by Joe Romm Posted on September 16, 2014 at 5:10 pmUpdated: September 16, 2014 at 9:11 pm
“This Changes Everything: Naomi Klein Is Right, Unchecked Capitalism Will Destroy Civilization”
Best-selling progressive journalist Naomi Klein has an important new book out, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate.” The author of “No Logo” and “The Shock Doctrine” now “tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth,” as the book jacket aptly puts it.
In diagnosing the unprecedented existential threat humanity faces thanks to our myopia and unbridled greed, Klein has three essential points to make:
- Because we have ignored the increasingly urgent warnings and pleas for action from climate scientists for a quarter century (!) now, the incremental or evolutionary paths to avert catastrophic global warming that we might have been able to take in the past are closed to us.
- Humanity faces a stark choice as a result: The end of civilization as we know it or the end of capitalism as we know it.
- Choosing “unregulated capitalism” over human civilization would be a “morally monstrous” choice — and so the winning message for the climate movement is a moral one.
As an aside, readers may remember that I don’t always agree with Klein on either substance or messaging. And obviously I have quibbles with her book — in particular I am skeptical of some elements of her proposed “cure” (and how she frames them) as I’ll discuss in a later post. But in fairness to Klein, our 25-year dawdling has made the diagnosis (and prognosis) unimaginably graver and thus made all cures look politically implausible, as the pessimistic, do-little “eco-modernists” keep pointing out far too gleefully.
To anyone who thinks attacking unchecked capitalism is not a winning a message (when done correctly), I’d urge you to read the advice of Frank Luntz, the GOP’s top messaging guru, on the subject: “don’t say capitalism” because Americans “think capitalism is immoral.”
The great value in the book lies in Klein’s understanding and elaboration of the three essential points above. Indeed I’m not certain any other book has so clearly spelled out these points. And yet these three points are, arguably, the most important ones for climate hawks, for the (misnamed) “intelligentsia” — indeed, for all homo sapiens — to understand at a deep level, since they clarify the choices we now face in the actions we must now take.