AT SOME POINT in 1999, I interviewed the author and journalist Naomi Klein about No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, her exposé of the extractive and exploitative realities behind the shiny packaging for Nike and Starbucks. That book, and Klein herself, became central to the anti-capitalist movement that erupted into protests at the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle. It’s hard now, more than 20 years later, to describe thedominant political moodat the time. The sense back then was that the global corporations had won, hands down, and that people would always care more about a new pair of Nikes than about cracking the protective shell of corporate hegemony and neoliberal economic power. Klein’s work played a key role in cracking that shell. She made it all feel less inevitable. She and her book were, as she put it to me, “kind of anointed as the voice of a movement.”
I have a distinct memory of sitting in the lobby of a hotel somewhere in Boston and asking her point-blank: how did she think profound social change might actually come about?
And education, foundationally, has to be about that sense of possibility—that it is possible to change, that non-elite people have changed the world before. That’s the most important education I think we can do—more than saying, Hey, the actual content of this is really alarming.
I have a line in the book: it’s not that we don’t know, it’s that we don’t know how to know what we know.
Exactly. You also have a line in the book about calm being a form of resistance. That really resonated with me, that it’s important to find a way of being calm enough to prioritize your focus.
That’s John Berger. But yeah, “calm is a form of resistance.”
I thought that was an amazing passage. I wonder if you could riff on that for a second.
That’s interesting, because I don’t want the “Keep Calm and Carry On” kind of calm. I think we’re talking about a different kind of calm, that can coexist with fury, that can coexist with a lot of passion.