I’m reading Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough now, in which she explores the rise of the corporate lifestyle brand and the decline of public institutions and a shared sense of community. Those two trends, she argues, lead us to the 2016 presidential election reality television show. In her argument, she takes us back to The Apprentice and WWE pro wrestling events; Trump played a centerpiece role in both TV phenomena. He mastered those forms and built a hollow brand on their foundations. Then he took them to public office.
Watch this interview with Klein on Democracy Now!
She says: “…[T]his has huge implications for how we understand the corruption at the heart of Trump’s decision to merge his global brand with the U.S. government, which is what is underway on so many different fronts, because, honestly, what it means is, every time we say the word ‘Trump,’ even when we’re saying it in a negative light, we’re doing his marketing for him.”
The other side of the coin in Klein’s book is the “shock doctrine,” which she explains as a political tactic “in which large-scale shocks to societies, large-scale crises, economic crises, wars, coups, natural disasters, have systematically been used by right-wing governments, using the disorientation and the panic in society, to push through a very radical, pro-corporate agenda.”
The ongoing economic crisis — the growing wealth gap and the reverberations felt by the 2008 crash and the Obama administration’s decision not to prosecution major banking institutions — opened a window for a demagogue like Trump to slip in and rouse support among a frustrated electorate. What’s happening now and what comes next is the onslaught of deregulation, racist travel ban policies, anti-LGBT policies, indefinite detention for undocumented immigrants, etc.
I said in lamenting voice on the night of last year’s election that this just might not be a fight I’m willing to take part in. The upcoming struggle, which seemed so suddenly obvious, just might not be a thing I have the heart for. Perhaps I’d move to Montreal and start a new life?
But I’m here, and I’ve been watching the collapse of our public institutions very closely this year. I’ve lived through 10 months of Trump now, and I can say that I do grow stronger and more invested in this fight each day. As a member of the press, I’ve zeroed in on minority populations (at the local level) to ensure that their voices are heard — much as I’ve always done in my career, but this time with a more ontological bent. I’ve removed meat and dairy and eggs from (95 percent of) my diet, solely for the unavoidable environmental impact that the animal agriculture industry levels against this planet; with the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Accord, there’s no rational excuse to continue supporting an environmental disaster like the meat processing industry.
I seek new ways to live a more mindful life of resistance each day. I’m of the mind that it will take at least a generation to course-correct the trends being forced into American political and social culture by Trump and his megabrand, but I’m also willing to be a part of the fight that will restore democratic ideals for my family, my friends, my future children and grandchildren.
Obviously, we would like this not to be happening. We would like Donald Trump not to be president. We would like not to have such an array of bad options on the table. But given what we have, I would say that people are stepping up. And that is what the climate movement needs to be doing, is sending this very clear message that because of the recklessness, because the U.S. at the federal level has gone rogue, at every level that Trump does not control, whether it is universities and their fossil fuel holdings, you know, whether it is states and their ability to get to 100 percent renewable very, very quickly—because we don’t get our energy at the federal level; we get it at the state level, we get it at the provincial level, we get it at the city level—at all those places where Trump doesn’t control things, there has to be an increase of ambition.