Journalism

An award winning journalist, Naomi Klein is currently Senior Contributing Writer at The Intercept.

The Hunger Striker vs. The Dictator

November 14, 2022
By Naomi Klein and Mohammed Rafi Arefin

The hunger strike of Egypt’s Alaa Abd El Fattah overshadows Sisi’s attempt to whitewash his regime’s human rights record at COP27.

MANY OF THE tens of thousands of delegates attending the United Nations climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, go to these gatherings year after year on a kind of autopilot. They update their PowerPoint presentations, pack their organizational banners, and brush up their talking points. Next come the same warnings from the scientists and activists. The slightly tweaked technical solutions from the entrepreneurs. The same pledges and promises from the political leaders.  Every year, the expectations for what all of this can accomplish dip lower and lower.

So far, however, this year’s summit, known as COP27, has been anything but routine. That is less because of its content than its location. It is taking place under the most repressive regime in the history of the modern Egyptian state.

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From Blah, Blah, Blah to Blood, Blood, Blood

October 7, 2022
By Naomi Klein

Holding the COP 27 Summit in Egypt’s Police State Creates a Moral Crisis for the Climate Movement

No one knows what happened to the lost climate letter. All that is known is this: Alaa Abd El Fattah, arguably Egypt’s highest profile political prisoner, wrote it while on a hunger strike in his Cairo prison cell last month. It was, he explained later, “about global warming because of the news from Pakistan.” He was concerned about the epic floods that displaced 33 million people at their peak, and what that cataclysm foretold about climate hardships and paltry state responses to come.

A visionary technologist and searching intellectual, Abd El Fattah’s first name — along with the hashtag #FreeAlaa — have become synonymous with the 2011 pro-democracy revolution that turned Cairo’s Tahrir Square into a surging sea of young people that ended the three-decade rule of Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak.

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The Supreme Court’s Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup

June 30, 2022
By Naomi Klein

The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over.

THIS IS IT. The moment for President Joe Biden and Congress to challenge the underlying legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court and advance an aggressive climate action agenda. There will be no better moment to take this stand for a transformed court, nor a more fateful one. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right: “We need to reform or do away with the whole thing, for the sake of the planet.”

Over the last few days, we have witnessed a shock-and-awe judicial coup, from stripping people of the right to terminate pregnancies (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization), to weakening the sovereign right of Indigenous tribes to enforce the law on their lands (Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta), to interfering with the rights of states to regulate the carrying of firearms (New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen), to enabling a return to Christian prayer in public schools (Kennedy v. Bremerton School District).

 

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Toxic Nostalgia, from Putin to Trump to Trucker Convoys

March 1, 2022
By Naomi Klein

War is reshaping our world. Will we harness that urgency for climate action or succumb to a final, deadly oil and gas boom?

NOSTALGIA FOR EMPIRE is what seems to drive Vladimir Putin — that and a desire to overcome the shame of punishing economic shock therapy imposed on Russia at the end of the Cold War. Nostalgia for American “greatness” is part of what drives the movement Donald Trump still leads — that and a desire to overcome the shame of having to face the villainy of white supremacy that shaped the founding of the United States and mutilates it still. Nostalgia is also what animates the Canadian truckers who occupied Ottawa for the better part of a month, wielding their red-and-white flags like a conquering army, evoking a simpler time when their consciences were undisturbed by thoughts of the bodies of Indigenous children, whose remains are still being discovered on the grounds of those genocidal institutions that once dared to call themselves “schools.”  

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Stuck in the Smoke as Billionaires Blast Off

July 23, 2021
By Naomi Klein

Climate inaction was never really about denial. Rich countries just thought poorer countries would bear the brunt of the crisis.

MANY PEOPLE HERE think they are safe from climate change, the journalist from a German newspaper explained to me. They don’t see it as an immediate threat, like Covid-19. They see the Greens as scolds who want to take away their cheap holidays. “What do you have to say to them?”

The question came via video call in late June, and I was, at that very moment, pickled in my non-air-conditioned home, gripped by a heatwave that would, before the week was done, kill about 500 people in British Columbia, Canada, and cook perhaps a billion marine creatures on scorching shorelines. Over the years, I have faced many such “why should I care” questions, and I usually try to reach for some kind of moral argument about our responsibility to fellow humans even when we aren’t immediately impacted. But because I was far too hot and angry for high-mindedness, what I had to say instead was “Give it a minute.”

 

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Intercepted: Stealing Children to Steal the Land

June 16, 2021
By Naomi Klein

LAST MONTH, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation uncovered a mass grave of 215 children on the grounds of a former residential school in British Columbia, Canada.

On Intercepted: Naomi Klein speaks with residential school survivor Doreen Manuel and her niece Kanahus Manuel about the horrors of residential schools and the relationship between stolen children and stolen land. Doreen’s father, George Manuel, was a survivor of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, where unmarked graves of children as young as 3 years old were found. Kanahus’s father, Arthur Manuel, was also a survivor of the Kamloops residential school. This intergenerational conversation goes deep on how the evils of the Kamloops school, and others like it, have reverberated through a century of Manuels, an experience shared by so many Indigenous families, and the Manuel family’s decades long fight to reclaim stolen land.

Warning: This episode contains highly distressing material. If you are a former residential school student in distress, or need help, contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.   

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A Climate Dystopia in Northern California

May 7, 2021
By Naomi Klein

California’s divided and fire-scarred cities, reeling from climate disasters, need a Green New Deal.

IT’S A RITUAL that has been repeated many times over the coldest months of Northern California’s winter. The Chico police arrive between 9 a.m. and noon on a Thursday, perhaps in the hopes of catching people when they are home. Home, in this case, being flimsy tents, draped in tarps, many of them strung up between pine trees, secured to fences, or hidden beneath highway overpasses. The cops read out orders and sometimes hand out flyers: You have 72 hours to clear all of your belongings or they will be destroyed.

Before the deadline, volunteers usually show up with trailers and pickup trucks to help with the move. They load up bicycles, coolers, and cats, as well as clothing stuffed in suitcases, plastic laundry baskets, and garbage bags. Then they drive around this scrappy city in the Sacramento Valley looking for a new place to set up camp — only to have police show up a few days or weeks later and repeat the whole wrenching eviction again.

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India Targets Climate Activists With Help From Big Tech

February 27, 2021
By Naomi Klein

Tech giants like Google and Facebook appear to be aiding and abetting a vicious government campaign against Indian climate activists.

The bank of cameras that camped outside Delhi’s sprawling Tihar jail was the sort of media frenzy you would expect to await a prime minister caught in an embezzlement scandal, or perhaps a Bollywood star caught in the wrong bed. Instead, the cameras were waiting for Disha Ravi, a nature-loving 22-year-old vegan climate activist who against all odds has found herself ensnared in an Orwellian legal saga that includes accusations of sedition, incitement, and involvement in an international conspiracy whose elements include (but are not limited to): Indian farmers in revolt, the global pop star Rihanna, supposed plots against yoga and chai, Sikh separatism, and Greta Thunberg.

If you think that sounds far-fetched, well, so did the judge who released Ravi after nine days in jail under police interrogation. 

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Why Texas Republicans Fear the Green New Deal

February 21, 2021
By Naomi Klein

Small government is no match for a crisis born of the state’s twin addictions to market fixes and fossil fuels.

Since the power went out in Texas, the state’s most prominent Republicans have tried to pin the blame for the crisis on, of all things, a sweeping progressive mobilization to fight poverty, inequality and climate change.

“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal,” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said Wednesday on Fox News. Pointing to snow-covered solar panels, Rick Perry, a former governor who was later an energy secretary for the Trump administration, posted on Twitter a quotation from a Forbes article by Robert Bryce, who wrote that “if we humans want to keep surviving frigid winters, we are going to have to keep burning natural gas — and lots of it — for decades to come.”

The claims are outlandish. The Green New Deal is, among other things, a plan to tightly regulate and upgrade the energy system so the United States gets 100 percent of its electricity from renewables in a decade. 

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The Meaning of the Mittens: Five Possibilities

January 21, 2021
By Naomi Klein

The symbolic power of Bernie’s old pair of mittens was the work of the “us” in “not me, us.”

Pity the art directors, the stylists, and the stage managers. So much effort, taste, strategy, and money went into planning the semiotics of Joe Biden’s inauguration. The precise shade of Kamala Harris’s royal purple (screw you Vogue and your sloppy cover!). The selection of a smallish made-in-New-York brand to dress Jill Biden in ocean blue (way to support small businesses in a pandemic!). The sheer weight of Lady Gaga’s gold dove brooch (the “Hunger Games” fun of it!).

And yet it was all for naught. Because in a sea of exquisitely matching face masks, Bernie Sanders’s ratty old mittens upstaged them all, instantly becoming the most discussed, delighted-in, and deranged visual message of the historic occasion. What should we make of this? Why did so many millions connect to whatever language the mittens were speaking? Was it pandemic delirium — all of us projecting our social isolation onto the most isolated person in the crowd?  …

What is the meaning, the mittenology of it all?

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