by Naomi Klein, Haymarket Books, June 13, 2017, 288 pages, $13
Book review by Roger Lohr
Naomi Klein’s newest publication, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need is a culmination of her previous work and a call to heed the document called “Leap Manifesto: Caring for the Earth and One Another.”
Klein documents trends that impact average people’s lives such as the power of private wealth over the political system, global imposition of neoliberalism that uses racism and fear of others as a potent tool, the rise of Superbrands, the damaging impacts of corporate free trade, and the deep hold by conservatives on climate change denial. Factors such as these have led to the election of Donald Trump.
But the results of the election and much of the major political parties (including Clinton and Obama) were to be expected, since the collective mind has been clouded with “crush the other guy” and “win at all costs” exemplified by popular TV shows such as Survivor, the Amazing Race, Big Brother, and yes, Trump’s Apprentice.
Three quarters of No Is Not Enough is focused on revelations about the corrosive value system that places profit above the well-being of people and the planet, but Klein says that there is an overwhelming need to not just worry about the world we don’t want, but to consider the world we do want instead. We need a captivating vision of the world beyond just saying “no.” We need to chart a credible and inspiring path to a different future…one that will require building as we go. Many interest groups say no to imminent threats, but we also need to work on building the “yes” that is the world we want and need.
In the past a cooperative commonwealth was developed, where work was but one element of a well-balanced life that left plenty of time for family, leisure, recreation, and art. While it seems that the utopian imagination has atrophied, we should remember that our ancestors forged a great democratic experimental government, and they did it with very little…we now have so much more, and we must do the same. One cannot read the last chapters of No Is Not Enough without reflecting on the 1770s and the American creators of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution.
Capitalism had its run but without controls it seems to result in unwanted outcomes for the planet and humanity. The need is to shift from a system based on endless taking from the Earth and from one another (extraction to feed perpetual growth rooted in ever-increasing consumption) to a culture based on caretaking – the principle that when we take, we also take care and give back. This is a shift in values and morality.
The Leap Manifesto is gaining momentum in Canada and around the world. It includes stated values such as respect for indigenous rights, internationalism, human rights, diversity, and environmental stewardship. Small steps are not what are needed – it will take a leap to:
Respect inherent rights and title of original caretakers of the land;
No new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased use of fossil fuels into the future (if you don’t want it in your backyard, it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard;
Universal program to build energy-efficient homes and retrofit existing housing (lowest income communities to benefit first);
Training for workers in carbon-intensive jobs to take part in the clean energy economy;
High speed rail powered by renewables and affordable public transit to unite every community;
Invest in decaying public infrastructure;
Moving to a far more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system;
An end to all trade deals that interfere with attempts to build local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive fossil fuel projects;
Immigration status and full protections for all workers;
Expanding the sectors of the economy that are already low-carbon: caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts, and public-interest media;
End to fossil fuel subsidies. Financial transaction taxes. Increased resource royalties. Higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy people. A progressive carbon tax. Cuts to military spending.
These examples of the Leap Manifesto are based on a simple “polluter pays” principle. It calls for town hall-type local meetings across our countries and the renewal of democracy at every level of government working toward a system in which every vote counts and corporate money is removed from political campaigns.
Klein closes No Is Not Enough saying now is the time for boldness. Now is the time to leap.
Roger Lohr is the founder and editor of XCSkiResorts.com and prolific national writer on cross country skiing. He lives in Lebanon, NH.