Sunday, July 2, 2017

Naomi Klein forever

It's on my list to buy Naomi Klein's new book "No is not enough." What a brilliant woman, I cannot get enough of her. It's always been my sense that our western societies started hurtling in the wrong direction in the 80's, with the far right policies of Reagan, Thatcher, Milton Friedman, and the Chicago economists, telling us the giant lies that taxes are evil and wealth would trickle down - blatant untruths which many in the U.S. still believe. Here's the best summary I've heard of where we are in the world right now, in an interview with a British journalist:
CL: Naomi, you speak of a “crisis of imagination” especially in our political culture. Cut through it if you can.
NK: Right. So this past 40 years, since what we call the neoliberal project began—which accelerated so much under Reagan in this country and Thatcher in the UK—was a set of policies: privatization, deregulation, low taxes paid for with cuts to social services. As more and more people were excluded from participating in this economy, there was an explosion of mass incarceration, of criminalization. This is the neoliberal project, but the flipside of it was always to say that there is no alternative to this project, as Margaret Thatcher famously argued. Sure, you know, these policies may hurt in the short term, or in the medium term, or now in the long term, but the alternative to them is apocalypse.
And so a huge part of that neoliberal project that we have been living for 40 years, those of us who have been alive that long, has been about constraining the imagination and creating all of these borders around what people will even put on the political table for fear of being condemned as communists or socialists or whatever the smear of the day is.
And that is what’s falling away, and you see that so clearly in this millennial generation that has been powering the insurgent campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. They know they were lied to because they remember the 2008 financial crisis, when trillions of dollars were marshalled to bail out the banks, so they know that it is possible to intervene in the market. They’ve now seen Donald Trump talking about renegotiating trade deals that we had all been told could never be changed once they’ve been signed. This is a malleable moment for better and for worse, right? Progressive ideas are surging in popularity as the Trump administration savages people’s health care policies. You know, the state of California, stepping up in the California Senate, just got one step closer to introducing single-payer healthcare in the state of California, a massive economy.
So, Trump is creating a situation because he is himself a system failure, and people are seeing this. They’re seeing not just the election of Donald Trump but that the market cheered on his election, that the media cheered as he launched missiles on Syria over chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago.
People are seeing this as a need to get at the underlying causes, and we’re seeing this in the boldness of the progressive agenda, the willingness to go deep. But at the same time we have to be cognizant of the fact that these are not the only ideas that are gaining popularity. White supremacy, misogyny—these are surging to the surface. They are playing out on people’s bodies and people’s lives in blood and violence. So, it’s really a race against time because that vacuum left by the neoliberal project collapsing—and it has been in a state of collapse since 2008—is allowing other ideas to bubble up to the surface, and some of them are very, very dangerous indeed. 

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