We’re revisiting some of the previously unreleased segments from Aja’s interview with Naomi Klein—exploring deeper into ecofeminism, intersectionality and finding inspiration in what has been lost. *Please note that this episode contains potentially triggering content about racial abuse and trauma.
If you haven’t heard the full interview, please check out Episode 2: This Changes Everything of Season 1 from The Sound Bath and we hope you’ll join us for Season 2, dropping in the Fall 2022.
Aja Monet (00:03):
Hello, listeners. This is your host, Aja Monet, and I hope you all are doing well. Thanks for listening to The Sound Bath brought to you by Lush Cosmetics.
Aja Monet (00:12):
At the start of season one, I had the great pleasure to speak with Naomi Klein. For anyone who doesn't know, Naomi is an author, social activist and filmmaker known for her political analysis, support of ecofeminism, organized labor, left politics in general, and for her intelligent and heartfelt criticism of ecofascism, and capitalism. She's written some truly influential books, such as No Logo, The Shock Doctrine, and This Changes Everything. Naomi also teaches and co-directs the Centre for Climate Justice at the University of British Columbia, Canada.
Aja Monet (00:49):
I was able to get to know Naomi when we were both part of a group campaigning for a feminist future with a movement to elect Bernie Sanders in 2020. I know her to be a passionate, committed and very caring person. Her work really speaks for itself, but I was so thrilled I got the chance to talk to her on the show and hear some of her personal reflections on the meaning of that work and on what it means to care for yourself, your community, and the earth. Our conversation ranged from ecofeminism to taking walks in the forest to the power of art to uplift. Some parts of that conversation never quite made it into the episode, which is why I'm so happy to be able to share them with you now.
Naomi Klein (01:34):
I live in Sooke, British Columbia in Canada, and it's been an interesting time to be here. I had been living in the States. I grew up here and moved back after the big Bernie disappointments and just wanting to be a little bit closer to nature as well and closer to family. But the place where I am, it's just so intense. It has been so intense in every perspective, I guess I would say. It has felt like this period of apocalypse in the sense of true unveiling of just the past year.
Naomi Klein (02:14):
So we're speaking in March and last May, there was this news came not far from where I live in a community called Kamloops in the interior of British Columbia, where I have quite a lot of friends. It's the territory of the Secwepemc Nation and the Kamloops Secwepemc Nation shared the news that they had confirmed that on the grounds of a former residential school, a former boarding school where Indigenous children were forcibly taken, and it really shouldn't be called a school. These were absolutely sinister genocidal institutions, and there were many in the United States and across Canada as well. This was, I think, the largest one and they had confirmed that the remains of 215 children were found on the grounds of the former residential school and it was almost as if the earth itself was giving up its secrets. Then in school, after the grounds of these former horrific institutions, they started using this technology, this radar technology, and found more than a thousand unmarked graves and the searches are still ongoing.
Naomi Klein (03:34):
So that was in May and the grief of that just completely rocked the Nation and it may sound like a small thing, but we celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, the national holiday. It's our July 4th and several communities canceled Canada Day. Even in ones where I lived, there was a procession, there were no flags, people didn't wave flags. And it was a true, a questioning that I've never seen before of really questioning the fundamentals of the settler nation state, to the extent that settlers didn't want to fly flags. I've never been somebody who flies flag, and I don't think you are, either, but this is a community where people were completely comfortable with it and they just suddenly weren't and were wearing orange, which is the color of the movement calling for justice for residential schools.
Naomi Klein (04:30):
I just want to kind of put a pin in it because everybody saw the trucker convoy, right, on all those Canadian flags and it was like this nationalism roaring back. So I think we're in this kind of strange dialectic between this deep questioning and a deep discomfort with. And I think there's a lot of parallels with what's happening with what's being called critical race theory, but is actually just learning about the history of the United States and the fundamental role of enslavement and the reality of racial capitalism and just a desire to cling to the myths, right? And cling to the fairy tales.
Naomi Klein (05:11):
So yeah, you asked me what inspires me. I mean, I'm inspired by the ways that Indigenous communities around me are metabolizing that grief and turning it into transformation and, at the same time, on the front lines of stopping new pipelines. There's an amazing movement called the Tiny House Warriors, which is also a Secwepemc movement led by people who like, say, Manuel family, and I've done a podcast about them, but they were ... this was all happening at the same time, I guess is what I'm saying.
Naomi Klein (05:47):
So the Tiny House Warriors are a group of Secwepemc women who happened to come from survivors of that very school in Kamloops, but have gone just off grid. Kanahus Manuel didn't send her kids to schools, period. She unschooled them. And in the path of this pipeline, this oil pipeline, they've put these tiny solar-powered houses and have been living in them for a couple of years. So they're sort of embodying the transformation that they want and that transformation is both land back, so they're claiming their ancestral land, despite the fact that the Canadian state doesn't recognize their rights to that land because it's beyond the reserve and they're living it in a completely different way. At the same, time they're stopping the infrastructure that is the threat to our collective home. So I mean, it's extraordinarily inspiring, but it's also heartbreaking because they're facing constant criminalization and harassment, but it's just amazing courage.
Naomi Klein (06:52):
One of the things I draw most sort of metaphorically from this part of the world, I mean the salmon are everything to me and just the generosity of the species and the way it can feed the ocean and the forest simultaneously. But the part of the world where I am it has been logged. It's not old growth. There's just a few of the real giant trees left. It's second and third growth. Because of that, when going to the forest, you see the nurse, sometimes the mother trees that they're sometimes called or the nurse logs, these dead trees or the stumps that are "dead," but at this stage in their development, they all have trees growing out of them. The way in which the old, dead trees are the soil for the new ones and they do these, just the amazing shapes, the way the roots of a young tree grow around a stump of a giant that has been logged it's such a powerful metaphor for me of just what is possible and the myth of death itself, really, because death is the fountain of life here in every way.
Naomi Klein (08:11):
I think it's a really helpful frame, you know? In asking ourselves in how we allocate our time and how we make our choices. Because the phrase "wellness"—it's not one I use much and I don't mean that we shouldn't take care of ourselves. But I do think that the question of is this depleting or replenishing and how can we prioritize replenishing relationships, regenerative relationships with each other, with ourselves, with the planet? It's not a bad guiding principle, right? And I do think even in thinking about social movements that we do deplete, we do deplete too much without prioritizing the filling back up, right?
Naomi Klein (09:02):
I think that when we talk about Zoom fatigue and things like that, I think part of it is that we are not ... like these technologies that we use are better at depletion than they are at replenishing. So we're all working as hard as we ever have, but we're not getting that replenishment that we just get from being in each other's company and having downtime, and just having fun after a meeting, you know? We're just doing the meeting and not the fun after the meeting. So if we're exhausted, that might be why, that we're not prioritizing "replenishing" enough.
Naomi Klein (09:49):
This is part of the reason why I decided to live where I'm living. I mean, my family is here, but it's is really out of the way, but the inconveniences are also part of why I love it. It creates friction in this world that has fetishized frictionlessness. It's difficult to leave here so I have to really want to leave. There has to be a good reason and so it roots me in place in a different way. I can walk out of my house into the rainforest, into the temperate rainforest and it's just there and we can forage for chanterelles and that's plant medicine, too. Just getting to learn about just a place, like the complexity of one little piece of this planet and putting down roots here and just slowly, slowly, slowly learning a few of its little secrets. So yeah, this feels like a very, very sacred place to me.
Naomi Klein (10:57):
I mean, to be honest with you, Aja, actually this place has saved me many, many times. I wrote the Shock Doctrine here and if I hadn't have been in such a beautiful place, I don't think I could have immersed myself for that many years in such ... the worst that humans can do. That they're just torture manuals and torture testimonies and interviewing survivors and being in war zones. If I hadn't have had this place to heal and to counterbalance the violence of the material, I don't think I could have written with any kind of love and compassion and had it not just be a confirmation.
Naomi Klein (11:47):
Because I don't think that that work is just like, "Here's the worst things humans can do." It's an attempt to ... in a weird way, I see it as a hopeful book because it's saying this brutal system did not come about through any kind of inevitability. It required this violence, which should be an obvious point, but isn't obvious to everyone. So telling a history of neoliberalism with the shocks left in my goal in it is to highlight the roads not taken, the roads that were shocked out of the way, right? So yeah, I mean, this is a sacred place to be where I live and I'm so, so, so, so grateful for it.
Aja Monet (12:46):
You've been listening to part of my conversation with environmental activist and political thinker, Naomi Klein. To hear more, you can go back and listen to our second episode in season one of The Sound Bath.
Aja Monet (12:58):
Stay tuned for more bonus material coming soon and, of course, we'll have a whole new season launching in fall of 2022. Please be sure to like and follow us wherever you listen to your podcast so you can catch the new season when it drops. My name is Aja Monet. Thank you so much for listening.