logo

Naomi Klein

Social Philosopher Political Philosopher
  • tw
  • ws

NAOMI KLEIN is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the international bestsellers, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo(2000).

This Changes Everything was an instant New York Times bestseller and is being translated into over 25 languages. Nominated for multiple awards, it won the 2014 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. The documentary inspired by the book, and directed by Avi Lewis, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015.

Since This Changes Everything was published, Klein’s primary focus has been on putting its ideas into action. She is one of the organizers and authors of Canada’s Leap Manifesto, a blueprint for a rapid and justice-based transition off fossil fuels. The Leap has been endorsed by over 200 organizations, tens of thousands of individuals, and has inspired similar climate justice initiatives around the world.

In November 2016 she was awarded Australia’s prestigious Sydney Peace Prize, for, according to the prize jury, “exposing the structural causes and responsibility for the climate crisis, for inspiring us to stand up locally, nationally and internationally to demand a new agenda for sharing the planet that respects human rights and equality, and for reminding us of the power of authentic democracy to achieve transformative change and justice.”

Klein is a member of the board of directors for climate-action group 350.org. In 2015, she was invited to speak at the Vatican to help launch Pope Francis’s historic encyclical on ecology, Laudato si’.

In 2017, Klein became Senior Correspondent for The Intercept. She is also a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and contributor to the Nation Magazine. Recent articles have also appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, the London Review of Books and Le Monde.

She has multiple honorary degrees and in 2014 received the International Studies Association’s IPE Outstanding Activist-Scholar award.

Articles
Reviews
Naomi Klein, USA 01/07/2018 0

Forget Coates vs. West — We All Have a Duty to Confront the Full Reach of U.S. Empire

So, which side are you on? #TeamWest or #TeamCoates?

Choose fast, preferably within seconds, and don’t come to this gunfight with a knife. No, like some nerdy Rambo, we want you greased up and loaded with ammo: your most painful character smears, your most “gotcha” evidence of past political infractions, a blitzkrieg of hyperlinks and, of course, an aircraft carrier of reaction GIFs.

That’s pretty much how the online debate has played out ever since Cornel West published his piece in The Guardian challenging Ta-Nehisi Coates, an article you either regard as an outrageous injustice or an earth-shattering truth bomb, depending on which team you have chosen.

We see it differently. We see this debate as a political opportunity, one that has far less to do with either of these brilliant men and everything to do with how, at a time of unfathomably high stakes, we are going to build a multiracial human rights movement capable of beating back surging white supremacy and rapidly concentrating corporate power. As women, both Black and white, both American and Canadian, we see the question like this: What are the duties of radicals and progressives inside relatively wealthy countries to the world beyond our national borders? A warming world wracked by expanding and unending wars that our governments wage, finance, and arm — a world scarred by unbearable poverty and forced migration?

Though West directed his criticisms at Coates, these are by no means questions for Coates alone. They are urgent challenges for all of us who see ourselves as part of social movements and intellectual traditions that yearn for a world where justice and dignity abound.

Read the full article at The Intercept.

Top photo: Cornel West, left, professor of philosophy at Union Theological Seminary, speaks at the National Press Club on Feb. 21, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, right, pictured during a press conference.

Naomi Klein, USA 11/27/2017 0

Canada Prepares for a New Wave of Refugees as Haitians Flee Trump’s America

Inside the new heated trailers are beds and showers, ready to warm up frozen hands and feet, while processing and security checks take place.

Last winter, after Donald Trump’s inauguration, there was a sharp increase in “irregular border crossings” all across the Canada-U.S. border: people sidestepping official ports of entry and trying to reach safety by walking through the woods, across clearings, or over ditches. Since January 2017, Canadian authorities intercepted nearly 17,000 migrants from the U.S. (and others crossed without detection). The applications for asylum begin once migrants are safely in Canada, rather than at border crossings, where they would likely be turned back under a controversial cross-border agreement between the two countries.

The risks of the irregular crossings are especially great in winter, and this one looks to be a cold one. Last year, during the coldest months, there were wrenching reports of frostbitten toes and fingers having to be amputated on arrival in Canada. Two men from Ghana lost all their fingers after they walked across to Manitoba — one told reporters he felt lucky that he had managed to keep one of his thumbs.

Despite these hazards, there is every reason to believe the flow of migrants making their way to those trailers near Lacolle will continue even as the temperature drops. Indeed, the luggage-laden foot traffic may well speed up in the coming weeks and months.

That’s because on Monday, November 20, the Trump administration made good on its threats to remove more than 50,000 Haitians from a program that currently allows them to live and work legally in the United States. In 20 months, they will be stripped of all protection and subjected to deportation. The administration has already announced it will be kicking Nicaraguans out of the same program and has suggested it may do the same to Hondurans next year. In September, Sudanese people got word that they’re getting the boot as well. Salvadorans are expected to be next.

The program, called Temporary Protected Status, gives special legal status to people from select countries that have been hard-hit by wars and natural disasters while their homelands recover (they need to be in the United States when the disaster strikes). After its devastating 2010 earthquake, the Obama administration added Haiti to the TPS list.

In the years since, thousands of Haitians gained status under the program, allowing them the freedom to build lives in the U.S. — to go to college, work in health care, construction and hotels, pay taxes, and have children who are U.S. citizens. A total of more than 300,000 people — from Sudan, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia, and more — are similarly covered by TPS. The program was originally designed as a way of “throwing a bone to a country that has had a disaster until that country is back on its feet,” as Sarah Pierce at the Migration Policy Institute puts it. Yet in some cases, as with war-torn Somalia, the designation has been renewed so many times that it has been in place for 26 years, turning it into a kind of unstable, de facto refugee program (albeit one that is no help to Somalis fleeing current violence or persecution, only those who have been in the United States for decades).

During his presidential campaign, Trump dropped strong hints that he supported the program, at least when it came to Haitians. Courting the vote in Miami’s Little Haiti, he told a crowd that, “Whether you vote for me or don’t vote for me, I really want to be your greatest champion, and I will be your champion.”

All that changed quickly. As part of its broader anti-immigrant crusade, the Trump administration soon began casting TPS as a scam, a backdoor way for foreigners to stay in the U.S. indefinitely (never mind that many of the countries covered remain ravaged by war and disaster and rely heavily on money sent home by workers covered by TPS for whatever slow reconstruction is underway).

It started just a few months into the Trump administration. First, James McCament, then-acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, urged that Haiti’s inclusion under the program be “terminated.” Then a memo from the Department of Homeland Security suggested that Haitians “prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States.” And in May, John Kelly, then-DHS secretary, said Haitian TPS recipients “need to start thinking about returning” to Haiti.

Overnight, tens of thousands of people were forced to choose from an array of high-risk options: Stay and hope for the best? Join the underground economy? Return to Haiti, where life is far from safe, and the cholera epidemic still claims hundreds of lives each year? Or walk across the border to Canada, where the country’s young prime minister had been making bold proclamations about welcoming refugees?

Since June, that last option is the one a great many Haitians have chosen, as many as 250 of them a day during the summer months. They packed what they could carry, boarded a plane or a bus to Plattsburgh, New York, transferred to a taxi for the 30-minute ride to the end of Roxham Road, near Lacolle, then got out and walked across the ditch that divides Trump’s America and Justin Trudeau’s Canada.

A bus of Haitian asylum seekers from the United States arrives at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec on August 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Catherine Legault        (Photo credit should read CATHERINE LEGAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

A bus of Haitian asylum seekers from the United States arrives at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec on Aug. 3, 2017.

Photo: Catherine Legault/AFP/Getty Images

Breathing Different Air

“The minute I arrived here, I felt as if was breathing different air. I used to have this sharp pain in my shoulder and suddenly it was gone. I asked myself ‘What happened?’ I realized that it was a product of the stress.”

Agathe St. Preux, a middle-aged woman wearing a modest, shin-length skirt and a black blazer, tells me how it felt to finally arrive in Canada after 12 years of trying and failing to get permanent legal status in the United States.

It was mid-October and we were gathered in a packed room in Montreal’s Maison d’Haïti, a hub for the city’s deep-rooted Haitian community. Dozens of people who made “irregular” border crossings since the anti-TPS threats began had agreed to come and share their migration stories.

The experiences were hugely varied, and several people asked to remain anonymous. There was a mother of three who had been working legally at JFK Airport and decided that her family could only stay intact if she left it all and walked across the border at Lacolle.

There was a man who ran a successful campaign for mayor of a small Haitian city but was “attacked by three thugs” from a rival political faction. “It was a miracle that he survived,” observed a woman who herself had spent three years working in the U.S. but fled when she heard news of friends — fellow Haitians — already being deported under Trump.

A man in his late 20s told the room that he had been in the U.S. for 15 years, went to college, then worked for seven years. “I was part of the economy. I paid taxes.” But with Trump, “the stress was enough to kill me. So I flew to Plattsburgh, took a cab, and walked across.”

Here too was a mother of six who lived for eight years in Miami, studied to become a nurse while working night shifts, and slept at bus stops until the sun rose — all so that she could finally get a job caring for sick Americans and pay taxes to the U.S. government. “We work like animals,” Manie Yanica Quetant told me, through a Creole interpreter. “And then he says, ‘Get out.’”

“He,” of course, is Trump — or “Chomp,” as his name is consistently pronounced here.

For the vast majority of Haitians gathered at the Maison, the route they took to the United States was not the relatively direct one from Haiti to Florida by boat, a passage that has been heavily patrolled for decades by the U.S. Coast Guard. Seeking jobs and more welcoming immigration policies, their journeys were far more circuitous: from Haiti to other Caribbean islands, then to Brazil, where jobs were promised in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Then, as those opportunities fizzled, travels continued up through South and Central America until finally reaching California.

Several people in the room had crossed 10 or 11 countries before reaching their destination. Years spent running and hiding, hunted by authorities, preyed upon by thieves.

Rosemen François, a young woman with spiral curls streaked with purple, told me that what happened in Panama still haunts her. “I was crossing a river and I fell three times in the water, and at one point I couldn’t feel my feet because the skin was coming off. That feeling has marked me.”

Responding to François’s testimony, a man who had been quiet up until then put his hand up. “When we were in Panama, we had to sleep in the forests. … We saw people die. We saw women get raped. We spent six days in the forest in Panama without eating, sleeping outside, in the rain.” With harrowing echoes of the Underground Railroad, he said they heard sounds and “thought there were wild animals and we ran, we lost our belongings, our luggage, everything.”

“But we still had faith and we still had the United States in our minds. We thought that when we arrived, there would be paradise for us.” After all, ever since the earthquake, there had been a special program in place — TPS — that recognized their country’s suffering and allowed them to live and work out of the shadows.

But for many, it didn’t work out that way. As François recalled: “When I arrived in California [three years ago], I thought that would be the end of my journey. Instead I got arrested and put in a detention center, and I couldn’t see daylight or make out the difference between days and night. I was there for seven days. No shower. The food was not edible.” Convinced she had been forgotten in a black hole, “I started screaming … and that’s how I got out.”

For a few years, things started to normalize. She got a work permit. She studied. But then last summer, “my friends got deported and sent back to Haiti, and that’s when I decided to come to Canada.”

Asked why this was happening, her answer is simple: “It was Mr. Trump. Chomp … Chomp took my dream and turned it upside down.”

Quetant, the nurse from Miami, describes her shock at the news that Haitians, who had come to feel a measure of security thanks to TPS, were suddenly being hunted once again. “You turn on the radio and the news is ‘Hey, they are catching the Haitians.’” And so “you have to start running, and you are out of breath, and where are you going to run to?”

The stress, she said, was unbearable. “You don’t know why they are coming to catch you and when you look around, you don’t know how people are seeing you or what to do. You want to stop running.”

Trump Refugees

For those who arrived in the U.S. after Trump was elected, the experience was even more extreme. Dieuliphète Derphin, a young man who made the journey up through Brazil, arrived just before inauguration. “I was astonished to get arrested and spend six days in a detention center. I was asking myself, ‘How come they’re treating black people in an inhuman way? How come you’re not giving me a toothbrush? How come I don’t have access to water? Why are they doing this to us? Is it because we are black?”

“After that, I didn’t want to stay in the States. Not even for a second. That’s why I got the idea of coming to Canada.” He crossed the border in August, after just eight months in the U.S.

Many in the room echoed Agathe St. Preux’s description of “breathing different air” upon arrival in Quebec. The room broke out in applause when Quetant said of Trump, “I hope he never comes here because the Canadian land is a blessed land.”

And yet it soon became clear that despite a brief surge of relief that came with escaping Trump’s crackdown, the search for safely and stability is far from over. Many Haitians came to Canada because they heard that Justin Trudeau’s government would welcome them with open arms. They knew about Trudeau’s famous tweet, sent on the same day protests against Trump’s first Muslim travel ban kicked off across the country. “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

One man spoke of that and similar messages broadcasting from the north as “a divine sign that God was showing the way, saying, ‘Come to Canada.’”

What they discovered, however, is that the situation was far more complex. In recent months, Canadian officials have been frantically discouraging immigrants in the U.S., Haitians in particular, from attempting the crossing, pointing out that warm-and-fuzzy tweets notwithstanding, Canada’s immigration policies are restrictive, and hundreds of Haitians have been deported since January. Marjorie Villefranche, director of the Maison d’Haïti, says that about 60 Haitians are still crossing the border every day; she estimates that 50 percent will get refugee status and another quarter will get some other kind of status. The others may well be deported.

Moreover, Canada and the U.S. are part of the Safe Third Country agreement, which states that asylum-seekers “are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in.” Since the United States is classified as “safe” under the accord, if Haitians currently based in the States go to a Canadian border crossing and say they want to make a refugee claim, they will most likely be turned back.

If, however, they magically appear in Canada, their claims can be processed. This is the primary reason that Haitians, as well as thousands of other immigrants fleeing rising anti-immigrant sentiment and policies in the U.S., have crossed the border by foot, which carries both physical risks and legal ones. As Quetant put it, to have a chance of getting legal status in Canada, “you have to break the law. You don’t want to do it, it’s not your first choice, but you have to.”

Only one woman in the room was willing to say that before crossing on foot, she attempted to enter Canada at an official port of entry. She was officially denied, a fact that is now on her record. This puts her in the weakest legal position of the group. “I can’t get a working permit because I was deported,” she says. Another woman shakes her head. “This is what everyone here is trying to avoid.”

Canada has not exactly been an antiracist utopia for this wave of black migrants either. White supremacists have held rallies at the Lacolle border crossings and unfurled an anti-immigrant banner outside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, which has been converted into a temporary shelter for Trump refugees. And so far, Haitians have not been greeted with the same flood of grassroots generosity as Syrian refugees to Canada famously experienced.

But many Montrealers have been moved to help the Haitian arrivals, and there have been expressions of incredible warmth. “We want it to feel like home,” Villefranche said of the building where we were gathered, the Maison d’Haïti. The center first opened in 1972, amid an earlier surge of Haitian immigration during the brutal years of the Duvalier dictatorships. Last year, after decades at the heart of the city’s Haitian life, they celebrated a move to a modern, sun-filled new building in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood. Floor-to-ceiling windows face the street, community members chat in a cafe, and vibrant Haitian art hangs on every available patch of wall.

The new space arrived just in time to cope with Hurricane Trump. As with the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, teams of volunteers now help the new arrivals fill out forms for temporary work permits. Staff members work to make sure children register for school, setting them up with uniforms and cheerful notebooks. There are French classes for adults and ongoing drives to collect clothing, furniture, and other supplies.

Most importantly, there are other Haitians, many who have been in Montreal for decades and have built stable and thriving lives. “They tell us, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just as the sun is shining on us today, it will be shining on you one day in the future,’” explained one recent Trump refugee. Philogene Gerda, a young mother of three who spent 15 days at the Olympic Stadium, said that the Maison “felt like home, especially the women’s space every Friday night, when you can bring your kids.”

There is also political work being done within the broader immigrant rights movement to push the Trudeau government to live up to its pro-refugee marketing. Heated trailers on the border help, but they are not enough. Thousands of Canadians have written letters calling for an end to the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. Other campaigns are calling for significant new resources to speed up the processing of asylum claims, so migrants aren’t left in legal limbo for years.

At the Maison d’Haïti, the overwhelming feeling is one of resolve. Having traversed the length of the Americas to arrive at this pocket of calm, there is, quite literally, nowhere left to run, no further north to flee. As Derphin put it to me, “This is it, the end of the road. … Our life should be here. And to be protected here. That’s it. I don’t want to go through all this turmoil again.”

For Villefranche, this is all the more crucial in light of the DHS announcement that 50,000 Haitians in the U.S. are now living on borrowed time. “We are expecting a lot of people to come,” she told me this week. But she hopes that anyone planning to attempt a foot crossing will take advantage of the 20-month delay to avoid the winter, with all of its risks. “Crossing in winter is not a good idea. It’s very hard, but we are ready to welcome them. The trailers are there. And at the Maison d’Haïti, we are here.”

Of course, not all the Haitians facing the loss of their protected status will choose the Canadian option. There had been fears that this week’s announcement would cut people off as soon as January, as Kelly had threatened in May. By adding 18 months to that, hopes have been raised that before the clock runs out, one of the efforts to win permanent legal residency could gain traction, including proposed bipartisan legislation that would provide TPS recipients who have been in the country for five years or more with a path to permanent residency.

The most likely outcome, however, is that tens of thousands of Haitians currently living and working legally in the U.S. will stay put and slip through the cracks. As Patricia ?Elizée, a Miami lawyer with Haitian clients, points out, Haitians “will not all get on a boat and go home. They will go on the black market.” Many will still be able to work — but now, if they complain about mistreatment, they will face deportation and incarceration, a business opportunity for private immigration prisons with parent companies rejoiced at Trump’s election.

For many, going back to Haiti seems the hardest option of all. It’s true, as DHS officials point out, that the earthquake in Haiti was seven years ago, and TPS is supposed to be temporary. But the earthquake was hardly the end (or the beginning) of the country’s overlapping crises. Corrupt and inept foreign-sponsored reconstruction from the quake set the stage for the cholera outbreak, and Haiti was pounded by Hurricane Matthew last year. When Hurricane Irma looked poised to douse the island with heavy rains this year (it did), some islanders expressed a kind of disaster fatigue that may well become the norm in a near future when shocks and crises are so frequent they take on a kind of macabre normalcy.

“I guess we are worried,” one Port-au-Prince resident pointedly told a journalist, “but we are already living in another hurricane, Hurricane Misery. … So, they say I should board up my house? With what? Wood? Who’s going to pay? With what money will I buy it? Ha! I don’t even have a tin roof. If the winds come, I can’t do anything but hope to live.”

An RCMP officer talks with a group of people who claimed to be from Haiti in Champlain, New York as they prepare to cross the border into Canada illegally on August 4, 2017.Migrants have been crossing the border in greater numbers in recent weeks. / AFP PHOTO / Geoff Robins (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

An RCMP officer talks with a group of people who claimed to be from Haiti in Champlain, New York as they prepare to cross the border into Canada illegally on August 4, 2017.

Photo: Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images

The Climate Connection

On one level, Trump’s attacks on TPS are politically baffling. There was no great outcry demanding the deportation of Haitians and Central Americans. And many employers are frustrated to lose reliable workers (according to the union Unite Here, Disney World alone employs approximately 500 Haitian TPS workers).

Moreover, for Republicans, all of this carries significant political risks: Haitian TPS recipients can’t vote, but many of their friends and family members can. And given that many live in Florida, a swing state that is also experiencing an influx of Puerto Ricans who are not at all pleased with how they have been treated by Republicans (and who can vote once they establish residency), this latest anti-immigrant move could well backfire at the ballot box.

But perhaps there is a bigger picture to be seen here, one that has less to do with Haiti or Honduras and more to do with our warming world. Because TPS — which singles out “environmental disaster” as one of the key reasons a country would receive this designation — is currently the most significant policy tool available to the U.S. government to bring a modicum of relief to the countless people worldwide who are already being displaced as a result of climate change-related crises, with many more on the way. Little wonder, then, that Trump officials are rushing to slam this policy door shut.

Of the 10 countries currently covered by TPS, environmental disasters are cited as the primary reason or a major contributing factor in seven of them.

The program was not created as a response to climate change — it began as a way to respond to displacement from civil war. And yet as the world has warmed, it has evolved into a primary means by which the United States has granted limited rights to many thousands of people when their countries are hit by natural disasters. Indeed, one of the only things governments can currently do when a superstorm or drought devastates their country is lobby to get their citizens in the U.S. covered under TPS (or equivalent programs in other wealthy nations).

Jane McAdam, director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at University of New South Wales, told me that problematic as it is, “TPS is the strongest, or even the only, existing mechanism” for climate change migrants under U.S. law. “It does at least provide some kind of temporary protection.” Which is why several scholars have suggested that TPS’s importance will grow as climate change accelerates.

Of course, not all the disasters that have triggered a TPS designation have been linked to climate change (the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal are unconnected). But other disasters that have been cited in TPS designations — hurricanes, mega-floods, droughts — are precisely the kind of extreme weather events that are becoming more frequent and severe as the world warms.

Honduras and Nicaragua, both targeted by the Trump administration, first received TPS coverage after Hurricane Mitch. Somalia was originally included under TPS because of armed conflict, but when its status was extended under Obama, one of the reasons given was “extensive flooding and severe drought” impacting food and water security. Yemen, similarly, was originally designated for armed conflict, but its most recent renewal adds cyclones and heavy rains that “caused loss of life; injuries; flooding; mudslides; damage to infrastructure; and shortages of food, water, medical supplies, and fuel.”

Granting the right to live and work in the United States to some migrants from these countries has been an acknowledgement that people in lands rocked by sudden environmental crises have the human right to seek safety.

As a humanitarian tool able to cope with our era of serial disasters, TPS is terribly limited. Even for the relatively small number of people who meet its stringent requirements, it’s still only a recipe for perpetual insecurity. Beneficiaries need to renew their status every six to 18 months, paying approximately $500 each time, and TPS is temporary by definition.

It’s also arbitrary: Many countries hit by mega-disasters have been denied the designation. Perhaps most important, the program is only designed to deal with sudden, large-scale disaster events; slow-motion climate impacts like desertification, sea-level rise, and land erosion are a more awkward fit. And there’s another hitch: As Koko Warner, an expert on environmental migration at United Nations University, put it, with TPS, “It is always assumed that people will be able to return to their place of origin” once the disaster passes. That’s a distinctly unrealistic assumption in our age of drowning island nations and vanishing coastlines.

The reason Trump’s attacks on TPS are still relevant despite all these caveats is simple: Besides discretionary measures, for climate change migrants stranded in the U.S., there is nothing else. The 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees does not include environmental disasters or climate change as grounds on which to grant refugee status. There has to be the risk of persecution.

This gaping hole in international law comes up every time governments gather to tackle the intersecting challenges of climate disruption, most recently at the U.N. climate summit in Bonn, Germany, that ended last week. Many have argued that the convention should be amended, but the solution may not be that simple. At a moment when the governments of so many wealthy nations are fortressing their borders, opening up the refugee convention to try to include climate migrants could not only fail, it could result in markedly weaker agreement than we have currently.

So TPS is what is left. Which is why the Trump administration’s rapid-fire round of attacks on the program — for Central Americans, Haitians, Sudanese, and maybe more  — means that even this weak tool is in jeopardy as well. It’s a move that should be seen in the context of a pattern of actions that is simultaneously deepening the climate crisis (by granting the fossil fuel industry its wildest wish list), while eliminating programs designed to cope with the impacts of warming.

In short, this isn’t only about Trump’s antipathy toward non-white immigrants (though it’s about that too); we may also be witnessing a particularly brutal form of climate change adaptation.

The logic is simple enough: Trump officials know that in the years to come, there are going to be many more people with a powerful claim to protection under TPS — just look at this summer of record-breaking disasters, from flooding in Southeast Asia and Nigeria, to Barbuda’s total evacuation, to the exodus from Puerto Rico. Whether they publicly deny the science or not, the generals surrounding Trump are well aware that the future is going to see many more people on the move. If compassion is extended for one natural disaster (like Haiti’s monster earthquake or the hurricanes that followed), why not another? And another? From the Trump administration’s “America First” perspective, TPS is simply too dangerous a precedent.

As the only U.S. immigration program that grants legal rights to migrants in response to environmental disasters, the fate of the program should be seen as a de facto test case for how the world’s wealthiest country, and its largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, is going treat the coming waves of climate refugees.

So far, the message is clear: Go back to a hell of our making.

Top photo: A Haitian boy holds onto his father as they approach an illegal crossing point, staffed by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, from Champlain, N.Y., to Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, on Aug. 7, 2017.

Research: Sharon J. Riley

Creole translation: Marie-Denise Douyon

By The Intercept

Naomi Klein, USA 10/30/2017 0

A new shock doctrine: in a world of crisis, morality can still win

We live in frightening times. From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground: it feels like there are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic about our collective future.

To take one example, the Caribbean and southern United States are in the midst of an unprecedented hurricane season, pounded by storm after storm. Puerto Rico – hit by Irma, then Maria – is entirely without power and could be for months, its water and communication systems severely compromised. But just as during Hurricane Katrina, the cavalry is missing in action. Donald Trump is too busy trying to get black athletes fired for daring to shine a spotlight on racist violence. A real federal aid package for Puerto Rico has not yet been announced. And the vultures are circling: the business press reports that the only way for Puerto Rico to get the lights back on is to sell off its electricity utility.

Pinterest
Naomi Klein’s speech to the Labour party conference.

This is a phenomenon I’ve called the Shock Doctrine: the exploitation of wrenching crises to smuggle through policies that devour the public sphere and further enrich a small elite. We’ve seen this dismal cycle repeat again and again: after the 2008 financial crash, and now in the UK with the Tories planning to exploit Brexit to push through disastrous pro-corporate trade deals without debate.

Ours is an age when it is impossible to pry one crisis apart from all the others. They have all merged, reinforcing and deepening each other like one shambling, multi-headed beast. The current US president can be thought of in much the same way. ,It’s tough to adequately sum him up. You know that horrible thing currently clogging up the London sewers, the fatberg? Trump is the political equivalent of that. A merger of all that is noxious in the culture, economy and body politic, all kind of glommed together in a self-adhesive mass. And we’re finding it very hard to dislodge.

But moments of crisis do not have to go the Shock Doctrine route: they do not need to become opportunities for the obscenely wealthy to grab still more. They can be moments when we find our best selves.

We all witnessed this in the aftermath of the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower. When the people responsible were missing in action, the community came together, held one another in their care, organised donations and advocated for the living – and for the dead. And they are doing it still, more than 100 days after the fire – with, scandalously, only a handful of survivors rehoused.

It’s not only at the grassroots level: there is a long and proud history of crises sparking progressive transformation on a societal scale. Think of the victories won by working people for social housing in the wake of the first world war, or for the NHS after the horrors of the second world war. This should remind us that moments of great crisis and peril do not need to knock us backwards: they can also catapult us forward.

But these transformative victories are never won by simply resisting, or saying no to the latest outrage. To win in a moment of true crisis, we also need a bold and forward-looking yes: a plan for how to rebuild and respond to the underlying causes. And that plan needs to be convincing, credible and, most of all, captivating. We have to help a weary and wary public to imagine itself into that better world.

In recent months the Labour party has showed us there’s another way. One that speaks the language of decency and fairness, that names the true forces most responsible for this mess, no matter how powerful. And one that is unafraid of some of the ideas we were told were gone for good, such as wealth redistribution, and nationalising essential public services. Thanks to Labour’s boldness, we now know that this isn’t just a moral strategy. It’s a winning strategy. It fires up the base, and it activates constituencies that long ago stopped voting altogether.

The last election also showed us something else: that political parties don’t need to fear the creativity and independence of social movements – and social movements have a huge amount to gain from engaging with electoral politics. That’s a very big deal, because political parties tend to be a bit freakish about control, and real grassroots movements cherish their independence. But the relationship between Labour and Momentum shows it is possible to combine the best of both worlds and create a force both stronger and more nimble than anything that parties or movements can pull off on their own.

What happened here in Britain is part of a global phenomenon. We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries, powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future. We see something similar with Spain’s still young Podemos party, which built in the power of mass movements from day one. These electoral campaigns caught fire with stunning speed. And they got close to taking power – closer than any other genuinely transformative political programme has in Europe or North America in my lifetime. But not close enough. So in this time between elections, we need to think about how to make absolutely sure that, next time, all of our movements go all the way.

Podemos supporters in the centre of Madrid, in 2015
Podemos supporters in the centre of Madrid, in 2015 Photograph: Andres Kudacki/AP

In all of our countries, we can and must do more to connect the dots between economic injustice, racial injustice and gender injustice. We need to draw out the connections between the gig economy – which treats human beings like a raw resource from which to extract wealth and then discard – and the dig economy, in which extractive companies treat the Earth in precisely the same careless way.

And let’s show exactly how we can move from that gig and dig economy to a society based on principles of care – caring for the planet and for one another. A society where the work of our caregivers, and of our land and water protectors, is respected and valued. A world where no one and nowhere is thrown away – whether in firetrap housing estates, or on hurricane-ravaged islands.

Battling climate change is a once-in-a-century chance to build a fairer and more democratic economy. We can and must design a system in which the polluters pay a very large share of the cost of transitioning away from fossil fuels. And in wealthy countries such as Britain and the US, we need migration policies and levels of international financing that reflect what we owe to the global south, given our historic role in destabilising the economies and ecologies of poorer nations for a great many years, and the vast wealth of empire extracted from these societies in bonded human flesh.

The more ambitious, consistent and holistic that the Labour party can be in painting a picture of the world transformed, the more credible a Labour government will become.

Around the world, winning is a moral imperative for the left. The stakes are too high, and time is too short, to settle for anything less.

Naomi Klein is the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. This is an edited excerpt of her speech at the Labour party conference

Naomi Klein, USA 10/05/2017 0

Bernie Sanders Is Most Popular Politician in the US – and Why Jeremy Corbyn Will Win in Britain

Thank you Kate for that lovely introduction and all the work that you do to put social justice on the world agenda.

It’s been such a privilege to be part of this historic convention. To feel its energy and optimism.

Because friends, it’s bleak out there. How do I begin to describe a world upside down? From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground, most recently and alarmingly in Germany.

Most days there is simply too much to take in. So I want to start with an example that might seem small against such a vast backdrop. The Caribbean and Southern United States are in the midst of an unprecedented hurricane season: pounded by storm after record-breaking storm.

As we meet, Puerto Rico – hit by Irma, then Maria – is without power and could be for months. It’s water and communication systems are also severely compromised. Three and half million US citizens on that island are in desperate need of their government’s help.

But just like during Hurricane Katrina, the cavalry is missing in action. Donald Trump is too busy trying to get Black athletes fired – smearing them for daring to shine a spotlight on racist violence.

Amazingly a real federal aid package for Puerto Rico has not yet been announced.

By some reports, more money has been spent securing presidential trips to Mar-a-Lago.

As if all this weren’t enough, the vultures are now buzzing. The business press is filled with articles about how the only way for Puerto Rico to get the lights back on is to sell off its electricity utility. Maybe its roads and bridges too.

This is a phenomenon I have called The Shock Doctrine – the exploitation of wrenching crises to smuggle through policies that devour the public sphere and further enrich a small elite.

We see this dismal cycle repeat again and again. We saw it after the 2008 financial crash. We are already seeing it in how the Tories are planning to exploit Brexit to push through disastrous pro-corporate trade deals without debate.

The reason I am highlighting Puerto Rico is because the situation is so urgent. But also because it’s a microcosm of a much larger global crisis, one that contains many of the same overlapping elements: accelerating climate chaos; militarism; histories of colonialism; a weak and neglected public sphere; a totally dysfunctional democracy.

And overlaying it all: the seemingly bottomless capacity to discount the lives of huge numbers of Black and brown people.

Ours is an age when it is impossible to pry one crisis apart from all the others. They have all merged, reinforcing and deepening each other….. like one shambling, multi-headed beast.

I think it’s helpful to think of the current US president in much the same way.

It’s tough to know how to adequately sum him up. So let me try a local example.

You know that horrible thing currently clogging up the London sewers. I believe you call it the fatberg?

Well Trump, he’s the political equivalent of that.

A merger of all that is noxious in the culture, economy and body politic, all kind of glommed together in a self-adhesive mass. And we’re finding it very, very hard to dislodge.

It gets so grim that we have to laugh. But make no mistake: whether it’s climate change or the nuclear threat, Trump represents a crisis that could echo through geologic time.

But here is my message to you today:

Moments of crisis do not have to go the Shock Doctrine route – they do not need to become opportunities for the already obscenely wealthy to grab still more.

They can also go the opposite way.

They can be moments when we find our best selves….. when we locate reserves of strength and focus we never knew we had.

We see it at the grassroots level every time disaster strikes.

We all witnessed it in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe.

When the people responsible were MIA……. the community came together…… Held one another in their care, organized the donations and advocated for the living — and for the dead.

And they are doing it still, more than 100 days after the fire.

When there is still no justice and, scandalously, only a handful of survivors have been rehoused.

And it’s not only at the grassroots level that we see disaster awaken something remarkable in us.

There is also a long and proud history of crises sparking progressive transformation on a society-wide scale.

Think of the victories won by working people for social housing and old age pensions during the Great Depression….. Or for the NHS after the horrors of the Second World War.

This should remind us that moments of great crisis and peril do not necessarily need to knock us backwards.

They can also catapult us forward.

Our progressive ancestors achieved that at key moments in history, in your country and in mine.

And we can do it again – in this moment when everything is on the line.

But what we know from the Great Depression and the post-war period, is that we never win these transformative victories by simply resisting….. by simply saying “no” to the latest outrage.

To win in a moment of true crisis, we also need a bold and forward-looking “yes”- a plan for how to rebuild and respond to the underlying causes.

And that plan needs to be convincing, credible and, most of all, captivating.

We have to help a weary and wary public to imagine itself into that better world.

And that is why I am so honoured to be standing with you today.

With the transformed Labour Party in 2017.

And with the next Prime Minister of Britain,

Jeremy Corbyn.

Because in the last election, that’s exactly what you did.

Theresa May ran a cynical campaign based on exploiting fear and shock to grab more power for herself – first the fear of a bad Brexit deal, then the fear following the horrific terror attacks in Manchester and London.

Your party and your leader responded by focusing on root causes: a failed “war on terror”…. economic inequality and weakened democracy.

But you did more than that.

You presented voters with a bold and detailed Manifesto.

One that laid out a plan for millions of people to have tangibly better lives:

  • free tuition,
  • fully funded health care,
  • aggressive climate action.

After decades of lowered expectations and asphyxiated political imagination, finally voters had something hopeful and exciting to say “yes” to.

And so many of them did just that, upending the projections of the entire expert class.

You proved that the era of triangulation and tinkering is over.

The public is hungry for deep change – they are crying out for it.

The trouble is, in far too many countries, it’s only the far right that is offering it, or seeming to, with that toxic combination of fake economic populism and very real racism.

You showed us another way.

One that speaks the language of decency and fairness, that names the true forces most responsible for this mess – no matter how powerful.

And that is unafraid of some of the ideas we were told were gone for good.

Like wealth redistribution.

And nationalising essential public services.

Now, thanks to all of your boldness, we know that this isn’t just a moral strategy.

It’s a winning strategy.

It fires up the base, and it activates constituencies that long ago stopped voting altogether.

If you can keep doing that between now and the next election, you will be unbeatable.

You showed us something else in the last election too, and it’s just as important.

You showed that political parties don’t need to fear the creativity and independence of social movements – and social movements, likewise, have a huge amount to gain from engaging with electoral politics.

That’s a very big deal.

Because let’s be honest: political parties tend to be a bit freakish about control.

And real grassroots movements….. we cherish our independence – and we’re pretty much impossible to control.

But what we are seeing with the remarkable relationship between Labour and Momentum, and with other wonderful campaign organizations, is that it is possible to combine the best of both worlds.

If we listen and learn from each other, we can create a force that is both stronger and more nimble than anything either parties or movements can pull off on their own.

I want you to know that what you have done here is reverberating around the world – so many of us are watching your ongoing experiment in this new kind of politics with rapt attention.

And of course what happened here is itself part of a global phenomenon.

It’s a wave led by young people who came into adulthood just as the global financial system was collapsing and just as climate disruption was banging down the door.

Many come out of social movements like Occupy Wall Street, and Spain’s Indignados.

They began by saying no –

  • to austerity,
  • to bank bailouts,
  • to fracking and pipelines.

But they came to understand that the biggest challenge is overcoming the way neoliberalism has waged war on our collective imagination, on our ability to truly believe in anything outside of its bleak borders.

And so these movements started to dream together, laying out bold and different visions of the future…. and credible pathways out of crisis.

And most importantly they began engaging with political parties, to try to win power.

We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries…. which was powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future.

By the way…. Bernie, is the most popular politician in the United States today.

We see something similar with Spain’s still-young Podemos party, which built in the power of mass movements from Day One.

In all of these cases, electoral campaigns caught fire with stunning speed.

And they got close to taking power – closer than any genuinely transformative political program has in either Europe or North America in my lifetime.

But still, in each case, not close enough.

So in this time between elections, it’s worth thinking about how to make absolutely sure that next time, all of our movements go all the way.

A big part of the answer is: Keeping it up.

Keep building that yes.

But take it even further.

Outside the heat of a campaign, there is more time to deepen the relationships between issues and movements, so that our solutions address multiple crises at once.

In all of our countries, we can and must do more to connect the dots between economic injustice, racial injustice and gender injustice.

We need to understand and explain how all of those ugly systems that place one group in a position of dominance over another – based on skin colour, religious faith, gender and sexual orientation – consistently serve the interests of power and money and always have.

They do it by keeping us divided.

And keeping themselves protected.

And we have to do more to keep it front of mind…. that we are in a state of climate emergency….  the roots of which are found in the same system of bottomless greed that underlies our economic emergency.

But states of emergency, let’s recall, can be catalysts for deep progressive victories.

So let’s draw out the connections between the gig economy – that treats human beings like a raw resource from which to extract wealth and then discard – and the dig economy, in which the extractive companies treats the Earth in precisely the same careless way.

And let’s show exactly how we can move from that gig and dig economy to a society based on principles of care – caring for the planet and for one another. Where the work of our caregivers and of our land and water protectors, is respected and valued. A world where no one and nowhere is thrown away – whether in fire-trap housing estates or on hurricane-ravaged islands.

I applaud the clear stand Labour has taken against fracking and for clean energy. Now we need to up our ambition and show exactly how battling climate change is a once-in-a-century chance to build a fairer and more democratic economy.

Because as we rapidly transition off fossil fuels, we cannot replicate the wealth concentration and the injustices of the oil and coal economy, in which hundreds of billions in profits have been privatized and the tremendous risks are socialized.

We can and must design a system in which the polluters pay a very large share of the cost of transitioning off fossil fuels. And where we keep green energy in public and community hands. That way revenues stay in your communities, to pay for childcare and firefighters and other crucial services. And it’s the only way to make sure that the green jobs that are created are union jobs that pay a living wage.

The motto needs to be: leave the oil and gas in the ground, but leave no worker behind. And the best part, you don’t need to wait until you get to Westminster to start this great transition. You can use the levers you have right now.

You can take a page from Barcelona and turn your Labour-controlled cities into beacons for the world transformed.

A good start would be divesting your pensions from fossil fuels and investing that money in low carbon social housing and green energy cooperatives.

That way people can begin to experience the benefits of the next economy before the next election – and know in their bones that yes, there is, and always has been, an alternative.

In closing…..

I want to stress, as your international speaker, that none of this can be about turning any one nation into a progressive museum.

In wealthy countries like yours and mine, we need migration policies and levels of international financing that reflect what we owe to the global south – our historic role in destabilizing the economies and ecologies of poorer nations for a great many years.

For instance, during this epic hurricane season, we’ve heard a lot of talk of “the British Virgin Islands,” the “French Virgin Islands” and so on.

Rarely was it seen as relevant to observe that these are not reflections of where Europeans like to holiday.

They are reflections of the fact that so much of the vast wealth of empire was extracted from these Islands in bonded human flesh.

Wealth that supercharged Europe’s and North America’s industrial revolution, positioning us as the super-polluters we are today.

And that is intimately connected to the fact that the future and security of island nations are now at grave risk from superstorms storms, sea level rise, and dying coral reefs.

What should this painful history mean to us today?

It means welcoming migrants and refugees.

And it means paying our fair share to help many more countries ramp up justice-based green transitions of their own.

Trump going rogue is no excuse to demand less of ourselves in the UK and Canada or anywhere else for that matter.

It means the opposite -that we have to demand more of ourselves.

To pick up the slack until the United States manages to get its sewer system unclogged.

I firmly believe that all of this work, challenging as it is, is a crucial part of the path to victory.

That the more ambitious, consistent and holistic you can be in painting a picture of the world transformed, the more credible a Labour government will become.

Because you went and showed us all that you can win.

Now you have to win.

We all do.

Winning is a moral imperative.

The stakes are too high, and time is too short, to settle for anything less.

Thank you.

The following is the full transcript, via the UK’s Labour List, of Naomi Klein’s speech delivered at the Labour Party’s annual convention on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 in Brighton, United Kingdom.