Fences and Windows, Naomi Klein

Since September 11, I have spoken with friends from South Africa and Iran who are furious about the outpouring of grief demanded of them in response to the attacks. They say it is racist to ask the world to mourn and avenge U.S. deaths when so many deaths in their countries go unmourned, unavenged. I have argued with these friends that this is a moral dead end, that mourning each other’s terrible losses is surely what it means to be human. And yet, I’ve come to accept, with much reluctance, that perhaps I am asking too much. Perhaps from those who have seen so much indifference to the loss of their own loved ones, so much asymmetry of compassion, we in the West have, at least temporarily, forfeited the right to expect compassion in return.

fence&windowsI’d forgotten all about the Fences and Windows until I started looking for No Logo, Klein’s first book that I knew was somewhere in my collection and I was surprised to find this one alongside it. I’ve had both books for several years but I don’t recall how much I read in the past.

Fences and Windows is a collection of articles, essays and speeches written just over a decade ago, about the erosion of democracy within the context of so-called free trade and globalisation policies of Western governments.

The articles are a diary-like record of Klein’s observations of people affected adversely by political decisions and economic practices over which they have no control, and are given no voice.

terrorKlein also looks at the various ways those decisions and practices were being challenged by activists.

In the middle of this record the attacks of September 11th 2001 were carried out. Those attacks added another level to the political situation at the heart of Klein’s reporting. She suggests how reaction to those attacks was exploited to further galvanise pre-attack political agendas, and the subduing of those challenging them.