Prophet Naomi Kelin's This Changes Everything

Like that of most prophets, Naomi Klein's message is both messianic and Manichean: i.e., the good of progressocialism vs. the evil of capitalism. (Or in her own words: “capitalism vs. the climate”.)

Naomi Klein was born to be a prophet, as all prophets are. 

Her paternal grandparents were communists, her grandfather was a “social activist” and her parents were war-resisters as well as “rights activists”. 

So now try to imagine the amount of Leftist ideological “brainwashing” Naomi Klein would have experienced in the first two decades of her life (as did Noam Chomsky). I'd reckon that would be about the same amount that she and her fellow Leftists (such as her husband Avi Lewis) would accuse the children of “Christian evangelicals” (Avi Lewis’s term) or “conservatives” of having undergone.

(I may as well add here that Naomi Klein's just-mentioned husband has hosted shows for Al Jazeera, sneered at Ayaan Hirsi Ali's support of American democracy and thinks that the criticism of Islam is racist. Clearly Klein doesn't like to stray too far from her Leftist “herd of independent minds”.)

And along with Naomi Klein's prophethood comes the inevitable talk of end times (as with the Prophet Karl Marx). Or as Klein herself puts it:

“Climate change is a civilizational wake-up call, a powerful message delivered in the language of fires, floods, storms, and droughts. Confronting it is no longer about changing the light bulbs. It's about changing the world -- before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe.”

All that reminds me of what the writer Christopher Booker had to say in his magnificent The Real Global Warming Disaster. He writes:

“.... [warmist language] had much in common with ancient myths and Biblical tales of the world being visited with 'extreme weather events', plagues, fires, mighty winds and above all floods so immense that whole cities would vanish below their waves.” (340)

So what does Christopher Booker think about warmists themselves? This:

“The true believers in global warming similarly exhibited a moralistic fanaticism, justified by the transcendent importance of their cause. The basic narrative by which they live was one familiar from the history of religious sects down the ages, the conviction that the end of the world was nigh, thanks to the wickedness of mankind, and could only by saved if humanity acknowledge its sins and went through a profound change of behaviour....”

And since Naomi Klein fuses warmism with Marxism, I'll also quote Booker on Marxism when he writes:

“.... [Marxism's] dogmatic explanations for everything; it's incredibly moralistic view of the world; and above all its capacity to inspire its followers to a kind of righteous fanaticism, convinced that it was their destiny to save mankind from those 'heretics' and 'unbelievers' who did not share their world-saving creed.”


Let me give you a taste of some of the rather sycophantic reviews of Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

One blurb says it's “her most provocative book yet”. The strange thing is that other blurbers also said that The Shock Doctrine was “her most provocative book yet”. (The same was true of No Logo.) In other words, it must be important to Naomi Klein and her fans that her latest book is her most provocative book yet. 

There's also a review by Owen Jones (Son Of Dave Spart) which tells us that This Changes Everything “[w]ill be one of the most influential books of our time”. As for The New York Times, it says that Naomi Klein's book is the “most momentous and contentious environmental book since Silent Spring”. 

Don't you just love it when book reviewers wax lyrically about books which simply restate exactly what it is they already believe (give or take some minor details)? It's a kind of political narcissism. 

The Independent, on the other hand, is slightly more level-headed when it says that the “proposition that the world's political and economic institutions are preventing us from meeting the lethal challenge of global warming is hardly novel”. 

Global Warming is Capitalism

When I accuse anti-global-warming activists of really being against capitalism, they usually deny it. They say it's not about wanting to destroy capitalism: “it's all about the science”, or “saving the planet”, etc. In fact warmists often return the criticism and say that it's us sceptics (about anthropogenic global warming) who are really just “immoral supporters of capitalism”. It's people like me who aren't concerned “with the science”, or the planet, or mankind.

Yet one of the most important (certainly the most popular) “progressive” writers around today -- Naomi Klein -- explicitly agrees with us global-warming sceptics. She now says (well, in a sense she always did) that it is indeed all about capitalism. Or, more correctly, it's all about being against capitalism. 

Just as Marxists/Leftists think that capitalism has sole responsibility for -- believe it or not -- racism, sexism, poverty, inequality, war and (according to Marx) prostitution; so Klein and nearly all her fellow Leftists believe that capitalism has sole responsibility for global warming. 

This could lead people to the perfectly acceptable and justifiable conclusion that -- all along -- most of the Leftists who have spoken out against global warming were really speaking out against capitalism. It may well follow from that many of these virulent anti-capitalists might therefore have simply manufactured (or at least endorsed) the global-warming theory (or at least parts thereof) in order to attack capitalism. After all, anti-capitalists (or socialists) did exactly the same thing with the global-cooling scare of the 1970s.

Not only that: all sorts of other causes, theories and movements have been used as a means to bring about the death of capitalism: anti-racism, “black rights”, “gay liberation”, the adoption of environmentalist positions, anti-globalism (another idée fixe of Naomi Klein's), mass immigration and, more recently, the defense of Islam and Muslims. (The further Left you go, the truer this becomes.)

Don't take my word for all this, listen to Naomi Klein's own words in her new book:

“Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It's not about carbon - it's about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.”

Commentators have said that Klein only “turned to environmentalism” in 2009. What took her so long? Were there other weapons in her anti-capitalist arsenal before 2009 and have they now become a little blunt? 

Neoliberalism or Capitalism?

Naomi Klein has done more than almost anyone else to popularize the word “neoliberalism”.

Even though there may well be semantic differences between the words “capitalism” and “neoliberalism”, it's clear that this doesn't really matter in the end. It's often a difference that doesn't really make a difference. 

For example, what would change if you substituted the word “neoliberalism” with “capitalism” in Klein's following words from This Changes Everything?

“This, without a doubt, is neoliberalism’s [capitalism's] single most damaging legacy: the realization of its bleak vision has isolated us enough from one another that it became possible to convince us that we are not just incapable of self-preservation but fundamentally not worth saving.” 

The average Leftist zombie, of course, wouldn’t be able to distinguish capitalism from neoliberalism (unless he had a handy book by Chomsky or Naomi Klein in his backpack). That's not to say that some Leftists wouldn't be able to do so. And it's not to say that there are no differences.

Leftists often seem to hint --- rather than state -- at the fact that neoliberalism is capitalism gone bad/extreme. (Or, as Noam Chomsky put it, neoliberalism is “capitalism with gloves off”.) But, when you think about it, they shouldn’t believe this because that would imply that they also believe that once-upon-a-time capitalism -- i.e., before contemporary neoliberalism -- wasn't (that) extreme/bad. Yet they can't possibly believe that. Leftists have always believed that capitalism is bad/extreme. 

So what's all this guff about “neoliberalism”? Is it just a gimmicky “sign-substitution” (to use Jacques Derrida's term) used to disguise the fact that people either got bored with -- or embarrassed by -- the use of the word “capitalism”? Either that, or communists/socialists/progressives wanted to pretend they were talking about something entirely new when they dropped the word “neoliberalism” into every conversation.

The best was to put all this is that way Doreen Massey put it in 2013 in an article for the Guardian: 'Neoliberalism has hijacked our vocabulary'. Except, of course, I would put it this way: The word 'neoliberalism' has hijacked our vocabulary.

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