Photo by amber dawn pullin (CC BY 2.0)

In a review of Naomi Klein’s new book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate,” economist and fellow Canadian Sam Gindin criticizes the author for implying that the climate problem can be solved with gentler forms of capitalism.

Gindin praises Klein’s achievement throughout his review, which was published Dec. 30 at Jacobin. Because his career as a socially concerned academic and activist make him her natural ally, his critique should be understood as a contribution to her efforts rather than an attack on them.

With “This Changes Everything,” Klein articulates a “deeper appreciation of capitalism ‘as the main enemy,’ ” Gindin says. “[H]er earlier criticisms of particular aspects of capitalism have now expanded into suggesting — or at least coming very close to suggesting — that capitalism has become the central barrier to human survival and progress.”

But, he continues, she confuses this point at various places:

Klein deserves enormous credit for putting capitalism in the dock. Yet she leaves too much wiggle room for capitalism to escape a definitive condemnation. There is already great confusion and division among social activists over what “anti-capitalism” means. For many if not most, it is not the capitalist system that is at issue but particular sub-categories of villains: big business, banks, foreign companies, multinationals.

Klein is contradictory on this score. She seems clear enough in the analysis that pervades the book that it is capitalism, yet she repeatedly qualifies this position by decrying “the kind of capitalism we now have,” “neoliberal” capitalism, “deregulated” capitalism, “unfettered” capitalism, “predatory” capitalism, “extractive” capitalism, and so on. These adjectives undermine the powerful logic of Klein’s more convincing arguments elsewhere that the issue isn’t creating a better capitalism but confronting capitalism as a social system.

Gindin has an alternative in mind. Read his full review here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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