Yesterday, Naomi Klein spoke before a packed Westminster Central Hall, and I was there. I wasn’t expecting such a large and grand hall (seats 2,300), and the enthusiasm of the crowd, frequently breaking into applause was wonderful.
The deep importance of stopping climate change is truly breaking into the mainstream. The radical changes needed to our economy and political system, which Naomi Klein documents so thoroughly in her book and sketched in her talk, were clearly music to the ears of the audience.
I had read some reviews beforehand, and have now bought the book (signed copy!) and have started to read it. She spoke about how the present economy has failed the vast majority of people, and really benefits only a small minority. She sees climate change as “the big tent” that will unite many movements for change and provide a counter power to that of the big corporations and financial organisations and the governments that are largely under their control or at least under their influence. Her starting issue is money in politics!
She proposes a “global Marshall plan for Planet Earth”, which will need a lot of government investment and will create a lot of jobs. The big problem at the moment is that the dominant idea is that governments should not regulate businesses. This key idea is what is now being questioned by many people.
Naomi Klein is excellent in her diagnosis of what is going wrong, and her clarity and marshalling of evidence is stunning. Where she is less strong is on the vision of what the alternative economy and political system would be like. She does like community control and Transition Towns. She is clear that for productive organisations, goals of serving the community and planet should take precedence over profits.
From my initial browsing of the book (around 500 pages) she sees this climate change movement protesting and lobbying government on a large scale, for example, to stop more extraction, and to promote divestment from fossil fuel companies.
That could be an effective way of galvanising people, but the key is the new social and economic structures we set up. That isn’t what governments and corporate leaders spend their time thinking about, so the good ideas aren’t likely to come from them.
I think that gives all of us who have been thinking about the alternative an urgent task: to catalyse broad discussion within the growing movement about what we would all like and how we might start to get there. Naomi refers to some of these areas: community control, new forms of co-operative that include all affected, new approaches to ownership (ex community land trusts), commons, gift economies and new forms of money, and much more.
From what I have seen, This Changes Everything is already becoming a very important book, and there are many others filling out this vision in lots of ways. I will end by mentioning my recent contributions: Our video: After the Crash: From Chasing Money to Choosing Community and its website, is a 10 minute introduction to this growing vision. My book, eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communication, gives a vision of a peaceful, sustainable future. The eBook version is free, and their are free sample chapters, one a light, fictional vision (Chapter 3 A taste of an eGaian future), and my current personal guess as to The next big step(s) (Chapter 15).