Naomi Klein: When did economics spark your interest?
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the New York Times and #1 international bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In 2008 it won the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Libris Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year and is longlisted for the inaugural 2009 Warwick Prize for Writing (UK). The six minute companion film, created by Alfonso Cuaron, director of Children of Men, was an Official Selection of the 2007 Venice Biennale and Toronto International Film Festivals and was a viral phenomenon, downloaded over a million times.
Her first book No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies was also an international bestseller, translated into over 28 languages with more than a million copies in print. A collection of her work, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate was published in 2002.
Naomi Klein writes a regular column for The Nation and The Guardian that is syndicated internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. In 2004, her reporting from Iraq for Harper’s Magazine won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Also in 2004, she co-produced The Take with director Avi Lewis, a feature documentary about Argentina’s occupied factories. The film was an Official Selection of the Venice Biennale and won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the American Film Institute’s Film Festival in Los Angeles. She is a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics and holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia.
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
Klein says she was forced to teach herself economics.
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