I’ll have to admit to having never read anything written (perhaps other than the occasional obligatory quote one finds scattered about through the musings and materials of the “anti-globalization” left).  Honestly, she just always struck me as part of the same-old, tired activist deity club that enjoys cult-like adoration from the greenest (as in inexperienced and naive, not environmental) of the so-called “new new left”.  Not a knock on her personally, really, I’m just not particularly one for Che t-shirts, “Howard Zinn is god” sentiments, and Subcommandant Marcos fetishes, and I always have lumped her in with the crowd- probably because it’s those people who are so enthusiastic for her; like I said, I’ve never read or seen her work myself.

Which makes it a bit odd, maybe, that I just sat down a read a really fucking long article about her from The New Yorker.  And, frankly, I think it’s worth your time to go read it.  The bulk of the think is very biographical, about her upbringing, her family’s political heritage, her husband’s family’s political heritage…. but hers is certainly an interesting story, and while I wouldn’t say that I’m in entire political agreement with her, I do now have a respect and understanding of what she’s all about.  There’s some really great points from the article:

Why does Klein place such emphasis on Friedman? Perhaps because she wants to draw a parallel between capitalism and Communism, to make their two histories look as similar as possible, and for that she needs not the messy, pragmatic, ad-hoc capitalism of corporations but the purist, utopian capitalism of the Chicago School. Violent autocrats of the free-market persuasion, though there have been many, have not soiled Friedman’s name in the way that Stalin soiled Marx; somehow, the misdeeds of a Pinochet or a Suharto or a Yeltsin are attributed to these men as individuals-to their lust for power, their greed, their drinking. But Klein holds capitalism guilty of all their sins. Friedman’s followers must no longer get away with shaking their heads when their advisees start killing people, she believes. They should feel themselves dupes, fellow-travellers, accessories: they should acknowledge their willed ignorance and complicity, as her grandparents and the Communists of their generation were forced to do.

And Naomi herself:

“The crash on Wall Street should be for Friedmanism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for authoritarian Communism, an indictment of an ideology,”

And, a bit on-topic with the conversation on this site that enfolded following my post The La La Land of the Left:

When she began participating in the anti-globalization movement, she understood that protests outside trade summits were the main way that the movement was making itself heard, but they still seemed a little comical to her. “Is this really what we want?” she wrote in a column in the summer of 2000. “A movement of meeting stalkers, following the trade bureaucrats as if they were the Grateful Dead?”

And quite rightly about Barack Obama (and again I’ll refer you to my post The La La Land of the Left, in which, as Klein is suggestive of bellow, I offer my fears that Obama’s victory is a triumph for the right- “Obamofascism” is the word I used- and that the opportunity of pushing leftwards those millions who helped get him in office is ours, now, lest we lose those people forever to cynicism and disillusion):

“It is thrilling. And it’s churlish not to allow yourself to be thrilled. We crave inspiration, and it’s a bleak life to always be dissecting things. But the main feeling that Obama creates in me is fear, because I see people fooling themselves. If you actually look at his policies, what they reflect is the triumph of the right-wing political paradigm since Reagan, and I think he could set things back dramatically, because for young people who are getting engaged in politics for the first time, for them to be disillusioned is very, very damaging.” Because Klein doesn’t expect much from any politician, she doesn’t spend time wishing Obama were more progressive. “I don’t want to appear too cynical, but when I first saw the ‘Yes We Can’ rock video that Will.I.Am made, my first response was ‘Wow, finally a politician is making ads that are as good as Nike’s,’ ” she says. “The ‘Yes We Can’ slogan means whatever you want it to mean. It’s very ‘Just Do It.’ When you hear it, you catch yourself thinking, Yeah! We’re gonna end torture and shut down Guantánamo and get out of Iraq! And then you think, Wait a minute, is he really saying that? He’s not really saying that, is he? He’s saying we’re going to send more troops to Afghanistan. He’s telling regular people what they want to hear, and then in the back rooms he’s making deals and signing on to the status quo. But if people don’t like where Obama is they should move the center.” To this end, Klein has been taking every opportunity to call for the nationalization of the oil companies. “It’s the job of the left to move the center,” she says. “Get out there and say some crazy stuff!”

Good on her.  Take the time to read the article, it won’t be a waste.