The “System Change” Doctrine

By Adam MorrisOctober 21, 2014

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

NAOMI KLEIN’s long-anticipated book This Changes Everything was released on September 16, just before the historic September 21 climate marches in New York and other cities. These were the largest demonstrations for climate action to date, timed to precede the equally historic UN Climate Summit held on September 23. As Klein herself observes, corporate media outlets usually confine their coverage of the melting Antarctic ice sheet and other climate change horrors to back-page or last-minute “science” segments — that is, when they address climate change at all. But with 400,000 strong in the streets of New York, mainstream media conglomerates would have to respond.

Or would they? Less than 24 hours after the march had concluded in New York, the US expanded its bombing campaign against ISIL and its allies to targets in Syria. The aerial assaults were conducted mere hours after thousands of climate activists conducted a sit-in on Wall Street as part of the “Flood Wall Street” protests. In what has become a routine display of police brutality and the infringement of First Amendment rights of free assembly and speech, peaceful civil disobedience at Flood Wall Street was broken up by police and pepper spray.

These events are not unrelated, as the protesters already understood. Flood Wall Street was intended to draw a direct connection between the lifestyles and wealth-generating activities of the one percent and the growing evidence of ecocidal destruction and environmental pollution that underwrite corporate profits.

Peace activist and Code Pink cofounder Medea Benjamin was in attendance. She was not merely showing solidarity with the climate cause, but was also there to draw a firm link between climate change, the finance industry, and US bombing campaigns in the Middle East. Speaking on “Democracy Now” later that week, she reminded listeners that US foreign policy in the region is predicated on ensuring that multinational corporations maintain access to Iraq’s oil riches.

Indeed, the “protection of US interests” is usually the cited rationale for continued American military activity in Iraq, as it has been ever since lack of evidence forced the George W. Bush administration to drop its accusations that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Likewise, the current campaign against ISIL is not waged on behalf of the Iraqis, the Yazidis, or anyone else in the Middle East, but for the benefit of oil companies operating in the region. As Steve Coll wrote in The New Yorker at the start of the Iraq bombing campaign in August, it is no coincidence that the Iraq air strikes began in defense of Erbil, capital of the oil-rich, American-friendly region of Kurdistan.

Defending these extraction sites in turn requires massive carbon emissions: the US military is the single largest consumer of oil in the world. US imperialism and military adventurism, then, is both a key support and a key contributor to mass carbon consumption. Noting this, Benjamin continued,

We see the military-industrial-oil complex all together in this. And I think it’s so sad that when the world is crying out for solutions, both solutions to the climate crisis and nonviolent political solutions to the issue of extremists, what the Obama administration is giving us is a support for the oil monarchies, a support for U.S. oil companies and continued perpetual war.

Like Benjamin, Naomi Klein is interested in calling attention to these links. She too discerns the military-industrial-oil complex at the heart of the climate change dilemma. But the connections she draws are broader still. The military-industrial-oil complex is, for Klein, the symptom of a more systemic disorder, to wit, the opposition between free-market expansionism and mankind’s continued survival on the planet. Or as Klein puts it herself: “Our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion.” So no matter what, something’s gotta give.

The title of Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, refers to this inevitability. The world as we know it will change radically over the next 50 years. Either we change our everyday behaviors along with our entire economic system, or they will be altered by the winds (and waters, and fires) of far less-predictable changes to the earth’s weather patterns. The environmentalist slogan “System Change, Not Climate Change” apprehends this true set of choices, Klein contends. The perceived alternative of continuing business as usual is a fantasy. It will not lead to an indefinite extension of the status quo, but instead constitutes the election of “climate-change-fueled disaster capitalism — profiteering disguised as emission reduction, privatized hyper-militarized borders, and, quite possibly, high-risk geoengineering when things spiral out of control.”

The either/or scenario of System Change versus Climate Change leaves no room for climate change denial of any sort, because Klein has no time for it — and neither does humanity. The science is in, and has been for some time: among environmental scientists not actively shilling for oil companies, there is near-unanimous agreement that the climate is changing as a result of human activity. As scientists explained at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, a two degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures would have been avoidable had the world reduced carbon emissions by two percent yearly from 1992 to 2005. Various sorts of lip service were paid to meeting this and other goals, but nothing much has been achieved. That is, unless you count new records in global emissions — estimates put carbon dioxide emissions 61 percent higher than they were in 1990. We’re now on track to a six-degree increase by the end of the century, according to several sources Klein cites. The effects of a six-degree increase are unknown and admittedly unpredictable, as the earth’s ecosystem is so large and complex that multiple-variable chain reactions — due to the total collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, or potentially massive releases of methane from Arctic permafrost — are extremely difficult to foresee or model.

On the economic front, such bastions of free-marketeering as the World Bank and business giants like PricewaterhouseCoopers are also sounding the alarm about the consequences of four- and six-degree warming. Klein has read these reports and many, many others: even with the aid of at least two research assistants, it took her over five years to research and write This Changes Everything. Scientific and economic studies by sundry academics, think tanks, environmental groups, and government entities are meticulously referenced in the 70-plus pages of endnotes that follow the text. Klein also visited and spoke with scientists, activists, politicians, and indigenous leaders from all over the world. She had done her homework, so to speak, and wants us to know the problem is clear and present. Even the Pentagon agrees: rather than doubt or dither, the Department of Defense recently announced it is preparing for threats climate change poses to national security.

So the real debate is about what can or should be done to ameliorate the effects of climate change as they arise and how to stem further elevation of average global temperatures. Faced with the utter failure of most world governments to heed any of the warnings the scientific community has been issuing at least since the Johnson administration, a significant subset of scientists has concluded that technological solutions are the only path to human survival on earth. If politicians and industry are unresponsive to the growing threat, the reasoning goes, then science must develop solutions that will be more palatable to governments than progressive abandonment of fossil fuels.

Some of these schemes involve machines that literally suck carbon from the atmosphere — or at least they do on paper, since to date, no cost-effective technology for removing carbon from the atmosphere has been invented. Others, the “high-risk geoengineering” projects Klein mentions, are within technical reach, but could pose problems even worse than increased temperatures. One approach popular among geoscientists, including those at Britain’s prestigious Royal Academy, is called Solar Radiation Management (SRM). This entails dimming the sun’s rays by using long hoses or special airplanes to spray sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere. Artificial clouds generated by the spray would last longer than natural clouds and also reflect more sunlight.

Though SRM might force us to kiss blue skies goodbye and welcome a permanent haze overhead, it could slow both planetary warming and consequently, the melting of glacial and polar ice. Even so, Klein points out that SRM does nothing to address the underlying problem of carbon pollution, which would presumably continue apace — especially given the diminished possibilities of solar power under “managed” skies — and continue to acidify the oceans. Once started, SRM could never be suspended or halted, since the sudden dissipation of artificial cloud cover would cause a stiff jump in temperature in very short order, what Klein describes as a “tidal wave of heat” sure to devastate the planet. Geoengineering projects like SRM are also likely to produce unanticipated effects, as some ecologists have warned. MIT’s Sallie Chisholm told Klein, “Proponents of research on geoengineering simply keep ignoring the fact that the biosphere is a player (not just a responder) in whatever we do, and its trajectory cannot be predicted.”

But there is another problem. And once more, it’s political. Even its evangelists agree that SRM will have “distributional consequences” with “spatial heterogeneity.” Klein cites Penn State geographer Petra Tschakert as translating this to mean “some countries are going to get screwed.” Of course, generating blankets of fake, reflective clouds will alter global rainfall patterns, depending on where and how the clouds are seeded. As we already know, the earth’s weather patterns are subtle and globally linked — Atlantic hurricanes begin as small depressions in the tropics. SRM is thus untestable in the physical world without actually going through with it, come what may. Computer models of SRM, however, suggest that some Asian and African countries could see rainfall plunge by 70-90 percent as a result of disrupted monsoon seasons, leading to crop failure and famine.

The assumption is that stratospheric sulfur injections would be carried out in the Northern Hemisphere, by one of the same technologically-advanced industrial powers that has most contributed to climate change-related disasters with its carbon emissions. Other scenarios, in which the injection takes place in the Southern Hemisphere, produce models showing beneficial rainfall increases in the African Sahel, but also a 20 percent hike in US and Caribbean hurricane frequency. The dangers of going down this road are clear. As Klein soberly remarks, “we would be wise to anticipate even small amounts of geoengineering unleashing a new age of weather-related geopolitical recrimination, paranoia, and possibly retaliation, with every future natural disaster being blamed — rightly or wrongly — on the people in faraway labs playing god.” This would certainly scuttle the coordinated international effort now required to combat climate change.

Expecting a technological fix, Klein cautions, is a mode of magical thinking that derives from man’s centuries-old quest to dominate nature — the same impulse that drives us to risk earthquakes with hydraulic fracturing and massive radioactive fallout with our nuclear reactors. In other words, more cause for suspicion. A recent announcement from Klein’s native Canada legitimates her cynicism: Saskatchewan’s state-owned electricity provider announced that it brought the first carbon-sequestering coal plant online in October. The plant will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent, storing the gas underground. But the gas will then be sold to a nearby oil company, called Cenovus, which will use it to “prime” nearby oil fields — a process that allows greater extraction of fossil fuels from depleting reservoirs, using pressure to wring more oil from dying wells.

Odds in the waiting game for salvational technologies are also stacked against us, as humanity has only shortened our collective deadline for drastic action by wantonly burning up more fossil fuels in the meantime. Moreover, excluding the invention of a Wonka-like carbon-sucking machine, plans for mitigating the consequences of further fossil fuel extraction require that some parts of the world be surrendered to rising oceans, intensified storms, or scorching drought and fires. Klein calls these areas “sacrifice zones.” Failure to cut emissions immediately and significantly will force “the kinds of monstrous calculations implicit in geoengineering —sacrifice part of Latin America in order to save all of China, or save the raining glaciers and land ice to prevent catastrophic global sea level rise but risk endangering India’s food source.” These decisions, Klein argues, are unacceptable. They are nothing less than genocidal.

Fossil fuel extraction sites have long been sacrifice zones: they tend to be war-ravaged and horrifically polluted, as in Iraq or the Niger Delta. Dirty manufacturing practices also created these zones. And especially since a cascade of neoliberal trade deals in the Clinton era encouraged corporations to offshore and outsource production, many of the dirtiest and most toxic industries were banished to places whose environmental protections were easily bought or traded for jobs: places like Bangladesh, Mexico, the Philippines, and China. This, of course, is the subject of Klein’s first book, No Logo.

But sacrifice zones have already begun creeping into the healthier, wealthier nations. The blown-off mountaintops of Appalachia, the disappearing coastal wetlands of Louisiana, the “cancer towns” in Southern industrial cities, and the poorer municipalities where fracking tends to take place in the US and UK — to name only a few — are already surrendered to our dependence on carbon pollution and disposable consumerism. The logic of free market capitalism, Klein explains, is to blame: when fossil fuels become rarer, the industry invents ever-more invasive and dirty methods for extracting fuel from the earth. Risks once deemed unacceptable — from deepwater drilling to fracking within sight of children’s playgrounds — are now accepted in the name of an “all of the above” energy policy.

People accept dirty industry and extraction because they are financially desperate, face insecure employment, and are distracted by crushing debt. It comes straight from the neoliberal blueprint Klein describes in her previous book The Shock Doctrine: when communities are made economically vulnerable, they will accept austerity and sacrifice, agree to the rollback of environmental standards, and relinquish publicly-held utilities and resources — all of which achieve the transfer of public wealth to privately-held multinationals. Thus, Klein argues, the simultaneous rise of global temperatures and so-called “free” trade deals constitutes some very bad timing. But of course, these are both rational results of the endless expansionism required by capitalist economies.

In what is perhaps the most moving and alarming chapter of the book, Klein discusses her own difficulty conceiving a child, possibly due to radiation exposure accumulated by spending so much time on airplanes as part of her reporting. This leads her to broader speculations on infertility crises generated by pollution. One unpublished study she cites, described by Mark Whitehouse in Bloomberg View, links proximity to fracking with low birth weights and unhealthy babies. Klein hears further anecdotal evidence when she visits Mossville, Louisiana. Fourteen chemical plants and refineries surround Mossville, whose women report a startling frequency of miscarriages, hysterectomies, and birth defects — in addition to the cancers and respiratory illnesses that plague areas with high levels of toxic pollution.

These women are the human exponents of a catastrophe afflicting countless species: the failure to regenerate. Full effects of the aquatic infertility crisis in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill remain to be seen, but the fishermen Klein visits in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi already report drastically reduced catches for small species with shorter life cycles. Klein also reports on the baby dolphin die-off in this past year — the first birthing season for bottlenose dolphins since the spill. By April, 235 baby dolphins had washed up dead on the Gulf Coast, 18 times higher than the usual death rate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association warned that dolphins will likely face “reduced survival and ability to reproduce.”

Like many of us, Klein spent many years assuming “Big Green” — the network of environmentalist and conservationist nonprofits and NGOs — was tackling the thorny problem of climate change, habitat depletion, and species extinction as best it could, each group from its own special-interest angle. I confess to a similar naïveté. The scales will fall from many a nature-loving eye as they scan Klein’s chapter “Fruits, Not Roots,” which chronicles the deep and disturbing ties between Big Green and Big Oil. The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund, it turns out, have taken money from Shell and BP. The World Resources Institute and the WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) also maintain “strategic” relationships with Shell and the Shell Foundation. This latter organization, like many corporate foundations and research institutes, advances a pro-growth, pro-business agenda under the guise of charity and goodwill.

Most disturbing of all is the Faustian pact between the Nature Conservancy and Big Oil. Not only does the Nature Conservancy include members of BP America, Chevron, and Shell on its “Business Council.” It also made Jim Rogers, the former CEO of the coal-hungry Duke Energy, the chairman of its board of directors. The Nature Conservancy also held over $26 million of investments in “energy” — including oil, coal, and gas — right up until Klein exposed them in The Nation. And if that wasn’t already damning enough, Klein discovered that the Nature Conservancy was drilling for gas and oil itself, on land entrusted to it as a nature preserve. Before handing over any money to Big Green groups, concerned environmentalists ought to consult her profile of the major players and their stance on divestment.

Klein has surely not endeared herself to the Big Green establishment. Nor does she play nice with celebrity CEOs who are likewise considered leaders on climate change initiatives. She skewers the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, T. Boone Pickens, and Bill Gates for the hypocritical mismatch between their public support for policies combatting climate change and the personal manner in which they invest their own wealth — what she calls a “firewall between mouth and money.” Special and lengthy critique is reserved for Richard Branson for his attempts to enhance Virgin’s brand recognition with grandiose, but inevitably empty promises to commit to green technology. Branson is a familiar foe, having first appeared in Klein’s crosshairs in her No Logo days, when she dissected his unique contribution to the corporate branding of Western societies. Her long denunciation of Branson in This Changes Everything is a welcome exposé of the most self-aggrandizing of these billionaire would-be saviors, but its incommensurate length makes it read like a screed, ultimately distracting from the far more important claims she makes in the book.

Crucially, these are claims not about our collective and inevitable doom — though there are plenty of footnotes and figures for macabre cynics. They are claims, as Lenin would put it, about What Is To Be Done. And here is where Klein manages to surprise and inspire. Her buoyancy, optimism, and resolve are not weakened by the increasingly steep challenges confronting humanity. On the contrary, this unique situation, terrifying as it is, offers concrete evidence that our economic system must be entirely restructured. The “free” market, she asserts, has proven incapable of slowing climate change — it’s only sped things up. Strict and punitive regulation for polluters, public ownership of utilities, and vast infrastructure projects in transit and green energy are the only viable paths forward. Privatized, consumerist capitalism cannot be “greened.”

The subtitle of her book, after all, plainly states the stakes: it’s “Capitalism vs. The Climate.” Globalized free trade and neoliberal, laissez-faire capitalism have not only failed to deliver the promised “trickle down” effect of increased prosperity for all. These ideologies have also wrecked the environment. Moreover, much of the action required to combat rising temperatures will also drive down historic levels of social inequality and resuscitate a public sphere driven to near-death surrender by decades of Reaganomics. Climate action will also strip power from a ruling corporate elite that reaps power and profit from pollution: “When climate change deniers claim that global warming is a plot to redistribute wealth,” Klein contends, “it’s not (only) because they are paranoid. It’s also because they are paying attention.”

Go ahead, call her a socialist. See if she cares. Klein is ready for a battle and is not afraid to own her politics. Though she doesn’t take up the “socialist” mantle, observing that so-called “socialist” countries were just as carbon-hungry and blameworthy as their capitalist competitors throughout the 20th century, Klein’s prescriptions nevertheless require big government plans to invest in renewable energy, expand public transit no matter the price, and redistribute public wealth that has been appropriated by the one percent. To pay for all this, Klein admits, “taxes will have to rise for everyone but the poor.” Quashing skepticism of such big-government spending in advance, Klein reminds the critics that given the two alternatives — climate change or system change — “[there is] no scenario in which we can avoid wartime levels of spending in the public sector.” Money spent on preventative measures would inevitably be spent on disaster and rescue spending, but holds the added benefit of easing inequality and climate change at the same time.

Thus, the programs Klein advocates as climate palliatives are inherent populist winners: vastly expanded and reduced-fare public transit, solar and wind energy production, environmental cleanup, and local agriculture — all of which would, by definition, create millions of jobs. These are doubtlessly expensive projects. But the money is there for the taking: citing a 2012 estimate by Oil Change International and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Klein observes that “Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies globally would conservatively save governments a total of $775 billion in a single year.” To this staggering sum, Klein adds a number of other redistributive measures already suggested by other government and interest groups. These include the one percent billionaire’s tax already floated by the UN ($46 billion/year); a low-rate financial tax on stocks, derivatives, and other financial instruments ($650 billion/year); closure of tax havens around the world, forcing the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes ($190 billion/year); cutting military spending of the top ten military powers by 25 percent ($325 billion/year); and a $50 tax per metric ton on carbon dioxide ($450 billion/year).

By Klein’s tally, this would total $2 trillion annually, all of which could be used to build out the infrastructure she describes. This figure doesn’t even include one of the most obvious of the measures Klein advocates in the book: raising royalties on Big Oil and imposing penalties on companies that pollute. Nor does it consider the windfall the federal government stands to gain if it ever summoned the courage to force Big Tech, Big Oil, and Big Pharma to repatriate the hundreds of billions they have stowed in offshore bank accounts. According to Bloomberg News, repatriation poses a potential revenue gain of between $30 billion and $90 billion annually.

So the challenge is not exactly financial. It is, once again, political. Wrenching the money away from Big Oil, Wall Street, and the multinational corporations allied with them will require an unprecedented political struggle. Throwing off the corporate albatross will first require taking back our government. Why does the government grant lavish subsidies to Big Oil when the poor and middle classes are forced into austerity? Because, Klein explains, these toxic industries spend $400,000 a day lobbying Congress for lax oversight that ensures they can cheaply and recklessly contaminate the planet. This bribery, Klein insists, must end.

But first we must overcome an era of political inertia. No more hope can be placed in flashy presidential candidates than in the Big Green groups compromised by Big Oil money. The future depends on our ability to take on the “corporate-state power nexus that underpins the extractive economy” by relearning coalition politics. Klein blames the dismaying lack of progress in halting climate change on the depoliticization of the public sphere achieved by decades of neoliberal economic policies that have forced us to focus more on our own entrepreneurial endeavors, precarious labor, and debt service than on shared civic endeavors. “In practice,” she writes, this means that

despite endless griping, tweeting, flash mobbing, and occupying, we collectively lack many of the tools that built and sustained the transformative movements of the past. Our public institutions are disintegrating, while the institutions of the traditional left — progressive political parties, strong unions, membership-based community service organizations — are fighting for their lives.

This leads Klein, an intellectual hero of many in the alter-globalization protests as well as the Occupy movement, to a change of heart regarding prefigurative politics:

I have, in the past, strongly defended the right of young movements to their amorphous structures — whether that means rejecting identifiable leadership or eschewing programmatic demands. And there is no question that old political habits and structures must be reinvented to reflect new realities, as well as past failures. But I confess that the last five years immersed in climate science has left me impatient. As many are coming to realize, the fetish for structurelessness, the rebellion against any kind of institutionalization, is not a luxury today’s transformative movements can afford.

This call is a call to old-fashioned arms, the ones that gave us the eight-hour workday, paid sick leave, and employee health care benefits — all fast disappearing into the fissures opened by our “flexible,” and “creative” economy of freelance contractors. An organized coalition between labor and climate activists, Klein imagines, could usher in a new wave of progressive standards, from fewer working hours to a guaranteed basic income.

The most compelling parts of This Changes Everything are the chapters where Klein describes activists already striking this more active, defiant posture as they organize to protect their cities, villages, rivers, woodlands, water, and air. She describes an expanding network of frontline community activists in places as far apart as Romania, Montana, and France — sites where Big Oil (and gas) is running into unexpected obstacles thrown up by pissed-off locals. The environmental movement now turns on these local pockets of resistance, from the elderly Oklahoma woman who locked herself by the neck to bulldozing equipment along the Keystone XL route, to the checkpoints set up by residents in Ierissos, a Greek town that has been subjected to intense police brutality as a result of its residents’ resistance to plans for gold mining in the nearby Skouries forest. After police made the mistake of tear-gassing a schoolyard full of children, the Skouries cause rose to the attention of Amnesty International and environmental activists across the world.

Klein refers to these sites as Blockadia, “a roving transnational conflict zone that is cropping up with increasing frequency and intensity wherever extractive projects are attempting to dig and drill, whether for open-pit mines, or gas fracking, or tar sands oil pipelines.” In Klein’s estimation, Blockadia represents a reawakening of the democratic impulse to give power back to the people.

Likewise, Klein is excited by the organized activism of North America’s indigenous communities. In Canada, she writes, “no one has more legal power to halt the reckless expansion of the tar sands than the First Nations living downstream whose treaty-protected hunting, fishing, and trapping grounds have already been fouled.” She is heartened by promising recent legal victories achieved by First Nation tribes in halting and delaying extraction projects on their land. Indigenous groups and their allies have frustrated the advances of Big Oil on several fronts, most notably in their opposition to the Keystone XL. The pipeline remains in limbo, Klein explains, despite the fact that TransCanada was so sure of the project’s approval that it spent $1 billion on pipes that might, with any hope, never be used to transport tar-sands oil.

President Obama has thus far lacked the foresight or backbone to nix the pipeline. Despite his endearing lip service about climate change in his 2010 Nobel acceptance speech, Obama has done little to make good on promises he’d made as a candidate. At his nomination victory speech in Saint Paul in 2008, he announced his certainty that “generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick, and good jobs to the jobless. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.” So much for all that.

It’s true that the Obama administration has taken some small but important steps in the face of a torpid Congress, such as directing the EPA to develop regulatory standards for carbon pollution. But Obama has triangulated on an “all of the above” energy policy that accepts all of Big Oil’s worst practices, and has continued to bow to industry pressure to protect their assets in the Middle East under the thin premise of making the US safe from terrorism. And he definitively squandered the opportunity to reform Detroit and Wall Street when it was still within his power to do so, as Klein is sure to mention.

No longer can we hang our hopes on shiny presidential promises or technological fixes. The economy must be dismantled and rebuilt, and to get started, we need to be aware of the intersections between oil, war, police brutality, the surveillance state, “free” trade, poverty and inequality, and the finance industry. If this means a resurgent socialist coalition for the 21st century and beyond, then so be it. Referring to the proud socialist convictions of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant glossed the emerging consciousness of this new wave of activism:

And I think she’s right on the mark. If you look at the extreme suffering that is being meted out to the people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, all the places which have been the target of the brutal imperialism from the West, the bloodbath that Iraq is going through, where is the solution to all of this? The only solution can be on the basis of rejecting capitalism, the system that, you know, means that a few billionaires and a few ruling-class politicians at the top get to decide how they’re going to divide up the world’s resources and go to war in that process. And who fights the wars? It’s the poor of the United States. Who dies in the war? It’s the poor of those countries. So I think she brings a message of solidarity that we need to recognize, that our solidarity lies not only as American working people, but as working people globally against a system, against a billionaire class that is continuing to exert such brutality and really miserable conditions for most of us. […] there’s a shift happening, not only in terms of how miserable the conditions have become for the majority of the world’s population, but the fact that the people who are at the receiving end aren’t going to be quiet.

Naomi Klein agrees: it’s time to make some noise.


Adam Morris contributes regularly to the Los Angeles Review of Books. You can reach him @adamjaymorris.

LARB Contributor

Adam Morris is a writer and translator living in San Francisco. Recent essays and translations have appeared in BOMB, n+1, The Point, and The Believer. He is author of American Messiahs: False Prophets of a Damned Nation (Liveright, 2019).


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