A review of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: the Many Faces of Anonymous, by Gabriella Coleman. First published at TeleSUR English.

On December 17, independent journalist Barrett Brown, who has been in jail for two years without trial, had his first sentencing hearing (see the report by The Intercept). Barrett Brown was threatened with one hundred years in prison for analyzing documents that were hacked from private security companies HBGary and Stratfor. Brown never hacked anything – he received the documents and was reporting on them.

Interesting points emerge from a posting by Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who reacted to the sentencing hearing. Assange pointed out that the charges against Brown were of two kinds: the first, pertaining to his reporting on the Stratfor documents, which should be protected under free expression. The other, pertaining to things he said when the FBI threatened to charge his mother unless he turned over his source material. The worst thing Brown said about the FBI agent was a tweet that read, “illegally shoot the son of a bitch”. Assange pointed out that this tweet was Brown quoting Fox News’s Bob Beckel, who called for Assange’s assassination. (Assange posted this link as proof.) Beckel has faced no FBI investigation, no legal consequences, no arrests. Barrett Brown, who quoted him, has been in jail for two years and is threatened with many more. Brown and his lawyers have gag orders against them – the prosecution told the court that Brown has shown “intent to continue to manipulate the public through press and social media comments,” thus undermining the enormously powerful government’s right to a fair chance of obtaining a harsh conviction against this independent journalist.

The Stratfor emails got into Barrett Brown’s possession by way of Jeremy Hammond, a hacker who is now serving a 10-year sentence for stealing the secrets of the private intelligence company. Stratfor is a part of a $350 billion security industry that seamlessly links government, police, and private intelligence networks. The Stratfor emails provided, in Gabriella Coleman’s words, “solid nuggets of proof that Stratfor profited from morally dubious practices, such as corporate propaganda dressed as public relations and the monitoring of activists.” One of Stratfor’s founders, Ronald Duchin, devised the “Duchin formula” for attacking movements, published by journalist Steve Horn and quoted in Coleman’s book: “isolate the radicals, ‘cultivate’ the idealists and ‘educate’ them into becoming realists. Then co-opt the realists in agreeing with industry.”

Government and corporate intelligence agencies are extraordinarily non-transparent. What the public knows about them is known almost entirely because of hackers like Hammond and Assange, independent journalists like Brown (and Poitras and Greenwald), and whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden. People like Hammond, Snowden, and Manning took tremendous risks to get these materials to the public, and Hammond and Manning and Brown, among others, are suffering greatly for it.

Neither Hammond nor Manning were caught because they made technical mistakes, even though both of them obtained their data through some technically sophisticated means. Manning’s mistake was befriending someone named Adrian Lamo, who informed on her to the FBI. Hammond was a part of Anonymous, and interacted throughout the hacks with Hector Monsegur, aka “Sabu”, who helped entrap Hammond and many other hackers when Sabu became an FBI informant.

But the arrests and jail terms were not the end of Anonymous. Anonymous’s main twitter feed, @YourAnonNews, has 1.36 million followers. Having maintained a media presence for years, Anonymous is now a powerful media organization in its own right. In addition to the Stratfor hacks, Anonymous can claim credit for exposing abusive police during Occupy, for exposing rapists and rape culture in Canada and the US, and for participating in the Arab Spring in operations against Tunisia’s dictatorship. They are currently highly active against murderous police in the US, in Ferguson and NYC. They have an uncanny ability to land on the side of the oppressed, even where many progressives flounder – as in Israel’s recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.

As the arrests and jail sentences show, Anonymous is just as subject to vengeance by the powerful as any other group of activists in history. And yet, Anonymous’s mystique is hard to resist: the Guy Fawkes masks, the idea of some huge number of people everywhere, with extraordinary technical skills, able to frighten the powerful, avenge wrongs, and get away with it. How could anyone begin to understand such a phenomenon?

The starting point would be to do what Gabriella Coleman did for her book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: the Many Faces of Anonymous: spending time in the Anonymous’s IRC chat rooms, getting to know them, studying what they do and how they do it. Coleman’s methods are anthropological, the same methods she used in her previous book, Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. In Hacker, Hoaxer, Coleman helps her readers make sense of the bewildering array of actions, statements, and reprisals that have occurred in this relatively new field of activism and the unique group that has brought it so much attention.

Coleman shows how Anonymous emerged from what she calls some of the most “abject forms of trolling”, in which people anonymously did bizarre and malicious things on the internet, just for the lulz (a variation of “lols”, or “laughs out loud”). She explains the idea of the lulz the way an anthropologist would: in terms of a universal trickster figure present in most human cultures. The internet trolling done by the precursors of Anonymous, like that done in stories of mythological stories of tricksters, is mischievous, malicious, and not obviously done for any gain by the trickster (or troll). But when the lulz-seeking behaviour was turned against the powerful, what emerged was something very interesting indeed.

It started, as Coleman documents, with a campaign against the church of Scientology – a lulzy campaign that got more serious as Anons learned more about Scientology’s outrages. Anonymous’s Tunisia operations were the next big step, and Coleman immortalizes the IRC chat log of the decision to attack the Tunisian dictatorship’s servers:

: why are we hitting up tunisia?

: Because they’e just passed a law which says the media can’t say what they want and banned them from mentioning wikileaks

: K-rad, thank you! time to own tunisia then

Coleman follows Anonymous through the Tunisia operations, through the formation of specialized hacker groups LulzSec and AntiSec (because not all Anons are hackers), through to the FBI attacks on Anonymous and the arrests of many of its members, much of which was due to entrapment by the FBI informant Sabu.

In addition to the lulzy, trickster aspect of Anonymous, Coleman describes and explains several other fascinating aspects of the Anons. One of the most powerful aspects is the way the Anons eschew celebrity culture and apply severe social pressure to those who try to use Anonymous to become famous or build their own names. This built-in disavowal of celebrity culture, I believe, helps explain Anonymous’s credibility and, despite some of its more “abject trolling”, it also helps explain how a group of tricksters and hackers can somehow become a moral voice on a chaotic, celebrity-obsessed, and increasingly proprietary internet. Exerting effort to be anonymous on the internet is also good privacy and security practice, another issue that Anonymous has brought to light (as have activist collectives like Riseup and non-anonymous people like Lawrence Lessig, Bruce Schneier, and Richard Stallman).

In all of these respects – mischief and trickery directed at the right targets; eschewing celebrity culture; fighting for freedom and for anonymity on the internet – Anonymous shows us all, and especially leftists, things we can learn.

And in this context, Helen Lewis’s review of Hacker, Hoaxer for the New Statesman misses the point. There is much more to Anonymous, and much more to Coleman’s book, than the fact that the Anons don’t know one another, and much more to their exploits than what happened with Sabu and the FBI. Counterposing Anonymous with the “strong ties” cited by Malcolm Gladwell in a New Yorker essay about the civil rights movement, as Lewis does, doesn’t make sense. There have been very strong ties indeed (up to and including marriages, Coleman cites) made in Anonymous. And the FBI has destroyed movements based on personal relationships and strong ties using the same methods they used against the Anons: infiltration, entrapment, suborning people and turning them into informants. Finally, the civil rights movement was a different era. As Lawrence Lessig argued in his lecture about Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide when he faced 35 years for taking journal articles from a university server because he wanted to make scientific research universally accessible (transcript here):

“Compare: Martin Luther King, the civil disobedient, was arrested on scores of misdemeanors. He was only ever charged with two felonies and acquitted by an all-white jury of those two felonies because the basis for the claims were so outrageous. He did jail time, scores of days in jail. Compare him with Aaron, charged with 13 felonies, giving a federal judge the right to sentence him to up to 35 years in jail.”

Given the shocking prosecutorial zealotry in cases against hackers, it is hard to fault Anonymous (or Assange or Snowden) for not wanting to get caught trying to make the world a better place. And, as Coleman points out, even after Sabu and the FBI raids, quite a few Anons never did get caught, and are still out there.

Coleman’s book helps us understand Anonymous by revealing it to be another form of political activism: people coming together to try to fight for a better world, using, in this case, their computers and direct action, sometimes illegally (as people who do civil disobedience do). Their fights – for free expression in a world of suppression, for privacy in a world of universal surveillance, for the non-alienated use of technology in a world of corporate control, against the abuse of power in a world of police and corporate impunity – are not going away. Neither will the system, which depends on people to run it, ever be completely invulnerable against people who develop skills within it and hold on to some semblance of their conscience. There will be a need for Anonymous for the foreseeable future. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, can show you where it came from.

Anti-Authoritarian Current: A Review of Dixon’s Another Politics

First published on TeleSUR 16 December 2014

In Another Politics, Chris Dixon presents a part of the North American left, defining it early on in the book as the “anti-authoritarian current”. A significant part of the book is dedicated to defining this current, its ideology, and its practices. Dixon is explicit about being a part of this current, and while the book raises some of the dilemmas and internal criticisms of the current, it is largely a celebration of the current’s beliefs and methods.

How is the current defined? Dixon identifies three strands: Antiracist feminism, prison abolitionism, and anarchism. Antiracist feminism is Dixon’s summary for what is sometimes called intersectional analysis or anti-oppression politics: the idea that there are multiple oppressions, along lines of gender, race, and class, and that true liberation requires liberation from all of these oppressions. Moreover, in this current, none of these oppressions can be assigned a place of primacy over the others. Prison abolitionism is “a set of politics aimed at the complete elimination of the institutions of incarceration” (pg. 38). On anarchism, Dixon emphasizes that this current is defined by a “reconfigured anarchism”, a bundle of features fusing “consensus decision-making, affinity groups, and direct action”, “a strongly prefigurative movement culture based on working together collectively, sharing resources equitably, challenging power relations, and supporting one another”, “along with a commitment to egalitarianism, mutual aid, and freedom as well as a far-reaching critique of domination.” The “glue that largely held it all together was a shared counterculture and template of activities” (pg. 42).

After defining these three strands, Dixon goes on to further define the current according to four “antis”: anti-authoritarianism, anti-capitalism, anti-oppression, and anti-imperialism. The four “antis” help define what the current is against; a chapter on prefigurative politics discusses the positive aspirations of the current as its members try to redefine relations within their groups as they challenge oppressive institutions in society.

Dixon traces the lineage of the anti-authoritarian current to North American left movements and organizations of past decades. For the book, Dixon interviewed dozens of members of the current across North America and studied dozens of existing organizations (listed at the end of the book pg. 239). Organizations whose work and analysis is given special emphasis in the book include: No One Is Illegal, Colours of Resistance, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. As a member of the political current under study, Dixon states that the research borrows from:

“’ethnography’ (analyzing lived culture by experiencing it), ‘participant observation’ (understanding how and why people do what they do by participating it), and ‘oral history’ (gathering history by inviting and listening to people’s stories). However, none of these methods has fully satisfied me, largely because they still rest on inside/outside distinctions between movements and researchers.” (pg. 12)

As the title of Dixon’s blog (http://writingwithmovements.com/) suggests, Dixon’s interest is in “writing not about or even for but with movements”. (pg. 12)

Dixon’s attempt to remove the “inside/outside distinction between movements and researchers” raises some philosophical questions: what is the role of an individual’s thoughts, or contributions, in the anti-authoritarian current? Another Politics has a high proportion of quotes from members of the current. Dixon’s writing practice is to lend weight to other voices. But it is clear that the interview subjects, the organizations, and the quotes were all selected by Dixon, and the presentation of Another Politics is Dixon’s vision of these politics.

Another philosophical question arises: can someone who writes with movements, who refuses inside/outside distinctions, be critical enough to challenge these movements? Can movement weaknesses and failings be seen from that inside position of a writer who writes with movements? On the other side, can criticisms of movements from the outside be ignored based on their outside origins?

Certainly the book is full of self-criticism, by both the author and the interview subjects. Pitfalls to prefigurative politics mentioned include “getting fixated on particular forms of talking rather than how those forms are connected to practical activities”, as “when organizers… master specialized anti-oppression vocabulary without substantially changing how their organizations function,” (pg. 98) or of focusing “narrowly on anti-oppression politics as a fixed set of behaviors and understandings that we can grasp individually, rather than as a dynamic set of politics, practices, and sensibilities” (pg. 100). What results is “absolutism”, involving “scrutinizing one another’s behavior, creating our own status hierarchies, and excluding those who don’t live up to our righteous standards” (pg. 101).

Pitfalls to the current’s strategic thinking include “a tendency to focus on principles over plans”. Based on “a legitimate concern that radicals may sacrifice our core values in order to win”, “focusing exclusively on principles slips into a kind of magical thinking” (pg. 111). Another strategic weakness is “a tendency to fetishize particular tactics”, especially direct action. Since the 1990s, “a narrow understanding of this tactical approach has gained some popularity among radicals. This mainly involves street protests and confrontations and confrontations with police, often including black bloc tactics.” (pg. 113) While “there is nothing wrong, in principle, with any of these tactics,” radicals can get stuck, “focusing most of our attention on debating the validity of certain tactics rather than on considering how those tactics fit into overall plans to achieve something” (pg. 113). Finally, Dixon criticizes “crisis mode organizing”, a tendency to work on urgent problems at the expense of long-term strategy (pg. 114).

Another Politics offers some thoughts towards addressing these pitfalls. The solution to the problems of prefigurative politics, Dixon proposes, is to remember that “prefigurative praxis… is genuinely transformative only as long as it is part of movements that are fighting to win a new world” (pg. 105). As for the strategic pitfalls, Dixon proposes a “movement-building orientation”, including anti-authoritarian notions of leadership that go beyond patriarchal notions of charismatic (usually male) individuals who lead organizations, and organizations that go “beyond subcultures and service providers” (pg. 139).

In a section about “minding the ruts” (pg. 201), Dixon criticizes traditional left organizational forms: the political party, the revolutionary party, the NGO, and the affinity group – all of which are one or another kind of “rut”. Here, Another Politics admits that organizations that don’t fall into these ruts are “something that another politics doesn’t yet fully have – a way to be critical, conscious, creative and constructive in how we approach organizational structures” (pg. 207).

Another Politics is well-organized and well-researched, a comprehensive look at the anti-authoritarian current in North America. As a result, the book’s limitations are really the limitations of the current itself. I, too, see myself as part of this current. But my assessment of the current’s doctrine and practice is less positive, and less optimistic than Dixon’s.

While I agree with most of the self-criticisms posed in Another Politics, I believe that the problems mentioned in the book (self-destructive internal dynamics and deficits of strategy) have been a major brake on political progress within the current and, thinking in terms of missed opportunities, in the society as well. If, as Another Politics reports, the anti-authoritarian current came into its own in the 1990s, this means that the current has been active for some two decades. In that period, established power has become stronger, inequalities have increased, union organization has declined, the political spectrum has shifted to the right, and US intervention has destroyed several countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Haiti, Libya, Syria). It would be terribly unfair to attribute these declines to a set of small groups of radicals in North America’s major cities, of course. But decades ago, when we were becoming politically active, the anti-authoritarian current defined itself against not only the systems of oppression in society, but also against the established left. Now, the anti-authoritarian current is becoming the establishment: in the two bases of the current, nonprofits and the academy, left politics are defined by the anti-authoritarian current more than any other rival left currents (such as old socialists). Another Politics reflects the anti-authoritarian current’s youthful attitude, arguing on the basis of potential and that the best is yet to come. I fear that our record so far does not match this prediction.

Part of the anti-authoritarian current’s limitations have to do with the lack of a base. The organizational forms mentioned as “ruts”, especially political parties, have been disdained by the activists of the anti-authoritarian current. But before that current even came into its own, the left had been largely kicked out of political parties and then kicked out of unions. Today, most Another Politics-type radicals in North America work through nonprofits or on campuses, both of which have severe limitations. The lost history of radicals in elected office is told in books like Eric Leif Davin’s Radicals in Power (2012), and Lipset and Marks’ It Didn’t Happen Here (2013). Some radical victories through unionism are discussed in Pizzigatti’s The Rich Don’t Always Win (2012). Another Politics devotes pages to discussing the pitfalls of sectarianism and the importance of a non-sectarian approach, but the anti-authoritarian current has been as sectarian as any other left current, which has meant that these other histories have not been incorporated into the anti-authoritarian current’s thinking.

In other words, if Another Politics is based on writing with movements, it could have offered a much stronger challenge to those movements. It is clear to me that there is a great deal to be learned before the left in North America is up to the task it is faced with. We learn more to the extent that we are willing to be uncomfortable. To the extent that Another Politics is celebratory, it makes its movement readers comfortable rather than uncomfortable, and it misses opportunities to make criticism and proposals that could strengthen movements.

Another Politics has a tension within it. On the one hand, it is trying to explain the movement – of which Dixon is a part – to outsiders, with all of its features, many of which are an important part of the author’s political identity. In these parts, Dixon writes like someone who is just discovering these remarkable people and organizations, and who is greatly impressed by them. On the other hand, Another Politics is written for the anti-authoritarian current, trying to show its members what kinds of dilemmas and problems its activists are thinking about. In these parts of the book, Dixon writes very gently and emphasizes that the weaknesses and pitfalls that are raised are in the process of being worked out.

The movement audience for the book could benefit from more discussion of our failures and limitations, as well as Dixon’s own thoughts and speculations about how to get beyond them, even if these thoughts go beyond what Dixon’s interviewees say.

In building up a picture of the common points and ideas of the current, Another Politics also left me wondering about areas of difference among members of the current. Such differences are the seeds of future splits and internal conflicts, and they, too, deserve more space.

Despite these criticisms, Another Politics is an invaluable snapshot of the North American left today. In recent years, a number of studies have attempted to measure the state of the left in North America. Alex Khasnabish’s 2008 book, Zapatismo Beyond Borders, followed North American radicals influenced by the Zapatistas of Mexico. The Ear to the Ground Project (http://eartothegroundproject.org/) is another massive initiative that is still yielding results. Dixon’s Another Politics is an important contribution in this literature. To understand the state of the left in North America, in all its aspirations and its limitations, Another Politics is an important book.

The Power of Crazy Ideas: A review of Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’

A review of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein (Simon and Schuster, 2014), 576 pgs.

Review first published at TeleSUR

Sources of misery in the world are difficult to rank, but any short list would have to include inequality, war, and environmental degradation. People who are concerned about inequality and war have historically been called leftists. Those who are concerned about the planet have been called environmentalists. Over the decades, they have distrusted one another, and synthesis has been elusive.

Environmentalists have argued that waiting for “the revolution” in order to try to save species from extinction, or prevent the planet from boiling over because of climate change, is denying the urgency of environmental problems. They have argued that, given the urgency of environmental problems, we have to use whatever mechanisms are available to us, from high-tech solutions to market mechanisms, to rich philanthropists. They point to spectacular environmental failures by the communist governments of China and Russia, as well as to numerous failures by left-leaning social democratic governments. They note how worker’s unions, who try to preserve work and jobs, can campaign to do so at the expense of nature.

On the other side, leftists see environmentalists as willing to displace people from their lands in order to preserve species against human influence and create biological reserves that are, in theory, inaccessible to anyone, but in practice, are usually accessible to elite tourists and scientists. They see environmentalists as willing to accept compromises with elites in ways that ultimately compromise not only left, but also environmental values. They view the concerns of humans as primary, and other species as a much more distant concern, which many environmentalists do not understand.

Some of the views environmentalists and leftists hold about one another are true, others are caricatures, and still others might be true now but could potentially change through dialogue and common action. Such a dialogue is urgent, since the planet, and the people, have the same enemy.

Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything is a step towards such a synthesis. It is interesting that the synthesis came from a writer of the left who spent years studying and working with the environmental movement, and becoming a part of it. Though Klein’s personal journey to meeting and joining the environmental movement, is described in the book, it is fundamentally an analysis and synthesis of the problem of climate change as a problem for social movements (or, in other words, as a problem for leftists).

Klein’s method of writing, which was followed in her previous book, The Shock Doctrine, is to carefully study the words and ideas of those in power, and then to travel the world and see what people are doing, learning from the analyses of movements that are contesting state and private power and combining them, revealing connections that, for those heavily involved in local struggles, can be hard to see. The result, in this book as in The Shock Doctrine, is to reveal a common enemy, to reveal common methods that the enemy uses, and to share methods of resistance that might prove promising.

In The Shock Doctrine, Klein described how the most vicious neoliberal doctrines were thought of as crazy ideas in the decades following WWII. The neoliberals persisted with their crazy ideas, and today we are all living under their heel. In the same spirit, This Changes Everything starts with an analysis of some of the crazy ideas of this moment, presented at right-wing climate-denying conferences which she attended and reports on. The deniers, Klein notes, deny the science of climate change because they don’t like its implications: that in order to prevent environmental catastrophe, societies will have to make massive changes to the economic system, a system that is serving the deniers and their funders very well. Klein argues that in their recognition that deep changes in the direction of equality would be needed to stabilize the climate, the right-wing deniers are not wrong. Indeed, they grasp something that many in the environmental movement fail to grasp: that economic changes deep enough to stabilize the climate are too deep to leave existing inequalities completely intact. In order to tackle climate change, Klein argues, we have to return to many of the social-democratic, Keynesian policies that are so despised by neoliberals: economic planning, regulation, progressive taxation, and redistribution, led by democratic governments playing a major role in the economy, with active movements pressuring them.

To recap: the book observes that the reason for climate denial is not that the political right lacks an understanding of the facts and the science, but instead that they deny the facts because they recognize better than most what the facts actually mean. Building on this observation, This Changes Everything proceeds to try to help readers in the environmental movement discard some bad ideas that have plagued the discussion of solutions to climate change.

The first illusion to discard is that the environment is an issue that unites the wealthy and the poor, an issue that transcends inequality.

“Environmentalists spoke of climate change as a great equalizer, the one issue that affected everyone, rich or poor,” writes Klein on page 52. “Yet all signs are that it is doing precisely the opposite, stratifying us further … divided between those whose wealth offers them a not insignificant measure of protection from ferocious weather … and those left to the mercy of increasingly dysfunctional states.”

But there are many others. Reviewing the record of environmental organizations making alliances with corporations, This Changes Everything finds that compromises beget compromises. The most dramatic example is the story of the extinction of the prairie chicken, whose breeding grounds, after being gifted to the Nature Conservancy, were destroyed by drilling by the Nature Conservancy. This Changes Everything also discards the current fashionable idea that philanthropists can stabilize the climate at the last minute.

The cautionary tale in this section is the story of Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, who saw the light after watching Al Gore’s powerpoint presentation and proceeded to make grand promises and then to do absolutely nothing of any use for the climate, expanding his highly pollutant industries in the meantime. The brief and completely ineffectual history of cap-and-trade, carbon markets, and other climate market mechanisms that created speculative markets while emissions continued to increase, is also reviewed in the book.

The most terrifying section, however, is a crazy idea that is still sitting on the shelf. However, it’s inclusion in the book is more than merited in order to help inoculate readers before it becomes more prominent, as it likely will: the idea of manipulating the atmosphere directly, spraying toxins into the atmosphere on an ongoing basis to reduce sunlight reaching the earth, instead of trying to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The risks of this lunacy (it would be insulting to call it a strategy) are catastrophic, and the potential benefits would be extremely unequal. The book notes that, when presented with geoengineering-type solutions to climate change, right-wingers who would ordinarily deny climate change are more inclined to believe in it — another piece of evidence that it is the implications that are really being denied, rather than the facts.

Geoengineering is only one of the high-tech bad ideas that are currently on offer to environmentalists. Bioengineering, carbon-capture and storage, ocean “fertilization,” and, of course, nuclear power as an alternative, are all put forward by one or another environmentalist as possible solutions. Because nuclear is an existing technology and perhaps the least crazy of the options, Klein handles it quite gently, advocating a gradual phase out of nuclear power; “prioritizing fossil fuels for cuts because the next decade is so critical,” she writes on page 138, proposing “a moratorium on new nuclear facilities a decommisioning of the oldest plans and then a full nuclear phase-out once renewables had decisively displaced fossil fuels.”

I agree with her conclusions here, but I believe that nuclear advocacy by environmentalists has been another diversion that has lost us precious time, like the others discussed in the middle section of This Changes Everything.

The problem with all of the bad ideas presented in the middle of the book is that they take for granted the world-view criticized in the book’s first section, a world-view that, following anti-mining activists, Klein summarizes as extractivism. In the third and final section of the book, Klein showcases many examples of resistance to extractivism from all over the world, including Canada, Greece, India, Nigeria, and many other places. Those who are fighting against the destruction of ecosystems, the basis of life where they live, are having to do so without institutional support and find themselves having to build their own systems of community and of survival, drawing on old traditions and on new experiments. In Greece, some of these activists used the term Blockadia, which Klein suggests could be seen as the changing, dynamic network of people resisting extractivism anywhere in the world. This section is a breath of fresh air (atmosphere pun intended). Where most environmental books present packages of policies, technologies, or laws, Klein presents the voices of people who are fighting for the lands and communities they live in and love.

The conclusion of the book is in her own voice, and returns to the Shock Doctrine parable of crazy ideas sitting on the shelf.

“Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect,” she writes on page 460.

After so many decades of neoliberalism, the ideas presented in This Changes Everything are the crazy ones. Read them, and when the opportunity arises, as it will, reach for them, and not for geoengineering, nukes, philanthrocapitalists, and climate markets.