Author and journalist Naomi Klein arrives for a news conference at the Vatican in 2015. (Andrew Medichini / AP)
When Nikki Haley resigned this week as the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, seemingly the political press’ first question was whether Donald Trump would name his daughter Ivanka as her replacement. Trump did little to discourage this speculation. “[It’s] nothing to do with nepotism,” he told reporters at the White House, barely concealing a smile. “But I want to tell you that the people that know, know that Ivanka would be dynamite.”
For “The Shock Doctrine” and “No Is Not Enough” author Naomi Klein, that the president’s offspring would even be considered for such a post is evidence enough that we’ve entered a frightening new era of capitalism—one in which the 1 percent so dominate our institutions that they consider political power to be their natural birthright. In her latest essay for The Intercept, she dubs it the “Age of the Pampered Princeling”:
The Koch brothers were raised in luxury and inherited Koch Industries from their father (who built his fortune constructing refineries under Stalin and Hitler). [Richard Mellon] Scaife was an heir to the Gulf Oil, Alcoa Aluminum, and Mellon Banks fortunes and grew up in an estate so lavish it was populated with pet penguins. [The late John M.] Olin took over his father’s weapons and chemicals company.
And so it goes, right down to Betsy DeVos, who was raised by billionaire Edgar Prince and married into the Amway fortune—and who has devoted her life to dismantling public education, now from inside the Trump administration. And let’s not forget Rupert Murdoch, who inherited a chain of newspapers from his father and is in the process of handing over his media empire to his sons. Or relative newcomer Rebekah Mercer, who has chipped off a chunk of her father Robert’s hedge fund fortune to bankroll Breitbart News, among other pet projects. In short, these people are Downton Abbey lords and masters, playacting as Ayn Rand heroes.
Klein urges her readers to consider the mental gymnastics required for our nation’s scions to convince themselves not just that they’re self-made, but that their attacks on the social safety net are inherently righteous.