Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein in 2014
Born (1970-05-08) May 8, 1970
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Occupation Author, activist
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater University of Toronto (no degree)
Period 1999–present
Genre Non-fiction
Subject Anti-globalization, anti-war, anti-capitalism, environmentalism
Notable works This Changes Everything, No Logo, The Shock Doctrine
Spouse Avi Lewis
Children 1 (Toma[1])

Naomi Klein (born May 8, 1970) is a Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of corporate capitalism.[2] She first became known internationally for No Logo (1999); The Take, a documentary film about Argentina’s occupied factories that was written by Klein and directed by her husband Avi Lewis; and The Shock Doctrine (2007), a critical analysis of the history of neoliberal economics that was adapted into a six-minute companion film by Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón,[3] as well as a feature-length documentary by Michael Winterbottom.[4]

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (2014) was a New York Times non-fiction bestseller and the winner of the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction in its year.[5] In 2016 Klein was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for her activism on climate justice.[6] Klein frequently appears on global and national lists of top influential thinkers, including the 2014 Thought Leaders ranking compiled by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute,[7] Prospect magazine's world thinkers 2014 poll,[8] and Maclean's 2014 Power List.[9] She is a member of the board of directors of the climate activist group[10]


Naomi Klein was born in Montreal, Quebec, and brought up in a Jewish family with a history of peace activism. Her parents were self-described "hippies"[11] who moved to Montreal from the U.S. in 1967 as war resisters to the Vietnam War.[12] Her mother, documentary film-maker Bonnie Sherr Klein, is best known for her anti-pornography film Not a Love Story.[13] Her father, Michael Klein, is a physician and a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Her brother, Seth Klein, is director of the British Columbia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Her paternal grandparents were communists who began to turn against the Soviet Union after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and had abandoned communism by 1956. In 1942, her grandfather Phil Klein, an animator at Disney, was fired after the Disney animators' strike,[14] and went to work at a shipyard instead. Klein's father grew up surrounded by ideas of social justice and racial equality, but found it "difficult and frightening to be the child of Communists", a so-called red diaper baby.[15]

Klein's husband, Avi Lewis, works as a TV journalist and documentary filmmaker. The couple's first child, son Toma, was born on June 13, 2012.[16]

Early life

Klein spent much of her teenage years in shopping malls, obsessed with designer labels.[17] As a child and teenager, she found it "very oppressive to have a very public feminist mother" and she rejected politics, instead embracing "full-on consumerism".

She has attributed her change in worldview to two events. One was when she was 17 and preparing for the University of Toronto, her mother had a stroke and became severely disabled.[18] Naomi, her father, and her brother took care of Bonnie through the period in hospital and at home, making educational sacrifices to do so.[18] That year off prevented her "from being such a brat".[17] The next year, after beginning her studies at the University of Toronto, the second event occurred: the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre of female engineering students, which proved to be a wake-up call to feminism.[19]

Klein's writing career began with contributions to The Varsity, a student newspaper, where she served as editor-in-chief. After her third year at the University of Toronto, she dropped out of university to take a job at The Globe and Mail, followed by an editorship at This Magazine. In 1995, she returned to the University of Toronto with the intention of finishing her degree[15] but left academia for a journalism internship before acquiring the final credits required to complete her degree.[20]


Main article: No Logo

In 2000, Klein published the book No Logo, which for many became a manifesto of the anti-corporate globalization movement. In it, she attacks brand-oriented consumer culture and the operations of large corporations. She also accuses several such corporations of unethically exploiting workers in the world's poorest countries in pursuit of greater profits. In this book, Klein criticized Nike so severely that Nike published a point-by-point response.[21] No Logo became an international bestseller, selling over one million copies in over 28 languages.[22]

Fences and Windows

Klein speaking in 2002
Main article: Fences and Windows

Klein's Fences and Windows (2002) is a collection of her articles and speeches written on behalf of the anti-globalization movement (all proceeds from the book go to benefit activist organizations through The Fences and Windows Fund).

The Take

Main article: The Take (2004 film)

Klein and her husband, Avi Lewis made a documentary film called The Take (2004) about factory workers in Argentina who took over a closed plant and resumed production, operating as a collective. The first African screening was in the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the South African city of Durban, where the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement began.[23]

An article in Z Communications criticized The Take for its portrayal of the Argentine general and politician Juan Domingo Perón arguing that he was falsely portrayed as a social democrat.[24]

The Shock Doctrine

Klein in 2008 with the Polish edition of Shock Doctrine

Klein's third book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, was published on September 4, 2007. The book argues that the free market policies of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics have risen to prominence in countries such as Chile, under Pinochet, Poland, Russia, under Yeltsin, and the United States (for example, the privatization of the New Orleans Public Schools after Hurricane Katrina). The book also argues that policy initiatives (for instance, the privatization of Iraq's economy under the Coalition Provisional Authority) were rushed through while the citizens of these countries were in shock from disasters, upheavals, or invasion. The book became an international and New York Times bestseller[22] translated into 28 languages.[25]

Central to the book's thesis is the contention that those who wish to implement unpopular free market policies now routinely do so by taking advantage of certain features of the aftermath of major disasters, be they economic, political, military or natural. The suggestion is that when a society experiences a major 'shock' there is a widespread desire for a rapid and decisive response to correct the situation; this desire for bold and immediate action provides an opportunity for unscrupulous actors to implement policies which go far beyond a legitimate response to disaster. The book suggests that when the rush to act means the specifics of a response will go unscrutinized, that is the moment when unpopular and unrelated policies will intentionally be rushed into effect. The book appears to claim that these shocks are in some cases intentionally encouraged or even manufactured.

Klein identifies the "shock doctrine", elaborating on Joseph Schumpeter, as the latest in capitalism's phases of "creative destruction".[26]

The Shock Doctrine was adapted into a short film of the same name, released onto YouTube.[27] The film was directed by Jonás Cuarón, produced and co-written by his father Alfonso Cuarón. The video has been viewed over one million times.[22]

The publication of The Shock Doctrine increased Klein's prominence, with the New Yorker judging her "the most visible and influential figure on the American left—what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were thirty years ago." On February 24, 2009, the book was awarded the inaugural Warwick Prize for Writing from the University of Warwick in England. The prize carried a cash award of £50,000.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

Klein's fourth book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate was published in September 2014.[28] The book puts forth the argument that the hegemony of neoliberal market fundamentalism is blocking any serious reforms to halt climate change and protect the environment.[29] Questioned about Klein's claim that capitalism and controlling climate change were incompatible, Benoit Blarel, manager of the Environment and Natural Resources global practice at the World Bank, said that the write-off of fossil fuels necessary to control climate change "will have a huge impact all over" and that the World Bank was "starting work on this".[30] The book won the 2014 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction,[31] and was a shortlisted nominee for the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.[32]

Iraq War criticism

Klein has written on various current issues, such as the Iraq War. In a September 2004 article for Harper's Magazine,[33] she argues that, contrary to popular belief, the Bush administration did have a clear plan for post-invasion Iraq, which was to build a completely unconstrained free market economy. She describes plans to allow foreigners to extract wealth from Iraq, and the methods used to achieve those goals.[34][35] The film War, Inc. (2008) was partially inspired by her article, "Baghdad Year Zero".[36]

Klein's August 2004 "Bring Najaf to New York", published in The Nation, argued that Muqtada Al Sadr's Mahdi Army "represents the overwhelmingly mainstream sentiment in Iraq."[37] She went on to say "Yes, if elected Sadr would try to turn Iraq into a theocracy like Iran, but for now his demands are for direct elections and an end to foreign occupation".[37] Marc Cooper, a former Nation columnist, attacked the assertion that Al Sadr represented mainstream Iraqi sentiment and that American forces had brought the fight to the holy city of Najaf.[38] Cooper wrote that "Klein should know better. All enemies of the U.S. occupation she opposes are not her friends. Or ours. Or those of the Iraqi people. I don’t think that Mullah Al Sadr, in any case, is much desirous of support issuing from secular Jewish feminist-socialists."[38]

Criticism of Israeli policies

In March 2008, Klein was the keynote speaker at the first national conference of the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians. In January 2009, during the Gaza War, Klein supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, arguing that "the best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa."[39]

In summer 2009, on the occasion of the publication of the Hebrew translation of her book The Shock Doctrine, Klein visited Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, combining the promotion of her book and the BDS campaign. In an interview to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz she emphasized that it is important to her "not to boycott Israelis but rather to boycott the normalization of Israel and the conflict."[40] In a speech in Ramallah on June 27, she apologized to the Palestinians for not joining the BDS campaign earlier.[41] Her remarks, particularly that "[Some Jews] even think we get one get-away-with-genocide-free-card" were characterized by an op-ed columnist in The Jerusalem Post as "violent" and "unethical", and as the "most perverse of aspersions on Jews, an age-old stereotype of Jews as intrinsically evil and malicious."[42]

Klein was also a spokesperson for the protest against the spotlight on Tel Aviv at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, a spotlight that Klein said was a very selective and misleading portrait of Israel.[43]


Indeed the three policy pillars of the neoliberal age—privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sector, and the lowering of income and corporate taxes, paid for with cuts to public spending—are each incompatible with many of the actions we must take to bring our emissions to safe levels. And together these pillars form an ideological wall that has blocked a serious response to climate change for decades.
  Naomi Klein[44]

Since 2009, Klein’s attention has turned to environmentalism, with particular focus on climate change, the subject of her book This Changes Everything (2014).[45] According to her website, the book and its accompanying film (released in 2015) will be about "how the climate crisis can spur economic and political transformation."[46] She sits on the board of directors of campaign group[47] and took part in their "Do the Math" tour in 2013, encouraging a divestment movement.[48]

She has encouraged the Occupy movement to join forces with the environmental movement, saying the financial crisis and the climate crisis have the same root—unrestrained corporate greed.[49] She gave a speech at Occupy Wall Street where she described the world as "upside down", where we act as if "there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions," and as if there are "limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need."[50]

She has been a particularly vocal critic of the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, describing it in a TED talk as a form of "terrestrial skinning."[51] On September 2, 2011, she attended the demonstration against the Keystone XL pipeline outside the White House and was arrested.[52] Klein celebrated Obama’s decision to postpone a decision on the Keystone pipeline until 2013 pending an environmental review as a victory for the environmental movement.[49]

She attended the Copenhagen Climate Summit of 2009. She put the blame for the failure of Copenhagen on Barack Obama,[53] and described her own country, Canada, as a "climate criminal."[54] She presented the Angry Mermaid Award (a satirical award designed to recognise the corporations who have best sabotaged the climate negotiations) to Monsanto.[55]

Writing in the wake of Hurricane Sandy she warned that the climate crisis constitutes a massive opportunity for disaster capitalists and corporations seeking to profit from crisis. But equally, the climate crisis "can be a historic moment to usher in the next great wave of progressive change," or a so-called "People's Shock."[56]

On November 9, 2016, following the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, Klein called for an international campaign to impose economic sanctions on the United States if his administration refuses to abide by the terms of the Paris Agreement.[57]

Other activities

Klein speaking at Occupy Wall Street in 2011

Klein contributes to The Nation, In These Times, The Globe and Mail, This Magazine, Harper's Magazine, and The Guardian. She is a former Miliband Fellow and lectured at the London School of Economics on the anti-globalisation movement.[58]

Klein ranked 11th in an internet poll of the top global intellectuals of 2005, a list of the world's top 100 public intellectuals compiled by the Prospect magazine in conjunction with Foreign Policy magazine.[59] She was involved in 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, condemning police force and brutality. She spoke to a rally seeking the release of protesters in front of police headquarters on June 28, 2010.[60]

In May 2011, Klein received an honorary degree from Saint Thomas University.[61] On October 6, 2011, she visited Occupy Wall Street and gave a speech declaring the protest movement "the most important thing in the world".[62] On November 10, 2011, she participated in a panel discussion about the future of Occupy Wall Street with four other panelists, including Michael Moore, William Greider, and Rinku Sen, in which she stressed the crucial nature of the evolving movement.[63]

List of works

Books and contributed chapters





  1. Congratulations to Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis on the birth of their son - Democracy Now!
  2. Nineham, Chris (October 2007). "The Shock Doctrine". Socialist Review. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
  3. "Shock Doctrine: A Film by Alfonso Cuaron and Naomi Klein". The Guardian. September 7, 2007.
  4. "The Shock Doctrine". The Internet Movie Database.
  5. "2014 Prize Winner". Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.
  6. "Naomi Klein wins Sydney Peace Prize". SBS. 14 May 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  7. "Thought Leaders 2014: the most influential thinkers". Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute. November 27, 2014.
  8. "World thinkers 2014: the results". Prospect. April 23, 2014.
  9. "The Maclean's Power List, Part 2". Maclean's. November 20, 2014.
  10. "Board of Directors".
  11. Klein, Naomi. No Logo (2000: Vintage Canada), pp. 143-4.
  12. "Video: Naomi Klein addresses the Department of Culture Town Hall". Department Of Culture. September 4, 2008. Archived from the original on April 28, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  13. "Biography of Bonnie Sherr Klein (*1941): Filmmaker, Author, Disability Rights Activist". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on April 1, 2010.
  14. Sito, Tom (July 19, 2005). "The Disney Strike of 1941: How It Changed Animation & Comics" (PDF). Animation World Magazine. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
  15. 1 2 MacFarquhar, Larissa (December 8, 2008). "Outside Agitator: Naomi Klein and the New Left". The New Yorker.
  16. "Naomi Klein". Facebook. March 5, 2012.
  17. 1 2 Viner, Katharine (September 23, 2000). "Hand-To-Brand-Combat: A Profile Of Naomi Klein". The Guardian. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  18. 1 2 Klein, Bonnie Sherr (Spring 1993). "We are Who You are:Feminism and Disability". Abilities. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  19. "Naomi Klein: The Montreal Massacre". Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  20. Q&A Interview with Brian Lamb, on CSPAN, dated November 29, 2009, Klein Q&A interview and transcript
  21. "Nike's response to No Logo". Nike. March 8, 2000. Archived from the original on June 18, 2001.
  22. 1 2 3 "Unconventional Wisdom Since 1865". The Nation.
  23. Phillips-Fein, Kim (May 10, 2005). "Seattle to Baghdad". n+1. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  24. Morduchowicz, Daniel (September 20, 2004). "The Take". Z Space. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  25. "Author Spotlight: Naomi Klein". Archived from the original on October 20, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  26. Cockburn, Alexander (September 22–23, 2007), On Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine", CounterPunch
  27. The Shock Doctrine 2009
  28. "This Changes Everything". This Changes Everything. Penguin Books. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  29. Rob Nixon (November 6, 2014). Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’. The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  30. "Star pupil's performance casts doubt on green growth model", Devex, July 6, 2015
  31. "Naomi Klein wins 2014 Hilary Weston Prize". CBC Books, October 14, 2014.
  32. "Shaughnessy Cohen Prize finalists announced". The Globe and Mail, January 27, 2015.
  33. Klein, Naomi (September 2004). "Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia". Harper's Magazine. The Harper's Magazine Foundation. Retrieved September 9, 2007.
  34. Klein, Naomi (October 13, 2004). "Broadcast Exclusive: James Baker's Double Life in Iraq: The Carlyle Group Stands to Make Killing on Iraqi Debt". Democracy Now! (Interview). Interview with Amy Goodman. Pacifica Radio. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  35. Klein, Naomi (January 22, 2004). "The Persuaders: Interview Naomi Klein". PBS Frontline (Interview). PBS. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  36. Gilbey, Ryan (August 31, 2007). "I'm basically a brand (article about John Cusack's career)". The Guardian. London. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  37. 1 2 Klein, Naomi (August 26, 2004). "Bring Najaf to New York". The Nation. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  38. 1 2 Cooper, Marc (August 27, 2004). "Najaf to New York? Better: New York to Najaf.". Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  39. Klein, Naomi (January 10, 2009). "Enough. It's time for a boycott". London: The Guardian. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  40. Feldman, Yotam (July 1, 2009). "Naomi Klein: Oppose the State, Not the People". Haaretz. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  41. Klein, Naomi (July 7, 2009). "Naomi Klein in Ramallah: I am ashamed that it took me this long". The Faster Times. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  42. Schimmel, Noam (July 18, 2009). "'The Jews' get-away-with-genocide-free-card'". Jerusalem Post.
  43. Klein, Naomi (September 10, 2009). "We don't feel like celebrating with Israel this year.". Globe and Mail.
  44. This Changes Everything, pp. 72–73.
  45. "'My Fear is that Climate Change is the Biggest Crisis of All': Naomi Klein Warns Global Warming Could Be Exploited by Capitalism and Militarism", Democracy Now!, March 9, 2011.
  46. Meet Naomi, Naomi Klein Official Web Site
  47. Our Team:
  48. "Naomi Klein does the math",
  49. 1 2 "Naomi Klein: Obama's Delay of Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Decision is Win for Environmentalists". YouTube. November 11, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  50. "Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now". The Nation. October 6, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  51. TEDWomen. "Naomi Klein: Addicted to risk | Video on". Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  52. September 2, 2011 5:34 PM ET (September 2, 2011). "Naomi Klein arrested at D.C. pipeline protest - World - CBC News". Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  53. "Copenhagen's failure belongs to Obama | Naomi Klein | Comment is free |". Guardian. December 21, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  54. "Naomi Klein Implicates Corporate Climate Lobbyists at COP15". YouTube. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  55. "Naomi Klein gives 'Angry Mermaid Award' in Copenhagen". YouTube. December 15, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  56. The Nation, "Superstorm Sandy - a People's Shock?"
  57. "Naomi Klein on Twitter". Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  58. "Visiting teaching fellows". London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved September 9, 2007.
  59. "Intellectuals—the results". Prospect Magazine. Prospect Publishing Limited. July 26, 2008.
  60. "Video: Naomi Klein to police: "Don't play public relations, do your goddamned job!"". and July 28, 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2010.
  61. "Honourary Degrees to be Conferred on Sister Sandra Barrett, Naomi Klein and Brad Woodside at Spring Convocation on May 15". St. Thomas University. April 27, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  62. Klein, Naomi (October 6, 2011). "Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now". The Nation. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  63. "Michael Moore, Naomi Klein and Others on What's Next for OWS". The Nation. November 9, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  64. "Official Book Website for Going Rouge". OR Books.

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