Naomi Klein: An Enneagram One Tackling Climate Change

This Changes EverythingAuthor and activist Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything is not so much about climate change, but about the ramifications of unregulated capitalism on climate change.

Klein’s books and career have focussed exclusively on political and social issues. She’s a tireless worker. She never holds back from giving her opinion on the subjects she writes about. I see her as an Enneagram One – the Reformer, the Crusader, the Idealist.

Ones are driven by strong moral imperatives. “Should,” “must,” “ought,” and “need” get a lot of play in their vocabularies. Here are some quotes from This Changes Everything (emphasis added):

“We will need comprehensive policies and programs that make low-carbon choices easy and   convenient for everyone. Most of all, these policies need to be fair, so that the people already struggling to cover the basics are not being asked to make additional sacrifice to offset the excess consumption of the rich.”

“Unlike encouraging energy efficiency, the measures we must take to secure a just, equitable, and inspiring transition away from fossil fuels clash direct with our reigning economic orthodoxy at every level.”

“Rather than allowing subway and bus fares to rise while service erodes, we need to be lowering prices and expanding services – regardless of the costs.”

“(Oil) companies are rich, quite simply, because they have dumped the cost of cleaning up their mess onto regular people around the world. It is this situation that, most fundamentally, needs to change.”

These quotes, taken out of context, might give the impression that the book is a moral harangue. It isn’t. Statements like the above punctuate an elaborate, articulate argument, with copious examples and notes backing everything up.

Her moral strength and certainty share equal focus with her belief in the power of the people to bring about the needed change. This leads me to believe she’s got the Social Instinct as her dominant.

Social types are, predictably, people-oriented. Whether they’re introverted or extroverted, they’re interested in people, what they do, and what they can do. And in the case of Social Ones – what they should, must, and need to do.

Social Ones are often found in politics and journalism. An unhealthy Social One can come across as a finger-wagging scold, and alienate people who would have otherwise been on her side. A healthy Social One is skilful at getting her message across, and can be an inspiring leader who understands that we all need each other, and we’re all in this together.

This Changes Everything contains many, many quotes in which Klein expounds on the need for a grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Billionaire saviours won’t do it. Brilliant scientists won’t provide a techno-fix. Corporations will keep finding loopholes, profiteering and buying politicians and the media to get what they want. The only solution is us.

Here are a few of those quotes:

“Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect.”

“We are products of our age and of a dominant ideological project. One that too often has taught us to see ourselves as little more than singular, gratification-seeking units, out to maximize our narrow advantage, while simultaneously severing so many of us from the broader communities whose pooled skills are capable of solving problems big and small.”

“Fundamentally, the task is to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis – embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.”

“It is slowly dawning on a great many of us that no one is going to step in and fix this crisis; that if change is to take place it will only be because leadership bubbled up from below.”

This Changes Everything is riveting reading. Klein doesn’t whitewash the severity of the situation, nor does she crush you with despair. Gains have been made, and the possibility she offers of collective action is genuinely inspiring.

It’s easy to write off our civilization, or our species, as doomed from our selfishness and endless bickering. It’s also easy to shirk responsibility, because I’m just one person, and what difference can I make?

What This Changes Everything makes abundantly clear is that change can happen, and it’s our collective responsibility to make it happen. And we can. And we should. We need to. Every one of us has something to contribute. Each of us has the force of idealism within us, and the ability to take whatever steps are necessary to fix this sinking ship.

people's march

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