Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein accepted the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize in Australia on Friday, delivering a searing speech that reflected on Donald Trump’s presidential victory in the United States and the factors that allowed it to happen.
“If there is a single overarching lesson in the Trump victory, perhaps it is this: Never, ever underestimate the power of hate, of direct appeals to power over the ‘other’…especially during times of economic hardship,” said Klein, whose books include The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.
Calling Trump the “demagogue of the moment,” Klein went on to identify other lessons to “take from our barely three-day-old reality.”
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One, she said, is that “economic pain is real and not going anywhere—four decades of corporate, neoliberal policies and privatization, deregulation, free trade, and austerity have made sure of that.”
Another, she continued, is that “only a bold and genuinely re-distributive agenda has a hope of speaking to that pain and directing it where it belongs—the politician-purchasing elites who benefited so extravagantly from the auctioning off of public wealth, the looting of our land, water, and air, and the deregulation of our financial system.”
But to create such an agenda requires the learning of an even “deeper lesson,” Klein said.
“If we want to defend against the likes of Donald Trump—and every country has their own Trump—we must urgently confront and battle racism and misogyny in our culture, in our movements, and in ourselves. This cannot be an afterthought, it cannot be an add-on. It is central to how someone like Trump can rise to power.”
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