Naomi Klein sees (red).

This evening I ran across an article on CNN's site about Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine. To be upfront, I've not read the book, although I did read her No Logo. And in the further interest, I probably read it while drinking Starbucks, but I did read it, and while it felt pretty one sided, she did make compelling arguments about the danger of a generation who has been marketed to since shortly after conception.

Interestingly, it would now appear from CNN's article that author Naomi Klein and blogger Randy Bohlender have another set of thoughts that, if not perfectly parallel, are at least not perpendicular.

CNN observes that in the seven years since No Logo, we've progressed (?) from a No Logo phase to a Pro Logo phase...
Bono's Red initiative is emblematic of this new Pro-Logo age. He announced a new branded product range at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland last year called Product Red. American Express, Converse, Armani and Gap were initial partners, joined later by Apple and Motorola. The corporations sell Red branded products, with a percentage of profits going to Bono-approved causes.

In this Pro-Logo world there is an irony of consuming to end poverty. Perhaps an even bigger irony: through initiatives like the Red card, consumer culture and branding is buying a stake in anti-globalization and alleviating poverty movement.
Nearly a year ago, in a post called Welcome to the Salvation Walmart, I muttered similarly thoughts about the idea of spending our way towards fixing poverty when the larger impetus was to spend on ourselves. Among other things, I wrote:
..(RED) manages to congeal our innate desire to be philanthropic with our overarching characterteristic of being self serving. It's a great idea for the Africans - and I'm glad they're getting the medication - but I wonder what it's doing to our mentality.

Is it really a good thing when a 20 year old thinks justice is best fulfilled by skipping through the mall, chatting on her RAZR, en route to the GAP where she'll smack her AmEx against the upper credit limit?
(Writer envy admission here) Klein coins a phrase so clever that I could only hope to one day write it's equal - she refers to the "Bono-ization of protest", loosely translated - the trend of making protest mainstream, palatable, and occasionally, even a consumer art. Going one step further, Klein puts forth an argument for a more earthy sort of protest. Specifically, she says:
"The Bono-ization of protest particularly in the UK has reduced discussion to a much safer terrain." Referring to the Make Poverty History Campaign at Gleneagles in 2005 she said, "It was the stadium rock model of protest -- there's celebrities and there's spectators waving their bracelets. It's less dangerous and less powerful (than grass roots street demonstrations.)"
The stadium rock model of protest - demonstration as entertainment - or swiping your (red) card - demonstration by consumption - is a far cry from rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. There's a world of difference between cheering for something and actually doing it.

Now that I'm pointing fingers, I'll save you clicking on the comment section. The stadium rock model of prayer meeting - which I am currently a huge supporter of and am actively laboring to bring to six cities between now and the fall of 08 - can also be a far cry from a sustained prayer life. Going to TheCall does not mean you're answering the call. In fact, it's possible to go to TheCall without ever actually hearing it. It doesn't negate the power of a stadium sized prayer meeting, but it does accentuate the point that if they're not praying as individuals, they're not praying as a crowd either.

With prayer, as with poverty, the question remains - what are you going to do about it when no one is watching and no one will ever know the difference that you made?

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