by Naomi Klein
Haymarket Books, 2017
Followers of my blog might notice that I’m predisposed to feature and praise the works of Naomi Klein. Maybe even a little obsessive. There’s a reason for this. Naomi Klein is one of the greatest minds in North America today (I say North America because she holds both Canadian and U.S. citizenship). She has dedicated her career – her life, in fact – to delving deeply into the most threatening crises facing modern civilization: war, inequality, injustice, and climate change, to name but a few.
There are narratives surrounding these crises, stories we have been told for decades by our political and corporate leaders about how we are – or, in the case of climate change, are not – confronting these crises and what sort of approaches we are or are not pursuing.
Well, Klein turns these narratives upside down. She turns over all the rocks and looks underneath them. In all three of her prior books – No Logo, The Shock Doctrine, and This Changes Everything – she argues for a new narrative, one that better explains why we as a global society continue doggedly toward our own destruction, one that suggests the need for a radically different and better way forward.
Bringing It All Together
No Is Not Enough represents the convergence of all her prior work. And Naomi Klein is one of the first to understand this convergence. She synthesizes the trends and ideas from all three of her earlier works – corporate branding, shock politics, and climate injustice – and shows us how all of it explains how we ended up with Trump. Thanks to Klein, I already had a good understanding of the pieces, but I still needed her brilliant synthesis to tie them all together.
This post is not a book report, but I’ll mention three key conclusions Klein reaches in No Is Not Enough, to entice you to read this brilliant book of ideas. First, we were all shocked by the rise of Donald Trump, but we shouldn’t have been. His election was rather the logical conclusion of three decades of neoliberal ideology, unregulated capitalism, and explosive growth of the corporate behemoth, all at the expense of the public sphere.
Second, the popular energy and level of engagement awakened by Trump’s election, while a “hopeful” sign, would have been far more effective and achieved substantive results had it coincided with the 2008 election of Barack Obama. We should have been in the streets then. Had the public demanded massive reform back then, rather than sitting back and expecting that Obama would fix it all, we would be better off today (and Trump would not have happened). Big mistake.
And finally comes the lesson articulated by Klein’s title, No Is Not Enough. We – all of us who were disengaged or cynical or resigned too long – need to have a vision of what “yes” looks like. Klein, in collaboration with other great minds, has laid one out for us. It is radical; it is bold; it will be incredibly hard to achieve. But at this juncture, as we run out of time, the path she lays out is, in my view, our only hope to reverse the course of the world we are facing.