Naomi Klein: When did economics spark your interest?

Klein says she was forced to teach herself economics.
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TRANSCRIPT

Naomi Klein: I didn’t start interested in economics. And I see myself actually much more as a . . . as a cultural and political writer who was driven to understand economics because economics was shaping our culture so powerfully. And you know I . . . I became interested in the loss of the public sphere and the degradation of working conditions. Those were two of the themes that I was writing about early on as a journalist. I was writing as a young activist . . . as a young student activist about how we were losing our non-commercial spaces – like schools, right, which used to be . . . I was in school when the first ads arrived. I’m not one of these people who is interested in economics because I’m interested in mathematical modeling. You know I respect people who are, I suppose. But I was forced to teach myself economics because it was affecting culture. And that . . . And I really see myself primarily as somebody concerned with politics, human rights, culture. And I first started trying to understand economics because I was writing as a student about the loss of a public space within the school system. I was writing about the first contracts to allow advertisements in schools and corporate sponsorship of research in universities. Because it was really a transformation when I was a student in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s where there was a real push to get more corporate influence, whether in the form of advertisement or control of a research in the university system. So that’s what made me wanna understand marketing better and understand this expansionist phase of the market into previously protected spaces. Like spaces that we had said, “Okay, the market doesn’t extend to here.” There is a difference between a mall and a university, and there’s a reason why we have this public space. So I guess I came to it backwards. I came to it as somebody interested in culture, education, politics, and facing this very expansionist economic agenda that actually didn’t see a role for the public. And this is the economic phase that we’re in which is so expansionist that it’s creeping into all of these previously non-market spaces. So it was in the process of trying to defend those spaces and draw those lines that I became interested in economics. Recorded on: 11/29/07