Naomi Klein talking:
what really has me scared is what this configuration of characters in the Trump administration—Pence, Bannon, Betsy DeVos, Steve Mnuchin, all these Goldman Sachs alum who are in the Cabinet—how they would respond to a large-scale crisis that they themselves are not creating. I mean, the chaos is chaos they’re generating themselves, either deliberately or out of incompetence and avarice, but what happens if there’s a 2008-like financial crisis? What happens, you know, heaven forbid, if there is a Manchester-like attack in the United States?
The actions of this administration make these types of shocks more likely, not less, right? They’re deregulating the banks, creating the conditions for another crash. They are antagonizing the world, particularly the Muslim world. You know, ISIS apparently called Trump’s Muslim travel ban a “blessed ban,” because it was so good for recruitment. They are—you know, they are making climate disasters more likely with everything they’re doing to deregulate industry, deregulate for polluters. You know, there’s a lag time between that and when the climate shocks hit, but the truth is, we’ve already warmed the planet enough that no U.S. president can get through a year, let alone a term, without some sort of major climate-related disaster.
So, how does this group of—this Cabinet of disaster capitalists, is what I call them, Amy, because there is such a track record of taking advantage of crisis, whether we’re looking at the Goldman Sachs—former Goldman Sachs executives and the way they profited from the subprime mortgage crisis to increase their own personal wealth, whether it’s Mike Pence and the central role he played when New Orleans was still underwater to come up with a corporate wish list to push through. So, you know, as disastrous as Trump’s policies have been so far, there’s actually long, toxic to-do lists, things that people around Trump and Trump himself have been—have very openly said they would like to do, but they have actually not been able either to get through without a crisis or they haven’t even tried, right? Think about Trump’s threats to bring back torture. Think about his threats to bring the feds into Chicago. Think about his threats not just to have a Muslim travel ban from specific countries, but not to let Muslims into the country, period.
So I think we do need to prepare for this. And what I tried to do with this video is create a little toolkit of, you know, what I have seen work in other countries, because I have been reporting on shocks and large-scale disasters and how societies respond now for a couple of decades, and I’ve seen some amazing acts of resistance, you know?
So, one of the things I think we could really count on Trump to do, particularly if there is any kind of terrorism-related shock—and let’s be clear: There have been terrorism events, white supremacist terrorism, in the United States during the Trump era, but of course he doesn’t treat those as a crisis. So, an event that they decided was a large-scale crisis, we already know from the way Trump responded to the London Bridge attacks—he immediately said, “This is why we need to bring back my travel ban.” After the Manchester attacks, he immediately said, “This is about immigrants flooding across our borders.” In fact, the person responsible for those attacks was born in the U.K. It doesn’t matter. You know, we know this from 9/11, that the way—these crises are used as opportunities to push through policies that actually have very little to do with getting at root causes, and, in many cases, exacerbate—most notably, the invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11, but it was just that sheer opportunism.
So, you know, what I’ve seen is, I think, in all likelihood, they would declare a state of emergency, some sort of state of exception, where they’re able to ban protests, like the protests we saw, the very inspiring protests in the face of the Muslim travel ban. They would say, “No, you can’t block a road. You can’t block an airport. This is—you could be a target of terrorism yourself. Stay in your homes.”
So, you know, I give a few examples, like Argentina in 2001, when, as the president was declaring a state of siege and telling people to stay in their homes, people described not being able to hear him because the sound from the streets was so loud, the roar of pots and pans, and neighbors flooding out of their homes and going to the Plaza de Mayo and refusing this state of siege, was—that they drowned him out. They literally couldn’t hear him. So other people left their houses. And, you know, in that moment, that’s the moment to resist. You know, that is the moment to just not accept it. And it’s really a question of strength in numbers, because if it is only the kind of hardcore activists that are out on the streets, it’s really easy to crush small protests. It’s harder to do it when it is hundreds of thousands of people. So I wanted to share some of these stories of societies that have just said, “We will not let you do it.” Right?
I was in France, as were you, Amy, a week after the horrific terrorist attacks in 2015. We were there for the Paris climate summit. A week before, 200 people had been killed in Paris in coordinated attacks. The French government, under François Hollande, a Socialist government—Socialist in name only, but, you know, a left government—declared a state of emergency and banned political gatherings of more than five people. You know, if that can happen in France under a Socialist government, in a country with a very deep history of disruptive strikes, what do we expect Trump and Bannon and Pence to do at the earliest opportunity? So, I think it’s important to strategize.
It’s important to know the history in the United States. You know, in all these countries, the examples I give—Argentina, why did they flood out of their houses? You ask people. They said, “It reminded us of the beginning of the dictatorship in 1976. That’s how it started. They told us that we weren’t safe and that it was going to be a temporary state of emergency. And it ended up turning into a dictatorship.” So they saw the early signs, and they said, “No, not again. Nunca más.” Right? You know, we talked to Americans about this. They say, “Well, we don’t have that history.” Really? What about the Japanese internment, you know? What about, as you’ve written, Amy, what about what happened to Mexican—Mexican Americans in the United States during the Great Depression and during that crisis and the mass deportations? There is this history in many communities, and those communities keep that history alive. You know, during Hurricane Katrina, so many African Americans talked about the history of how crises had been used to further oppress black people in this country. But these stories are offloaded into those communities, who hold them and keep that history alive. It isn’t nationally metabolized, right? And so we have to share these stories. And I do think there is a memory now of what happened after September 11th and the rights that were lost and the ways in which people’s grief was exploited by men in power who said, “Trust me.” Don’t make that mistake again.
people are being erased, you know, and this is a very, very old story. No, they’re already expanding the battlefields, escalating on multiple, multiple fronts. And, you know, this is the most dangerous, most lethal way that shocking events are exploited, people’s fear exploited.
And, you know, let’s remember that this administration will have various motivations for changing the subject away from their domestic scandals. And Trump has never gotten better media coverage than in the wake of the—his Syrian missile strike, you know, called “beautiful” by Brian Williams. And it’s—you know, suddenly, he was presidential—right?—ordering cruise missiles over delicious chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago. So, you know, we have to be very, very vigilant about this.
And, you know, the U.S. has had a strong antiwar movement in the past, but that antiwar movement hasn’t been in the streets in the same way. And, you know, I think that this—these resistance movements are going to have to get ready for that kind of a shock, because once the wars begin, you know, it’s very hard to stop them.
Another example, I think, of shock resistance, we just saw in the U.K. during Jeremy Corbyn’s—during Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign, where Theresa May was exploiting the Manchester attacks, the London Bridge attacks, to say, “We are going to, you know, have to get rid of your online privacy. You know, we need backdoors into all of your communication apps. We may need to suspend human rights law.” And Jeremy Corbyn was talking about root causes, the failure of the war-on-terror paradigm and how this is leading to an increase in these types of attacks. And, you know, I think that a lot of people decided that that made more sense after these many years, like not to double down and give up rights in these moments, but to try to understand why this is happening and to do something about it.
one of the things that really worries me is how motivated these petrostates are to have more instability, because that sends the price of oil up, and, you know, their profits flow even more. It’s something that the Saudis have in common with the Russians, have in common with Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon. You know, the way I think we should see that foreign trip of Trump’s is basically as traveling weapons salesman, right? And he’s sending this message: You buy enough American weapons, you’re our friend. You know? Like this is the price. So he heaps praise on Saudi Arabia for, you know, having done that, having made that deal, and he goes to Europe, and he screams at them, you know, NATO members, for not pulling their weight, right? Which means not buying enough weapons. You know, I’m Canadian. I’m Canadian-American, dual citizen. But my government shamefully came home and announced a massive—sorry, a massive increase in weapons spending. So, you know, this is—this is Trump’s foreign policy, is traveling weapons salesman.
best-selling author and senior correspondent for The Intercept.
— source democracynow.org