swelling movement: anticorporatism. Folks are
identifying the problem, and they're complaining, rebelling, and culture jamming. Imagine
the successes of the civil rights and feminist movement, and consider that this next
sweep of consciousness and activism is about to begin. Klein's book documents its
inception, and we'll all want to hop on board.
Solid and stolid, October 5, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Claremont, CA United States:
Sometimes I get the feeling that our so-called postindustrial society is trying to invent a
new kind of person, one without soul, inner life or creative center. A special, new kind of
creature, that mirrors consumer culture in being nothing more than a one-dimensional
reflection. Klein's book reinforces that suspicion. Not that she tries to feed low-level
paranoia like mine. Her work is solidly sensible, humane, and in the best tradition of
heart-felt expose'. In this book, she's not 'into' evolutionary reversals, science fiction
psychology or the mind of the consumer. Instead she exposes over and over to a fault,
the merciless political economy of an industry based on sweat shops, enterprise zones,
and celebrity prostitution. In short, it's the dirty truth behind the divine logo.
I don't know why the book didn't leave me as riled-up as I think it should. Maybe I
wanted her to ask: what's wrong with these people who worship logos, who build their
lives around the graven images of capitalism, what is missing that they so confuse
appearance with reality. Then I think of myself. My own perceptions and preferences and
I know I've been colonized too. These insidious agencies of commercialism work their way
into every facet of life, like it or not. This is a mindsnatching world we're creating and
Klein is helping to hold up a mirror. Reality isn't just another 'sign' in an endless parade of
postmodern logos. It's real and for those who can't find it, reality is there in the
sweatshops of Cavite, in the desperation of union organizers, in the plight of people trying
to buy an identity for the price of a corporate symbol. Ours is not a promising new world,
it's a cruel disconnected world that no longer tells the difference between heart-break
and market-share. The temperature of our internal thermometer is nearing comatose. Like
the ad-busters of Klein's book, let's fight back.
We live in an era where image is nearly everything, where the proliferation of brand-name culture
has created, to take one hyperbolic example from Naomi Klein's No Logo, "walking, talking,
life-sized Tommy [Hilfiger] dolls, mummified in fully branded Tommy worlds." Brand identities are
even flourishing online, she notes--and for some retailers, perhaps best of all online: "Liberated from
the real-world burdens of stores and product manufacturing, these brands are free to soar, less as
the disseminators of goods or services than as collective hallucinations."
In No Logo, Klein patiently demonstrates, step by step, how brands have become ubiquitous, not
just in media and on the street but increasingly in the schools as well. (The controversy over
advertiser-sponsored Channel One may be old hat, but many readers will be surprised to learn
about ads in school lavatories and exclusive concessions in school cafeterias.) The global companies
claim to support diversity, but their version of "corporate multiculturalism" is merely intended to
create more buying options for consumers. When Klein talks about how easy it is for retailers like
Wal-Mart and Blockbuster to "censor" the contents of videotapes and albums, she also considers
the role corporate conglomeration plays in the process. How much would one expect Paramount
Pictures, for example, to protest against Blockbuster's policies, given that they're both divisions of
Klein also looks at the workers who keep these companies running, most of whom never share in
any of the great rewards. The president of Borders, when asked whether the bookstore chain could
pay its clerks a "living wage," wrote that "while the concept is romantically appealing, it ignores the
practicalities and realities of our business environment." Those clerks should probably just be
grateful they're not stuck in an Asian sweatshop, making pennies an hour to produce Nike sneakers
or other must-have fashion items. Klein also discusses at some length the tactic of hiring
"permatemps" who can do most of the work and receive few, if any, benefits like health care, paid
vacations, or stock options. While many workers are glad to be part of the "Free Agent Nation,"
observers note that, particularly in the high-tech industry, such policies make it increasingly difficult
to organize workers and advocate for change.
But resistance is growing, and the backlash against the brands has set in. Street-level education
programs have taught kids in the inner cities, for example, not only about Nike's abusive labor
practices but about the astronomical markup in their prices. Boycotts have commenced: as one
urban teen put it, "Nike, we made you. We can break you." But there's more to the revolution, as
Klein optimistically recounts: "Ethical shareholders, culture jammers, street reclaimers, McUnion
organizers, human-rights hacktivists, school-logo fighters and Internet corporate watchdogs are at
the early stages of demanding a citizen-centered alternative to the international rule of the brands ...
as global, and as capable of coordinated action, as the multinational corporations it seeks to
subvert." No Logo is a comprehensive account of what the global economy has wrought and the
actions taking place to thwart it. --Ron Hogan
The New York Times Book Review, James Ledbetter:
Klein is a gifted writer; her paragraphs can be as seductive as the ad campaigns she dissects.
Mark Kingwell, author of
Comprehensive, passionate, and witty:
No Logo is the best book yet on the culture of branding. But
Klein expands the focus beyond mere consumerism and asks what we must do, as global citizens, to
reclaim our public spaces and private selves. So add another adjective: inspiring. --This text refers
to the Hardcover edition.
This book, Naomi Klein's searing analysis of corporate power, has been shortlisted for the Guardian
First Book Award, which aims to recognise and reward new writing across fiction and non-fiction.
About the Author:
Naomi Klein is a journalist whose work has appeared in The Toronto Globe & Mail, The Village
Voice, and The Baffler.