Dispatches from the front lines of the Globalization debate

Fences and Windows is Naomi Klein's second book. Where her first, the extremely successful No Logo, was exhaustively researched, meticulously referenced and sometimes rather hard going, Fences and Windows is a collection of her articles and speeches from the last few years, which means that it comes instead in bite-sized chunks without any footnotes at all.

Like No Logo before it, Fences and Windows tears into the iniquities of the corporatist and undemocratic power-centralisation process euphemistically referred to as globalization, and the misdeeds of multinational corporations, in such a way as to leave the reader in no doubt that something is fundamentally amiss with the world's political processes as we enter the twenty-first century.

The title reflects the dominant metaphors of the book - the fences, both physical and figurative, put up in the name of defending 'free trade', from the massive chainlink fence erected to separate delegates and demonstrators in Quebec City during the FTAA negotiations, to the fences placed between citizens and resources when privatization forced by the WTO and the World Bank places public goods like education and clean water out of the reach of most of the public; and the windows of opportunity afforded when people are willing to stand up and fight for democracy even in the face of escalating police violence and the efforts of national governments to criminalize dissent and blur the line between activism and terrorism.

Klein has been writing a weekly column for Canada's Globe and Mail since 1999, besides writing many pieces for The Guardian in Britain and The Nation in the USA; the result of having such regular outlets is that we get reports from before and after many of the major protests and activist assemblies of the last few years, a sort of ongoing journal of the pro-democracy movement - the movement the mainstream media likes to call 'anti-globalization', a misleading label forcefully rejected by many of its proponents. The book is in five parts:

  1. Windows of Dissent
    'In which activists take down the first fences - on the streets and in their minds'
  2. Fencing in Democracy:
    Trade and Trade-Offs

    'In which citizens discover that the true price of "free trade" is the power to govern themselves'
    The Market Swallows the Commons
    'In which access to safe food, clean water and affordable housing is fenced off - and anti-capitalism becomes the hot, new marketing pitch'
  3. Fencing in the Movement: Criminalizing Dissent
    'In which copious quantities of gas are inhaled, friends are thrown into vans by cops dressed as anarchists, and a boy dies in Genoa'
  4. Capitalizing on Terror
    'In which September 11 is used to silence critics, ram through new trade deals, "re-brand" the U.S.A. - and turn bra shopping into a patriotic duty'
  5. Windows to Democracy
    'In which glimmers of hope are found in a politic of radical power decentralization, emerging from the mountains of Chiapas and the urban squats of Italy'