TORONTO A Canadian voice of the anticorporate movement is concerned that the Sept. 11 attacks will encourage U.S. foreign policy to promote vengeance, but she remains hopeful that the United States will take a kinder, gentler global role.
Canadian author Naomi Klein, seen in this undated handout photograph, a voice of the anti-corporate movement, is concerned that the September 11 attacks on the United States will encourage a vengeance-based foreign policy but she remains hopeful that the U.S. will take a kinder, gentler global role. Klein whose 1999 book "No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies" galvanized the movement against branding and global big business, said the suicide airliner attacks in New York and Washington had created an over-simplistic view of what is right and what is wrong. REUTERS/Gordon Terris
Naomi Klein, whose 1999 book No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies galvanized the movement against corporate branding and global big business, said the suicide airliner attacks in New York and Washington had created an over-simplistic view of what is right and what is wrong.
"There is a kind of McCarthyism going on," she said, drawing parallels with the ruthless way the late Sen. Joe McCarthy pursued suspected communists at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s. "There's been, to me, a kind of shocking anger at anyone who dares ask the question 'Why?,' to even try in any way to understand how (the attacks) could have happened," said Klein. At an emotionally wrought time, most people can not do the mental gearshifting needed to understand why America was attacked.
"The only acceptable emotions are these really basic emotions of grief and vengeance," she said.
Klein, 31, said in an interview that she thinks the attacks, which left nearly 6,000 people dead or missing, had forced the United States to abandon any idea of isolation and introspection. But it was not yet clear if the nation would tend toward a "fortress USA" mentality, or if it could help make Americans more aware of the rest of the world, she said.
"A crack in history has opened, and there are a lot of people who want to close it. They are using the terrorist attacks to say 'OK, we all have to rally behind the American flag,'" she said, noting that many people want a more militaristic world or a vengeance-based foreign policy. This crack can be an opening, however, "where this incredibly powerful, important, and influential nation actually begins to see itself as much more connected to the world," she said.
The United States has taken elements of its antiterrorism plan to the United Nations, but Washington's main focus has been to build a coalition against those it holds responsible for the attacks and the countries that harbor them.
Klein said she would prefer to see the United Nations leading an international war on terrorism, rather having the United States take the lead. "We keep saying that it has to be an international war on terrorism, but the U.N. has been notable for its absence in all of this," she said.
Montreal-born Klein has been a key force in the movement against globalization, whose rallies, often linked to the peace movement, have targeted the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the Group of Eight rich industrialized nations, and the International Monetary Fund.
No Logo is a best-seller in Canada, Britain, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia, and its publisher estimates that 300,000 copies have been sold so far. It won the Canadian National Business Book Award in April 2001. The book has been translated into 14 languages in less then two years, with Hebrew and Chinese translations to follow by the end of this year.
An early protest, during world trade talks in Seattle in 1998, targeted companies like Starbucks and McDonald's, viewed as symbols of the way multinational big business is ousting smaller local firms. Since then, shops like McDonald's have boarded up their windows when the antiglobalization activists come to town, and cities have been turned into fortified battle zones while international meetings are held.
One demonstrator died in protests against a G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, this year, and host nation Canada has moved next year's summit to a remote mountain resort in the western province of Alberta to try to ensure that protest groups are kept away.
But Klein said the antiglobalization movement would not be crushed that easily. "Everyone is constantly trying to pronounce this movement dead, and it's actually growing and it's growing really quickly ... quicker than I ever imagined, and that means that it's got serious enemies now, and it's not cute," Klein said. "When it first started people were saying, 'Oh, wow, little kiddie activists!' and it seemed sort of adorable and there was a kind of patronizing attitude about it.... People aren't being patronizing any more."
"I think No Logo has been able to cross those national borders because it's about global corporations that touch all our lives in some way," Klein said. "But the idea that we are [all] going through the same political moment is not true. What we are experiencing is a moment of boldness, a new mood of cooperation and collaboration. But it's not like everybody is part of the same movement and is fighting for the same thing."
Klein said she is often invited to corporate events and branding conferences, but she turns down most of the invitations. "I am not a brand consultant, and I am not there to help them figure out how they can turn this movement to profit because I think they are making too much money already," she said.
Copyright 2001, Reuters