Home Bookend - Where reading meets review Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis by George Monbiot

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis by George Monbiot

by Venky

Trenchant, egregious and passionate, “Out of the Wreckage…” (“The book”) represents a loud voice bemoaning the surge of neo-liberalism that has wielded what George Monbiot perceives to be a pernicious influence over humanity. Preferring the ferocity of individualism over the warmth of togetherness, man has tragically become a puppet whose strings pull him dangerously towards material possessions and cultural detachments. Every step taken towards this end signifies a few other steps away from the notions of altruism, selflessness and cordiality. Wrapped in a warped world of celebrity aping and obsessed with social networking, Monbiot stresses that “we find ourselves competing not only with the idealised images of other people, but also with idealised images of ourselves”.

In an age characterized by increasing inequality and obsession towards status mongering, chronic loneliness has become the solitary companion of the confused individual. The degree of such an appalling state of solitude may be judged “by the exotic means with which some people seek to address it: hiring people walkers, designing robot partners, and procuring for cash, ‘friends’ with whom we can post for photographs that we can post on social media”.

Positing that this atomization of the individual is the direct result of a Hayekian notion of free market evangelism and non-interventionist laissez faire attitude preferred to be adopted by the Governments which themselves are murky creations of big corporate lobbying, obscene campaign funding and an outcome of intricate quid pro quo arrangements. “The result is that workers, job seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, infantilizing regime of surveillance and auditing, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers”. An Orwellian outlook!

Monbiot calls for ushering in a new era of politics that would mitigate the anathema of a wealthy minority ruling over a powerless majority. Exhorting a bottom up reformist process, Monbiot banks on a large body of socio-political research insisting on new, innovative and radical forms of societal restructuring that will result in a democratic redistribution of wealth, reduce inequality, preserve ecology and prevent the rise of totalitarianism and demagoguery. Advocating what he calls the politics of belongingness, Monbiot roots for what he terms a ‘participatory culture’ to be birthed which would in its wake create a ripple effect through whole communities. Citing the Lambeth study as an example, the author emphasizes that the costs (in the form of public spending) of supporting such participatory culture are likely “to pay for themselves many times over, by reducing the need for mental health provisions and social care, and by suppressing crime rates and recidivism, as well as alcohol and drug dependency”.

Calling for eliminating big money from political campaigning, Monbiot devotes considerable book space for the grassroots style organizing miracle accomplished by Bernie Sanders, an achievement which almost ensured in his winning the Democratic candidacy for the 2016 Presidential election in the United States. Also with a view to ensuring the election and selection of a people’s candidate, Monbiot contends that the best form of democratic election process can only be achieved by embracing the Single Transferable Vote (“SVT”) system. We can also decipher that Monbiot is an avid fan of the revolutionary economist Kate Raworth as her contentions about reorganizing the fundamental economic model (as initially spearheaded by Paul Samuelson) receives substantial attention and is bestowed significant appreciation.

Monbiot quotes from a plethora of sources in his outspoken book and to his great credit, renders appreciation to all of them. While some of his proposals and claims might seem plain outlandish if not just against the run of the mill or just toppling set conventions, there is no mistaking the powerful impact each of the underlying issues – which the proposals plan to tackle – brings to bear on the global economy. While the means chosen by George Monbiot might be a tad lofty, there is no doubting the noble intention characterizing the end – making the world a better place to live in!

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