Naomi Klein, the popular critic of capitalism and globalisation, admits that she initially had no particular interest in the issues surrounding and related to climate change. Then, in 2014, she wrote a hefty 500-page tome called This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. Why did she suddenly become so interested? Well, prior to writing this book, Klein’s main interest was the fight against free trade and globalisation. She says quite openly: “…I was propelled into a deeper engagement with it [the topic of climate change] partly because I realised it could be a catalyst for forms of social and economic justice in which I already believed.” (p. 51). She hoped for “a new kind of climate movement to take up the fight against so-called free trade.” (p. 75). She strictly rejects highly efficient solutions, such as climate-friendly nuclear energy, because she is not at all interested in solutions within the framework of capitalism.
Klein writes that she recognised that climate change presents a chance that “we collectively use the crisis to leap somewhere that seems, frankly, better than where we are right now” (p. 6) and “that climate change could become a catalysing force for positive change — how it could be the best argument progressives have ever had … to reclaim our democracies from corrosive corporate influence; to block harmful new free trade deals … to open borders to migrants.” (pp. 6–7). The climate crisis could “form the basis of a powerful mass movement” (p. 7) and this movement should set itself the following objectives:
- to “radically expand the commons” [i.e.: state-owned property and resources] (p. 9)
- to introduce a “carefully planned economy” (p. 82)
- to “change pretty much everything about our economy” (p. 19)
- to introduce “new taxes, new public works programs” (p. 34)
- “reversals of privatisations” (p. 34)
- “extinction for the richest and most powerful industry the world has ever known — the oil and gas industry” (p. 55)
- government guidelines on “how often we drive, how often we fly, whether our food has to be flown to get to us, whether the goods we buy are built to last … how large our homes are” (p. 79)
- “a fundamental reordering of the component parts of Gross Domestic Product” (p. 81)
- “less private investment in producing for excessive consumption” (p. 81)
- “increased government spending” (p. 81)
- “a great deal more redistribution” (p.81)
She embraces a suggestion that the well-off 20 percent in a population take the largest cuts in order to create a fairer society (p. 80). She argues that “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war” (p. 19) and the only suitable response is therefore “revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony.” (p. 49)
I think these quotes, which are representative of many more such statements in Klein’s book, confirm that anti-capitalists like Klein are only superficially concerned about the environment and climate change. Their real goal is to eliminate capitalism and establish a state-run, planned economy. That is why they consistently reject a whole range of effective measures that would protect the environment and mitigate the risks of climate change – because they would be compatible with the prevailing economic system: capitalism.
The thesis that many climate activists and supporters of a Green New Deal are less concerned with the environment than with exploiting this issue to abolish capitalism and introduce a planned economy is by no means a malicious insinuation – rather, the climate activists themselves admit it. You just have to read what they write carefully.
Dr Rainer Zitelmann is the author of the book “The Power of Capitalism”.