Reveler asked his friend Kirk Klocke, journalist with The Guardian, US, to share his thoughts on Naomi Klein's latest book: No is Not Enough
What immediately struck me as noteworthy about Naomi Klein’s 2017 title No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need was its lightning-fast turnaround at press. Throughout this neatly printed volume, the reader does a double take – weren’t these Trump & Co. antics just featured in the news a couple weeks ago? Perhaps in hearing day-in and day-out of this administration’s constant coldhearted and regressive policy shifts, we grow weary of yet another headline attached to a photo of a group of out-of-touch, crusty old white crony capitalist white men proudly signing into law their latest effort to force our nation back into some bygone era, when the marginalizing of all except those of their own feather came with zero guilt.
A native of Canada and the daughter of highly-educated, politically engaged parents, it’s no surprise her body of work is left-leaning, and unapologetically zeroes in on the darker corners of unchecked capitalism. No Is Not Enough is a sort of ten-year, Trump-infused doubling down on the thesis she brings to light in her 2007 book Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In Shock Doctrine, Klein used the war in Iraq as a metaphor for a recurring theme everywhere: Disasters, even institutionally contrived ones like Iraq, are often an irresistible opportunity for those in power to push through an otherwise unpopular agenda in the name of supposed national security and populist fear. From Augusto Pinochet’s rise and fall in Chile to Russia under Putin annexing Crimea and the U.K.’s shortsighted “Brexit” decision, the pattern repeats itself over and over. Policies shoved through in crises end up being sugar-coated rocks for the masses, while the select few with interests in the likes of Exxon, Haliburton, and Goldman Sachs get to watch from a safe distance, cracking open bottles of Dom.
No Is Not Enough thoughtfully lays out where – in Klein’s view – we are now, how that happened, how it could get worse, how it could get better, and her two-fold call to action: That is, first we must take a hard second look at ourselves, our prejudices and biases and privilege. Partly what scares us about Trump is that he reflects the things we hate most about ourselves. The second part of Klein’s call to action is that we move away from the sidelines of passive resentment and into the light of action at every level, from chit chat in the grocery store to supporting better candidates for state and national office. In laying out where we are now, Klein highlights the staggering inequality and how the Trump administration represents a continuation of the status quo. His cabinet members are mascots for the mega-rich. He surrounds himself with those who are willing to turn back the clock on common sense environmental protections that have lifted the smog that is now killing China. And any news that might keep big business in check is “fake.”
In a sample of Klein’s words, where we are looks like this:
“With unleashed white supremacy and misogyny, with the world teetering on the edge of ecological collapse, with the very last vestiges of the public sphere set to be devoured by capital, it’s clear that we need to do more than draw a line in the sand and say “no more.” Yes, we need to do that and we need to chart a credible and inspiring path to a different future. And that future cannot simply be where we were before Trump came along (aka the world that gave us Trump). It has to be somewhere we have never been before.”
In telling the tale of how it could get worse, Klein draws a grim doomsday portrait of a world in which the poor begin to die off in masses of starvation and drought. Military becomes the rule of law, and only the top fraction of a percent of the population have the means to retreat into walled-off urban enclaves.
In a system where someone who lost by millions of votes can still “win,” it’s easy to be cynical about voting next time. What’s the use, right? But that’s where this book takes us in the final section, “How Things Could Get Better.” Klein writes that it’s essentially too late for symbolic baby steps. She implores the reader to figure out how they can get involved turning our society back to one of connectedness, not winner-takes-all competition, where in the end, no one is really a winner.
In the end, the world does what it does, and no one book, no one activist, and no one head of state will set in motion the butterfly effect of change ultimately needed to drive sustainable life on this planet. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, and maybe a whole lot worse. But if there’s one thing that history proves, it’s that mankind can change its collective behavior. Everyone just must get really, uncomfortable first. If you recall, it took lakes and rivers literally going up in flames before the political will to establish a meaningful EPA arose. Many had to die in otherwise preventable plane crashes before pilot checklists were adopted as an industry standard.
No Is Not Enough will wake you up and make you upset, but that’s what we all need, especially if we’re comfortable. As I was finishing the book, I saw what Klein encourages play out in real life with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) policy. To everyone’s surprise, Trump backed off his anti-amnesty stance – but only after days and days of public outcry were enough to convince him that his popularity, or in his worldview, “ratings” were severely tarnished.
So, change is possible. And strange as it may seem, Trump may be the blessing in disguise that the U.S. needs in order to shed the last of its Mad Men era fantasy for good, and catch up to the rest of the developed world on health care, child care, energy, immigration, criminal justice, and corporate accountability.
No Is Not Enough is a must-read for 2017. The truth is bittersweet, but the future isn’t hopeless. Klein gives us the nudge we need to get off the couch and actually participate in making our country better.