May 05, 2021
Naomi Klein is still remembered
by many as an influential figure in the
anti-globalization/anti-capitalism movement which shook the Western
world 20 years ago.
No Logo and, later,
The Shock Doctrine,
opened many people's eyes for the first time to the manipulative
ways of the global neoliberal system.
It is only to be expected, therefore, that there are parts of her
latest book, How to Change Everything, 1 with
which we are in agreement.
For example, we would very much echo her description of "disaster
capitalism" as being,
"when the rich and powerful take advantage of
painful shocks to widen existing inequalities instead of correcting
"The rich and
powerful see these tragedies as chances to seize control and
change things in ways that favor banks, industry, and powerful
politicians, not ordinary people.
opportunities for change because they disrupt normal life. In a
state of emergency, ordinary laws and practices may be
People feel desperate
They may be so
concerned with survival or recovery that they cannot focus on
the large questions of what is being done, and who is
Likewise, we are
completely on board with her warnings against greenwashing, 4
movement's drift toward business-oriented solutions" 5
and "the powerful influence of pro-business ideas". 6
The book commendably
"the scars of
industrial progress" 7 back to the mechanistic
philosophies propounded by the likes of John Locke, René
Descartes and Francis Bacon, 8 with his vision of the
Earth as "an unliving machine whose mysteries could be mastered
and plundered by the human mind". 9
Klein even quotes
Henry David Thoreau when he declared:
"The Earth I
tread on is not a dead, inert mass. It is a body, has a spirit,
But, sadly, the
work as a whole leaves a saccharine after-taste of inauthenticity in
the mouth of the discerning reader.
Part of the
problem, of course, is that the book is aimed at teenagers and is
subtitled 'The Young Human's Guide to Protecting the Planet and
Klein wrote it
"with" Rebecca Stefoff, a professional scribe who
specializes in targeting that particular age group, and who,
on her own site, actually
refers to the work as "my newest book"!
Regardless of who
was ultimately the actual author, the simplified language and
explanations give the book the rather sinister feel of being nothing
but carefully-crafted propaganda aimed at influencing a particular
generation in a certain, very specific, way.
There is, of
course, much promotion of the
Greta Thunberg brand, with the
mythologized version of her story (now entirely debunked by
wheeled out with a facile zeal which allows the authors to describe
the Swedish youngster's autism as "Greta's Superpower".
can be a powerful way to make a statement, but protest doesn't
always make things happen overnight.
At first people
ignored Greta as she sat with her sign. Gradually, though, her
protest got a bit of attention in the news", says their
"A movement can
start out as small as a single Swedish schoolgirl sitting on a
step, holding a sign that warns of climate change, then grow to
cover the world".
Ah yes, of course.
That's how the world works, children.
Now go back to
The book even
celebrates the fact that,
2019, Time magazine named Greta Thunberg its
youngest-ever Person of the Year for her activism in
calling attention to the climate crisis",
feeling it necessary to mention that Time is owned by
Marc Benioff of Salesforce, a leading associate of
WEF and enthusiast for the
Fourth Industrial Revolution and Great Reset.
There are times
when one has the impression of reading not so much a book as a
glossy advertising brochure for the "renewable energy" industry, aka
There is lots of
talk about wind turbines and solar panels, the latter being hailed ,
hope for survival",
"a step toward green, renewable energy - and environmental
Klein and Stefoff
rightly declare, of fossil fuels:
fossil fuels to power our lives means sacrificing people and
these fuels, people's healthy lungs and bodies must be
sacrificed to the bad air and the dangerous work of coal mining.
and water are also sacrificed to damage from mining, drilling,
and oil spills".
But there is
strangely no mention of the
extraction, destruction and pollution involved in the
manufacture, transportation and disposal of solar panels, pieces of
industrial equipment which seem to have been turned into organic and
"renewable" offshoots of Nature herself by the briefest wave of the
magical greenwashing wand.
Sick bags all round
for the passage where someone called Henry Red Cloud justifies
covering what was once a traditional Native village with solar
panels by insisting that,
was always part of Natives' lives…. It ties in with our culture,
our ceremony, our language, our songs"
and describes those installing this industrial hardware as
The authors are, in
fact, quite shameless in promoting an explicitly hi-tech industrial
future, while dressing up their rhetoric with talk of Thoreau and
nature and age-old Native culture.
Anyone battling to
protect the English countryside from the
HS2 high-speed railway line project might be interested to know
that Klein and Stefoff think the answer to environmental problems is
"build networks of fast electric trains".
for the environmental crisis (questioned but not entirely dismissed)
industrial "carbon capture
and geoengineering schemes such as "placing mirrors in orbit to
keep sunlight from reaching the Earth, sending chemicals into
the atmosphere to create artificial clouds, and building giant
filters to pull greenhouse gases out of the air".
They could only
hope to get away with the notion of "vehicles that do not emit
in a book aimed at the young, since anyone not born yesterday has
understood that electric cars merely displace pollution to the site
of power generation.
There is much talk
of the "tools" with which the planet will be saved, which seems to
be a rather coy way of referring not just to the continuing advance
of the very industrial system which caused the mess in the first
place, but to its progression into a new digital phase.
Henry Red Cloud's
tribal ancestors no doubt had a pretty good idea of where the sun
passed through the sky in different seasons, but today he feels the
"a tool called
a Solar Pathfinder to find where the sun would hit each side of
the house every day of the year".
have the knowledge, tools, and technologies we need to do
amazing things", enthuse the authors.
"Data and tools"
are the key, they repeat:
"The data is
mountains of information. Over many years, measurements have
been made of temperatures, wind speeds and directions, rainfall
amounts, levels of salt in the oceans, sizes of glaciers, and
The tools are
computer programs called models that are designed to mimic our
planet's complex climate system".
Sometimes we are
left to read between the lines, as the detail is so sketchy (the
kids aren't interested in boring old facts, right?).
Does "investing in
more efficient power grids and working to make electricity
affordable and clean",
to the smart metering being advanced as part of the Fourth
existing buildings, and constructing new ones to make efficient use
of energy and water"
be leading us into the smart cities which are planned to be our
techno-prisons under the new global order?
Not once in this
book, for all the eco-rhetoric, is there any questioning of the
actual need for "high-speed trains"
Indeed, the authors
go out of their way to insist that they want to see a society which
is "modern and wealthy".
Their work is, in
fact, compelling evidence of "the powerful influence of
of which they themselves complain!
They do not want to
challenge the industrial capitalist system at all, in fact,
rather to develop it yet further, into "smart" Fourth Industrial
If Klein and her
accomplices were really interested in protecting nature and
traditional ways of life, then they would not be promoting the
"tools" of the next phase of industrial repression and destruction.
Instead, they are
using the very real environmental crisis, and people's very
real concerns about it, in order to garner support for a political
maneuver motivated by the potential for financial gain.
The fake green
youth "movement" they are trying to build is intended to push the
agenda of "A Green New Deal",
which is nothing but a massive hand-out of public money to those
astute businessfolk and financiers who have invested in the
deceitful "renewables" bubble.
Klein and Stefoff
make, or break, the Green New Deal.
or governments that try to make a Green New Deal a reality will
need powerful social movements backing them up, demanding
change, and resisting efforts to hang on to harmful old ways.
will need to go beyond just supporting leaders and governments
that steer their countries toward change - they will have to
push those leaders and governments to do more".
capitalists talk about the need for government to "do more", what
they really mean is that they want governments to shove more of our
money in their direction.
One of the big plus
the Covid spectacle, for Klein and Stefoff, has been
the way in which,
found funds to pump into their countries' economies".
They see the same
logic apply to their pet climate cause and declare, in language
chillingly reminiscent of Klaus Schwab's
Great Reset pitch:
moment in time also brings an extraordinary opportunity".
A big inspiration
for them was the USA's Marshall Plan, which enabled the financially
and structurally ruined nations of western Europe to "build back
better" after the Second World War and also constituted a massive
advance for the profitability and domination of US
They are quite
blatant about this, in fact:
Plan did much to put European factories, businesses, schools,
and social programs back on their feet. And, as Marshall had
predicted, by lifting up the stricken nations of Europe, the
United States helped itself, too.
stronger trade and political ties to those nations, which were
ready to engage in international commerce much sooner than they
would have been without the Marshall Plan.
Today, with the
climate crisis upon us, some people have called for a global or
green Marshall Plan for the world".
And they add:
like these be expensive?
Yes, but the
New Deal and the Marshall Plan proved that governments can find
resources when they have to.
More recently, the US government
spent enormous sums bailing out bankrupt financial institutions
and buoying up the economy after a financial crisis and
recession in 2008-2009 and again amid the COVID-19 economic
The money is
there - if the need is clear and people demand it. And the need
for climate action is clear.
movements across the United States and around the world are
calling for their governments to meet the climate crisis with
sweeping programs of changes".
So there we have
"Sweeping programs of change" involving enormous amounts of
money directed to helping "international commerce"...
This is the same
"disaster capitalism" which the authors decried earlier in the book,
"when the rich
and powerful take advantage of painful shocks to widen existing
inequalities instead of correcting them".
It is telling that
at a time when people are increasingly clued up about the
wheeled out on the once-interesting The Intercept site
to declare that any such insight was,
conspiracy theory" which "blends together legitimate critiques
with truly dangerous anti-vaccination fantasies and outright
In 2021, Naomi
Klein is no longer warning us about the global ruling class's "Shock
Doctrine" but, cynically and hypocritically, helping to
1. Naomi Klein
with Rebecca Stefoff: 'How To Change Everything - The Young
Human's Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other' - Athenium Books for Young Readers, 2021, e-book.
(as e-book % position) are to this work.