18 October 2017 **** Front Page
By Tapani Lausti
Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics. Allen Lane 2017.
Donald Trump's relation to reality is more and more widely questioned. Even people in his inner circle are worried. At the same time, there are reports about how much of the American population is suffering from feelings of anxiety related to the characteristics of their president. But it's not all about Trump. In her new book, Naomi Klein puts his emergence in perspective.
According to Klein, the Trump administration, far from being the story of one dangerous and outrageous figure, should be understood partly as a ferocious backlash against the rising power of overlapping social and political movements demanding a more just and safer world.
Klein writes: “Rather than risk the possibility of further progress (and further lost profits) this gang of predatory lenders, planet-destabilizing polluters, war and “security” profiteers joined forces to take over the government and protect their ill-gotten wealth. After decades of seeing the public sphere privatized in bits and pieces, Trump and his appointees have now seized control of the government itself. The takeover is complete." (pp. 20-21)
Klein describes Trump's team as ruthless people who made their personal fortunes by knowingly causing harm to some of the most vulnerable people on the planet, and to the planet itself, often in the midst of crisis. “It almost appears to be some sort of job requirement”, Klein concludes. (p. 19)
Let me quote at length a key passage in Klein's book: “… Trump's political career would have been impossible without the degradation of the whole idea of the public sphere which has been unfolding for decades … with decades of deregulation that essentially legalized bribery, with outrageous sums of corporate money flowing into politics."
It's absolutely true that the system is corrupt. It is a swamp. And people know it. They know that the rewriting of the rules in favor of a small group of corporate interests and the one percent has been a bipartisan project – that it was Bill Clinton who deregulated the banks, setting the stage for the 2008 collapse, and it was Obama who chose not to prosecute the bankers, and that the Democratic candidate running against Trump would almost surely have done no different.” (p. 41)
Klein observes a hollowness at the center amd a profound emptiness at the heart of the very culture that spawned Donald Trump.” (p. 59) American culture has for a long time suffered from an ideological and intellectual emptiness. Important social institutions which used to create a sense of belonging have been eroded to a frightening degree. The media has long ago dropped any pretense of meaningful social debate. Trump's ignorance of history, world politics and science is being watched in horror by much of the world population.
While wide areas of the planet are suffering from ever frightening hurricanes and forest fires, Trump claims that climate change is a hoax. Klein explains climate denial thus: ‘In short, climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism stands. To admit that the climate crisis is real is to admit the end of the neoliberal project.'
Much has been written about Klein's cautious attitude towards radical change. Still, she is an important analyst whose books need to be read and evaluated.
Archive: Naomi Klein , Environment , United States
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