17 Group: ‘This Changes Everything’

The next meeting of the 17 Group will be on Wednesday the 1st of July at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End. It will be a discussion of the issues raised by Naomi Klein’s 2014 book This Changes Everything, about the impossibility of dealing with climate change without getting rid of neo-liberal capitalism. This will be introduced by the video of a lecture about her book given by Naomi Klein at Cambridge Forum on Thursday, October 16, 2014.

After the video the discussion will be led off with brief remarks by three people who have just read the book, Ynes Sanz, Merv Partridge, and Dan O’Neill.

Klein has been exploring the interface between environmental degradation and capitalism since her first book, No Logo, appeared in 1999. Her provocative new book, This Changes Everything, argues that carbon is not the ultimate cause of climate change; the real enemy is capitalism. She provides a far-reaching explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems. Who benefits from the status quo? How deeply are the current power structures embedded in our political economy? How difficult will it be change them?

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of The New York Times and international bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, which The New York Times called “a movement bible.”

She is a contributing editor for Harper’s and reporter for Rolling Stone, and writes a regular column for The Nation and The Guardian that is syndicated internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. In 2004, her reporting from Iraq for Harper’s won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Additionally, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail, El Pais, L’Espresso and The New Statesman, among many other publications. A collection of her writing, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate was published in 2002. Klein is a member of the board of directors for 350.org, a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics. In 2014 she received the International Studies Association’s IPE Outstanding Activist-Scholar award.

This talk was filmed at First Parish in Cambridge on Thursday, October 16, 2014.

This far from gruntled look on Leon’s face when we visited him about this meeting was because he’d been googling himself on things like climate and ecology and so on and had found this outrageous link:


He brightened up momentarily on finding a site with someone saying this:

“But, then, we should all remember that quote attributed to Leon Trotsky: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” Well, you may not be interested in climate change, but climate change is interested in you.”

But then he abruptly resumed disgruntlement when he was reminded by someone on another site of this none-too-green stuff that he had certainly written in 1924 in Literature and Revolution:

“The present distribution of mountains and rivers, of fields, of meadows, of steppes, of forests, and of seashores, cannot be considered final. Man has already made changes in the map of nature that are not few nor insignificant. But they are mere pupils’ practice in comparison with what is coming. Faith merely promises to move mountains; but technology, which takes nothing ‘on faith’, is actually able to cut down mountains and move them. Up to now this was done for industrial purposes (mines) or for railways (tunnels); in the future this will be done on an immeasurably larger scale, according to a general industrial and artistic plan. Man will occupy himself with re-registering mountains and rivers, and will earnestly and repeatedly make improvements in nature. In the end, he will have rebuilt the earth, if not in his own image, at least according to his own taste. We have not the slightest fear that this taste will be bad….”

“Of course,” he said, with a curiously awkward Bob Dylanish gesture, “I’m younger than that now…” When we left he’d at least stopped googling and was opening the copy of Klein we had left with him, so who knows? This could be the time. But come yourself anyway.

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