This is a review of the book No Logo by Naomi Klein.
No Logo could be called the Das Capital
of the Anti-Capitalist
movement. Part cultural analysis
, part "mall-rat
memoir", it is the first book to place the growing opposition
to global capitalism
into clear historical
The book is divided in four sections, each detailing the corporate takeover in those parts of our lives. The first part, No Space, deals with the slow process of branding and corporatising public spaces, such as our streets, in the form of billboards and even total street takeovers in the name of advertising; schools, where companies are increasingly taking out contracts to supply branded textbooks and food to these public institutions; and even our towns themselves, such as Celebration, Florida, which is wholly owned by Disney Corp.
In No Choice, Klein takes apart the myth that modern capitalism offers us a choice in our way of life, as she shows us the homogenised monoculture that is propagated by CNN, MTV and Nike. This is not American cultural imperialism, it is enforced multiculturalism, as in the styles are made up of parts of European, Japanese, American and even African fashions and traditions, but are still forced upon us in an imperialistic vent. It is mono-multicultureism. You can have as many cultures as you want, as long as they are all the same. Over 274 million households in the world have MTV, the global 'teen' network. To quote Klein, "MTV International has become the most compelling global catalogue of the modern branded life".
No Jobs deals with the increasing dominance of service industry McJobs, to quote the McLibel trial. These are low-paid, low-quality, low-skilled jobs, frequently considered to short-term, but for some have become primary sources of income. In the companies quest for expansion, wages are often overlooked, and if any workers try to unionise, the shop is just shut down. Another spectre of the modern job market is the proliferation of "temp" agencies. Why employ your workers, and have to provide benefits for them, when you can simply hire another company to do so. Most of Microsoft's workforce, the figureheads of the so called "e-economy", are temp workers, some of whom have been at the company for so long they call themselves "permatemps". All of this is just another part of the modern global economies obsession with reducing prices, and disassociating itself with the actual production of goods, instead outsourcing these to sweatshops in the third world. These companies can then concentrate on their primary goal, creating a "brand image", and maximizing shareholder value.
In the final section, No Logo, Klein details the campaigns that have been fighting this corporate hegemony, such as Reclaim The Streets, the various anti-sweatshop organisations, and the McLibel activists. She also goes on to show the ultimate limits of brand-based politics. Any campaign that is based stopping people from buying what they want is going to create a backlash in our consumer world. She emphasizes the need for laws and international regulation, and embracing this new global community, not going back to the dark-ages as some activists would have.
All in all, this book is an excellent piece of journalism, and deserves its place as the so-called Bible of the anti-capitalist movement.