Naomi Klein writes at The Intercept about the common thread that links Trumpism, the “Freedom Convoys,” and Putin: nostalgia for the past.

NOSTALGIA FOR EMPIRE is what seems to drive Vladimir Putin — that and a desire to overcome the shame of punishing economic shock therapy imposed on Russia at the end of the Cold War. Nostalgia for American “greatness” is part of what drives the movement Donald Trump still leads — that and a desire to overcome the shame of having to face the villainy of white supremacy that shaped the founding of the United States and mutilates it still. Nostalgia is also what animates the Canadian truckers who occupied Ottawa for the better part of a month, wielding their red-and-white flags like a conquering army, evoking a simpler time when their consciences were undisturbed by thoughts of the bodies of Indigenous children, whose remains are still being discovered on the grounds of those genocidal institutions that once dared to call themselves “schools.”

This is not the warm and cozy nostalgia of fuzzily remembered childhood pleasures; it’s an enraged and annihilating nostalgia that clings to false memories of past glories against all mitigating evidence.

All these nostalgia-based movements and figures share a longing for something else, something which may seem unrelated but is not. A nostalgia for a time when fossil fuels could be extracted from the earth without uneasy thoughts of mass extinction, or children demanding their right to a future, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, like the one just released yesterday, that reads, in the words of United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, like an “atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.” Putin, of course, leads a petrostate, one that has defiantly refused to diversify its economic dependence on oil and gas, despite the devastating effect of the commodity roller coaster on its people and despite the reality of climate change. Trump is obsessed with the easy money that fossil fuels offer and as president made climate denial a signature policy.

The Canadian truckers, for their part, not only chose idling 18-wheelers and smuggled jerry cans as their protest symbols, but the leadership of the movement is also deeply rooted in the extra-dirty oil of the Alberta tar sands. Before it was the “freedom convoy,” many of these same players staged the dress rehearsal known as United We Roll, a 2019 convoy that combined a zealous defense of oil pipelines, opposition to carbon pricing, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and explicit nostalgia for a white, Christian Canada.

Oil is a stand-in for a broader worldview.

Though petrodollars underwrite these players and forces, it’s critical to understand that oil is a stand-in for a broader worldview, a cosmology deeply entwined with Manifest Destiny and the Doctrine of Discovery, which ranked human as well as nonhuman life inside a rigid hierarchy, with white Christian men at the top. Oil, in this context, is the symbol of the extractivist mindset: not only a perceived God-given right to keep extracting fossil fuels, but also the right to keep taking whatever they want, leave poison behind, and never look back.

This is why the fast-moving climate crisis represents not just an economic threat to people invested in the extractive sectors but also a cosmological threat to the people invested in this worldview. Because climate change is the Earth telling us that nothing is free; that the age of (white, male) human “dominion” has ended; that there is no such thing as a one-way relationship comprised only of taking; that all actions have reactions. These centuries of digging and spewing are now unleashing forces that make even the sturdiest structures created by industrial societies — coastal cities, highways, oil rigs — look vulnerable and frail. And within the extractivist mindset, that is impossible to accept.

Given their common cosmologies, it should come as no surprise that Putin, Trump, and the “freedom convoys” are reaching toward one another across disparate geographies and wildly different circumstances. So Trump praises Canada’s “peaceful movement of patriotic truckers, workers, and families protesting for their most basic rights and liberties”; Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon cheer on Putin while the truckers sport their MAGA hats; Randy Hillier, a member of the Ontario Legislature who is one of the convoy’s loudest supporters, declares on Twitter that “Far more people have & will die from this shot [the Covid vaccines], than in the Russia/Ukraine war.” And how about the Ontario restaurant that last week put on its daily specials board the announcement that Putin “is not occupying Ukraine” but standing up to the Great Reset, the Satanists, and “fighting against the enslavement of humanity.”

These alliances seem deeply weird and unlikely at first. But look a little closer, and it’s clear that they are bound together by an attitude toward time, one that clings to an idealized version of the past and steadfastly refuses to face difficult truths about the future. They also share a delight in the exercise of raw power: the 18-wheeler vs. the pedestrian, the shouted manufactured reality vs. the cautious scientific report, the nuclear arsenal vs. the machine gun. This is the energy currently surging in many different spheres, starting wars, attacking seats of government, and defiantly destabilizing our planet’s life support systems. This is the ethos at the root of so many democratic crises, geopolitical crises, and the climate crisis: a violent clinging to a toxic past and a refusal to face a more entangled and interrelational future, one bounded by the limits of what people and planet can take. It is a pure expression of what the late bell hooks often described, with a playful wink, as “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy” — because sometimes all the big guns are needed to describe our world accurately.