News & Media Opinion Pieces Capitalism vs. the Climate

Capitalism vs. the Climate

Naomi Klein, Canadian journalist and author of No Logo and most recently the Shock Doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism, campaigner against tar sands, long time agitator against corporate greed and currently supporting the Occupy Movements, has penned for The Nation a very open and blunt analysis of why the political Right is correct in its assessment of what the leftist, green progressive side of politics really wants to do about capitalism. That is, we do want to change the current socio-political system (neoliberal capitalism) to make it more equitable, less environmentally and socially harmful, and more democratic. The problem is that while the Right is correct, the Left fails to get it and so is not daring to articulate the vision nor to take the action required to make the change. Over to Naoimi Klein, who discusses her experience at the recent Heartland Institute conference in Chicago.


There is a question from a gentleman in the fourth row.

He introduces himself as Richard Rothschild. He tells the crowd that he ran for county commissioner in Maryland’s Carroll County because he had come to the conclusion that policies to combat global warming were actually “an attack on middle-class American capitalism.” His question for the panelists, gathered in a Washington, DC, Marriott Hotel in late June, is this: “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

Here at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, the premier gathering for those dedicated to denying the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet, this qualifies as a rhetorical question. Like asking a meeting of German central bankers if Greeks are untrustworthy. Still, the panelists aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to tell the questioner just how right he is.

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who specialises in harassing climate scientists with nuisance lawsuits and Freedom of Information fishing expeditions, angles the table mic over to his mouth. “You can believe this is about the climate,” he says darkly, “and many people do, but it’s not a reasonable belief.” Horner, whose prematurely silver hair makes him look like a right-wing Anderson Cooper, likes to invoke Saul Alinsky: “The issue isn’t the issue.” The issue, apparently, is that “no free society would do to itself what this agenda requires…. The first step to that is to remove these nagging freedoms that keep getting in the way.”

Read the rest here.