Do More Than Just Resist With Klein’s “No Is Not Enough”

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Amanda Moser

Fan of tattoos, David Bowie, and dogs with short legs. Not necessarily in that order.

Here we are folks, the beginning of a new year. While, for many, a new year brings about feelings of excitement, of fresh starts and new beginnings, this year seems to be a bit different.

Many of us are tired, worn-down and exhausted, regarding each news story with a slightly-less critical, slightly-more grudgingly accepting eye.

The problem with that is that’s it’s essentially admitting defeat. And we can’t do that, not now, not ever. But it gets hard to resist those feelings, especially when it feels like we’re constantly under attack. And that’s the goal, for the Trump administration. To wear us down with a constant barrage of larger-than-life news stories while quietly slipping proposed legislation (with frightening tack-on’s like the new definition of life in the tax bill, Executive orders, and Justice Department “clarification” memos, under the radar.

And while many of us have been doing our part to resist whatever this administration has thrown at us, we all recognize, on some level, that we must do more than simply say “no.” We must formulate a plan, we must organize and work together. We are in charge of creating a world for all of us, the world we all need and deserve.

This is where the award-winning investigative journalist Naomi Klein comes in.

In her enlightening, exciting, and yes, sometimes depressing new book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics And Winning The World We Need, Klein takes us through the steps that led us, as a country, to electing Donald Trump as President, what that means for the world as a whole, and what we can do to not only resist but react.

It was hard for many of us who believed that our country, albeit slowly and painstakingly at times, was indeed moving in the right direction: towards progress and equality.

Although not perfect, under President Obama headway had been made in many ways: the passing of marriage equality, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, joining the Paris Climate Agreement, the establishment of Net Neutrality, expansion of Wilderness and Watershed protection, the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, the cutting, by nearly half, of veteran homelessness, and the creation of DACA.

Once Trump was elected, so many of us felt shock and dismay that, not only was THIS man going to run our country for the next four years, but that we were, in fact, going backward, and at an alarming rate.

Although, as Klein points out, Trump isn’t an aberration.

Instead, she states, in one of the most powerful paragraphs of the book, that Trump is a:

“logical conclusion — a pastiche of pretty much all the worst trends of the past half-century. Trump is the product of powerful systems of thought that rank human life based on race, religion, gender, sexuality, physical appearance, and physical ability… He is also the personification of the merger of humans and corporations — a one-man megabrand… he is the embodiment of the belief that money and power provide license to impose one’s will on others…” (9-10).

Klein outlines how the rise of “superbrands” have impacted our society so deeply that it made electing a man who is the epitome of personal branding a viable contender for President of the United States. This, in turn, led us into a presidency that looks less like the typical passing-of-the-baton between political parties, and more like a corporate takeover.

With his appointments alone, his cabinet of billionaires and multimillionaires with ties to Exxon-Mobil, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Goldman Sachs (3), it seems as if Trump is planning to run the country, if he has any plan at all, by way of a business-osmosis. Put enough people who look like they might know what they are doing in place, and he can step back, profit, and let the world burn.

He’s cut out the middle-man politicians, who are ostensibly there to protect the public interest, and is allowing the corporations to call the shots (3-4)

Klein explains, with a section dedicated to each topic, how Trump’s team has profited and stands to profit still, from some of the biggest issues plaguing our world:

  • Climate Change and War
  • Prisons
  • War and Surveillance
  • Economic Crisis
  • Natural Disasters

Throughout the book, Klein focuses on what having these people in charge means for our future, and what they represent based on their own business practices. And how every social and environmental issue impacts one another, and why it’s important that we fight for all of them — not just a select few.

As progressives, we must fight the urge to keep “identity politics,” positions based on “the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify,” and economic and class politics separate. They are all tied together, Klein tells us. 

“Instead, the overarching task before us is not to rank our various issues — identity versus economics, race versus gender — and for one to vanquish all the others in some sort of oppression cage match. It is to understand in our bones how these forms of oppression intersect and prop each other up, creating the complex scaffolding that allowed a kleptocratic thug to grab the world’s most powerful job as if it were a hostess at a strip club.” (94)

A detailed explanation of how all of the elements of systematic oppression — race, gender, class, economics, history, culture — intersect and work together is the cornerstone of this book.

One of the things Klein does best is to explain how neoliberalism, the capitalist economy we currently have, works against those who are the most vulnerable. How our global economic policy is failing us all.

It takes many different forms and it’s going to take all of us, working together towards a common goal to fix it.

Thankfully, many of the most recent political movements have embraced the intersectional approach to change that is needed, according to Klein, to tackle the inequality and injustice in our world. There have been movements to end violence against women, for workers calling for a living wage, to combat police brutality and its impact on black lives, for Indigenous rights, and for climate justice.

These movements have all embraced an intersectional framework that go beyond single-issue approaches to change (99).

These movements focus on a combination of the following, to examine how the issues overlap within an individual’s life experience:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Sexuality
  • Physical ability
  • Immigration Status
  • Language

All of these factors coalesce, for each of us. They determine our privilege, our status, our very lives. People are multi-faceted, and so are the issues they face.

Klein’s book can often create an impending sense of doom, when page after page is filled with what these people, in positions of great power, have seemingly gotten away with, and how our world has been shaped by those who hold particular positions of power, and have wielded that power to suit the interests of the few over the interests of the many.

But that’s just the first part of the story.

While it is true that people can regress during times of crisis, we, as human beings, have the uncanny ability to come together, as Klein notes: “we can evolve and grow up… and set aside all kinds of bullshit — fast” (190).

In the last chapters of her book, Klein describes how all over the world people are already standing up and saying ‘enough is enough.’ We are coming together, we are resisting, and we are moving forward. This is how we change things.

By keeping the collective memory of past shocks alive, by remembering the injustices that have been allowed to happen, by rejecting the harmful legislation that has been put forth to make those who are already vulnerable even more so, by keeping alive the knowledge that we are all in this together and cannot be set against each other based on our ethnicity and religion, we will survive and thrive.

The best, and indeed, the only way we will continue to persevere is simple: keeping hope alive.

One of the biggest mistakes of the recent past’s progressive agenda has been the fact that we have forgotten what it’s like to dream big. To envision a future that has a place for all of us. A future that takes care of the earth, that holds opportunities for us all, not just the privileged few. A future where healthcare and education are rights, not merely a high-priced luxury for those who can afford them.

Our imaginations are not, and never have been, limited to the physical world around us. Why should the creation of our future be any different?

It’s time to leap, Klein tells us, because the small steps we’ve been taking just aren’t getting the job done. We must come together and strengthen the threads that tie us all together, all of our different social, environmental, economic, and political ideologies, for the common good. 

We must create a unified vision. And Naomi Klein offers a way for us to get started.

Klein outlines how several people from different progressive groups in Canada (labor federations and unions, green groups, Indigenous and feminist leaders, organizers of migrant rights, open technology, food and housing justice, and more) (236) came together to create The Leap Manifesto — A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another and how we can use this as a blueprint to create action plans and statements of purpose in our own communities (248).

We all have a choice. We can stand by and watch as Trump and his administration take over and use the world as they see fit. We can make phone calls and go to marches and stand up and say no. Or we can gather together and mobilize — create a future where there is a safe place for each of us. A world full of “yeses,” rather than “nos.”

This book has given me answers I was looking for following the 2016 election. It lays out example after example of how we’ve come to find ourselves in this political landscape.

It also opened my eyes to all the many ways our lives overlap, how we all impact one another. Beyond all that, it’s given me hope. Hope in our future and the understand that really, we’re the ones who hold all the power. We just need a little direction and a plan to get started. We can do this.

You can find out more about Naomi Klein’s book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics And Winning the World We Need at https://www.noisnotenough.org/

Get involved at https://theleap.org/