Change Everything Ep. 7: Naomi Klein, Coronavirus Capitalism, and a People’s Bailout Now!
Resources and Calls to Action:
- Listen to the full podcast episode at: https://theleap.org/change-everything/
- Find out more about The Leap’s People’s Bailout project at: peoplesbailout.ca
- Support Change Everything on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/changeeverything
- Read Naomi Klein’s latest article on The Intercept, “Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-Tech Dystopia“
- Watch Naomi Klein speak to Amazon workers in this conversation hosted by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice
- Watch some TikToks on socialism (yes, that’s right)
Maya Menezes (MM): Hi. I’m Maya Menezes.
Avi Lewis (AL): And I’m Avi Lewis, and you’re listening to Change Everything: a podcast by people who are freaking out—
MM: about the pandemic.
AL: Yes, and also climate, racism and inequality and thinking through solutions that are actually as big as the many crises we face.
MM: We know times are so precarious right now for so many people, and support for podcasts and media are usually the first things to go. And this is why we want to thank everyone who is so generously continuing to support us on Patreon. If you’re able to support the show, you can give something as low as a couple bucks a month or whatever you can, for however long you can. Everything goes to the folks who edit and produce Change Everything. Check out the show notes for how you can support the show if you can. Thank you so much to all of our dedicated and generous listeners. We’re so incredibly grateful for your support. Give us a visit at patreon.com/changeeverything.
AL: Hi Maya
MM: Hi Avi
AL: So how’s your pandemic going?
MM: Oh geez. I don’t know.
AL: And other greetings of 2020.
MM: The things we say now. Um, I don’t know. I feel like a lot of people, I’m oscillating between this really scary sense of calm, like a calm before a storm, and this just endless ocean of grief. I have in brackets in my section here, keep it light.
AL: Keep grief section light.
MM: zero chill. Yeah. I mean, obviously, it’s a really scary time. So many of my friends have lost their jobs, I know really bad things are coming. I read the news, which is not good news, news flash everybody, but yeah, I know people are preparing to not be able to pay their bills or make rent. And on top of all that and trying to feel useful and like I’m doing something to help my community, I’m trying to like, I don’t know, do things that make me feel calm. I started reading my teen sci-fi books again, which is actually great. Yeah, um, they’re also like revolutionary futurisms, just low key, which is really great. And trying to just also leave room to grieve, which I think is important as we realize the incredible importance of the political moment that we’re in. Um, how about you?
AL: All of that. and yes, I feel the grief almost as a physical force that we’re all trying to keep at bay. And maybe we shouldn’t push it away. For me, in addition, I’m feeling the stress of a kind of prolonged stay in a totally unreal place. Like, for those of us who have the privilege of being able to shelter in place and isolate our worlds are shrinking to whatever four walls we’re in and whatever people are in our germ biome, the ecosystem of bacteria that we’ve chosen to wait out the crisis with. And we’re just getting through it. Which is real. And I’ve been living in New Jersey for the last couple of years, and New Jersey is really the next to epicenter of this crisis, and the death toll and hospitalization numbers are flattening, but have not started to descend in any dramatic way. So we’re still very much in the thick of it here, and it’s pretty terrifying. I got sick and was almost on the way to the hospital. All better now, but didn’t have to go to the hospital, and hospitals here are just utterly overwhelmed. So the crisis is really real as are all of our human attempts to get through it. But at the same time, I feel like leaning on the outside of that bubble is this knowledge that truly historic things are happening in this moment — in this unprecedented global moment. We’ll look back for years or even decades to come and realize that there were vast forces that reshaped human history on a huge scale in this time that we lived through and we were doing whatever we could day to day to get through it. But there’s this huge exoskeleton of what’s happening at the same time. So I’m feeling that disjunction of the two worlds and the place where they collide, which actually makes me really happy that we have decided to do this podcast the way we have, because our special guest today is Naomi Klein, who is really good at helping us navigate those epic intersections between worlds. Naomi has written books like the Shock Doctrine, which is proving to be helpful and super depressing for many people in this moment.
MM: a nice light read.
AL: Nice light read on the park bench. Naomi has co-founded organizations like The Leap where we work with Naomi. She lives with some of us, specifically me and our son. And it turns out that Naomi Klein is also an inspired baker of all baked things, which we will explore in minor detail later.
MM: Oh, yeah. Let’s explore that later. Can’t wait. We also, of course, decided to invite Naomi to this episode because this podcast is part of our launch of the People’s Bailout project, which some of you, if you’re on our mailing list, might already know about. But, you know, right before the pandemic really hit full swing beginning of March, The Leap staff were away at a retreat, planning about how we were going to bring a Green New Deal to life. The before times. Katie, who’s our executive director, and I actually went straight from the retreat to New York to stay with Avi and Naomi. Had some meetings there. And it was like the great escape. It felt like the great escape from New York. Things were just closing every day.
AL: You kept changing your flight and getting out or sooner and sooner.
MM: sooner and sooner. I remember we went to sleep in New York and there was, like, 50 cases and we woke up and there was, like, 200. Like, let’s get on a plane. But of course, we got off our flight in Toronto, and two days later, Katie was one of the first diagnosed cases of Coronavirus. Everybody got sick. It was pretty bad. Everyone is better now, but it was very scary and a really good moment for us as we pivoted all the work in our organization. I think, really, I’m really happy with what we decided to do, and we spent a week in emergency mode bringing really bold calls to action now largely considered vital to our survival by a lot of different people. We took those really important calls to action directly from people who are mobilizing in their communities all over the place, and we packaged it together in a multi stage bailout for people and the planet. As we anticipated, governments would move to bailout corporations.
AL: and I think it’s worth just taking a minute to explain a little bit about the People’s Bailout project before we get to the Naomi interview. I will offer a quick preview that I think it’s one of the best conversations that she’s had. She’s done a lot of podcast interviews and webinars, in part because her work for a couple of decades has really focused on this issue of the extraordinary moment of crisis and the good and terrible things that can come out of it. But this, I think, is one of the best interviews that Naomi’s given. But let’s just preview the People’s Bailout a little bit. The People’s Bailout is designed to complement existing efforts, so there are great projects which we’ve seen launch in different countries around what a just recovery looks like, in particular the principles that should guide it. And we were early and enthusiastic signatories to that effort. We were actually already working on our own way of contributing to this moment, and we decided to focus on amplifying specific political demands, in a way harkening back to the Leap Manifesto in 2015 which founded our organization eventually and was a set of political demands. And setting them in a frame, setting them in a story of how we can come through this crisis and emerge on the path to a safer and fairer world. And we believe firmly that narrative and framing is critical to help us stay oriented and to help us stay focused on how to turn these moments to the advantage of all, rather than the immense benefit of a few. So the frame we came up with is the three R’s of the pandemic, the phases of the pandemic in sequence to put us on the right path: relief, recover and reimagine. So on our website, we’ve aggregated these political demands coming from work on the ground organizing in the pandemic and mapped them to those different phases from the emergency moment. The relief moment of responding on an emergency basis in the crisis; through the recovery phase, where there will be and is already massive government spending and big debates and fights over bailouts and stimulus packages; to the ultimate reimagining of society and the transformative change that we know we still, more than ever, need to be headed for.
MM: We will be releasing more and more calls to action on a rolling basis. We’re gonna be pulling these demands from organizations and people who are mobilizing for the future we all deserve. But right now we’re kicking off with three focus areas on the website: healthcare, work and housing. Now there’s much more coming soon. So get in touch with us about it by signing up at people’s bailout.ca. The link is in the show notes.
AL: and now it’s time to play our brief separator music. And then we can roll our interview with Naomi Klein.
CONVERSATION WITH NAOMI KLEIN
AL: Naomi, welcome to Change Everything.
Naomi Klein (NK): Thank you, Avi. Hi, Maya.
MM: It’s so weird seeing you guys in different rooms. It’s fun, it’s fun.
AL: But this is our zoom lifestyle anyway. It’s true. I’m wondering if we should have zoom family calls just to get a little distance and still connect.
MM: Oh, God, I’m Zoomed out forever.
NK: so Zoomed out.
AL: So that’s very much, that’s very 2020.
NK: But Leap was ahead of the game on Zoom because The Leap is a virtual office. So, things haven’t changed that much.
MM: We’ve been living on Zoom. I mean, the backgrounds have changed because you can do backgrounds on Zoom now.
AL: there you go. No, but we’ve been in Brady Bunch boxes for three years.
NK: Our son is obsessed with backgrounds. That’s all he does. He had his first Zoom play date and all they did was just change backgrounds. For like an hour, which is fine.
AL: You know what he did today, he figured out how to put video files in the background.
NK: That’s terrifying. What’s he going to put up there, that’s the problem.
AL: He doesn’t know. He has no idea what he’s doing,
NK: Because he makes videos of us without our knowledge or consent. We’re under surveillance capitalism by our seven year old, like we’ll suddenly turn around in the car it turns out he’s made a 45 minute video of our conversation.
AL: if you hear tapping in the background it’s because I’m googling “parental controls Zoom” right now to prevent his virtual classroom from featuring our car rides from when we used to go out in the car.
NK: right? Like family fights that are immortalized. Yeah. All right. Yeah, that’s life.
MM: Well, now, I guess it’s the new normal. We’re in what, the second year of the third month since the fourth week – what is time?
AL: 60 eternities, 60 eternities into quarantine.
MM: So we’re like, somewhere in the second month, I think. And it’s a very frightening time to be alive. We have disaster capitalism happening all around us in real time. We feel like there’s also this incredible opportunity that just seems to be – billions of dollars are seemingly falling from the sky. Trillions of dollars falling from the sky. We have community organizing, lifting off at a rate we never thought humanly possible. We have the possibility of winning things that would take us decades to win. So where do you feel we are in our political moment right now?
NK: Well, I’m not sure we’re in the same place, you know, in Canada and in the U.S. and even within the U.S., in a blue state like New Jersey it’s pretty different from, you know, red states like Georgia that have just opened themselves up. But where are we? I’m gonna try to zoom out. As you were saying, Maya, this is a moment of radicalization. And I think for me personally, because I was really involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign, the last few months have just been surreal going from pretty much a high point in my political life — not pretty much, I would say, definitely a high point in my political life — which was February 22nd being in Las Vegas, Nevada, on the day that Bernie Sanders won that state. Crushed it, you know? I was there when news came down that we had won almost every caucus on the Las Vegas Strip and I was able to drive over to the caucus headquarters, what they called the boiler room where everybody was on the phone, and just, like, see the happiest, dirtiest people I’ve ever seen in my life and just kind of everybody was hugging and just like in this state of disbelief, because it wasn’t just like winning a state and winning it by a lot. We were in Las Vegas, we were surrounded by Trump Tower and, you know–
AL: Casino capitalism, the home of.
NK: I mean, just the shiniest, tackiest, just giant monument to, you know, you’re about to get your big break, right? And the reason that Bernie won was because the people who make that illusion possible who polish the slot machines and mop up the floors and clean the hotel rooms and drive the taxis to the airport. They all rose up and said, Fuck this. This is an illusion. We need fundamental change. And took on, in many cases, their own union leadership. And it was just this incredible triumph of grassroots organizing, particularly Latinos for Bernie. It was just an amazing thing to behold, and it was such a political high. And within days the whole thing had come crashing down with the Democratic Party brutally uniting around this terrible candidate of Joe Biden. A failure of the other so-called progressives to unite behind Bernie. And then the next thing we know, we’re in the pandemic. It’s just like, whoa.
AL: So it’s been a fun couple months for you.
NK: Yeah, but I think in terms of the radicalising potential of this moment, I don’t think we can discount the impact of the groundwork of the Sanders campaign and the work of Sunrise and Dream Defenders and Mijente and all these base building groups that had coalesced around it and had moved these radical bold demands into the center of the political discourse, including a Green New Deal. But also, you know, decarceration and Homes for All. All of these policies that were like, during the campaign in this sort of centrist push back, it was like “It’s too much. It’s too fast. We just want to go back to normal. Can we just please have a break after Trump.” And that was something I saw firsthand when I was in Nevada, like older African American voters who were just, like, really beaten down and understandably so and actually agreed with the Bernie Platform. But were like, first of all, Americans aren’t going to accept this speed of change — and they may well have been right. And also we are in the middle of this surge of white supremacy and a madman is at the helm, and let’s just have a pause. The chair of the Biden caucus that I attended in Nevada was this lovely man and he kept saying to me, I agree with you, but here’s why we should vote for Biden. Because I was speaking for the Bernie camp in this caucus at this high school in Las Vegas, and he just said, “We just need a transition.” That was what he kept saying. “We just need a transition from Trump to these types of policies.” Now here we are in this moment that clearly isn’t going to allow for a transition, right? Like it’s full blown crisis emergency and only those types of bold policies that seemed like too much too fast just six weeks ago. Now they seem like maybe not enough. Like maybe we weren’t thinking big enough, right? So, yeah, I’m just trying to kind of metabolize that moment.
AL: It is incredible. It’s incredible to ponder, because there was a slight unreality in the previous political moment of 2019, not just the Bernie Sanders campaign, but all over the world. It felt like there was an emergence of a need for transformative level policies. And the Green New Deal was one example of that kind of surge. And it’s true. They did lay the ground for what’s being considered now. But the crisis has taken over. And as much as that’s all pre crisis thinking, I feel like you’re saying that what happened before did shape the possibilities. Now, when we need even more because the needs are spiraling out of control.
NK: Absolutely it did, but the tragedy and the difficulty is that the political vehicle that might have delivered it–
AL: In the United States.
NK: In the United States, is no longer an option. But I think we are seeing in Canada that the Trudeau government is moving to the left in some ways, not fast enough. But there’s no doubt that sort of centrist neoliberal politicians are having to move. And that may mean that if Biden manages to squeak victory from Trump, that he will be able to be pushed too. I mean, I think there’s no doubt that the Biden we would get is not as bad as the Biden we would have gotten, but the problem is, I mean, this crisis is just so bad and so deep, right? And so being better than you would have been without the crisis isn’t going to get us much. It’s a really low bar because the need is just so tremendous. The thing that I have been sort of trying to flag from the beginning is, it isn’t just about the bad corporate bailout, right? It’s about who’s gonna pay for the bad corporate bailout down the road, right? The bad corporate bailout is one; phase two is “Oh, we spent all our money. We’re broke. Now you have to close all your schools and hospitals and fire your teachers because we can no longer afford the meager social safety net that failed us in this pandemic.”
AL: In the crisis.
NK: That’s the phase that I’m really scared about.
AL: So I want to flag that we will save sometime towards the end of this conversation, to talk about the hopeful possibilities which we really feel are real, and we are throwing ourselves at with ultimate velocity. But I also think that there’s — in the web of fear that surrounds all of us in our personal lives, in our health and our families in this extraordinary situation and in the global situation, there’s a lot of truly bad shit that is going on. Naomi, you’ve been tracking a bunch of it, and I think we want to give ourselves license to dive into the dystopia for a few minutes and explore some of what you’ve been observing, with a caveat for me that I think in moments like this, so much is happening at once. Even your perception from living in the States that the Trudeau government is kind of moving to the left and abandoning some neoliberalism. That is true in some policies and in some use of public funds. And at the same time they’re cracking down and being more repressive and much more authoritarian than we’ve ever seen. And that’s happening under the surface. So let’s take it as a given in this conversation that everything is happening at once, and let’s try to trace some of those strands. So you’ve been doing a bunch of new research into a particular surge in dystopian surveillance and the sort of land grab of big tech companies using the crisis for a disaster capitalism moment. We’ve seen lots of specific examples without flagging a bunch of them. Give us your sense of the dystopian stuff that’s going on, that maybe not everybody is tracking in terms of the disaster capitalism moment we’re in.
NK: So I think we’ve got some kind of low tech old school disaster capitalism that we’re aware of, like the oil companies getting bailouts and governments suspending enforcement of environmental protections even as they ram through oil pipelines carrying oil that nobody wants, under the claim that this is some kind of essential activity when actually, their biggest problem is storing the oil they already have. So there’s that and there’s lots and lots and lots of that. But what I’ve been really struck by is, I don’t think that we’ve ever seen an economic crisis that is as — not exactly unevenly distributed, but that has such clear winners from the beginning. During the 2008 financial crisis. and IPS Institute in Policy Studies has a good report on this, the billionaires as a class lost a great deal of collective wealth whereas in the first, I believe, month they were tracking of this pandemic the billionaires as a class increased their wealth by more than $300 billion.
MM: Record gains.
NK: right? And obviously, Jeff Bezos is the extreme end of this, you know, and this pandemic is like a perfect pandemic for Jeff Bezos’ business model because his two main revenue streams are delivery of everything and the other is the cloud, is streaming. And these are the main ways that we are continuing to consume is, we’re continuing to consume that which can be delivered to our doors, those of us who can afford it. And we are continuing to distract ourselves with endless streaming television and movies. And we’re working via platforms that require the cloud as we are at this very moment. So this is Amazon Cloud Services and this is Amazon delivery, and that is why he is getting so unspeakably rich.
AL: we need a little commercial break for a conspiracy theory about Jeff Bezos cooking it up in a lab just to counterweight the Sinophobia coming from the White House.
NK: Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google. So the trouble with this, I mean, there’s lots of trouble with this, and it’s a complete obscenity because some of the most vulnerable workers are workers who are on Jeff Bezos’ payroll. And even as he racks up these vast increases in his personal wealth he is refusing basic demands to shut down and clean warehouses after multiple Covid cases have been detected and so on. People are aware of this. So the reason why this is a big political problem is that usually the corporate class is weakened during a crisis, right? So, like they don’t have money, they come to governments on their knees. That’s why it was so frustrating in 2008, when the Obama administration failed to actually attach strong conditions to the bailouts of the banks and the auto companies and the insurance companies, because they could have, because they were desperate, right? They weren’t able to spend the kind of lobbying money and advertising money that they would normally be able to spend to get whatever they want. Now we have companies that are on their knees in this crisis, like Boeing and so on. And you know the car companies, but we also have this class of tech companies who are incredibly liquid. Went into this crisis not leveraged, like the real world companies. And then on top of that, are experiencing this boom because of so called like on demand services. So whether it’s Instacart or Zoom, you know, or Google or Amazon. I mean, they’re all doing incredibly well, which means that they have all of this capital to engage in gloves off lobbying. And they’re doing it. I mentioned Eric Schmidt. He’s the scariest of the bunch because he is no longer working at Google full time, although he still owns a huge amount of shares and is still an adviser. What he’s actually doing is heading up two task forces for the Trump administration in Congress to advise them on AI and defense, and he is advising them to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on more AI research and implementation and integration. And there’s a lot of China fearmongering, like China as an authoritarian state is able to do all of these things with these technologies that we’re not able to do. So even though we may have invented them, we’re falling behind. And so they’ve been using this discourse now for a while. But what the crisis has done has allowed them to rebrand everything that they wanted to do before the pandemic, which they were just saying would lead to greater convenience and cost saving or whatever it was; that’s how they were selling the gig economy and driverless cars and the rest of it. Now they’re rebranding it all the new touchless economy, right? You can do it all on your app. You never have to see a human. Sure, you’re a little afraid of a driverless car. But aren’t you more afraid that your Uber driver might have Covid? So there’s all of this rebranding of these dangerous technologies and also technologies that lead to mass layoffs. And they’re just pushing it wildly. They’re doing it with remote teaching. They’re doing it with telehealth. They’re doing it with driverless cars. They’re even doing it with facial recognition software, which is bonkers because we’re all supposed to be wearing masks. Why are you pushing? You would think At least that technology they’d give that a break. But they’re not.
AL: Mask recognition software.
MM: And also we have the far right basically calling for a culling of the herd. So what if grandparents die? So what if all these people get really, really sick? And we have concurrently this really intensive rise in ecofascism, which is rising everywhere. We need an analysis on what the response is calling for and what we need for people. And a lot of what you’re saying Naomi with the billionaire class attacking workers. We have this active cultural piece of dehumanizing people who the right believe do not deserve to survive. And were never deserving of dignity anyways. And that narrative is just being reinforced and reinforced and reinforced when we’re seeing, you know, Amazon, using a heat map to figure out where places are most likely to unionize, blocking workers from doing that, then seniors in homes whose care has been devalued unbelievably over the last decades. There’s so many different types of this rise of right wing eco-fascism. I would love to hear what you think about that, what you’ve been seeing.
NK: Yeah. I think that that what we’re seeing in this unveiling, right, I use that phrase which is borrowed from activists in Puerto Rico who talked about Hurricane Maria as as an unveiling of the injustices and failures that predated the hurricane, and the hurricane just sort of blew so hard it just ripped the lid off of all of it. And I think that, in many ways, is what’s happening with this pandemic. And so everybody who was being discounted or discarded, right, their labour discounted, their bodies discarded, warehoused in prisons, in these homes for the elderly where care was rationed so brutally. Everybody who was being discarded and warehoused is really now being left to die, right? And in so many ways that parallels what climate change is doing in our world, right? That the parts of the world that were already being treated by the rich world as less valuable, where lives were treated as less valuable. Those are the people that are being left to drown as they move, right. And as you say, Maya, where this intersects with white supremacy and various supremacist logics – not only white supremacy, Hindu supremacy, Christian supremacy. Well, even Jewish supremacy. I mean, anywhere where you have a supremacist logic. It is becoming fiercer in this moment. And you are hearing these sort of grotesque rationales of “Maybe it’s God’s will. Maybe it’s better. Maybe it’s the best for Mother Earth because humans are a virus.” This kind of thing where, because of the inequality embedded in the impact of the pandemic itself, because it so brutally follows pre-existing injustices and inequalities, so that African Americans have such higher mortality rates. For instance, in cities like Chicago, all over the U.S., we’re seeing this and there’s all kinds of reasons for this, as we all know, about who has the pre-existing conditions and why. What worries me is that you look at these photographs and videos of who is pro-testing to open the economy back up. It’s white people. It’s white people in Michigan, you know, a state where Black people in Detroit and Flint are being wiped out by this pandemic. And so when they’re saying open the economy back up, what they’re saying is we are okay with Black people dying in greater numbers. They don’t believe they’re the ones who are going to die. And they’re probably for the most part, though it’s not without exception, correct. And so you know the fact that this pandemic does discriminate, it’s bad news on a lot of fronts. It’s obviously horrific, because it’s impacting the people who are already living the hardest lives. But I also think that it makes it more likely in the current political climate that the Trump Administration is just gonna go, “Yeah, let’s open it all back up.” Because these are precisely the people that he’s been waging war on already. Um, so that’s really scary stuff, and we have to be honest about how scary it is.
MM: We have to be so honest about it, and we have to be so vigilant. I think these narratives about dehumanisation and who is worthy of care and who is worthy of surviving is something you know, especially on this podcast, we’ve been screaming about this for ages. It’s that the conversation we’re having about climate change is about who is worthy of surviving. We’re defining who we think is worthy of surviving this crisis. And a lot of people have been saying this already, but the conversations we’re having right now about whose lives are valuable and who deserves to be taken care of in this crisis is exactly that. And it’s made things worse, but it’s also flipped into technicolor how bad things have been for so long, for so many people. A couple things that we’re thinking about is with migrant justice. In Canada the other day, there’s an article that came out where a Canadian farmer in Quebec was saying that her farm in Montreal by the U. S. Border: for one migrant worker, you need more than two Quebecers. So this idea that migrant workers who are now responsible for keeping our economy alive both north and south of the medicine line are expected to work 2 to 3 times as hard in order to be worthy and productive enough to be considered human and who are now in huge amounts of danger. You know, the epidemic is sweeping migrant camps all across both countries. And I’m sure in many other parts of the world as well. We have obviously a really important narrative I think that we need to hold onto about disability justice where we see mutual aid popping up all over the place. And, of course, the roots of mutual aid have come from disability justice advocates. And we’ve got people on disability, where you know the government is saying you need in Canada at least, we’re getting $2000 a month if you apply for the emergency benefit. But folks on disability are getting $500 a month while the government says that you need $2000 a month to live. We have already been paying people so much less than they need just to be able to be alive and have some form of dignity in their lives.
AL: And those people are having trouble getting the new emergency benefit because they’re–
MM: They’re not eligible because apparently that is enough to live on.
AL: Even as the government finally admits that it never was, people are still being excluded en masse.
MM: And we’re having this weird conversation about, you know, we’re putting so many measures in place to get people to prove the level that they’re suffering at when really, we should be putting more energy into getting people the resources that they need and, you know, Naomi, you’ve named this. This is the rise and the codification of white supremacy and the impacts of white supremacy. You were mentioning that, you know, African Americans are dying at a much higher rate. We only just started collecting race based data in Canada when, of course, we know it’s racialized communities. It’s Black Indigenous communities that are suffering and are going to be the most and already the most impacted by this.
NK: Both because of pre existing medical conditions. And also because they’re the ones who don’t have the luxury to shelter in place, to stay home, because they are the ones whose jobs are deemed essential, because they are essential. But they are also incredibly undervalued monetarily.
AL: or because housing is an overcrowding disaster in many communities already before crisis.
NK: Yeah, all of those forces. Yeah. Yeah.
MM: Or you’re not eligible for any type of benefit because you’re undocumented. This is really exposing how many people keep our economy alive that are not considered people on paper.
AL: Naomi, do you think that this is kind of like a reframing of the actual cost of inequality? That inequality feels more like a death sentence than ever before in this crisis?
NK: Well, look, like when Trump orders meat packing plants to stay open, even when the owners of those plants are saying that they are unsafe. And he does it in such a way that he is able to deliver immunity from legal prosecution from workers who get sick and their families who get sick at work. I mean, he is saying in the most literal way, your life is worth less than a hamburger. I mean, that is radicalizing, and I think we’re seeing this with a huge surge in frontline worker organizing. You know, some of the frontline workers were already organized, and they were sort of off to the races from the beginning. Like the nurses under National Nurses United went straight from the Bernie campaign and demanding Medicare for All to being on the frontlines of the demands for PPE and staging some of the first socially distanced demonstrations of the pandemic. But Amazon workers, Instacart workers, Whole Foods workers, FedEx workers are coordinating, are doing all kinds of solidarity actions with one another and feeling their power, I think, in a really important way, right, because this sort of duality of you’re at once essential and disposable is an untenable one. So, you know, being told that your work is too essential to stop is a pretty good organizing tool that people have been willing to take up. And I think that there’s been a lot of attempts, and this is building on all kinds of different attempts to organize the gig economy and to organize tech vulnerable tech workers. A lot of it was underground. Some of it was making headway. And now all of a sudden, it’s sort of burst into the light because of that work, that it happened ahead of time. So I think that’s something to feel hopeful about. I also think we should feel hopeful about the fact that there is a lot of appreciation out there for those essential workers. You know, even though there’s a huge amount of inequality between who is out there doing this labor and who is at home complaining about being bored and spending too much time on Zoom. Present company included. This virus has forcedm has visibilized, has made visible a lot of interconnections and interdependencies that capitalism works very hard to invisibilize, right? Because we have to think about the hands that touch our food and deliver our packages and all the things that Silicon Valley is busily trying to make even more invisible, right? Like by doing it by drone and hiding the fact that somebody is always behind the technology, right? It’s just a question of whether or not they’re hidden or not. And one of the interesting organizing things that has happened in the last few weeks has been Amazon tech workers, the very visible sort of well cared for, higher paid, tech workers in Seattle–
AL: the ones who were able to seamlessly move home to work.
NK: Yeah, exactly. And whose workplaces were shut down at the first signs of trouble. These workers, if they work at headquarters, they work in this building that is this crazy glass dome, right? Bezos has built this amazing geodesic dome, filled with plants, and it’s sort of like a little mini Amazon and it’s one of the most extraordinary work places in the world, right? But what’s striking is just that it’s all transparent, right? Like you can see out. You can see everything. It’s so green. And where we live in New Jersey is like Amazon Warehouse Alley. So we were always going past these, you know, these massive sprawling
AL: Mile-long buildings.
NK: with no windows at all. Right. And you know, just the sort of the class system within Amazon is so stark when you think about what it means to put people in this windowless, mile long warehouse and what it means to put your star workers in the glass dome with all of the exotic plants, right? And what’s one of the interesting things that has happened during the pandemic is that a group of Amazon tech workers, Amazon Workers for Climate Justice, heard about what was happening in the warehouses and decided to have an event. A virtual event inviting tech workers to hear directly from the warehouse workers about what was going on in the warehouses. And I was invited to speak at the event. And then I got news that the organizers of the event had been fired, that the company had deleted all the 1000 names of the tech workers who had signed up for the event. That’s a lot of tech workers at one company. And issued a whole bunch of threatening warnings.
MM: This was only a week ago, right?
NK: I mean, it feels like a year ago. I think it was probably a week and a half ago. It was really telling because the call went ahead as scheduled, right? 500 workers attended instead of 1000. But that’s still a lot, and they found ways to protect their identities. But the fact that the company came down so hard and these are workers who have been organizing calling for the company to do more on climate for a long time, they participated in the climate strikes. They’ve spoken at the AGM. They’ve been making trouble and it’s been interesting that they haven’t been fired frankly, but this was the line that they could not cross.
AL: You were the thing that got them fired. You did it to those noble organizers.
NK: [laughs] It’s not true.
MM: and they moved so fast.
NK: And they did it at a time when they were getting a lot of bad press already about what was going on in the warehouses, and they got a lot of bad press for this. So they calculated that even though they were going to get a whole bunch of bad press that they didn’t want to get for firing their two highest profile tech workers. Because Emily Cunningham, she has become the face of this movement. They decided that it was worth it because this alliance between tech workers and warehouse workers was threatening enough that they wanted to bust it up. And so I think that that’s, in a way, it’s a good sign because it shows, for them to make that decision, it means that this is something worth deepening and exploring.
AL: They understand the power.
NK: And these workers aren’t backing off. And I was saying to them, we need to find ways to broaden the coalition so that it’s not only Amazon tech workers and Amazon warehouse workers, but it’s also Amazon Prime subscribers and filmmakers and television producers and authors who are all selling our stuff on these platforms. I’m embedded in the Amazon economy as an author. So is every author, right? So there’s coalitions out there, latent coalitions out there that can put pressure on these companies, and they’re scared as hell of it. That’s what that lesson taught me. They’re very scared. They want people to stay in their boxes very much.
AL: I think we’ve moved seamlessly into the opportunities and possibilities, and some of the more hopeful cracks that are being revealed in this moment. At The Leap as you know, Naomi, we’ve been working on it together. We’ve launched the People’s Bailout project to start mapping some of the demands that are coming right from the grassroots organizing into this expanding political frame from the relief and emergency moment through the recovery and stimulus period to the reimagining and the transformation that is required, even more so now that we see the devastating effects of existing inequalities in a time of crisis and pandemic. And I want to stay with this for a moment. One of the things that the crisis has clearly revealed is who is actually essential in the economy. And it’s the people, as we’ve said, who are least valued, worst compensated, most vulnerable and exploited in their workplaces. But nurses and caregivers, people who take care of the elderly in contracted out, privatized, in tech sectors, people who deliver and pack and pick food. All of these workers, so many of them migrant workers, so many of them women, women of color, turn out to be the people who keep us alive, especially in a pandemic and a crisis.
NK: and I’d just like to give a shout out to some of the people who aren’t working but do keep us sane, and those are teachers, if we can say this as a couple of parents who have been trying with great frustration to run a little home school, and I think so many parents are feeling so much appreciation for teachers and no, we don’t want this to be the new normal. We really, really don’t.
AL: exactly. I think parents around the industrialized world are definitely realizing how ill equipped they are to be teachers and teachers, again, another sector which was really under attack before the crisis in many different jurisdictions — in Ontario and Alberta, in the United States as always. But in this moment where who is really essential is being revealed — and you’ve talked a little bit about the new opportunities in labor organizing, the extraordinary wave of wildcat strikes that has swept across the United States in Amazon facilities and other essential businesses in the pandemic. There’s a lot of talk about general strike as the thing that we would need the level of power we need to assemble across society in order to win something as big as a Green New Deal. And I’d love a little bit of reflection from you, Naomi, because you’ve been tapped into some of this new labor, organizing is, what do strikes look like in this pandemic moment, when there’s been a reframing of who is essential and whose work matters most and who is most vulnerable? Who takes the most risk when they walk out of work, even as they are on the front lines of the health risks of working in warehouses and stuff like that? I feel like this is a crystallizing moment for the transformative power of labor. But at the same time, there are huge challenges in striking. How do you have a general strike or even work towards one when people can’t go to work, the vast majority of them? What are your thoughts on this current moment in the power of work?
NK: Well, I’m not sure. I think these alliances that are happening now among frontline essential workers are really important because it’s bringing together workers that were not in dialogue before, right. So, I talked about inside one company, but nurses and grocery store workers weren’t necessarily in conversation before, right? And sanitation workers and FedEx drivers weren’t necessarily in conversation before, and farm workers were not necessarily part of the same conversations as warehouse workers. So I think there’s a lot of power in these essential worker alliances that we’re starting to see, first on May Day, but sort of understanding that that’s just the beginning. I think we need to see more of that. But as I said, I think that especially because there’s gonna be a lot of people unemployed or working from home in ways that make job actions harder, I think there has to be a clear role for consumers in supporting these types of actions. Like if Amazon workers are calling in sick, I think it needs to be clearer to consumers. If there is an ask that we not shop at Amazon anymore, right? Giving people lots of options about where they can get what they need without going to Amazon. I’m a little worried that we’ve all been too obedient in this transition around, Avi and I teach at Rutgers and we get these congratulatory emails from management about what a great job we’ve all done switching our classes over to Zoom and other kinds of remote learning. And of course, we all want to do that because this has been a terrible experience for our students. We teach at a public university just filled with kids from working class and lower middle class families who are getting hit very, very, very hard. Their parents are being laid off. Small businesses are being shut down. All of my students have part time jobs putting themselves through school, and almost every single one of them has lost that job, right? And they still have to pay their tuition. So we’re happy to help in whatever way we can. But I think there’s such a thing as being a little bit too compliant, right, because we also know that every university on the planet would like to see more online teaching. This is something they have been pushing since I was in undergrad, right? Because then they get the intellectual property of the professors, and lo and behold, they don’t have to pay professors anymore.
AL: They don’t have to keep paying for it every year. You can just buy it once and then keep playing the tape.
NK: Press repeat. You can also draw your students from all over the world. And so, I’m worried. When I look at our son’s teachers, our son has special needs, and he has this incredibly dedicated team of public school teachers who are really, really committed to helping special needs kids. And they have all taught themselves Zoom and they’re all doing the best that they can to show that they can teach remotely. And I just hope that they don’t get repaid for this by getting fired, right? I’m very, very worried about that. We need to figure out how we prevent that from happening. Really, really fast.
MM: We have a very small window to do it. We want to talk a little bit about the Green New Deal because we have been talking about the vast investments we need in education and healthcare, in every single sector of society and our economy, that we know we need to strengthen in order not only to survive but to create a world in which we all thrive.
AL: And now it turns out there’s huge money,
MM: It turns out we had money the whole time. But I think in a lot of ways, when we’re talking about how interconnected all these systems are that you’re naming so thoroughly, we also need to bring back that spirit of internationalism if we’re going to do this right and do this for everyone all together. And I think we’re seeing frames, I know that multiple frameworks you’re involved in that talk about Global Green New Deal work and what that means and at The Leap, of course, we’re pushing a people’s bailout framework and mapping the demands onto a three stage complete reimagining of the world in which we live, which is relief, recover, reimagine and really rebuild where we are. So I’m wondering, I would love to hear a little bit of your thoughts on where is that Green New Deal framework right now, and with that spirit of internationalism? And how can we bring all of these calls to action into a methodology that can save some lives?
NK: So I think that the most hopeful thing that is happening right now is not only that we have discovered once again that, yes, there were trillions of dollars available when we had been told that it was impossible to guarantee housing and have a Green New Deal and, you know, have a decent life, right? That was utopian. But obviously it was always possible. So people have all witnessed this and and there’s window after the people have witnessed it, it lasts a while. It lasted a while after the 2008 crisis. It starts to close after a couple of years, but I just want to say that I don’t think that we are in this mad rush, that if we don’t get it done in three weeks, it’s all over and we’re doomed. I think people are gonna remember this bailout for a while, especially because it’s now happened twice in a decade. Okay, so there’s, like, a cumulative effect, a little bit more than a decade, 12 years. But the other thing that we have seen is that it’s possible to change how we live really quickly, and as somebody who has been out there quite recently making the case for a Green New Deal, you know, I published On Fire in late September, and I went on tour, partnered with the Sunrise Movement. The dog’s barking.
AL: Do you want me to go and settle our dog down? You keep going.
NK: It’s up to you, if you just want admit that we have a dog that barks.
AL: How does it sound, Maya? Is it just a nice comforting background sound?
MM: Own it. Own that you have a dog.
AL: Carry on. No edits necessary.
NK: He’s gonna go get the dog. Once she starts she can’t stop. She’s just very scared. She’s a scaredy dog. As you know Maya. She makes up for it in fluff. She’s really fluffy. She needs a haircut like everybody else.
MM: Doesn’t everyone? I didn’t know I had this much hair.
NK: You look great. I feel like there’s two categories of people. The people who needed haircuts before this whole thing started, and I’m in that category, like, the last thing I did was cancel a haircut that I had scheduled for the day. The pandemic was declared.
MM: You guys got to cut each other’s hair. It’s dangerous but my partner cut my hair a couple weeks ago.
AL: It’s happening in the next couple nights.
NK: Avi’s cut my hair and it’s been in a ponytail ever since.
AL: Naomi was not thrilled with the results. I felt really good about it, but I really wasn’t the client.
NK: No regrets. Right? So when I was on tour with On Fire in September and October, I spoke to lots of groups of people about why we need a Green New Deal and how we can do it and it was a very different type of experience than when I was out there with This Changes Everything, when I was having a lot of arguments about whether or not this scale of change was needed, and whether, in fact, couldn’t capitalism just fix this with a carbon tax? Nobody was making those arguments. A few months ago, when I was out with that book, what people were saying was just simply that it wasn’t gonna happen. And the reason I heard was: the economy is doing too well. They said, you know, you’re talking about the original New Deal, you’re talking about the World War Two mobilizations. Those were moments of profound crisis. You’re talking about the Great Depression and the Second World War. We are now in an economy that has low unemployment, that by every conventional measure is doing well and people are not gonna be willing to change that dramatically. And, you know, to be honest, I didn’t really have a strong answer to that challenge. Because it is true that the only examples that we can point to of rapid and far reaching transformation to virtually every aspect of society, as the IPCC told us we needed to do in 2018, are moments of profound crisis like the one we’re in right now. And so, you know, we all know that we need to fly less. Right? Having that conversation when the skies are filled with planes is very different than having that conversation when there are virtually no planes in the sky. We’re in a situation now where we can actually have a calm and reasonable conversation about what an essential flight is. It’s a hard conversation to have, but it is a very different conversation to have than when the airline industry is booming and everything is so “normal”. When countries are paying workers to stay home, as they are in some European countries and as they should be doing in every country, it’s a lot easier to imagine paying workers to retrain, which is what we need to do if we’re gonna transition. So there are things happening that are making the Green New Deal framework that we’ve all been talking about, or “The Leap”, or whatever the latest tagline is, whatever the latest brand is, it makes it more imaginable. I wish it didn’t take a crisis like this in order for it to be imaginable, but things are imaginable now that weren’t before. For worse, as we’ve been saying, but also a little bit for the better. And not only that, but in some of the ways that some countries are entering that recover phase that is now beginning in some parts of the world, as European countries start to gradually reopen, we are seeing some positive examples. I think it’s Austria who said to an airline, “Look, if you want bailout money, you have to agree to these climate conditions.” Milan, one of the great cities of the world, but with terrible diesel pollution — and there’s research that shows that exposure to diesel pollution made people more vulnerable to Covid — Milan is now saying, “You know what? We liked not having so many cars in our city, and we’re going to have a permanent transition to give back more of our roads to pedestrians and cyclists, and that will allow for more social distancing.” It’ll allow restaurants to spill onto sidewalks so that you can have tables spaced more apart. It allows grocery stores to put more of their wares outside and people can walk in the streets. That sounds pretty good, right? So I think in the incredible hardship of this moment, we’re seeing a few glimpses of some of the things that we actually need. I think the task has changed, right? There’ve always been good examples that we can point to, but I would say that there are more examples now. There are more countries that are saying you’re not gonna get a bailout if you stick all your money in a tax haven, right? That’s good. That gives us some hope for shutting down tax havens and getting some of the money that we need to fund this. It’s almost like, within this sort of hunk of stone, we can see the outlines of the sculpture that we have to chip away at. I don’t know if that’s a metaphor that’s helpful. I’ve been trying to figure out whether it is or not.
AL: Well, with all the home sculpting going on, I think it’s very a propos. I actually really appreciate that meditation on the glimpses of the future that we’re getting in the eye of the storm here. And, on that note, I would love to bring this conversation to a close, just observing that in that spirit, I think the reason the dog was freaking out is because some baking supplies were delivered. So with the baking that is happening in this pandemic—
NK: Don’t admit that we ordered baking supplies because I feel like that’s bad. We did not get them from Amazon.
AL: We didn’t actually.
NK: Small business baking supplies, delivered by the post office.
AL: Naomi, my proposal was that maybe we go down, make some lunch and put those baking supplies to work. If you don’t mind.
NK: That is so sexist. This is my real fear, Maya, is they’re not going to put the kids back in school. The schools are never going to reopen, and women are going to just be expected to homeschool kids forever and bake bread.
MM: Did Avi just ask Naomi Klein to make a sandwich at the end of our podcast?
AL: First of all, I am the sandwich maker. But no, Naomi’s bread has been outstanding. It has been absolutely outstanding.
NK: I did learn how to make bread. It’s really easy.
MM: Okay, that was great, and made me feel really energized about how engaged people are getting about these issues. And I know that for anybody who doesn’t know me very well, I’m one of the millennials who joined Tik Tok recently. And we don’t need to read too deeply into why I did that. But the thing that I love the most about Tik Tok is that there are all these — and for anyone who doesn’t know what Tik Tok is, it’s Vine. And if you’re somebody else’s age, who’s maybe a different age than me, we don’t have to name names, they’re kind of like if America’s Funniest Home Videos just played without commercials or commentary. So hopefully that reaches.
AL: I hope it’s not me you’re explaining this to.
MM: No, I would never do that.
AL: You saw the app on my phone, right?
MM: Yeah, definitely.
AL: And how do you spell it again?
MM: All right, listen. There are a lot of young people really engaging with rage, rage at the fact that corporations and billionaires are getting bailed out. And people are just being left literally for dead. There’s a lot of really incredible TikToks that I’ve been seeing about guillotines, some very inventive things on boot licking, which I find very time, and a lot of people reading Lenin. But I think the thing that really struck me about it was people coming into an understanding about the wealth disparity that exists in our world and income inequality that is so beyond our wildest dreams of nightmare that people don’t even have an inkling or a deep understanding of exactly how wealthy people like Jeff Bezos are, for example. We really need to try and put into perspective what we mean when we think about wealth disparity.
AL: It’s really true. And I think in this way the pandemic has been a teacher and a spotlight and an accelerant to all of these phenomena, and I think, one of the big ones for me, thinking about the conversation with Naomi, and Jeff Bezos being $26 billion richer a couple months into this crisis.
MM: that’s just a couple months of income. Point of clarification.
AL: So this is it, right? I mean, it’s wealth, but billionaires are not the only source of wealth, and the pandemic has also taught us that rich countries like Canada and the United States and European countries, Australia, have unbelievable capacity to exercise resources to create programs to give money to people who need it. Forget taking away money from the billionaire class, which urgently needs to be done and redistributing it for other social goods, the U.S. has spent $6 trillion at least, and that is far from the end of it. Canada is well over $800 billion, and more is expected. And these are astronomical figures that appeared out of nowhere. Like many left heterodox economists have been saying, there’s no zero sum game in the money and the monetary economy where you have to take money from spending or from debt payments to allocate to other things. Deficits have been a political tool which have limited the policy scope of governments. And in this crisis we have now seen that the only limit to government spending money to save lives is if the economy gets back going again and there’s an inflationary spiral at some point, then they will have to pull back. Until then, the resources of an economy is the industrial capacity; is the wealth that’s been amassed through centuries of colonialism and modern industrial capitalism; and that’s the backstop for rich country governments to spend immense amounts of money. And that can be spent on all kinds of things. And now we know that it could be spent on holding the economy through this pause that the crisis has required. It could also be done, like you said, Maya, to eliminate the housing crisis, to eliminate all kinds of social inequalities that are really urgent. And this crisis has only exacerbated. So, unveiling 2020, it’s massive.
MM: Oh, yeah. And we’re saying two things, right. The money has always been there. And also no one should be that rich.
AL: Louder for people at the back, as you say?
MM: Yeah, did everyone hear? Yeah, we need to— did I say eat the rich or no one should be that rich?
AL: I think it doesn’t matter. They’re sort of synonymous.
MM: It’s synonymous. But we also have to think about the ways in which governments are moving to create exclusions and conditions to support, and creating a set of boundaries that really are so inhumane and so dehumanizing. People have to prove that they’re at peak suffering in order to be eligible for dignity. And we’ve been saying this about climate work for a very long time. The conversation we’re having with regards to racism, with regards to wealth inequality, with regards to borders is not what it seems to be. We’re having a conversation about who is worthy of surviving, and that is playing out in real time. And it’s really important that people tune really closely into that, because spoiler alert: we are going after, with gusto, all of the communities who have always and are currently keeping us alive right now. People who are producing our food, who are working in grocery stores; migrant farm workers; live in caregivers. You know, all these people who are literally putting their lives on the line — not because they want to — because they have been forced to. And then they’re being denied aid, when really we only have one major exclusion that we should have when we’re talking about bailouts, and that’s billionaires and big corporations. That is the only exclusion we should be having about who is eligible for dignity and aid and support.
AL: Put that hand back in that corporate pocket. We don’t need to be handing that out. I think that’s true and I think we’re only at the beginning of this. This crisis is launching a long period of economic crisis, and I think one of the most sinister things that I’ve been learning from Naomi’s new research, and she spoke about this in our interview, is the emergence of the tech giants — of the Amazons and Googles and Facebooks, that are really in a position of maximum profitability right now and will be influencing the policy environment in a deep way and paired with this new offer that they’re making, with driverless cars and ultimate delivery services, of the kind of rebranding of digital services as touchless or human free services, that the new offer from from the tech sector is really, really sinister. So, first of all, I think we need to consider and get in focus the social and political implications of bodies as things to be feared and the exploitation of that in this narrative of the de-materialized economy that Naomi was talking about. It’s not a good thing. It further invisibilizes the human, which is always a bad thing, but also it’s not even true. No matter how invisible the service or how drone-like or driverless the delivery system, there is human labor in every product and service. That’s what gives it its value and makes it possible. And so these developments playing and praying on the fear of contagion that the tech sector is going to be making increasingly about the de-materialized services, these are very bad developments. And they make it harder for us to put humans back in the equation so that we can fight alongside each other for all of these basic rights, Maya, that you’re talking about.
MM: And this is such a strategic politicking that’s happening, this erasure of human beings as workers. Let’s shout out it was May Day recently. This is an erasure of workers: of the very workers that keep us alive. And so we have to really tackle that narrative wherever we see it pop up. And for me, that’s really also been popping up exactly where you’re saying, Avi, in all of the Amazon talk, in all of the “I order my groceries and no one will touch them.” Who do you think packed them? But also about renting housing, like people are wringing their hands about, “Oh, what about the landlords?” Let’s be clear, we’re not talking about your grandma who’s renting out her basement. We’re not talking about her. Most housing that people live in today, especially tenants, of which there are millions upon millions upon millions of people who do not own homes anymore. They’re not owned by mom and pop shops. They’re owned by massive, multibillion dollar corporations that have investments in hundreds and hundreds of properties. It’s not everyday people that are being hardest hit when it comes to being landlords. It’s massive corporations. And so when we’re thinking about how support is reaching people, why is this going to bosses? Why is this going to people that own hundreds of properties all over the country? If you want to help people, support people directly, and we need a bailout that will put cash directly into people’s hands, and we need a system of support, and we talk about this in the People’s Bailout calls to action, that actually creates a system where people are not put further into debt during and after the worst humps of this pandemic. How can you have to pay off interest when you didn’t have an income, on a house that you couldn’t afford anyways? That makes no sense for renters. So I think that there’s a lot of really important things that we need to take up there. But I think it is important to remember that corporations are being let off the hook for this, right? The Cheesecake Factory is saying that they’re not gonna paying rent. Staples is saying they’re not going to pay rent. Some airlines are not paying rent on where they’re housing their planes. So why are we?
AL: Rent Strike, Mortgage strike and Jubilee.
MM: And Jubilee.
AL: One thing I was happy that we got to in the conversation with Naomi is the sense of the political possibilities here, and just listening to you Maya, I’m thinking this stuff seems really self evident now to many, many more people who have been put in touch with what precariousness really looks like through this crisis, and who are getting a taste of what it’s like to be vulnerable. And the big, wishy washy, massive middle class of North America and Europe, which is increasingly illusory in true economic terms as neoliberalism bites deeper and deeper. But people who never consider themselves vulnerable are feeling vulnerability, and there’s a huge opportunity for solidarity in that. And there’s also this sense that Naomi touched on, that all that is solid melts into air, that walls that have hemmed us in for decades: big change is too expensive. Governments don’t have money. Deficits have to be paid. People aren’t willing to just radically change the way they live to respond to some remote crisis like climate change. You know, those things. That’s just clearly bullshit now. And those walls that have hemmed in big social change are evaporating in this moment where everything is at stake and bailouts are happening for corporations. But also policies are being won for people, and fighting for change really matters right now, because so many of the constraints are coming off, and so it feels like a moment of maximum possibility as well, and a really important time not to lose our nerve. To have maximum solidarity across borders and around the world as more and more people are, to some degree, experiencing the same crisis.
MM: Well, this is the big part of the Shock Doctrine, right? And it’s why we have to move quickly to demand the world, because everything is up for grabs. And it’s really, really critically important that we don’t lose the long term framing. In that vein, we’ve actually been working for a really long time now on a Global Green New Deal project with partners from all across the globe. And we are going to launch that in the next couple of weeks. So we’re really excited to be doing that. We’re gonna be partnering with a wonderful organization in the UK called War On Want. We encourage you to tune in and follow The Leap’s work as we battle it out for a Global Green New Deal that leaves absolutely nobody behind.
MM: Just wanna end with saying I am very grateful that we get to do work like this. I think it’s becoming really apparent how lucky we are, and that with people with so much privilege in this situation and to still have paid work that largely, in a lot of sad ways hasn’t changed, to try and do work that feels the most helpful to people around us. Doing this type of work feels good, and to try and support folks that are doing really critical life saving work on the ground. With that, I want to take a moment to direct folks to the Resource page of peoplesbailout.ca. If you go to the bottom of each of the sectors that we’re working on, you’ll see links to organizations ground organizing communities that are mobilizing for change and have a lot of ways that you can participate digitally or with socially distanced actions. So please take a moment and read through them and send them to your friends and encourage people, if you can, to get involved in ways that feel good for you. And also, on that note, if you’re able to support our show, and we know that it is very hard out there for a lot of folks and different for different people, so if you can’t, that’s OK, but if you can or you know anyone who can and you appreciate the show, please log onto Patreon. You can support us with a couple bucks a month or whatever you can give. Everything that comes in goes to the folks who edit and produce Change Everything. So check out the show notes on how you can support the show if you can. Visit us at patreon.com/changeeverything.
AL: Thanks for that, Maya. And a big echo. I feel the same. This episode of Change Everything was produced by Rajiv Sicora and edited and mixed by Brad Tigwell and Jeremy Kessler. Change Everything was developed with Andrea Schmidt at What Escapes production, and a special thanks this show to bread.