Like her namesake, mathematical oddity the Klein bottle, activist and anti-capitalist writer Naomi Klein is something of a paradox. Her latest book is This Changes Everything and is described in melodramatic language by someone at Canada’s CBC:
An existential crisis for the human species, a clear and present danger to civilization, a death sentence for the planet, a weapon of mass destruction: these are just some of the phrases you will find in Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything. The book is a wake-up call about the state of the environment.
Ms. Klein argues that nothing else matters – war, pestilence, disease, economic collapse – if we don’t have clean air to breathe and water to drink. But we seem to be sleep-walking en masse towards a point of no return.
Meanwhile, Naomi (as the rest of us head for the point of no return) is busily criss-crossing the northern hemisphere in order to promote said book, which will be available for filthy lucre at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many another retail establishment – here’s her schedule. Now, her website doesn’t tell us exactly how she will traverse the globe from Portland (1st October) to London (6th October), for example, but odds are that fossil fuels and modern capitalism in 101 different guises will play a not inconsiderable part in her travels – propelling, providing for, supporting and enriching her at every moment.
It strikes me that Naomi and others like her wouldn’t really want a world without fossil fuels and global capitalism, should it actually threaten to come to pass – they might say so but their actions generally reveal otherwise. Rather than being foreign bodies, they seem more like symbionts or parasites within the system they profess to disparage, inhabiting a comfortable anti-capitalist niche in the wider global economy. Hence the Klein bottle paradox – inside is outside and outside is inside, as it were, and hence the contradictions of someone travelling great distances to sell a book that tells the rest of us we shouldn’t be travelling great distances to sell stuff.