How to say “No” to Donald Trump
Cornel West has described Naomi Klein as “One of the few revolutionary public intellectuals of great integrity and vision.” And he is correct. Klein is also a helluva writer. Her latest book is “No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.” (That’s some subtitle, isn’t it?)
The book is a scathingly accurate critique of the Pendejo-in-Chief. With exhaustive research and a penetrating perspective, she analyzes how Trump got here and how his fascistic actions are aimed at enriching oligarchs and corporations at the expense of working men and women. And her book doesn’t rely on rhetoric; it relies on facts and a genuinely insightful understanding of history.
Klein writes: “What Donald Trump’s cabinet of billionaires and multimillionaires represents is a simple fact: the people who already possess an absolutely obscene share of the planet’s wealth, and whose share grows greater year after year, are determined to grab still more.”
Indisputably, the foxes are in charge of the hen houses. A quick look at the batting lineup for Team Trump reminds us of that. The CEO of rapacious ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, is Secretary of State. Texas’ bumbling erstwhile governor Rick Perry, who earlier called for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department, is Secretary of Energy. Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is a climate change denier who repeatedly sued the EPA while he was attorney general of Oklahoma. He wanted to block federal rules intended to protect clean water and punish polluters. And the pernicious cast of characters in the administration goes on.
Those who read the newspapers every day are superficially aware of this, of course. But Klein’s book provides a deeper examination – a valuable insight into how these appointments and Trump’s actions are part of an insidious scheme to screw the American public while using the government to make rich guys richer – at the expense of working people, to say nothing of the environment and the viability of democratic institutions. It is nothing less than fascism on the march. Klein makes her arguments with irrefutable evidence and the forcefulness and clarity of her writing.
Klein writes: “We have to question not only Trump but the stories that ineluctably produced him. It’s not enough to superficially challenge him as an individual, foul and alarmingly ignorant though he may be. We have to confront the deep-seated trends that reward him and exalted him until he became the most powerful person in the world. The values that have been sold to us through reality TV, get-rich-quick books, billionaire saviors, philanthrocapitalists. The same values that have been playing out in destroyed safety nets, exploding prison numbers, normalized rape culture, democracy-destroying trade deals, rising seas and privatized disaster response.”
Her previous books, “No Logo,” “The Shock Doctrine,” and “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate,” provide the foundation for her analysis of how Trump got here and what it means to this country—and this world. (What she says we can do about it – a bit later on.)
In those books she analyzes the nefarious growth of the concept of “branding.” For example, Nike evolved to the point several years ago when it said, essentially, we don’t make and sell shoes – we make brand recognition. In this country, companies used to hire workers to manufacture products and sell them. That changed. Nike, for example, doesn’t really hire employees. It makes deals with contractors and subcontractors in the developing world who get workers – at near-slave wages—to cobble the shoes. Nike doesn’t sell shoes; it sells its name. It “manufactures” and sells its brand. Other corporations have done the same. And so has Donald J. Trump.
Klein’s other books reveal how “shock” – a calamity such as the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. or the devastation caused in New Orleans by hurricane Katrina – creates an immediate opportunity for avaricious contractors such as Blackwater, the military mercenary outfit that grew rich in Iraq. And Dick Cheney-connected Halliburton and other greedy war profiteers. In the aftermath of Katrina, scores of contractors (many of them cronies of the Bush/Cheney White House) gobbled up federal funds and pocketed them with few results for the people who needed “rebuilding.” And Klein’s “This Changes Everything” lays bear the dangers of climate change and, particularly, the dangers of failing to take the necessary economic and political steps to stop the use of fossil fuels and shift to green, renewable sources of energy. All of these factors contributed to setting the stage for the Trump ascendency and the dangers we are facing as a society – both here in the United States and on a global level.
Klein charts the progress of Trump – a millionaire’s kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a fat bank account. He became a charlatan real estate wheeler and dealer, lying and bullying as it suited his goals (something he readily admits in the books he “wrote” with ghosts). Eventually he didn’t really build anything but his brand. He became his brand. He used other people’s money and plastered his name on everything – from hotels to casinos. (The casinos he did own, went belly up.) He burnished his brand with that horrible “reality” show “The Apprentice.” (I could never bring myself to watch such a waste of time on TV, but millions of people tuned in regularly.) Trump was building his brand. And his brand is what ran for the office of the presidency. A nihilistic, megalomaniacal nut with a brand that supposedly represented class and sophistication. The truth was never part of the calculus.
Klein writes: “Another hallmark of the Trump era is the war on facts: not only has the press been cast as an enemy of the people, but scientific information has disappeared from government websites and there has been a de facto ban on talking about climate change through official government communication channels.”
Enough people bought Trump’s phony promises about “bringing jobs back” and were persuaded by his xenophobic rants to get him to the Oval Office via the Electoral College. Naomi Klein writes: “Trump, as extreme as he is, is less an aberration than a logical conclusion – a pastiche of pretty much all the worst trends of the past century. Trump is the product of powerful systems of thought that rank human life based on race, religion, gender, sexuality, physical appearance and physical ability – and that have systematically used race as a weapon to advance brutal economic policies since the earliest days of North American colonization and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He is the personification of the merge of humans and corporations – a one-man megabrand.”
Klein goes on to describe what Trump represents: “He is the embodiment of the belief that money and power provide license to impose one’s will on others, whether that entitlement is expressed by grabbing women or grabbing the finite resources from a planet on the cusp of catastrophic warming.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
In the five months since he’s been in office Trump has proven himself to be an incompetent, malicious clown. The Republic is danger, big time. It makes you want to tweet: “In spite of all the covfefe, Trump is a pendejo. Poor country. Sad.”
But it’s not enough to tell the world that the emperor has no clothes. It’s not enough to point out the stupidity of his petty tweets. It’s politically meaningless and feckless to just bitch about him within our small circle of friends. And, as Naomi Klein emphasizes, it’s not enough to say “no” to his outrageous and ultimately dangerous actions. We need a genuine, forceful resistance – across the many issues at play: xenophobia, racism, sexism and the unbridled extraction of fossil fuels which will lead inexorably to irreversible environmental catastrophe – all while making the super rich richer at the expense of working people. And let’s not forget the huge proposed tax cuts for the rich, which will bludgeon such pesky peripheral inconveniences such as public schools and healthcare.
We can’t, Klein suggests, mistakenly muse about “my issue is bigger than yours.” We’re all in this mess together. We have to come together in united opposition to the rapacious policies that have been at work for generations but are now laser-guided by tapado Trump. Trump is just the logical/illogical conclusion to a process that has allowed naked capitalism to threaten genuine democracy and the well-being of the planet with the greedy goal for oil – and all that comes with it. It has lead to destabilization of democratically elected governments. It has led to all manner of devastation for people in the United States, from loss of jobs to mass incarcerations. We need to fight Trump and Trumpism with strategies to fundamentally restructure the economic and political processes of this country – in league with progressive actions around the world.
Is this wishful thinking? Is it overly optimistic to think we the people can turn things around in this era of Trump? No, says Klein. Of course, it won’t be easy. Think of legendary Joe Hill who said simply: “organize.”
Klein writes in “No is Not Enough”: “And perhaps we should thank Trump for this newfound ambition, at least in part. The shamelessness of his corporate coup has done a tremendous amount to make systemic change even more necessary. If titans of industry can eagerly line up behind this man–with all his ugly hatreds, his venality, vanity and vacuousness —and if Wall Street can cheer on news of his plans to let the planet burn and the elderly starve, well then, a great many people are coming to the conclusion that they want no part of a system like that.” Klein writes that this might all have brought us to the necessary, ultimate breaking point. Let’s hope.
Review of book “No is Not Enough” by Naomi Klein copyright by Luís Torres, June 30, 2017 . Luís Torres is a veteran journalist and author. He is currently collaborating with Louie Pérez on a book about the songs of Los Lobos, Good Morning, Aztlan, to be published by Editorial Resistencia of Mexico City. To contact Luis Torres write: Luis.firstname.lastname@example.org. Naomi Klein book cover used under “fair use,” all other photos in the public domain.