309 de 333 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
Robert J. Crawford
- Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: Tapa blanda
WHile I worried that this was a simple ideological diatribe, I was very happily surprized at the intelligence and substance of Klein's book. It is a tough, well-reasoned manifesto for the anti-consumerism left of "Gen X." If you are wondering what was driving many of those protesters at the WTO and other summit meetings - most notoriously Seattle in late 1999 - then this book is the best place I know. It is part cultural critique, part economics and social policy, and partly a call to arms. Reading it has helped me to make sense of so much that I thought was simple, nihilistic anarchism. I was humbled to learn that there is far far more behind the movement than I had granted it.
In a nutshell, Klein argues that the "superbrands" - the huge corporations such as Disney and Nike - are progressively taking over virtually all "public spaces," including school curricula, neighborhoods, and all-encompassing infotainment malls like Virgin Megastores. THey are doing this in an attempt enter our minds as consumers in the most intimate ways, which Klein and others find unbearably intrusive. Moreover, she argues, as they subcontract overseas, the superbrands are leaving first-world workers behind while they exploit those in the developing world under horible conditions. It all adds up, she asserts, into a kind of emerging global worker solidarity that is developing new means (via internet exposes, protest campaigns, etc.) to push the superbrands to adopt more just policies and practices.
What was so amazing and useful for me, as a business writer looking at the same issues, is that Klein so often hones in on the underside of what I think are good and effective business practices: the development of brand values, globalisation of the production/value chain to lower prices, and the like. Often I may disagree with her take on things, but she makes too many insightful points to dismiss her and those whom she speaks for. I came to genuinely respect her as a thinker and writer.
Nonetheless, there were numerous omissions, some of which I must point out. First, while condemning exploitive labor practices in third-world sweat shops (which I do not deny exist), Klein fails to explore what the available alternatives are for these workers. Well, I went to Pakistan to examine one of the cases she addresses - children soccerball sewers - and I can say that their alternatives were all too often brick kilns or leather tanneries, both of which were far more dangerous and beyond the reach of international activists because the superbrands have nothing to do with them. Second, Klein tended to dismiss the efforts of MNCs out of hand, as weak sops designed more for PR purposes than to effect change. This is true for some groups, but again, while in Vietnam, I witnessed what I regarded as real social progress that came from the actions of a superbrand: upon hearing the demands and suggestions of a worker-safety inspector paid by adidas, Taiwanese sewing-machine manufacturers were approaching him for detailed design specifications to enhance their safety (driver-belt covers to protect against hand and hair injuries) and he had lots more ideas. However modest, that is real and concrete progress in my opinion.
Moreover, I believe that many of Klein's assertions are inaccurate or unproven. Is there really a mass movement growing out there? Is the clever defacing of huge advertisement boards really impacting pubic consciousness? Does everyone perceive the thrust of the brands as intrusive and poisonous? Is the World Trade Organization set up in a way that works in favor of the first world and against the third world? These are complex and very difficult questions. Finally, as a passionate activist, Klein rhetoric can get a bit overheated. At one point she says that IBM "otherwise impaled itself"; at another that Milton Friedman is a "architect of the global corporate takeover." What do these things mean? I may regard Friedman as a laughable free-market fundamentalist, but he is only a cloistered academic idoelogue, not a doer of any kind. Does throwing a cream pie in his face do anything more than shock adults?
In spite of these reservations, I can only applaud Klein for stirring up the pot of these issues, which provoke thought and encourage exploration, even by conservatives like me.
28 de 30 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
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Formato: Tapa dura
This is a very, very interesting book regardless of what the "ending" or the "higher purport" may be and irrespective of the pseudo-intellectual nitpicking by a number of other reviewers. So get it, read it and enjoy it. Even if it doesn't ruffle your fancies, it brims with real factual evidence about the dark side of big business so at the very least you'll leave with some very interesting information off a single, compact compilation.
THE LONG, WINDING RAMBLE:
The basic premise of the book is to highlight how advertising and general business practices have changed in the last twenty years. Essentially, companies decided that they were no longer in the business of selling products, because products are messy, duplicable, or even improvable. But if you are selling an idea, an experience, a set of associations, it is much harder for another company to compete with you. Think of Tommy Hilfiger for instance -- clothes manufactured in China and India for throw-away costs, but their designs are frantically devoured globally at horrendous price tags. This is why branding is big, and sometimes clandestine, business.
The book is divided into four sections: 'No Space,' 'No Choice,' 'No Jobs' and 'No Logo.' 'No Space' is about the cluttering of our public spaces with ads; 'No Choice' describes different tactics used by big-name brands to drive independent retailers out of business; 'No Jobs' takes aim at sweatshop labour but with the corporations' "Brand, not products!" mentality in mind (it also includes details of Klein's trip to an Export Processing Zone just south of Manila); finally, 'No Logo' documents the global movement against branding and many of the organizations and people behind the revolt.
1. Klein's fluid writing style really shines throughout this book and her arguments are sharp and well targeted.
2. A delightful plethora of interesting, superbly researched facts and statistics that'll open your eyes, sometimes vis-a-vis brands that you'd least expect to be embroiled with anything ulterior.
3. I found that each section contained one exceptional chapter. In 'No Space,' "The Branding of Learning" (chapter 4) is simply wonderful, especially for students of branding. You'll read about grade school kids making Nike sneakers as "an educational experience" and a 19-year-old student being suspended for wearing a Pepsi shirt on "Coke Day." In "No Jobs," "The Discarded Factory" (chapter 9) offers the same old shocking facts about sweatshop labour with a fresh perspective which only makes the situation seem worse. Etc.
1. Where No Logo fails is in its attempt to tie these different themes together. With an attempt of this genre, it would have been very unseful to see some "solutions" or recommendations to the issue that Klein raised. For instance, she argues that companies have to spend more money on 'branding', and this is why production is moving to sweatshops. Companies can't afford to have factories and a brand, so they ditched the factories. But its not just the big brands that are made in sweatshops. Nike runners may be made in Indonesia, but so are the local-brand runners in your supermarket. Gap shirts are made in sweatshops, but so are the shirts in the department store. The sweatshops aren't a result of branding, they're a product of the desire of companies to cut costs. Some companies will then keep their prices low, while others will spend a lot on advertising, but hope to make even more by charging higher prices. In the end, Nike is bad, Gap is bad -- but what should they do in lieu of their current practices?
2. Related to the above point, Klein skimps on examples of the "good" companies or what is commonly tossed around as "best practices".
3. Perhaps many of the corporate ties within the open source software community are very much along the lines of Klein's notion of an ideal balance between corporations and communities. A discussion of open source projects -- especially coming from a journalist of the caliber of Naomi Klein -- is amiss.
All in all, a very thought-provoking read, but too much time is spent talking about 'subverting' advertisements or painting over billboards. Consumer boycotts are explored, even while their weaknesses are admitted. So there's less room to explore ways that we in the west can help sweatshop workers get organised, and how we can help their struggles, which should be the objectives of any campaign. As a commercial-political treatise or as an analytical guide to action, which is what the book could easily have been, this book is a little disappointing. A 4-star material nevertheless!