Naomi Klein’s Latest (Or the Ironic, Stagnant Ideas of “This Changes Everything”)

by Keith Taylor

A recent interview with prominent activist Naomi Klein featured on On Point with Tom Ashbrook (podcast it, please!) left a surprisingly bad taste in my mouth. I’ve been excited about Klein’s latest book having long been an admirer of her work. But after listening to the interview, I found Klein to be devoid of any real vision outside of the standard left-of-center perspectives that have proven inadequate and obsolete.

A few of my critiques…

-Klein continues a stereotypical exoticizing of center-left Scandinavian governments (Naomi, Norway’s surplus is built on OIL wealth…).

-Klein has no clear definition of capitalism. She seems to be for Germany’s solar economy (which is propped up on shoddy foundations; she’s blind to that) which would seem to be capitalist by her “definition.”  Plus, she doesn’t seem to see the aforementioned Scandinavian systems as capitalist, which is strange considering the Norwegian oil surplus is built upon international oil sales.

-Klein also seems to want to apply a one-size-fits-all model to the problem. Her solution? State socialism. It’s pretty obvious that’s her end game, but she doesn’t go as far as to call it that.

-Klein says the problem is out of touch government and corporate power. Her solution? MORE GOVERNMENT. …and here I thought government was the problem.

-Klein’s worst offense is in “speaking truth to power.” She claims rightfully that the current economic system is irrational. She then proceeds to state how her vision is better for the wealthy and they must come around. Wow… just wow… it’s this entire crock that fits into this empirically false narrative of “if we tell the truth and provide reason, reason will overcome.” …really? How’s that worked for humanity? I think Socrates might have something to say to Klein about this.

Also, there is an emphasis on creating jobs. I reject the notion that jobs are taken as a necessity for society. Can we not create a vision beyond jobs as a primary policy outcome?

We need more institutional diversity, and new policy ideas.  Klein clearly falls short of this.

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