Socialist Worker

Naomi Klein's Fences and Windows

by Sam Ashman
Issue No. 1822

Naomi Klein worked on her first book, No Logo, in the four years before the great anti-capitalist protests in Seattle. It was published just after and – according to the Guardian – sold 180,000 copies in Britain last year alone. Now she has a new book out. It is a collection of the various pieces of journalism she has written since No Logo propelled her to the forefront of the movement against capitalist globalisation.

For those who read about and participate in the movement, many of the pieces in this collection will be familiar. Arranged chronologically, they contain Klein's reflections on the protests at Seattle, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Prague.

There are also pieces against the North American Free Trade Agreement, genetically modified organisms, violence against protesters, and in praise of the Zapatistas in Mexico and Italy's social centres. She is particularly effective when sticking the knife into the supposed benefits of free trade. She writes:

'Whenever I hear the phrase 'free trade', I can't help picturing the caged factories I visited in the Philippines and Indonesia that are all surrounded by gates, watchtowers and soldiers – to keep the highly subsidised products from leaking out and the union organisers from getting in.' She is also good when discussing whether the movement is really 'anti' globalisation at all.

Instead Klein says the protesters and activists are internationalists who are fighting a particular model of globalisation, the neo-liberal model which globalises privatisation and deregulation, and boosts corporations' profits. But this is not the book for those who want in-depth analysis of either the system or where the movement goes next.

The articles repeat her argument that the diversity and dynamism of the movement are alone creating an alternative economic model. This is not enough. The movement faces powerful obstacles, not least a world system of states whose top dog, the US, is about to use its military might to decimate Iraq. Fences and Windows is more of a good introduction. It'd make a great Christmas present.

Fences and Windows by Naomi Klein is published by Flamingo, price £8.99.

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Article information

Sat 19 Oct 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1822
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