on September 20, 2000
Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Naomi Klein is one skilled writer and you can only thank some higher being that she has used her intellectual wit and analytical persistence to combat multi-million dollar companies as opposed to verbally carpet-bombing innocent bystanders such as uncovering journalists like herself. Just like her compadre in anti-corporate crusading, Michael Moore, Klein saves little ammo, let alone love, trust or respect, for anything ending in "Inc." and operating in anything closely resembling services or other low skilled labour areas. "These companies are our enemies" is a central message of this book and one that is continuously ground into the reader in various shapes, lest we not forget it. In terms of execution, No Logo leaves little to wish for. Well-written, footnoted and well-researched within the area of focus, the book takes us through the areas of society which have been permeated by the greedy ghouls of money-grubbing behemoths over the last decades. No stone is left unturned; education, the service sector, manufacturing, media, and one cannot help but wonder what the text will do to the paranoid reader since basically anything but breathing may be "giving in" to the evil mongers. If you are the accusatory type, and let's face it, most of us enjoy a good fights, especially one that is all about kicking the butt of the rich and scoring a few points for the ordinary, unknowing everyman of Americana, No Logo will not disappoint. That is also where the book runs into trouble. It is guilty of exactly the same phenomenon that most anti-establishment groups suffer from today: myopia and anger for anger's sake.
If you have an ambition to uncover and analyse something in order to defend a certain point of view (like Klein does in No Logo), it is always wise to respect and understand the opposite side. This is precisely the problem that most groups and accusatory voices in the media run into. It is one thing to present an argument and back it up with complimentary viewpoints and facts. It is quite another to present a standpoint and then analyse whatever happens to pass by this "analytical" lens, from this dogmatic perspective. Klein is on a mission to castrate the evil empires that are Nike, Microsoft, McDonald's and so on. But in doing this, she becomes highly one-dimensional, a fact that runs the risk of boring many readers in the long run. And that's when the serious trouble starts, since getting the message out is what No Logo is all about. If you want to see cruel intentions whenever you look out the window, you are sure to find it in everything and everyone. The problem then is that what was once factual (fact: there are some people out there that really are out to hurt and steal) now becomes subjective, and subjective viewpoints are always so much less interesting to listen to, let alone read. The one-sided perspective also evaporates any chance for the other side to score a single point, and as we all know, good dramatization just like good journalism needs a battle where both the protagonists (in this case the poor, innocent consumers and labourers) and the antagonists (McEvil Corp. et al) score points.
The myopic view also raises another interesting question. This book is basically a statement on cultural and commercial imperialism. Well, what else is more imperialistic than imposing foreign viewpoints in a society where they have no natural place? Indeed, it is highly problematic that companies like Nike do business in foreign countries and adopt the general business practices of that region. But is just as troublesome when occidental do-gooders come to redeem these places and save them from whatever undemocratic principles they've been slaves to. Who are westerners to acts as global policemen and impose rules to spare our sensitive media-groomed souls from having to see things like child-labour? Who are we to declare incapacity of people to judge for themselves and take decisions of where to work and under what conditions? It is more interesting to argue about this than to arrive at an answer, which is as impossible as having liberals and socialists agree in politics. But to completely shut out this discussion of a book that intends to "take aim at the brand bullies" severely damages both the credibility and the level of importance that No Logo could have achieved.
No side in the discussion about corporate (ir)responsibility needs more one-dimensional cannon-fodder. What's needed is a more philosophical discussion that takes in such aspects as conflicting viewpoints, and things that are unseen (such as the fate of children that are sacked from Asian factories that have been "liberated" by enclaves of Klein, Moore et al?). For the time being, No Logo serves as little more than a political pamphlet, albeit an amusing and at times informative one at that.
on May 3, 2001
Whether you're a high schooler just taking interest in the plight of today's Multinational Corporations, or a member of the black-bloc fighting the front lines in Quebec City, this book is a must read. Klein takes aim at the brand phenomenon by dividing her book into four effective parts; NO SPACE, NO CHOICE, NO JOBS, and NO LOGO, going deep into the brief, yet storied history of the brand phenomenon, telling us why "superbrand" corporations dominate our economy today. Klein has basically taken everything you need to know about the anti-corporate movement, sprinkled it with some personal experience and great writing style, and has jammed it into one book that needs to be read by anyone even slightly concerned with the growing dominance of today's Multinational Corporations. While the book is quite lengthy and tends to get quite extensive in terms of detail, her anecdotal use is magnificent. The use of superbrand corporations in those anecdotes, such as McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Nike will keep the average reader interested, instead of the theory x/theory y business which I tend to find quite tedious to read. It will be well worth it to invest your time in reading this book.
on October 26, 2001
Pro-globalization or anti-globalization? Do we have to choose? This seems to be the central question, & this question is being discussed & looked at from all sorts of different angles, the last couple of years.
I have a good friend who is an anti-globalization activist. He also happens to be a communist, & has been going to all the big protests: his last one was in Genoa. I, on the other hand, haven't joined him in these protests, so far. It's not that I don't agree with much of what he's saying. It's just that I disagree with many of the means used to achieve the goal. I also disagree with the "them: bad, us: good" mentality. I find it very simplistic.
My friend & I have been having long, heated discussions, & we always seem to find common ground on some things...we also always disagree on other things. The important thing is that we always DISCUSS these things & try to see the other's point of view. This is one thing that made me skeptical about Naomi Klein's book. Where is the discussion? Where are the arguments that others use? It's a well known fact that to properly fight an opinion differing from your own, you have to really know a lot about this other opinion. You have to respect it, listen to it, & THEN fight it.
There are two ways to argue a point: you either start from a basic axiom which you want to defend, & find everything you can, in order to defend it. This, in my opinion, is a lot like religion: you either believe or you don't. Naomi Klein deeply, passionately believes in anti-globalization: so she gathers all arguments that support her view. These arguments are persuasive, & some of them are definitely fair ones. But I think this way of arguing is wrong, it's deeply flawed. There is another way, which is to take the opposite point of view, present it, & describe, using logic & persuasion, why it's wrong.
I also am a little bit sceptical about Naomi Klein's research. I'm not an economist, but there are some points that seem glaringly wrong: for example, inflation & different standards of living are not taken into account, at all. Wages in indonesia are compared to wages in the US, which seems to me a totally distorted way of looking at the issue. Naomi's argument would be far more persuasive if her research was more meticulous. It's a shame really, because what's she's trying to say is basically right: marketing & logos have intruded in every little part of our lives, & it's starting to feel suffocating. Also, the conditions under which people work in sweatshop factories are terrible, & this has been widely documented by various journalists. But I can't help thinking that there are 2 (or more) sides to this story, & that Naomi Klein has failed to present them fairly. This, in the end, makes "No logo" seem like a book saying "I have to convert you because I'm right" and not "I'm right because of this & that argument". This book seems more like preaching than anything else. It also reminded me of an argument that I've always distrusted: it goes something like this--either you're with us, or you're not. I happen to agree with some of the points that Naomi Klein is making, but I disagree with other points, & I strongly disagree with the research she's used to reach all her arguments. There is not always black or white: there are also shades of gray, & usually most of the truth can be found there.
on November 5, 2003
I picked up author Naomi Klein's book on a whim, after seeing it on sale at Amazon.ca. Thinking that it may give me some insight about the annoying protesters that I always hear about whenever there's some major world leaders conference, I brought it to the front and purchased it. I was pleasantly surprised by my purchase.
I've always been an anti-logo person. I wouldn't on my life be caught in a Tommy Hilfiger shirt, or GAP jeans, or even Nike shoes. I also know that personally, I am starting to find the loss of our public space and unbranded areas in my urban setting to be quite offensive. What <b>No Logo</b> did for me, was to help me look deep into these corporations mindsets, to understand what is happening, and figure out exactly what is wrong with these aggressive tactics, and the best means to channel the rage I have against these multinationals.
The book is very well researched, and it is written in a very easy-to-read manner. The ideas flow nicely one into the other, and there are a lot of ideas explored in this book, while more times than not both sides of an argument are presented.
There were times, however, were the author uses the book as her own personal platform for other issues she seems to feel strongly about. From her feminist views to the ones rights for Jewish Lesbians, I sometimes felt that her rants had no place in the book. But these were pretty minimal, and easily overlooked.
During the course of the book, I found myself wondering what I could do to help in many situations, and there are definitely answers to these questions. I was also pleased that these answers didn't come in the form of promoting the radical protests that a lot of boringly average middle-class kids with nothing better to do seem to have embraced.
To reiterate what I wrote at the beginning of this review, it was an interesting and powerful book, and well worth picking up. If not for the research that went into it, at least to understand how each and every one of this huge ruthless corporation are affecting your everyday lives and freedoms.
on June 8, 2002
While this book does its fair share of chronicling the exploits of and exploitation by the chronically greedy, it's not just a big whine. The point is that people are beginning to feel that corporations are overrunning their lives; as a result, many are reclaiming their intellectual and metaphorical turf, by some creative and effective means.
Even if you pray to a picture of Milton Friedman while reading verses from the gospel of Adam Smith, this book is worthwhile. It explains why people, specifically my 20-something generation, which has never known America to be anything but callous and greedy, are drawing a line in the sand and not backing up any further. The book highlights, if not explicitly, the dialectic tension between that hotly debated "right to be left alone" and, well -- the right of a nonhuman entity to market products to all and sundry, I guess.
Klein levels her criticism at the commercial actors instead of the political/NGO ones, and properly so. Those groups are moving in opposite directions and have opposite agendas. The heroes of this story are the ones who are fighting their enemies, not the groups that perhaps inadvertently allow those enemies to flourish.
One letdown for me with Klein's otherwise remarkable work is that it takes her a long time to build her case; on the other hand, it wasn't a hard sell, and I eventually bought in big time.
If nothing else, No Logo will force you to think more critically when, for instance, you hear the wags on the evening news talk about protesters if you had heretofore written them all off as hippies. You will have an idea what all the fuss is about, and you might even come to think of "those punks" as real "Americans," refusing to quarter the Imperialists in their private space. It's exactly the justification one needs to take matters into her own hands to make all of our lives more colorful and real.
on July 27, 2001
This book is for anyone who feels unsettled by the corporate agenda gulping up the culture of the entire world, not sparing education, the environment, local identity, etc.
With eye-opening examples, Klein informs the reader of everything from the approval of dangerous pharmaceutical products due to corporate sponsorship of universities (and the firings of whistleblowers who seek to inform the public of such dangers), to the support of authoritarian governments when it suits a corporate agenda. Witness the recent cozying up of Rupert Murdoch's media empire to the Chinese government. Censorship? Coming right up!
"No Logo", written in the late '90s, is proving to be very prescient. This week I read in the news that two teenage boys are offering their entire lives to First USA in exchange for a college education (they are becoming walking advertisements, bringing the company up in every conversation and only wearing clothing with the company logo), and that a family is offering corporations the chance to name their infant in exchange for some money to build a house. Identity has become the choice between Crest and Colgate.
on July 16, 2001
In No Logo, Klein tidily dissects her exploration of the abuses of corporations who have foregone products in favor of brands into four sections: no space, no choice, no jobs, and finally--you guessed it--no logo. The first three sections give us ample evidence why we have every right to be sick and tired of being marketed to and what the consequences of it have been for us: instrusive advertising we can't even escape from in public restrooms, branded schools and universities where kids are forced to watch commercials on [TV] and athletes are forced to be moving billboards for [shoe company], the loss of local businesses as mega-corporations like [national video chain] and [national retailer] take over, the loss of some of our freedom as corporations begin to dictate what we can and can't view, read or hear, and finally, the loss of jobs as companies abandon US workers in pursuit of sweatshop labor. Make no mistake: this book will make you mad, and by section four, in which Klein proposes solutions, you'll be more than ready to entertain her ideas.
This is a really good introductory text if you're interested in the down-side of globalization and want a good overview of the causes and conditions as well as what can be done. Klein's book is well researched, organized and presented and she makes her points without being overly pedantic. My only complaint about this book is that certain parts of it are very long-winded and could have easily been clipped from the text without losing anything, particularly Klein's exhaustive examination of sweatshops. Good if you don't mind skimming or skipping long passages....
on July 10, 2001
As I found quotations from this book and plenty references thereto in many articles and works of my favourite writers, my expectations could be hardly higher when I opened it and started to read it. Couple of hundred pages later I felt little bit misled by another advertising campaign, the machinery so heavily criticised by Ms. Klein. While attacking the product propaganda and the dictate of the marketing departments over the content and product producers, she learned some tricks. The cover of the book is just cute (you all know this word itself and cute things sell well in shopping malls), then the fact that she shortened her name (it just looks better, has completely different usage ratio in electronic media and the magic of Ronald Reagan name - surname consonance applies, right?) and finally maybe sometimes unscrupulous parasitism on McDonald trademark (and easy-picking of the same target, with weak, very weak justification for pointing the finger on this company too often) in visual material the book features.
So, the packaging is great and all subliminal messages are delivered to the customer on a tested silver of plate, it works perfectly, but then the content is unfortunately of poor quality. No Logo is like any other logo, just the flashy life style symbol with the very little behind it. First, Ms. Klein did very poor research. We learn she was on one or two study tours and she lives her life in capitalism which (probably) gives her enough competence in the matter, so no need for time-consuming collection of facts and figures with higher information value. Second, her book just gives impression she keeps describing two or three anti-McDonald campaigns and anti-consumerism fight highlights and that is all - I felt like she recycles herself and her ideas in every 50 pages, which itself is quite typical for modern marketing and post-modern art, by the way. Third, she is discovering the charted parts of the globe and gives very few hints how to change the world and the way it works. I know we shall think and do it for ourselves, but it would be nice to see that she can see some light at the end of a tunnel after all that paper used for printing of her opus anti-magnum.
To sum it up, this book is sui generis light non-fiction for the environment and anti-global fighters travelling from Berlin to Genova for another street fight against police = G8 and the rich of the world. By the time they will reach the spot, they will be done with the book and equipped with new intellectual ammo. In no need to re-read it, they throw the book into the dustbin to free their hands to carry stones for trashing the Benetton shop-windows there.
To sum it up for good, this book is unfortunately not a good pick for those who think twice (not globally) before acting locally. Unfortunately...
on July 2, 2001
I believe the most important thing about this book, is that it does not simply rehash the "brands are evil" sort of anti-corporate dirt that has already received attention in recent publications. 'No Logo' does not, as is suggested in a review below, merely outline how scary and powerful the multinational corporations are. Rather, Klein's 'No Logo' takes this sort of discourse one step further, by outlining the wider democratic implications of globalisation. This also allows Klein to avoid a sense of futility in her descriptions of corporate earth - her humourous and incisive tone inspires the reader to become active, which I feel is particularly important in this critical economic crossroads, rather than pessimistic or suicidal.
'No Logo' is infinitely readable, entertaining and inspiring. It's one of those books that would, I feel, make the world a better place if everyone read it. That's my current mission, anyhow - it will be the default birthday present of the majority of my friends for the next year, at least.
on June 25, 2001
If until now you have been in the dark that corporations are big bad bastards who do horrible things and care primarily about profit rather than people...this is the book for you. For someone who has a clue and knows how bad corporations are, you might find this book a just a tad bit overdone and even a little patronizing. I rated this at 3 stars because it is a good introductory "wake-up" book, but not a great one if you are familliar with this subject. Too many times I found this book rambling and repetitive. Being in market research (terrible I know), there was little shock value in SURPRISE! corporations actually do pull demographics from magazine surveys, SHOCK! ad agencies try to market to those specific demographic targets and OH MY GOD! there are people out there who's job it is to seek out what is cool in teens. At many points I felt talked down to, as if she has never purchased anything manufactured by a big corporation, but everyone else has willingly perpetuated the state of big business today. While many of her examples were compelling and interesting, her viewpoints more often than not became extremely long winded and tiresome. More succinct writing could have made a clearer and stronger point in many cases. Limiting her focus of what she wanted to attack also could have made her point much more defined-those 450 odd pages could have been SIGNIFICANTLY reduced. Also, some of the examples of big bad business were just bizarre, and hindered her arguments rather than support them (the evils of people ordering things over the internet, for example). I had started reading Fast Food Nation before this (reading No Logo for work), and picked up reading it again. Even though the focus of FFN is based in fast food obviously, it is far better researched, written, and disturbing in terms of what corporations have done to this country and the world. I would recommend reading that instead.