Naomi Klein Au­thor/ac­tivist takes on me­dia’s (and her own) Trump ad­dic­tion

Toronto-based ac­tivist jour­nal­ist takes on me­dia’s Trump ad­dic­tion, Trudeau’s arms build-up and how NDP lead­er­ship con­tenders are miss­ing a Bernie San­ders-style op­por­tu­nity


Break­ing down the shell game be­hind U.S. pol­i­tics is ac­tivist jour­nal­ist Naomi Klein’s spe­cialty. In her lat­est book, No Is Not Enough: Re­sist­ing The New Shock Pol­i­tics And Win­ning The World We Need, Klein warns, six months into Don­ald Trump’s dizzy­ing pres­i­dency, not to take our eyes off the klep­toc­racy-in-the-mak­ing be­hind the re­al­ity freak show in Wash­ing­ton. Namely, the cor­po­rate CEOs, bil­lion­aires and bankers busily us­ing the cover of end­less crises in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics to launch a coup of their own against the wel­fare state.

No Is Not Enough of­fers up a disas­ter pre­pared­ness man­ual of sorts for the Amer­i­can Left, as well as a road map for re­sist­ing and re­claim­ing pop­ulist ground lost to the Trump forces. So what’s in it for Cana­di­ans?

Here are the high­lights from a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with Klein, who spoke with NOW from Toronto re­cently af­ter a book tour of the UK.

On Trump’s dis­trac­tion doc­trine as me­dia cat­nip Trump has al­ways un­der­stood the power of dis­trac­tion. This has been the story of his business ca­reer. Part of the rea­son he will not log off Twit­ter is be­cause he un­der­stands hav­ing ev­ery­body gasp­ing at his out­ra­geous­ness is bet­ter than hav­ing close at­ten­tion paid to what he’s ac­tu­ally do­ing in of­fice, which is a com­plete be­trayal of what he promised to do on many dif­fer­ent fronts. There is scarce at­ten­tion [be­ing paid] to the eco­nomic agenda be­ing ad­vanced by Trump’s Gold­man Sachs-in­ten­sive eco­nomic team. None of it can com­pete with the Trump show. The me­dia won’t take their eyes off this re­al­ity tele­vi­sion nar­ra­tive of im­peach­ment, who’s go­ing to be voted off the is­land, who’s go­ing to end up in­dicted. It’s me­dia cat­nip. It’s the daily schlock dis­trac­tion show.

On why war may be the next big ven­ture on Trump’s agenda There are many rea­sons why it might be in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­ter­ests to launch a full-fledged war. One would be to get the price of oil back up. [That’s] some­thing we know [Sec­re­tary of State] Rex Tiller­son would be in­ter­ested in, con­sid­er­ing his ties to ExxonMo­bil and the fact that ExxonMo­bil’s prof­its have been way down since they in­vested so heav­ily in ex­pen­sive oil in the Al­berta tar sands. This is some­thing they [Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion] share with Putin. [Rus­sia’s] ma­jor ex­port is oil and gas [and] they’ve been in a bud­get cri­sis since the price of oil col­lapsed, with huge im­pli­ca­tions for the econ­omy.

The price of oil needs to be at a cer­tain rate in or­der for ex­treme en­ergy – mean­ing tar sands, Arc­tic drilling – to make eco­nomic sense. From a cli­mate per­spec­tive it’s ab­so­lutely cat­a­strophic for us to be open­ing up th­ese new fos­sil fuel re­serves so prevent­ing the wars that will send the price of oil up is ab­so­lutely in keep­ing with the cli­mate in­ter­est.

On why im­peach­ing Trump won’t stop disas­ter cap­i­tal­ism’s cor­po­rate coup in the U.S. We [would] end up with the same agenda but with some­body sig­nif­i­cantly more bor­ing, like Mike Pence. Pence ter­ri­fies me.

Part of the rea­son I de­cided to write the book is I know his track record in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina when he was chair of the Repub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee, the or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vided the map for how to turn New Orleans into this lab­o­ra­tory for ex­treme so-called free mar­ket economics: pri­va­tiz­ing the school sys­tem, shut­ting down pub­lic hous­ing, cre­at­ing a tax-free pri­vate en­ter­prise zone, redact­ing labour pro­tec­tions. I con­sider him to be one of the most dan­ger­ous law­mak­ers. Ul­ti­mately, there needs to be a very dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal project that re­places them.

On what Cana­di­ans can do The dan­ger of a fig­ure like Trump is ev­ery­body looks good in com­par­i­son to him. That means we all have to do more. If we are dis­gusted by Trump’s racism, that means we can’t be sat­is­fied with tweets say­ing refugees are wel­come here. We need the kind of sub­stan­tive op­po­si­tion that would ac­tu­ally open our bor­ders to peo­ple whose lives are be­com­ing less safe un­der Trump and who are be­ing de­nied en­try un­der Trump. Tan­gi­bly, that means re­peal­ing the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Coun­try agree­ment, as one ex­am­ple.

It’s one thing [for Trudeau] to say we can’t pick a fight with our ma­jor trad­ing part­ner. But this ma­jor in­crease in weapons spend­ing that [Canada has an­nounced] is a di­rect re­sponse to Trump go­ing to NATO and say­ing “we need you to pull your weight,” which is code for “buy more Amer­i­can weapons.”

On why Trudeau may be as bad for the planet as Trump With Trump, peo­ple know what they’re get­ting, they un­der­stand that they have a pres­i­dent that’s gone ab­so­lutely rogue on cli­mate. The dan­ger of Trudeau and [Al­berta NDP Pre­mier Rachel] Not­ley is they’re so good at say­ing the right things and in­trodu- cing some gen­uinely good cli­mate poli­cies that it is mask­ing the fact that they’re over­see­ing mas­sive ex­pan­sion in tar sands pro­duc­tion, which is cat­a­strophic for the planet and a com­plete be­trayal of Canada’s com­mit­ments un­der the Paris ac­cord. So it lulls peo­ple into com­pla­cency.

On why the Leap Man­i­festo’s blue­print for change fiz­zled within the NDP It’s clear pow­er­ful peo­ple in the NDP were very fright­ened by the idea of be­ing in con­flict with the Not­ley gov­ern­ment so they wanted the Leap to go away, but the is­sues that we rep­re­sented are not go­ing any­where. Now that Al­berta isn’t the only NDP gov- ern­ment and BC doesn’t want pipe­lines… we’ll see what the next chap­ter holds.

On how NDP lead­er­ship con­tenders are miss­ing a Bernie San­ders-style op­por­tu­nity Politi­cians [in Canada] are a lot more con­cerned with me­dia portrayals. What we’re see­ing from the Cor­byn and San­ders camps is an un­will­ing­ness to al­low the cor­po­rate press to set the terms for the de­bate. At the lo­cal level and in­ter­na­tion­ally we’re see­ing more in­ter­est than ever [in the Leap]. In Thun­der Bay, there’re plans to run a slate of [Leap] can­di­dates to take over city coun­cil.

“The me­dia can’t take their eyes off the Trump show and who’s be­ing voted off the is­land. It’s cat­nip.”

On whether she’s killed her own Trump ad­dic­tion [Laughs] No, I haven’t. I’m in the cul­ture like ev­ery­body else. But I’m about to go off­line for as much of the sum­mer as pos­si­ble. Ask me again in a cou­ple months. This in­ter­view has been con­densed and edited. adriav@now­ | @eco­holic­na­tion

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