Naomi Klein: Where are we?
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the New York Times and #1 international bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In 2008 it won the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Libris Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year and is longlisted for the inaugural 2009 Warwick Prize for Writing (UK). The six minute companion film, created by Alfonso Cuaron, director of Children of Men, was an Official Selection of the 2007 Venice Biennale and Toronto International Film Festivals and was a viral phenomenon, downloaded over a million times.
Her first book No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies was also an international bestseller, translated into over 28 languages with more than a million copies in print. A collection of her work, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate was published in 2002.
Naomi Klein writes a regular column for The Nation and The Guardian that is syndicated internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. In 2004, her reporting from Iraq for Harper’s Magazine won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Also in 2004, she co-produced The Take with director Avi Lewis, a feature documentary about Argentina’s occupied factories. The film was an Official Selection of the Venice Biennale and won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the American Film Institute’s Film Festival in Los Angeles. She is a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics and holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia.
Naomi Klein: The reason why I focus on the disaster capitalism class and raise this possibility that people might be motivated by their economic self-interest in these areas is because it’s one way of explaining this phenomenon of . . . I call it sort of slouching towards the apocalypse, I guess. This is what I see when I read the newspaper; that the most pressing crises . . . collective crises of our time . . . what we really need to address now as a species – climate change, Middle East peace – that there is . . . There is an amazing ...attitude about these disasters coming from our political leadership. You know the Annapolis Conference is going on right now. And before it even started there was this consensus that nothing would come of this . . . of this charade that is this peace summit. And next week is the Bali . . . Bali Climate Change Summit. And pretty much everybody knows that nothing is gonna come of the Bali Climate Change Summit; that before it even begins, the most significant measure which would be clear caps on emissions, you know, is pretty much off the table because of the U.S.-Canada . . . and some of the biggest emitters. So how do we . . . And on the . . . on the . . . On the other hand . . . So you have this ...attitude, or this casual attitude in the face of catastrophe from our leadership. But then you have this hyperactivity around lesser . . . what I would argue are lesser threats – immigration . . . You have greater activity around the terrorist threat even though you have less . . . you have . . . there have been fewer terrorist attacks, certainly in North America and Europe. So how do we . . . How do we reconcile this . . . these trends; this inactivity in the face of . . . of major disasters? And inactivity that guarantees more disasters. This is the trend that we need to focus on. The trend that we need to focus on is why it is that when it is so clear . . . that when there is a scientific consensus that we are contributing to climate change; that this is creating more and more frequent and intense natural disasters; that it is creating mass . . . and will create even more mass migration of displaced people; that we are casual in the face of this disaster. Then we also see a huge amount of investment going on – the building of fortresses . . . the fortress economy. So we don’t see this investment in green energy. We don’t see the investment in policy that will really address the biggest crisis of our time, which is climate change. And what we see huge investment in is in the building of fortress continents, whether Europe or North America; major new investments in high-tech surveillance – virtual borders; the fortressing ourselves in. And I actually think that what we’re seeing is one way of responding to climate change and resource scarcity; that this is . . . There’s basically two ways that you can respond. You can try and get off this disastrous course through changes in the way we live; through aggressive policy; through real investments in alternative energy. Or you can say okay this is inevitable, and there’s gonna be more and more disasters – more natural disasters; more wars over scarce resources; more terrorist blowback from those resource wars. And what you invest in instead is protecting the elites, whether it’s the elite countries or the elites within those elite countries. And it’s very clear, if you once again follow the money, that there is more . . . for instance much more venture capitalist money going into Homeland Security than into green energy; that the market is banking on an apocalyptic future and sees a profit from protecting the elites from the worst of climate change, the worst of war, the worst of terrorism. This is a new economy, this fortress economy. And you know we have to get off this course because what we’re actually seeing is kind of an end game. It’s before us now. I don’t think we can deny that we . . . that we see it. I call it the war of the worlds, this kind of green zone and red zone world. And it’s one of the things that I think a lot of people who have been to Iraq and have carried . . . we carry with us is this image of the green zone . . . the world divided between green zones and red zones. And I always had this feeling when I was in Baghdad that we were seeing the future if we’re not careful; of just the armored neighborhoods; the blast walls everywhere; the private security guards with their guns pointed outwards, protecting the principal and everyone else can go to hell. I mean this is the world that’s created in these Wild West zones where these policymakers get their way – the people who don’t get everything they want at home. Well they got everything they wanted in Iraq and look what they created. So we have this ability now to look into the future. Look to Iraq. I mean this is the end game, and we have to make really, really hard choices to get off this course. But just trusting the market to do it for us, or trusting this political model to do it for us, we’re seeing what it’s doing. Recorded on: 11/29/07
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