A while ago I told you I was reading Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ and promised a review; instead of which I’ve gone on to read ‘No Is Not Enough’, her response to Trumpism. I shall attempt a sort of mopping-up of both books which I’m afraid will do neither of them justice – but if I don’t do it now some other ideas will come along and demand to be blogged about, because that’s what happens.
So: ‘This Changes Everything’ is a panoramic view of climate change; the science, the deniers, the evidence and most importantly the solutions. The first section is hard to get through as it includes so many references to articles, speeches, scientific data etc that it’s like reading an academic paper. This is presumably necessary, at least in the States where climate change deniers are out in force, though in Europe it’s generally accepted as fact, even if we haven’t quite taken it in yet: people are still going around saying how wonderful the weather is but nobody is saying how scary global warming is.
But once you get past that, the second and particularly the third sections are much more readable, and there’s an emphasis on ordinary people coming together to protect the environment; not only The Environment with a capital E but their own little neck of the woods: streams and rivers that are drying up or being polluted; land and houses that are flooded every year, bees and other insects that are dying (we wouldn’t last five minutes without the bees, and the idea that someone could build a tiny drone to do the same job is pure insanity.) Capitalism is out of control and we need to bring it back. The good news is – we can.
It’s kind of the same story with ‘No is Not Enough,’ although the book, being more quickly produced, lacks the dense research of the other (this for me was a plus.) It follows a similar format: first the problem, then the solutions. The problem is of course unfettered capitalism which means (and has always meant) unfettered greed. Trump is a symptom rather than the cause of this, and to some extent is the puppet of those who have a much clearer idea of what they’re doing politically (though Trump is quite capable of being greedy and selfish on his own account: in fact there’s not much he isn’t capable of. His recent visit to our shores filled me with disgust: apparently before he was refused a state visit he demanded a ride in the Queen’s gold carriage!) The problem is quite simply that of prioritising money above all else: above human rights, above the planet, above the greater good – above everything. There are people who actually believe they can pollute the planet and then swan off in a spaceship to start a colony somewhere else. This, too, is pure insanity (I feel a short story coming on). The solution, once again, lies in people coming together, and the third section of the book outlines the ‘yes’ or many possible ‘yeses’ which are a much more powerful response to greed and destruction. She cites stories of people opening their doors to refugees, standing with Muslims, rehiring workers sacked for protesting – and many more such acts. These movements exist both alongside and outside political parties, and although they may ultimately need government (or something like it) to implement policy, the impetus is coming from below. We need more of this in the UK: we need more of it everywhere.
We’ve had enough of dystopia. It’s time to try utopia.