On July 1, the Vatican hosted Naomi Klein, the far-left Canadian author, at a conference on the environment. Both Klein and the current pontiff, it appears, are in strong agreement on the ills of capitalism and, in particular, the danger capitalism poses to the global climate.
Even Klein acknowledged, in comments to the press, that she was surprised – as a secular Jew – to be asked to take part in a Vatican event.
But Klein’s atheism and Jewish background are just the tip of the iceberg. The more closely one looks at her record, the clearer it becomes just how inappropriate it was for the Pope to invite her to his confab.
To begin with, Klein, who’s been called “the Left’s preeminent celebrity journalist,” is an outspoken and unequivocal enemy of the free market – and of freedom in general. Routinely, she’s identified capitalism with violence, communism with community. She’s an ardent foe of Israel and supporter of the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement. Ronald Radosh has called her “this generation’s Noam Chomsky in women’s designer suits”; in David Solway’s view, she’s “a one-woman anti-Israeli bulldozer”; as the late Christopher Hitchens put it in 2004, she “offer[s] swooning support to theocratic [Islamic] fascists.”
A few career highlights.
In 1999, Klein published No Logo, a full-frontal assault on capitalism, corporations, and globalization that became a massive international bestseller. “Not since Vance Packard’s 1957 classic The Hidden Persuaders,” wrote The Economist, “has one book stirred up so much antipathy to marketing. Its author has become the spokesman for a worldwide movement against multinationals and their insidious brands.”
In fact she ended up becoming a one-woman symbol of the new, post-Soviet means of attacking free societies. If the undying war on freedom is a kind of religion, she became Saint Naomi, a woman who didn’t just despise the excesses of multinational corporations, but who hated freedom itself – and revered far-left tyranny. In a 2003 article, she shed tears for Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez and charged his country’s “commercial media” (read: media not under his direct control) for criticizing the caudillo. Klein approvingly cited Andrés Izarra, a longtime chavista and two-time member of the “Bolivarian” cabinet, as saying (in her paraphrase) that independent media had “done so much violence to truthful information on the national airwaves that the four private TV stations have effectively forfeited their right to broadcast.” Rejecting complaints by the Committee to Project Journalists and Reporters Without Borders about Chávez’s threats to close down free media, Klein characterized Chávez as, on the contrary, benignly seeking to impose the “tough controls” needed “to ensure diversity, balance and access.”
There’s more. The next year, when Chávez was facing a possible recall, Klein joined shakedown artist Jesse Jackson, batty House member Dennis Kucinich, veteran history-twister Howard Zinn, and far-left TV actor Ed Asner in sending Chávez a “letter of solidarity” that praised his nation – grotesquely – as “a model democracy.” (“The world knows,” they wrote, “that you are achieving something remarkable in Venezuela: you are investing your country’s vast oil wealth in ways that benefit everyone, not just small minority of well-connected elites.”)
In 2007 came Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine, described by one critic as an effort to convince readers
that just about everything that has happened over the last 35 years, from the Chilean coup to Tiananmen Square, the Falklands crisis, the fall of the USSR, all the way to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Iraq, is all part of a movement to impose unfettered capitalism worldwide through a campaign based on electroshock therapy and deploying the full might of the U.S. military.
“With The Shock Doctrine,” opined Tyler Cowen, “Ms. Klein has become the kind of brand she lamented in No Logo. Brands offer a simplification of image and presentation, rather than stressing the complexity, the details, and the inevitable trade-offs of a particular product.”
Which brings us to last year, when Klein published This Changes Everything, in which she calls for radical worldwide social change in order to rescue the planet from ecological catastrophe. According to one critic, the book “rejects capitalism, market mechanisms, and even, seemingly, profit motives and corporate governance.” Even someone whom one might have expected to endorse the book, left-wing environmental expert Will Boisvert, savaged the book – calling it, in a long, thoughtful, and thoroughgoing takedown, “a garbled mess stumbling endlessly over its own contradictions.”
This, then, is the woman whom Pope Francis summoned to share her wisdom with him and his colleagues at the Holy See. No disrespect intended, Your Holiness, but this time around you screwed up.