No Logo, Ten Years Later
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Almost ten years ago, on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of protestors shut down a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. The activists were not against trade or globalization, despite the many misleading claims in the mainstream media. They were against a system of deregulated capitalism that was spreading around the world.
At the time of the Seattle protests, my first book, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, was at the printer. The book looked at the war being waged on public space by a new breed of corporate "superbrands," as well as the first signs of a fight back against corporate power. It was good timing for an author-activist: I had the rare privilege of watching my book become useful to a movement I believed could change the world.
On the ten-year anniversary of the Seattle protests, with anger mounting at the open collusion between corporations and governments, I am re-releasing No Logo with an extended new introduction. Among other developments, the new essay looks at the unprecedented bailout of Wall Street, as well as the rise of the Obama Brand (the most powerful brand in the world) and examines the troubling gaps between its marketing and reality.
As the new edition comes out, it feels like a "movement moment" once again. A new wave of exciting climate justice activism is underway in the lead up to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, one that builds on many of the networks born in Seattle. As I wrote in a recent article in Rolling Stone, now that a serious deal is off the table, many activists see Copenhagen as "a chance to seize the political terrain back from business-friendly half-measures, such as carbon offsets and emissions trading, and introduce some effective, common-sense proposals -- ideas that have less to do with creating complex new markets for pollution and more to do with keeping coal and oil in the ground."
One of our movement's challenges back in 1999 was that, in the midst of the euphoria of the dot-com boom, few were interested in hearing about the downside of capitalism. Ten years later, perhaps our movement's time has come.