Together we are less alone

Out of the Wreckage
Forfatter: George Monbiot
Forlag: (Verso Books, USA)
COOPERATION / The competition principle of neoliberalism goes against our nature. It is cooperation that is unique to our species – and cooperation that can save us.


Today there are two main stories about society and economic cooperation: a neoliberalist, which is based on the idea that nature is brutal and that we humans are in a constant competitive situation, and another, on the contrary, who sees the interaction between species as more fundamental than competition, and that man is unique in his ability to care for others and to collaborate outside the herd.

I Out of the Wreckage ("Out of the Wreck"), British writer and environmental activist George Monbiot has provided a clear defense of interpersonal cooperation. This is most natural for our species, he claims. In other words, the competitive spirit of neoliberalism goes against human nature; "The invisible hand" is based on a false ideology. The author wants to create one global spirit of spirit.

Social consciousness

Monbiot is far from just a non-committing consumer of big words. Just like his perhaps even more respected author, Pankaj Mishra, as with his book Age of Anger (2017) credibly explained the cause of the great wave of paranoia and hatred that has plagued the West in recent years, Monbiot will defend global democracy. He does not draw the same long historical lines as Mishra, but is more focused on the present and the belief in political and ecological activism. Monbiot is less intellectual than his Indian counterpart, but all the more powerful.

It is ordinary people who ultimately decide in which direction the world should go.

The problems start already in school, Monbiot says. He himself was a "straightforward, analytical and extremely learning student" and could go through life as a streamlined individual, without the need to oppose social development or show dissatisfaction with the school system. But because he noticed that his fellow students did not enjoy school as well as he did, he began helping others with their homework. This is how he developed his social consciousness.

Information important

The book is full of good examples of what changes should be implemented. Among other things, the author believes that the World Trade Organization (WTO) should be replaced by the FTO – Fair Trade Organization – and that when we vote in elections, we should do so as well-informed citizens, not as uninformed, disillusioned voters who hastily tick for a name we hardly know while thinking that "all politicians are equally damn good".

Monbiot cites Germany and Switzerland as good examples of enlightened democracies where the authorities do much to inform citizens about the upcoming elections. Election tests are conducted long before election day, so that voters can test their knowledge and find out which parties suit them. These are excellent examples of a democratic activism that works in practice.

"The public tragedy" is not the only story of the public, the author thinks: It does not have to be that someone sneaks more of the cake than others and starts to destroy pastures or empty the sea for fishing resources. When everyone feels responsible for the whole, and a "community land contribution" is paid by those who use common land rather than property taxes, a fairer system will be created that will result in less damage to nature. One will also avoid high loan rates and people risk having to pledge their houses.

Sanders' example

Although Monbiot is British, he has strong views on American politics, and the book unequivocally supports the US political left. The author even claims that Bernie Sanders could have become the savior of the United States if he had beaten Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential election.

The best part of Out of the Wreckage is also about Bernie Sanders and his election campaign – which was a gigantic living experiment. Many were amazed at what this well-adult man (he was 74 years old at the beginning of the election campaign) managed to achieve. In May 2015, he was virtually unknown: Only three percent of voters knew Sanders' name, and he was treated as marginal – and far too old. His election program modeled on the Scandinavian model, which was enough to stamp him as a communist. Still: When the Democratic election campaign was over, Sanders had a Democratic majority in 22 states; he managed in other words nesten to win over Clinton. Monbiot writes: "While the Clinton campaign was organizing money, the Sanders campaign was organizing people."

WHO should be replaced by FTO (Fair Trade Organization).

Much of the campaign was left to a group of unpaid volunteers, who took telephone calls, organized surveys and talked to people. Although the election campaign had a clear central control, it took place mainly at the grassroots level, ie through meetings between people on the street, and to a lesser extent through the television medium. Sanders did not raise money through wealthy donors, but still managed to raise $ 230 million from 2,8 million contributors. By the end of the nomination process, the campaign had recruited over 100 people, and the election campaign group had spoken to over 000 million voters.

Society as a donut. Out of the Wreckage is inspiring reading that gives renewed faith in the power and significance of civil society. In recent years, developments have shown that mobilization at the grassroots level is useful, and that it is ordinary people who ultimately decide in which direction the world should go.

"The Donut Society Model", created by British economist Kate Raworth in the book Donut Economics. Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist (2017), shows that all economic activity is created within the Earth's ecosystem and as part of society, and that we all depend on common resources such as sun and water. In the middle, however, there is a big hole – which all of us risk falling into if the earth's tolerance limit is exceeded and the economy collapses.

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