Dave's Reviews > This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
Oct 27, 2014
A lot of other reviews I've seen have been accusing Naomi Klein of being a crazy Marxist against western civilization or something, as if that's even a possible combination. My views are much more radical than hers (in my opinion anything resembling a large-scale green socialist system should only be seen as a temporary stage on the way "back" to bioregionalism and the use of democratic technics) so I think those criticisms are completely ridiculous. What she's advocating doesn't even appear to be totally socialist and she's definitely not anti-civ, although she does seem to have a hint of that sentiment. It's kind of a strange analysis actually. From the title I was expecting her to lay out some sort of proposal for a totally new system. The vast majority of the book is just a cathartic denunciation of the fossil fuel industry. Bashing these industries is fine but if environmentalists insist on constantly putting out 500 page books they need to get beyond the clever rewordings of the same things we've already heard a million times. It's nice that progressives are slowly headed in the right direction, challenging economic growth, fighting for a revival of the commons, localized production, redistribution of wealth and land, agroecological food production, etc. But they're stuck on this green city model of sustainability that has no chance of ever being sustainable. Even when acknowledging things like planned obsolescence and how much less production is really necessary to have the same standard of living if things are designed to last they still use the green jobs argument to push their ideas. It should be obvious that cutting working hours and production is the way to go but politically no mainstream group can handle that. Even when acknowledging the basic income idea (free money, potentially enough to survive on, to every adult whether they work or not) progressives still get sucked into the competition with the right-wing about which direction will give us more work to do. It's just inconsistent logic. And one of the things she says over and over is that our inability to solve the climate issue is due to "bad timing", as if this all would have worked out if it happened earlier, when corporations had less power, or later, when corporations had gotten all possible profits from fossil energy and they decided to go green themselves because it was just an economic necessity. Yet she knows that growth imperatives are the problem and she admits that they've been with us even before capitalism. So clearly she knows it's not just a bad coincidence of timing. It just feels like she was afraid of saying anything unpopular with her fan club. After 500 pages I still don't really get what she's promoting besides the typical solar panel and wind turbine run high-tech modern middle-class fantasy world. I don't want to create the impression that this book is terrible. A lot of people will benefit from reading it. It's just disappointing that she's still sticking with such a mainstream vision of the future when she seemed so close to actually getting it. We need more people to be honest about how far from sustainable we really are.
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October 27, 2014 – Shelved