A Brief Book Review: This Changes Everything Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein

After reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, I was so excited to dive deeper into her work. What I discovered was that her brilliance is unquestionable, revolutionary, and trailblazing. Klein understands exactly what our mainstream culture fails to convey: corporations and global neoliberalism / capitalism are responsible for our climate crises. Furthermore, trying to find capitalistic bandaids to a wound caused by this violent system is not only stupid but impossible. While many of us might view being “green” or better for the environment as something as simple as using reusable water bottles, no straws, and recycling, Klein’s narrative perfectly rejects this. The climate crisis was created by global neoliberalism through imperialization and can only be stopped when big corporations reject bribery and money to explore sustainable solutions and reject historical, and ignorant means of production. Much like the more easy to understand concept; that capitalism and healthcare are oxymorons and directly contrast, solutions to our climate crises likewise must reject capitalism. 

I decided to read this book because I loved The Shock Doctrine so much. I related with the story Klein prefaced her book with, that it’s easy to shy away from the issues of the climate crises, especially if environmentalism isn’t your forte like me. Although I might not have grown to love this fight as much as Klein, while reading the book I not only gained immense knowledge, but developed a grander association with this movement for climate justice. 

Two particular stories stuck out to me. First, Klein’s own intimate journey and reflection through the themes of motherhood, maternity in nature and in the human body, and maternal regeneration. She linked her own odyssey in her failures of pregnancy to the toll we are taking on our own mother earth. I would urge anyone to read her chapter “The Right to Regenerate” even if you don’t want to dive deep into this whole book. 

The other thing I really related to in this book was her narratives and time spent on the ground documenting the right to reject things like fracking, pipelines, and dangerous industrialization. Importantly, most of these battles took plain rural, disenfranchised locations that were oftentimes occupied by indigneous peoples who have treaties with the government supposedly guaranteeing their stay. While my family has never had to endure the generational fights over land protection, my family did have to protect our old land against a pipeline. Kinder Morgan’s pipeline almost destroyed my family’s land in the small town of Richmond, New Hampshire that has been in my family for more than 120 years. This pipeline was planned to run feet away from the doorstep of our old- already crumbling home, to use the lake water that my family has bathed in for more than a century as a means to increase oil production. Never before had I seen so many libertarians- hermits of society in their closed off houses united with political signs that were anti pipeline. And while the project eventually combusted due to corruption (the irony), the threat was so terrifying that it was almost unimaginable. My privilege in this situation is the fact that this home is not my full-time residence- this only added to the preciosity this situation would cause me to realize was a battle for others. You take this exact situation but put it in the backyard of a group of people who not only rely more on the land, but for hundreds of years have had their land stolen, their livelihoods and cultures systematically disenfranchised and destroyed: that ability is unbelievable but completely representative of the US Government. It is shocking but not surprising, yet another way products of capitalism systemically gash and destroy indigenous communities already suffering from the diseases of other violent commodities and systems from capitalism. 

I’m never going to be an expert on climate change. In a way, that’s not the point. The working class, we the people, have the power to impose pressure and demands on corporations and the ruling class in order to fight for the future of our world. We have the power to reject bandaids and the ability to demand for surgery. Time and history has proven that when we revolutionize, when we come together to fight against the bourgeoisie and rules we vehemently oppose, we can create change. All social changes in history have come from oftentimes brutal protests against unjust systems and peoples. And like other fights we have fought in the past, our fight to change the way we view the climate crises must begin in working-class unity. Only then, does our world stand a chance to survive our destruction, to survive for our grandchildren to come.

Published by ellakotsen

student at Bryn Mawr College

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