For a while, I had a doppelganger of my own. When I first glimpsed her, among the commuter crowds, I felt a shock of recognition, but not because my double wore the face I see in the mirror. Instead, she was the exact image of how I believe others see me.
Naomi Klein has a doppelganger too. They share the same first name and have similar hair. Both are Jewish, both are authors of ‘big-idea books’. Both began their careers in the 1990s, accruing fame as movement spokespeople – for Klein, author of No Logo, anti-globalisation, for Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, feminism. Over the years, both tackled systems of power more broadly. And this, Klein believes, is where the troubles began.
As Occupy Wall Street rallied, the two Naomis each lent it support and so converged in the popular mind – or, at least, certain minds. The ideas of one were attributed to the other. This confusion didn’t end when Wolf entered the realm of conspiracy theorising. First, Edward Snowden was, possibly, a ‘police state’ plant and the Islamic State beheading videos were, possibly, inauthentic. Then, Wolf began to assert that Covid-19 vaccinations are harmful, that their rollout was ‘mass murder’ and that lockdowns were part of a plot engineered by the Chinese Communist Party, Big Pharma and Big Tech. Nowadays, Wolf is a regular on Steve Bannon’s podcast, argues that the overturning of Roe v Wade was ‘a necessary evolution in the law’ and owns a rifle.
The appearance of a doppelganger is an unsettling thing. It destabilises Klein’s sense of self to learn that her double can so easily dupe others. She can’t help but ask: is this how the world sees me? Chased by this question, Klein followed Wolf through the looking glass, attempting ‘to