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Full Interview: Naomi Klein on “No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics”

Web ExclusiveJune 13, 2017
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Full interview with Naomi Klein about her book, “No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’m Juan González. Welcome to all of our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world.

The attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., have filed an anticorruption lawsuit against President Trump, accusing him of, quote, “unprecedented constitutional violations.” The lawsuit alleges Trump has flagrantly violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments since he became president.

AMY GOODMAN: The lawsuit cites reports that the embassies of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and other countries have booked expensive rooms and held events at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., possibly seeking to win favor with the president. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced the lawsuit on Monday.

ATTORNEY GENERAL KARL RACINE: President Trump’s businesses and his dealings violate the Constitution’s anticorruption provisions, known as the Emoluments Clauses. My office window is just a few floors above where we’re sitting today, and I can tell you that as I look out the window and see the tower of the Trump International Hotel, we know exactly what’s going on every single day. We know that foreign governments are spending money there in order to curry favor with the president of the United States. Just one example, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose government has important business and policy before the president of the United States, has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Trump International Hotel.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Resistance against Trump’s profiteering while in the Oval Office has taken other shapes, as well. Last month, artists projected the words “Pay Trump Bribes Here” on the front of Trump International Hotel.

Meanwhile, in another setback to the Trump agenda, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled Monday that President Trump had overstepped his legal authority in signing an executive order seeking to ban all refugees and citizens from six majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, today, we spend the rest of the hour with someone who has been closely following the various forms of resistance against the Trump presidency: the best-selling author, journalist, activist Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and also This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. She’s out today with a new book; it’s called No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. In the book, Klein writes, quote, “This is one attempt to uncover how we got to this surreal political moment. It is also an attempt to predict how, under cover of shocks and crises, it could get a lot worse. And it’s a plan for how, if we keep our heads, we might just be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically better future.”

Naomi Klein, welcome to Democracy Now!

NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you, Amy. I’m very pleased to be with you. And hi, Juan.


AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. You’re beginning your tour across the United States. The book is called No Is Not Enough. What do you mean?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, as you know, Amy, I have been covering crises and major shocks to countries for a long time. And to be honest with you, when I wrote The Shock Doctrine and it came out 10 years ago, I actually kind of thought no was enough, in the sense that I thought that if we understood this particular tactic—and what I mean by “the shock doctrine” is the ways in which large-scale shocks to societies, large-scale crises, economic crises, wars, coups, natural disasters, have systematically been used by right-wing governments, using the disorientation and the panic in society, to push through a very radical, pro-corporate agenda. You know, and I have been on the show many times talking about examples of this, like Hurricane Katrina and how that tragedy and the dislocation of the residents of that city was used to privatize the school system, attack public housing, introduce a tax-free free enterprise zone under George Bush’s administration. But after that book came out—it came out in 2007—we had the 2008 financial crisis. And all around the world, people did say no. You know, people knew that they were being forced to pay for the crisis of the bankers. They took to the streets. They occupied plazas. They stayed there for months. They said, “No. No more.” But they didn’t, in so many cases, have a plan for what to do instead, beyond just, you know, we don’t want the austerity, we don’t want the attacks. There wasn’t a credible plan put forward, in many cases, for how we could have a different and better economy, that responded to the underlying reasons why we are seeing these shocks.

And so, I think in this moment where Trump is this sort of rolling shock—you know, every day there’s some shocking news. We just heard a few examples of it in the headlines. Behind the scenes, we’re seeing that same agenda advance very quickly. I’m concerned about what’s going to happen if they have even larger shocks to exploit, not the shock of just Trump himself and what he’s doing and the various investigations, the various gaffes, the various palace dramas, the rest of it, but I think it’s really crucial that in preparing for that, we understand that there has to be a yes, what we want instead of the shock doctrine. So that’s why I called it No Is Not Enough and put a great big “No” on the cover, because I just want to make sure no one misses that message, because it’s a hard-won insight after many years.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, one of the interesting things, to me, in reading your book was the—how you connect, for instance, the work you had done long ago on branding and how the Trump administration has become the branding of the president and how he was able to understand the importance of branding way back during when he was doing the Apprentice program.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In fact, you talk about, you analyze The Apprentice and its impact on American consciousness.

NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So, I think we need to understand that Trump is not playing by the rules of politics. He’s playing by the rules of branding. And, you know, there have been presidential conflicts of interest before. There have been presidents with business interests before. But there has never been a fully commercialized global brand as a sitting U.S. president. That is unprecedented.

And the reason that’s unprecedented is because this is a relatively new business model. It is—the business model that has been adopted by the Trump Organization is really not one that existed before the 1990s. It is what I called in my first book, No Logo, the hollow brand model, right? And the model comes out of the fact that in the—so, the original history of branding is you have a product—you know, maybe it was rice, maybe it was beans, maybe it was shoes—you’re a manufacturer first, but you want people to buy your product, so you brand it. You put a logo on it. You identify it with, you know, some sort of iconic image, like Uncle Ben’s or whatever it is, right? You give it a kind of personality.

That stopped working in the 1980s. Customers got savvy to it. I had—probably the most requoted quote of mine in No Logo is from an advertising executive who said, “Consumers are like roaches. You spray them and spray them, and they become immune after a while.” It’s just lovely insight from a marketer, yeah, about how they see customers. So, marketing started to get more ambitious, and then you started to see these companies that position themselves as lifestyle brands. And they said, “No, we’re not product-based companies. We are in the business of selling ideas and identity.” Nike was the ultimate example of this. Nike CEO Phil Knight stepped forward and said, “We are not a sneaker company. We are not a shoe company. We are about the idea of transcendence through sports,” right? Starbucks wasn’t a coffee company; it was about the idea of community and the third place. And, you know, Disney was family. And all this. So, there was these—you know, the corporations would have their séances and come forward and say, “We have our grand idea.” This changed manufacturing dramatically, because once you decide that you’re in the business of selling an idea as opposed to aproduct, well, it doesn’t really matter who makes your product. What you want to do is you want to own as little sort of hard infrastructure as possible, and your real value is your name and how you build that up.

So, Trump was more of a traditional business in the 1980s. And Trump was just sort of like a guy who built buildings, but—built buildings and had a flair for marketing. But the game changer for him was The Apprentice. That’s when he got to—he realized he could enter the stratosphere of the superbrands. And his business model changed. It no longer became about building the building or buying the building. That was for other people to do. He was about building up the Trump name and then selling it and leasing it in as many different ways as possible. So you’ve got the Trump water and Trump Steaks and Trump’s very so-called dodgy university. And so many of the towers, the Trump towers around the world, the Trump resorts around the world, those are not owned by the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization is paid millions of dollars by these developers for the privilege of putting the Trump name on those towers.

So, this has huge implications for how we understand the corruption at the heart of Trump’s decision to merge his global brand with the U.S. government, which is what is underway on so many different fronts, because, honestly, what it means is, every time we say the word “Trump,” even when we’re saying it in a negative light, we’re doing his marketing for him. So, you know, with this lawsuit that was just announced by the attorneys general of New York and D.C.—

AMY GOODMAN: Maryland.

NAOMI KLEIN: Oh, sorry, of Maryland and D.C.—yeah, maybe New York will get in on it—you know, it’s getting at part of it, in the sense that foreign governments are clearly favoring Trump hotels as a way to ingratiate themselves to the president. But the conflict is more continuous than that, because Trump’s big idea, the idea at the center of his brand, is the power that comes with wealth. And so, the more powerful he is—and, of course, he happens somehow to have got himself the most powerful job in the world—that fact alone is massively increasing the value of his brand, which his sons are cashing in on busily on every front by selling that name for inflated prices. And, of course, Trump, by not divesting from the Trump Organization, profits from that as president. So the conflict is baked in, happening every second.

AMY GOODMAN: So you talk about jamming the Trump brand. How?

NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So, this phrase, “culture jamming,” was very much in vogue in the 1990s when these superbrands sort of emerged and started kind of projecting their names onto ever more surfaces. You know, maybe you remember some of the campaigns, like “Just don’t do it,” which—exposing the sweatshops that Nike products were being made under; you know, “Joe Cancer,” taking on Joe Camel, this, you know, cartoon character which is basically selling cigarettes to kids.

So, yeah, I’ve been thinking about: How do we jam the Trump brand? Because I think you have to kind of accept Trump on his own terms to some degree. And this idea that we’re going to somehow catch him out, damage him by proving that he is corrupt, you know, that he treats people awfully, that’s his brand. His brand is that he’s the boss, and he gets to do whatever he wants. That’s what he has been selling now for many, many decades.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, along with that—

NAOMI KLEIN: So the more he gets away with it—yeah.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But to get back to The Apprentice, The Apprentice, as you so aptly describe, was really based on selling a cutthroat brand of capitalism to the American people as the way that people should be. And—

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, it’s televised class war. I mean, it opens up with an image of a homeless man sleeping rough on the streets of New York, and then cuts to Trump in his limousine. And it’s basically like “Who do you want to be? The homeless guy or Trump?” Right? And so, you know, this happens. You know, the show launches at a time when people understand that this—that neoliberalism is not lifting all boats. It is this cutthroat world of winners and losers. And which one do you want to be?

And that was very sharply played out in The Apprentice, and it got more brutal as the show went on. And, you know, I didn’t know this until I started researching this book, I have to admit. I had maybe watched The Apprentice a couple of times. I didn’t know that in later seasons they deported half of their contestants into tents in the backyard. They called it Trump’s trailer park. And, you know, they would overlay the sound of like howling dogs at night. And it was this idea of creating drama out of the massive inequalities of our economic system. The people who were sleeping in the backyard, who had been deported into Trump’s trailer park, would peak over the hedges to look at the people living in the mansion, you know, drinking champagne and floating around in the swimming pool, right? So, I think that this is part of his appeal, like not to challenge this massive inequality, but to promise that if you play by my rules, you end up in the mansion. And it will be even sweeter because people are sleeping outside, right? Because you won.

And, you know, I think that this has been very much the message that he ran on as president, right? The promise of lifting you up, the chosen few—right?—the white working class, and at the explicit extent—at the explicit expense of brutality against people of color, right? And so, that formula that he honed, that was so profitable, that got such great ratings on The Apprentice, is now—the world is his reality show. And, you know, I quote Newt Gingrich in the book, where Newt Gingrich was asked—and he’s been such a booster of Trump’s—what he thought of Trump staying on as executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice, and Newt Gingrich, in a rare criticism of Trump, said that he thought it was a bad idea, because Trump was now the executive producer of a show called The United States. And I thought that was, you know, a rare moment of truth, right? We’ve all been recruited as extras into this show.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I think the Trumps have declared this week “Apprentice Week,” and he and his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump are going to Wisconsin today, where they’re going to Waukesha, where a GE plant is closing, and it’s heading to Canada, where you’re from. And we’re going to talk about all this and more with Naomi Klein. Her new book is out; it is called No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. We’ll also talk about this weekend in Chicago, where we both were. Bernie Sanders held a major event, the People’s Summit. Four thousand people came. You’ll hear some of what he has to say. And also, what happened in Britain with Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader? Is he soon to be the British prime minister? Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “Terrifying Sight” by Ani DiFranco, here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. This weekend, 4,000 people packed the McCormick Place convention center for a People’s Summit. Independent senator, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered the keynote speech. During his speech, he repeatedly criticized the Democratic Party, calling it an “absolute failure” and blaming it for the election of President Trump.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I’m often asked by the media and others: How did it come about that Donald Trump, the most unpopular presidential candidate in the modern history of our country, won the election? And my answer is—and my answer is that Trump didn’t win the election; the Democratic Party lost the election. Let us—let us be very, very clear: The current model—the current model and the current strategy of the Democratic Party is an absolute failure. This is not—this is not my opinion. This is the facts. You know, we focus a lot on the presidential election, but we also have to understand that Democrats have lost the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate. Republicans now control almost two-thirds of the governors’ chairs throughout the country. And over the last nine years, Democrats have lost almost 1,000 legislative seats in states all across this country. Today—today, in almost half of the states in America, Democratic Party has almost no political presence at all. Now, if that’s not a failure, if that’s not a failed model, I don’t know what a failed model is.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Bernie Sanders speaking on Saturday night at the People’s Summit in Chicago at the McCormick Place convention center. It was an event that was organized by many different groups, primarily the Nurses United, nurses around the country. About a thousand nurses were there. Naomi, we were both there. Can you talk about the significance of what Bernie Sanders said? Now, remember, he is in the Democratic leadership—


AMY GOODMAN: —right now of the Senate. He is supposedly like the outreach person. He was brought into it. But he’s got a fierce critique of the Democratic Party.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. And I think he’s been biting his tongue a little bit. I might speculate that he was inspired by what just happened in the U.K. with Jeremy Corbyn—we know he just came back from a trip to the U.K.—because there is an interesting parallel, in the sense that Jeremy Corbyn was elected by a grassroots, insurgent, youth-led movement. He was elected as leader originally—a youth-led movement called Momentum in the U.K., many, many young people who joined the Labour Party in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. And there was this—they were treated as, you know, invade—like, instead of being excited about this wave of interest in the political party, the Labour Party establishment, the so-called New Labour party establishment, because Labour was rebranded by Tony Blair in the late 1990s to be the New Labour party, which is kind of like a labor-scented party as opposed to a party of actually working people, really using the tools of marketing as opposed to having a party that knows what it stands for and who it stands for.

And so, Jeremy Corbyn was elected, and there was just this campaign of sabotage. It was just the end of the world. He’s unelectable. He was smeared. Then there was a coup to try to unseat him. He was sabotaged relentlessly by his MPs, while he was leader, who were constantly leaking damning information, trying to make him look bad in the press, sabotaging him at every front, right? But the insurgency was ultimately successful, in that this campaign was a tremendous upset. It was an—sorry, this election was a tremendous upset in the U.K. [Theresa] May did not need to call the election. She said she wouldn’t call the election. The only reason she called the election, because she was so convinced that she was going to get an overwhelming majority, which was supposed to give her this mandate to get the best deal possible under Brexit as they negotiated with the EU. And there’s this huge upset, and, in fact, she loses all these seats, she loses her majority. Jeremy Corbyn wins about 30 seats.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to Jeremy Corbyn—


AMY GOODMAN: —in his own words.

JEREMY CORBYN: What’s happened is people have said they’ve had quite enough of austerity politics, they’ve had quite enough of cuts in public expenditure, underfunding our health service, underfunding our schools and our education service and not giving our young people the chance they deserve in our society.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Jeremy Corbyn speaking. I wanted to ask you—in No Is Not Enough, you also raise some criticisms of why Bernie Sanders was not more successful during the primary campaign. And you raise the issue that some people claim that Hillary Clinton rode identity politics, as well as the machinations of the Democratic Party, to be able to persevere against him, in that was an issue of identity politics versus class politics. But you raise some criticism on that. I’m wondering if you could expand on that.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, I mean, and I endorsed Bernie and support him. I think he’s a tremendously important voice, and I’m so grateful to him. But I don’t think we, you know, do ourselves a service on the progressive side of the political spectrum—you know, those of us who do believe it is a moment for deep change as opposed to these little sort of tinkering changes—to not engage in self-criticism in this moment. I mean, I am sort of disheartened by the extent to which some of this debate is still frozen as if we are still in the primary, and you still have people in their hard, you know, “Bernie would have won” camps, and you still have Hillary supporters refighting and blaming Bernie supporters for Hillary’s defeat. And it’s just like we have to get out of that debate.

And I think on—among the people who did support Bernie, like the many thousands of people who were at the People’s Summit, I think it’s very important to understand why Bernie wasn’t able to go all the way, right? I mean, he got 13 million votes. He took 22 states. He got closer than any candidate who described himself as a democratic socialist, his campaign as a political revolution. I mean, it was incredible. But I don’t think Bernie lost the primary because the Democratic base is too conservative for Bernie. I think he lost the primary because he was not able to connect with, to speak to enough black and Latino voters, who tend to be more progressive than the rest of the Democratic base, and also to older women, who felt that their issues were too much of an add-on or sort of tacked on.

So, you know, I think, frankly, the best quote in my book is from Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow, just a wonderful author and theorist and activist. And, you know, she said to me that if the progressives cannot do a better job of connecting with black voters, of understanding the role of race in American history and telling that story differently, she said, “They better get Elon Musk on speed dial, because they’re going to need another planet.” And so, I think we—and one of the things that I found really inspiring about the People’s Summit was I think that critique was really embedded in the way the weekend was organized, I mean, beginning with the voices of organizers of color, the Million Hoodies Movement. We heard from the chairs of the Women’s March, including Linda Sarsour, on the opening night, speaking explicitly about the need for a deeply intersectional politic, to use Kimberlé Crenshaw’s very important framing, and saying, “No, this is not—this is not a competition between class and economics and so-called identity politics. It is deeply interconnected, and we can’t understand the story of the United States and what this economy is without understanding how race has been used systematically as a wedge to divide and enforce this brutal economic system.”

So I think that critique is making it in there, you know, and I didn’t—don’t make the critique in the book, you know, in the spirit of finger-pointing. But just because what we are seeing with Bernie’s candidacy, with Corbyn’s candidacy, with Mélenchon’s candidacy in France, who came two points shy—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who Mélenchon was.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. Well, Jean-Luc—

AMY GOODMAN: Not to be confused with the new prime minister.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, right. So, in the recent French elections recently, there was a—there was a surprise, where Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is a very left-wing candidate, significantly to the left of Bernie Sanders—I think he was calling for a rate of a 100 percent taxation for the rich, right?—running on a campaign of really deep redistribution of wealth in order to pay for the social safety net—it was a much less xenophobic message. It was much more friendly to refugees than we’ve been hearing from French politicians, you know, even on the so-called left, an antiwar message, a pro-peace message, making the connections, as Jeremy Corbyn did, between the failed war-on-terror-model foreign interventions and terrorist attacks in France—in Jeremy Corbyn’s case, in the U.K.—really trying to get at these root causes. Jean-Luc Mélenchon picked up, I think, 10 points. I mean, he surged at the end. And he came, at the end of the campaign—and this is on the first ballot, because the way the French elections work is they have multiple candidates on the first ballot, and then they narrow it down to two candidates for the final vote.

AMY GOODMAN: For president.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. And all of a sudden, Mélenchon is getting 70,000 people at rallies, right? I mean, his was the campaign that had the energy. And he came within two points of Marine Le Pen, so he almost made it onto the second ballot, which would have meant that it was a race between a Hillary-like neoliberal figure, which is who Macron is—Macron is a former banker; he imposed economic austerity under the government of François Hollande, despite Hollande having won the election originally promising to resist the imposition of austerity in France—so it would have been him versus Mélenchon, which would have been a very interesting race. As it turned out, it was Marine Le Pen versus Macron. And thankfully, you know, France rejected fascism.

But my concern is that after, you know, four years of the kind of privatizations, deregulation, austerity politics that I think Macron is almost certain to impose on France, I’m worried about that setting the stage for a surge for the Front National, which is—you know, people have made these direct analogies between Trump and Marine Le Pen, and sort of holding up Macron as if, well, this proves that neoliberalism can beat a candidate like Trump. But Marine Le Pen is not Trump. The more accurate equivalent would be David Duke. I mean, this is a party with ties to Nazism historically, you know, that align themselves with the Vichy regime. The fact that they got around 30 percent of the vote in France is absolutely shocking. It’s nothing to feel, you know, complacent about.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, earlier this month, President Trump announced he will withdraw from the United—the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord that was signed by nearly 200 nations in 2015.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In his speech, Trump said he wants to negotiate a better climate deal.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So we’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine. … I’m willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Naomi Klein, a better deal?

NAOMI KLEIN: I just can’t wait, Juan. I mean, it’s been—took 25 years to get this deal, but I’m just looking for to another 25 years—right?—to get an even better deal, because when it comes to climate change, we’ve got nothing but time, you know? Sorry. That was unfair sarcasm for Democracy Now!

But no, I—I mean, everything about what he said is just so extraordinary, and in particular this idea that the deal is unfair to the United States, that it’s this draconian, top-down. I mean, the deal is so weak, right? And the reason it is weak is because it doesn’t impose anything on anyone. And the people who made sure of that were the U.S. negotiators, who fought tooth and nail—and this is not under Trump, this is under Obama—but, you know, in large part because they had to bring the deal back to the U.S., and if it was a binding treaty, they would have had to get it ratified by a Republican-controlled House, and they knew that they couldn’t, right? So the U.S. fought the world, which wanted a legally binding treaty, and said, “Well, then you won’t have us involved.”

So, what the deal actually is is really just a kind of patchwork of the best that every country could bring to the table. The U.S. brought Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a plan to accelerate the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants, new restrictions on new coal-fired power plants that would require that they sequester more carbon. It was a fraction of what the U.S. needed to do to do its share of the goal of the Paris accord, which is to keep warming below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. You know, then that deal was announced, I joked that the governments of the world came together and said, “We know it what we need to do, and we’re willing to do roughly half that.” Right? Because if you add it up, what all the governments brought to the table, it didn’t lead to a trajectory that would keep warming below what they said they wanted to do, but it would lead to warming of double that.

But under Trump, they had already announced that weren’t even going to do that. So this whole debate about Paris was whether or not the U.S. was going to stay in the accord but treat it as if it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, which would have had, you know, a very insidious moral hazard for other governments, because then if you have a volunteer, kind of good-faith agreement and the largest economy in the world is treating it like a joke, which is what would have happened if Trump had stayed—they made that clear as soon as they said that they were rolling back the Clean Power Plan—then that would have encouraged other governments that were already starting to slip, like the government of Canada, under Trudeau—you know, went to Paris, made all kinds of wonderful speeches and then went home and approved two new tar sands pipelines and cheered when President Trump approved the Keystone XL pipeline. So that’s three new tar sands pipelines. You know—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, that’s—I wanted to ask you about that, just the impact on the climate change movement within the last three months, all of these reversals of Trump—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —Keystone, Dakota Access.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What’s your sense now of how the movement will be able to function?


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And also, the importance of the local resistance, of cities and states, to the federal government?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, to be honest, I mean, I think that this—just the shock of just seeing Trump in the Rose Garden just lifting that middle finger to the world, I think that is proving to be more of a catalyst for other countries and for states here in the U.S. and cities here in the U.S. to understand that this is the moment to step up, to increase ambitions, whereas I think if it had been more ambiguous and they had stayed in and sort of pretended like there was something happening—and, well, is Ivanka having a good influence on him? Are things about to get better?—I mean, I don’t think we would have seen this kind of very bold response of having hundreds of mayors step forward and say, “No, we’re committed to Paris,” the mayor of Pittsburgh coming forward and saying—you know, after Trump said, “I was elected by the people of Pittsburgh, not the people of Paris,” the mayor of Pittsburgh stepping up and going, “Actually, you were not elected in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh voted for Hillary. And I’m going to get the city of Pittsburgh to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2035,” which is exactly the level of ambition we need across the board if we’re going to hit that ambitious temperature target in the Paris accord, if we’re going to keep temperatures below 1.5. So, you know, that—I think this is—

AMY GOODMAN: And then you have the—

NAOMI KLEIN: Obviously, we would like this not to be happening. We would like Donald Trump not to be president. We would like not to have such an array of bad options on the table. But given what we have, I would say that people are stepping up. And that is what the climate movement needs to be doing, is sending this very clear message that because of the recklessness, because the U.S. at the federal level has gone rogue, at every level that Trump does not control, whether it is universities and their fossil fuel holdings, you know, whether it is states and their ability to get to 100 percent renewable very, very quickly—because we don’t get our energy at the federal level; we get it at the state level, we get it at the provincial level, we get it at the city level—at all those places where Trump doesn’t control things, there has to be an increase of ambition. And thankfully, the climate justice movement is, you know, I think, really focused on that and understands that that’s the mission now. And I think we’re seeing more ambition, including universities being likelier to divest their holdings, putting financial pressure on the industry.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about healthcare. You come from Canada. This weekend, I mean, it was a major topic of discussion at the People’s Summit, because you had National Nurses United, a thousand nurses at this 4,000-person event. And yet, this moment, where you talk about how critical it actually is to seize upon what’s happening, the—we just have this—on Monday, Senator Sanders tweeted, ”BREAKING: Senate Republicans just released a schedule of hearings, committee markups public testimony for their health care bill.” His tweet includes the image of a blank white piece of paper. Wouldn’t this be the moment where people across the country—in fact, some polls suggest the majority of people in the United States—

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —would put forward something different from Obamacare, certainly different from what the Republicans are putting forward?

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah, of course.

AMY GOODMAN: What would that look like?

NAOMI KLEIN: Right. And this is starting to happen, because, you know, I think this is also part of the Sanders effect, of seeing how popular it was to stand before the country and talk about single payer on the Canadian model, right?

AMY GOODMAN: And yet he hasn’t introduced a new bill at this point for single payer.

NAOMI KLEIN: But in California, the Senate just got one step closer. The California Senate just got one step closer to single payer at the state level, right? And this is—you know, there is a vacuum that’s being created by the Trump administration going rogue on all of these fronts. And it is creating a space for boldness at the subnational, at the municipal level. You know, climate is an example. Healthcare is an example. Imagine if we were to see this proliferate across the country, and people realized and experienced in their lives that it is possible to have a far less bureaucratic system, a much simpler system, with quality healthcare that is cheaper.

You know, this is what we have in Canada. And, you know, unfortunately, it has been under ceaseless attack by various politicians that have underfunded it, but it’s still—you know, it’s still a good system, despite what people hear a lot. You know, you hear a lot of attacks on the Canadian system, endless waits. And I don’t want to idealize it, but then, you know, look at what just happened with Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K., to bring him back into the conversation. I mean, some of his most powerful messages were about the NHS and what has happened—

AMY GOODMAN: The National Health Service.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, the public healthcare system, which has been systematically starved in order to get it ready for privatization. And he just named that. And he made these very powerful campaign ads, including one, a beautiful one directed by Ken Loach, that featured nurses and doctors, including a pediatrician who broke down crying about having to send a child to be hospitalized 500 kilometers away from where his family lived and where they couldn’t visit him. And people stepped forward and were galvanized by a desire to reclaim the system, because when you have universal public healthcare, no politician can run against it. That’s why they have to chip away at it bit by bit. And always, every politician, no matter what party, will always claim they are defending the public healthcare system, whether in the U.K. or in Canada, because they will not get elected. So what they do is they try to kill it by these little—you know, a thousand cuts, and then they say, “Well, it’s impossible. The waiting lists are too long.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you—No Is Not Enough, the title of the book—you’ve talked about that the movement needed to have a vision of the world it wants. Talk about the Leap Manifesto and what it represents.

NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So, you know, what I argue in the book is that the greatest victory of the neoliberal project really comes back to what Margaret Thatcher said many decades ago, which is that there is no alternative, that however bad these policies are for your life, the alternative would be even worse. It would be sort of economic apocalypse. And I think that when we cast our minds back to the response to the 2008 crisis and the first wave of resistance, like Occupy Wall Street and the movements of the squares across Europe, that the spell of neoliberalism was breaking, and people had the courage to say, “No, we don’t want this model,” but somehow lacked the courage to step forward and say, “This is what we want instead. This is the economy that we believe is workable. We have the resources in this time of unprecedented private wealth to provide the basics for everybody—quality healthcare, quality education, housing for all. You know, we can—we understand that war is making us less safe. We want to be a society that welcomes refugees and those in need”—I mean, a transformative vision—”And we believe we can do this in a way that gets us to 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as technology allows, and, in the process, we can create huge numbers of unionized jobs.” People—we weren’t there yet. We didn’t have the confidence yet. And I think this is just the hangover of neoliberalism. But that is really changing.

The Leap Manifesto is an example of that in Canada, of movements coming together. It was endorsed by 220 organizations, very broad range of organizations, from small grassroots groups to large NGOs to the largest trade union in Canada, labor federations, coming together to try to sketch out that yes, what is a progressive trade policy, and how do we get—make this bold transition off of fossil fuels in a way that begins to heal some of the wounds that date back to the brutal founding of our country, that puts indigenous rights at the center of it, racial justice at the center of it, that connects migration to climate change, to war, to bad trade deals. You know, it is not a perfect document, but I include it as an example of what I describe in the book as a sort of a reawakening of the utopian imagination. In this country, I would point to the Vision for Black Lives, the document that came out during the election campaign out of the Movement for Black Lives, which is, you know, an incredibly bold people’s platform.

And we are in this moment in the sort of Trump resistance where there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the electoral strategy is. You know, I was at the People’s Summit. It was fantastic. But I didn’t leave it knowing what the plan was, in the sense of it wasn’t clear who the candidates are going to be the next time around. It wasn’t clear if it was a strategy wholly inside the Democratic Party or whether there were people there who were talking about wanting to form a party outside. This is—you know, this is a question that I certainly can’t settle. I’m not in a position to settle this. But what I do know is that social movement are surging. And I think that we are in a position where we could have really bold people’s platforms that emerge from below. And there’s lots of examples of this starting to happen as movements come together out of their silos to get clear on what the demands are, what the yes is. And then, whoever the politician is, whoever the party is, they have to follow that people’s platform.

AMY GOODMAN: And the media has to be there, too. I mean, you had The Globe and Mail calling the Leap Manifesto—


AMY GOODMAN: —a national suicide.

NAOMI KLEIN: No, that was—”national suicide,” that may have been the National Post. But The Globe and Mail just called it “madness.” It’s called the Leap Manifesto, caring for the planet and each other. And they were like, “That’s insane!” You know? “It will kill the country.”

AMY GOODMAN: And do you see the media changing, as more and more people join media in different ways, and the independent media?

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, I mean, what I see is it not—is it not hurting us. I mean, the more—I mean, one of our national newspapers, the National Post, ran 35 negative articles about the Leap Manifesto and then refused to publish one letter to the editor trying to correct the record, you know? But people kept signing it, you know? And I guess we have the tools to—you know, it’s a 1,400-word document.

AMY GOODMAN: Thirty seconds.

NAOMI KLEIN: We can—people can read it themselves and make up their own mind. And I think there’s such a distrust of the traditional punditocracy, that, Amy, you have described the people who know so little about so much. And I think people are finally catching up to you and understanding that.

AMY GOODMAN: So, ultimately, do you hold out hope?

NAOMI KLEIN: You know, I think this is this moment where progressive ideas are more popular than they’ve been in my lifetime, but on the other hand, so are white supremacist ideas. And that is playing out on real bodies in real time on the streets. It is a race against time.

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