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Naomi Klein on the "rolling shock politics" of the Trump era


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In the Village Voice, Nick Pinto interviews Naomi Klein about her new book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. In the interview, Klein warns against treating Trump as an unprecedented political phenomenon, and describes his “rolling shock” tactics, designed to ram through radically conservative policy while the public is distracted by his antics. Here’s an excerpt from the interview

Naomi Klein: …I also wanted to put Trump in context, because the thing about shocking moments is they cause people to doubt what they already know. There’s something inherently dangerous in this idea that “we’ve never seen anything like this before.” You think about the 9/11 moment and this idea of “pre-9/11 thinking” — the idea that everything you thought you knew no longer applies. And that’s when people are at their weakest. We’re all strongest when we have some context in which to put what’s happening.

Village Voice: You talk in The Shock Doctrine about the evolution of shock tactics as first an opportunistic thing, in which advocates of neoliberal reform are waiting for a shocking event to occur so they can ram through their agenda, and then how the tactic evolved in some instances to actually precipitating a shock in order to capitalize on it. And now we’ve got Trump, who is the shock made flesh.

NK: A rolling shock.

VV: So is that just a difference of degree or a difference in kind? What does it mean for how we react when the shock is the president?

NK: Trump has always understood the value of distraction, since the Eighties, when he turned this city into a tableau for his live-action soap opera and called it The Trump Show. Now the whole world’s watching The Trump Show. But the rolling shock of the chaos and spectacle, the series of gasps that the last six months have been have created this context in which it is possible to advance an extraordinarily radical economic agenda and have it barely register as a footnote. I don’t think that the Republicans had any idea how good Trump was going to be for them. They were panicked at first, but this has turned out to be a whole new model for getting what they want.

The scary thing is that Trump’s own rolling shock isn’t going to be the end of the story. There will be external shocks that these guys will try to exploit, because their policies are going to produce them. The Muslim travel ban, which is intensely provocative, ending Dodd-Frank regulations, gutting environmental regulations — these are all things that tend to produce crises. We have to be ready for how they’re going to try to exploit those crises when they come.

Image via Village Voice.