Denialism of Another Kind...
Or How Naomi Klein Lets Capitalism Off the Hook

by Raymond Lotta



Naomi Klein’s new book On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal offers up a deceptive and dangerous “denialism.” Not climate-change denialism—she’s clear and compelling on the reality of global warming. But rather a willful denial of the root cause of the environmental emergency: the system of capitalism-imperialism. And a willful refusal to come to grips with what it will actually take for humanity to have a real chance to confront and act on this crisis: a revolution to overthrow this capitalist-imperialist system and that goes on to forge a socialist society and economy that can sustainably interact with nature and serve the emancipation of humanity.

The following passages are from the Introduction and Epilogue to On Fire.

Claim #1: “Humanity has a once-in-a-century chance to fix an economic model that is failing the majority of people on multiple fronts” [emphasis added].

Reality Check: Klein uses the term “economic model” to signify a type or variant of capitalism (which she often describes as “neoliberal,” “deregulated,” “disaster”). But the problem is not a particular type of capitalism waiting to be redesigned, repurposed, or reformed. What underlies the plunder and devastation of the planet is the economic system of capitalism-imperialism that has built-in and defining features and dynamics. It is a system of private ownership of the means of production (factories, technology, land, and other raw materials, etc.)—of huge agglomerations of capital, backed by an imperialist state—a system with a stranglehold over the potential of human society in today’s world to meet social need, end all exploitation and oppression, and safeguard the planet. It is a system driven by the anarchic, competitive pursuit of profit and more profit, based on the exploitation of billions on this planet.

Capitalism-imperialism has an inner compulsion to expand or die. General Motors and Toyota compete for new markets and to cheapen production... Huawei competes with European telecoms for technological advantage and monopoly. This is a system in which rival great powers, like the U.S and China, contend for global control and dominance over regions, resources, technology, and labor—and for military superiority.

Klein points out, quite correctly, that in the 30 years since “world leaders” first started holding conferences to address global warming, CO2 emissions have in fact risen by more than 40 percent. But true to form, she refuses to draw the right conclusion. This rise in emissions has everything to do with the workings and nature of the beast: the capitalist-imperialist system. With its global supply chains of horrendous super-exploitation in the Third World and with its global transport of that thrive on fossil fuels for their profitability. With the vast military apparatus of the U.S. empire that runs on fossil fuel for its deadly reach and mobility. And this expand-or-die system of production that turns everything into a commodity treats nature as a cost-free input to be poured into production for profit.

Klein wants you to believe that all this is the product of a faulty “model” that we should organize to adjust. But capitalism cannot be” fixed” to serve humanity and safeguard the planet. It must be overthrown and replaced with a radically different and liberating new system.

Claim #2: “The New Deal, the World War II mobilizations, and the Marshall Plan all remind us that another approach to profound crisis was always possible and still is today. Faced with the collective emergencies that punctuated those decades, the response was to enlist entire societies, from individual consumers to workers to large manufacturers to every level of government, in deep with clear common goals...”

Reality Check: “Common goals”? You’ve got to be kidding. The New Deal was a ruling-class response to an economic and social crisis that threatened the foundations of capitalism.1 It was designed to rescue capitalism—the large corporations and the banking system—and to stave off the possibility of revolution by introducing certain social programs. The New Deal under Roosevelt morphed into a war economy serving a war of conquest, a war for greater empire. Klein is inspired by and repeats the official narrative of this imperialist/chauvinist mobilization. The dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima... the post-World War 2 order of dollar supremacy and privileged access to raw materials... the U.S. interventions and client regimes... genocidal wars... but with unionization and higher living standards for Americans—this is “deep transformation.”2

Claim #3: “There are... all kinds of ways to raise financing [for green technologies], including means that attack untenable levels of wealth concentration and shift the burden to those most responsible for climate pollution....And then there is the military...If the military budgets of the top ten military spenders in the world were cut by 25 percent, that would free up $325 billion annually.”

Reality Check: Notice what stays in place in Klein’s “bold vision”: the capitalist ruling class and capitalist ownership and production—but with a less “untenable” distribution of wealth. What stays in place is the monstrous imperialist military—now operating with a leaner budget (hey, they use solar power at Guantánamo). In short, the empire remains intact! (Read here why the “Green New Deal” is part of the problem.)

Claim #4: “In tackling the climate crisis, we can create hundreds of millions of good jobs around the world, invest in the most excluded communities and nations, and guarantee healthcare and childcare and much more.”

Reality Check: This is a fantasyland of a capitalism that has never existed, that delivers meaningful jobs for all (with a click of a switch for a “fix”). And who is this “we” and who is the “investor” that Klein waxes poetic about? If you have not overthrown this system and defeated its military and created a whole new economic system based on socialist ownership and conscious planning for the betterment of humanity and protection of the planet—that “we” can only be the same fucking capitalist-imperialist system that plunders the planet...dressed up “green.”

And she lets the cat out of the bag: In a recent interview about On Fire, Naomi Klein offers this putrid reflection on the current moment: “I’m renewed by this new generation that is so determined, so forceful. I’m inspired by the willingness to engage in electoral politics, because my generation, when we were in our 20s and 30s, there was so much suspicion with getting our hands dirty with electoral politics that we lost a lot of opportunities.” There you have it: an ode to, a prescription for, the dead-end of bourgeois electoral bullshit, keeping people in the political vise-grip of the very system that produced this crisis. At a time when a new generation of high school students and young people has taken to the streets and declared the bankruptcy of world leaders... at a time when time is running out to save the planet.

Reality check: there is a real solution. The house is on fire. Global warming is endangering human life, all life, and the planet itself. To fight the fire, you need a scientific understanding of what is causing it and how to put it out. It exists. There is a strategy for an actual revolution to put an end to this system. Watch the film of Bob Avakian’s talk Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. And there is a vision and a blueprint for an economy and society that give humanity our only shot, not a guarantee but our only chance, to deal with the environmental emergency on the scale and with the urgency needed, and on a truly emancipatory basis: the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America authored by Bob Avakian and Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development.


1. See “Watch What You Wish For… FDR’s New Deal and the American Empire” at  [back]

2. On Klein’s fondness for the U.S. imperialist Marshall Plan instituted after World War 2, see “Naomi Klein’s 'This Changes Everything' vs. Actually Confronting the Climate Crisis” at  [back]

The Destruction of the Planet by Capitalism-Imperialism

A clip from the speech by Bob Avakian: Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution
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Amazon rainforest burning, 2019

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America
(Draft Proposal)

Authored by Bob Avakian, and adopted by the Central Committee of the RCP

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How Would a Revolutionary Socialist Society Address the Environmental Emergency? Excerpts from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America


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