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Naomi Klein: Sandy's Devastation Opens Space for Action, Gail Collins: Anybody Notice a Pattern?

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  • Ed Pearl
    Okay, I just couldn t resist tagging Naomi Klein s terse, discerning anylysis of going beyond Sandy with Gail Collins treatment of getting past Mitt and
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 17, 2012
      Okay, I just couldn't resist tagging Naomi Klein's terse, discerning
      anylysis of going beyond Sandy with
      Gail Collins' treatment of getting past Mitt and friends. -Ed


      <http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/15/naomi_klein_sandys_devastation_opens
      _space>
      http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/15/naomi_klein_sandys_devastation_opens_
      space

      Naomi Klein: Sandy's Devastation Opens Space for Action on Climate Change
      and Progressive Reform

      Democracy Now: 11/15/2012

      AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to award-winning journalist and author Naomi Klein
      on global warming and the response to Superstorm Sandy. Her book, The Shock
      Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, was a New York Times best-seller.
      She is now working on a book about climate change. In her latest piece
      <http://www.thenation.com/article/171048/superstorm-sandy-peoples-shock#>
      for The Nation magazine called "Superstorm Sandy-A People's Shock?" she
      writes, quote, "The prize for shameless disaster capitalism surely goes to
      right-wing economist Russell S. Sobel, writing in a
      <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/10/30/do-we-really-need-fema/the-
      free-market-can-do-a-better-job-than-fema> New York Times online forum.
      Sobel suggested that, in hard-hit areas, FEMA should create 'free trade
      zones-in which all normal regulations, licensing and taxes [are] suspended.'
      [unquote] This corporate free-for-all would, apparently, 'better provide the
      goods and services victims need,'" he wrote.

      Klein elaborated Tuesday night when she spoke at the 92YTribeca. This was
      her response when an audience member asked about her argument that the
      reconstruction from Sandy is actually a great place to usher in progressive
      change.

      NAOMI KLEIN: I wouldn't call it "disaster socialism." In the piece you're
      referring to, I called it "a people's shock," as opposed to "the shock
      doctrine." And the truth is, what I argue in the book, what I argue in The
      Shock Doctrine, is that this whole strategy was developed by the right in
      response to the fact that economic crises and also ecological crises, in
      fact, are traditionally opportunities for the left. And if we think of
      neoliberalism as a counterrevolution against the New Deal and an attempt to
      unmake the gains that were made by popular movements in the wake, in the
      aftermath of the Crash of 1929, then I think we should also see the shock
      doctrine as the right's strategy to make sure that crises go their way
      during disasters, as opposed to in a direction that they often go more
      organically, which is towards getting at the root cause of the crisis and
      developing popular movements that demand real structural change.

      The problems that I call out in the book are not responding strongly to
      disaster. There's nothing wrong with that. If you're having a crisis, you
      should respond strongly. It deserves that. It's these particular ways of
      using crisis in anti-democratic ways, to hoard power, to centralize power,
      to circumvent democracy. So what I'm calling for is the opposite of that,
      is, in moments of crisis, to broaden the democratic space.

      And I think thinking about how a community responds after a disaster like
      Sandy, it's a great example, because often what you have are very
      elite-driven reconstruction processes. You know, a committee is struck,
      filled with industrialists-this has just happened-to come up with a
      reconstruction plan, often very, very wealthy people who are supposed to
      attract more donors. And often the affected people are treated as so
      traumatized and so victimized that they of course could not participate in
      the reconstruction process themselves. And this is simply not true. In fact,
      the best way to recover from a trauma is to overcome your helplessness by
      participating, by helping. And that's what you see in the extraordinary
      Occupy Sandy response to this particular crisis, where it comes in a spirit
      not of the traditional relief organization that just comes into a community,
      says, "We know what you want," and hands out whatever people decide that
      they want, and it's a very much of a client relationship. The volunteers
      involved in Occupy Sandy are coming in in the spirit of what they call
      "mutual aid," which is asking people, "What do you want?" you know, and
      trying to empower communities, not only to respond to the immediate
      emergency, but also the recovery afterwards.

      But so, what would some of that look like, right? It's amazing to me that
      here we have a crisis which was supposed to be a wake-up call about climate
      change-and it was a wake-up call for a little while. You know, you had the
      Bloomberg cover, "It's Global Warming, Stupid." You had Bloomberg endorsing
      Obama because of his supposed stand on climate change. But yet, when we
      think about reconstruction, we're talking about how to hold back the next
      storm, not how to prevent the storms from continuing to escalate. And in the
      midst of all of this, what is happening in the city but a serious discussion
      about raising transit rates, raising fares on the subways and the public bus
      system? What should be happening in response to that-talk about confidence
      and the confidence that we should be gaining from finding out that we were
      right-is saying, not only do you not want fare increases, but public transit
      in a moment like this should be free. We should be developing policy that is
      designed to encourage the maximum number of people not to use cars and to
      use public transit, right? That's just one example of what, in my view, a
      people's shock would look like. And that involves mobilizing communities. It
      involves organizing the people in public housing, who still don't have their
      lights on, to be a political force, you know?

      And one of the things I was really struck by when I was in Red Hook
      yesterday is that people are talking about climate change there. You know,
      often, people who are really on the front lines, there's this assumption
      that, oh, they're too focused on the daily emergency to care about these
      big-picture issues. People were bringing up climate change unsolicited with
      me again and again and again, and saying things like "We don't just want the
      lights on. Wouldn't it be kind of nice if we had solar power, so that we
      didn't have storms threatening us next year and the year after and the year
      after?" And the truth about climate change is that we're locked into a
      certain amount of climate change in the years to come, but we absolutely
      have a very small window to try to avoid catastrophic climate change. And
      we've gotten a taste of what we're looking for, and looking forward to, and
      it's pretty scary.

      So, that's more what I mean. It's really about mobilizing the people who
      were most affected to be a political constituency. And I think this ties
      into the question about, other than trade unions, what are other possible
      organizing bases? We have to organize neighborhoods. We have to organizeize
      people around housing issues, around debt issues, or, you know, organize
      transit users and these other constituencies, because the traditional
      workforce, the large-scale workforce that gave birth to the labor movement,
      you know, is not as present in our economy as it used to be, which is not to
      not say labor unions are irrelevant. They're not irrelevant, but they can't
      be the only body that organizes mass numbers of people, the only
      institution.

      AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein, speaking earlier this week at the 92YTribeca in
      New York. She's the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster
      Capitalism. Her latest piece in The Nation magazine called "Superstorm
      Sandy-A People's Shock?" She is speaking Friday night at the Hammerstein
      Ballroom in New York as part of 350.org's "Do the Math" tour with Bill
      McKibben. Naomi Klein is writing a book on climate change.

      This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. When we
      come back, Chasing Ice. Stay with us.

      * * *

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/opinion/collins-anybody-notice-a-pattern.h
      tml?nl=todaysheadlines
      <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/opinion/collins-anybody-notice-a-pattern.
      html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121117> &emc=edit_th_20121117
      Anybody Notice a Pattern?

      Gail Collins
      NY Times Op-Ed: 11/17/12

      It appears that Mitt Romney was a terrible presidential candidate.

      O.K., some people have known that ever since the story broke about strapping
      his dog on the car roof. But now we seem to be reaching a consensus.

      First, there was that matter of losing the election. Then this week Romney
      told some of his donors that while he was pursuing the "big issues,"
      President Obama had purchased the support of blacks, Hispanics and young
      people with goodies like college loans and health care reform. College-age
      women, Romney claimed, traded their votes for "free contraceptives."

      Show them a birth control pill and they'll follow you anywhere.

      Romney said all this in a private conference call, so he couldn't have
      suspected that it would wind up in the media. There is no precedent
      whatsoever for reporters getting hold of remarks presidential candidates
      make to private groups about the inherent greediness of American voters.

      Nevertheless, quite a few Republicans thought it was a bad idea to insult
      the integrity of American youth and minorities at a moment when everybody
      agreed that the electoral future belonged to American youth and minorities.

      "Romney, take responsibility for being flawed candidate, w/delusional
      campaign w/no vision," tweeted Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist.

      "I don't want to rebut him point by point. I would just say to you, I don't
      believe that we have millions and millions of people in this country that
      don't want to work," said Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

      Florida is flooded with potential Republican presidential candidates, the
      top two being Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush. That's reasonable - except,
      have you noticed that things in Florida always have a tendency to get a
      little weird? Is it an accident that the woman at the center of the Petraeus
      scandal - the one with the financial troubles and the glamorous twin - is
      from Tampa? This week former Gov. Charlie Crist officially repudiated
      reports in a London paper that he and the twin used to date.

      For Republicans, the mood after the election was so bad that - I know you
      will be shocked to hear this - a Republican Party official in Texas
      advocated leaving the Union. "We must contest every single inch of ground
      and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity,"
      wrote Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party. "But
      in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the
      rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity." (To be
      fair, you can't judge an entire state by one county political official.
      Although Bud Kennedy, a columnist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, pointed
      out that Morrison had once been chosen to help screen public school
      textbooks for the State Board of Education.)

      Romney supporters couldn't believe that they had lost fairly. The Maine
      Republican chairman was breathlessly reporting that "dozens, dozens of black
      people" had mysteriously shown up to vote in rural areas.

      Now things are calmer - perhaps because, if they want to, Republicans can
      just blame everything on Romney's poor campaign skills. Really terrible
      skills! Maybe the worst presidential candidate in American history! Well,
      possibly not worse than Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who got only 8 percent
      of the electoral vote against Thomas Jefferson. But Thomas Jefferson had the
      Louisiana Purchase. If Barack Obama had bought Manitoba, Republicans would
      have understood his winning.

      And actually not quite as bad as John McCain, who got fewer electoral votes
      when he lost in 2008 than Romney just got. But at least McCain has gone on
      to provide service to the country in the Senate, such as his current
      attempts to warn the nation that we haven't been told enough about what
      happened during the tragic attack on Benghazi.

      McCain was so desperate to sound the alarm that he missed a classified
      briefing on Benghazi to hold a press conference complaining that he had not
      been given enough information. Which clearly he hadn't. He knew nothing!
      Nothing whatsoever! And what was the administration going to do about that?

      "It is essential for the Congress to conduct its own independent
      assessment," said the senator, demanding that Congress form a special
      committee to look into Libya. This would be a double benefit, helping to
      inform all the members who missed their normal committee briefings while
      also addressing the continuing national crisis over the shortage of
      congressional committees.

      Afterward, McCain was his normal even-tempered self. ("Because I have the
      right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me if
      I can or not?") But you did have to wonder. McCain. Then Romney. Now, all
      these guys from Florida and Paul Ryan, who when last heard from was blaming
      his ticket's defeat on the "urban" vote.

      Somewhere, there's a right-wing Michael Dukakis waiting for the phone to
      ring.

      _____

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