I had loved reading The Shock Doctrine (review at this link) from the same author and when I saw her on the documentary The Corporation, it seemed appropriate to read her prior book, NO LOGO.
It is an exemplary work of investigative journalism and just like her later book The Shock Doctrine, it is in fact shocking and factual. Although slightly dated in terms of some of the companies she addresses in her account (late 1990s), this book brings home the unchanged corruption of the corporate agenda to us in a matter of fact way.
She has divided the book in sections about the effects of the brands on the marketplace and employment, the misery of the workers who supposedly “stole” the western people’s jobs and those who are revolting and trying to do something about it. Similarly to the documentary The Corporation (which should be seen as a wonderful companion to this book), Naomi Klein brilliantly exposes all the dirty tactics of the big corporations with an emphasis in the first part of the book on the loss of public space and the commons in favor of corporate takeover.
This book should make anyone realize how “branded” we are and where we lost our citizenships and became only consumers. You may remember George W. Bush’s stupid comment about going shopping and going to Disneyland after 9/11. I personally find it a reason to revolt to the best of my abilities against the constant brainwashing. My boss keeps Cokes in our office fridge and even though I am aware of all the dirty doings of the Coca Cola Company, the branding and marketing brainwashing is such that I find myself once in a while compelled to drink that poison (considering what’s in Coke, yes it is a poison). This is just an example of what branding and aggressive marketing does to anyone.
It is also sad to note that no matter how much one may try to distinguish him/herself from being taken over by the Corporations, it is nearly impossible. For instance, there are practically no way of buying “no sweat shops” clothing in the United States unless you are willing to spend the money, go online and buy Fair Trade. The only other way to somehow break the cycle is to buy second-hand. It doesn’t solve the problem but it lessens it a little. I refuse to pay premium dollars for clothing that is made by slave workers paid $0.35/per hour or so. It is simply immoral.
Klein visited “sweat shops” factories and has first hand knowledge of the exploitation created by Corporations in corrupt countries (and less corrupt as well). She spend time interviewing workers who are mostly all young girls struggling for survival and to send pennies to their families. It is also sad to acknowledge that the Corporations don’t give a damn who they are dealing with because of the power that has been given to them legally for about a century. They trump any local communities by using threat tactics with the help of local corrupt governments and with our silent blessing, killing peace activists and indigenous rights activists.
Let’s not forget that anytime we purchase from, say, Nike or Coke, we are approving their disgusting labor, environmental, and social destruction records. We become morally guilty as well for letting them get away with it when we gave them more power over our public institutions.
What is encouraging to read in Naomi’s book is what more and more people do to fight the corporate takeover or our lives. From institutions like schools, individuals and from municipalities to states, there are revolts in one way or another in more and more places everyday. But the corporations are also fighting back in more aggressive ways. The author gives a lot of details about students and universities reacting in various ways to the marketing takeover of their schools and she also has a large section devoted to various actions taken over the years, my favorite being the McLibel trial in England. If you want to know more about it, please see the documentary of the same name and you will be excited by what the two activists in it have accomplished when taking on McDonald’s. It is a true David vs Goliath story, I loved it.
Naomi Klein gives a list of other very notable anti-corporate actions all worth knowing about. The one movement which I think is truly noticeable is the RTS (or Reclaim The Streets) movement and how people decide for one day to just take over part of a city (or street) and protest joyously against the Corporations. Of course anger sometimes drives people to violence so not everything is pink and pretty.
Anyway, there is a lot to read about in this book (over 450 pages) and you will agree with me that it is just the beginning. Personally, I am going to revisit the McSpotlight website.
For more information, visit Naomi’s website: http://www.naomiklein.org/no-logo