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Together we are less alone

Out of the Wreckage
Forfatter: George Monbiot
Forlag: Verso Books (USA)

The competition principle of neoliberalism goes against our nature; it is cooperation that is unique to our species – and cooperation that can save us.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

Today, there are two main stories about society and economic cooperation: a neo-liberalist which builds on the idea that nature is brutal and that we humans are in a constant competitive situation, and another, on the contrary, who sees interaction between species as more fundamental than competition , and that man is unique in his ability to care for others and mutual cooperation also 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 colleague Pinkaj 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.

In May 2015, Sanders was virtually unknown; When the election campaign was over, Sanders had a majority in 22 states.

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 community development or show dissatisfaction with the school system. But because he noticed that his fellow students did not enjoy school as much 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 made. Among other things, the author believes that the World Trade Organization (WTO) should be replaced with the FTO – the Fair Trade Organization – and that when we vote in elections, we should do this as well-informed citizens, not as uninformed, disillusioned voters who quickly cross off for a name we hardly know, while thinking that "all politicians are equally fucking nonetheless".

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 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 opinions on American politics, and the book unequivocally supports the US political left. The author even claims that Bernie Sanders could become a United States rescuer 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 live experiment. Many were surprised at what this well-matured 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 too old. His electoral program had the model of the Scandinavian model, which was enough to make him a communist. Still: When the Democratic election campaign was over, Sanders had a Democratic majority in 22 states; in other words, he managed nesten to win over Clinton. Monbiot writes: "While the Clinton campaign was organizing money, the Sanders campaign was organizing people."

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

Large parts of the campaign were left to a group of unpaid volunteers, who took phones, organized surveys, and talked to people. Although the electoral campaign had a clear central control, it mainly took place at the grassroots level, that is, 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 people. 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 inspirational reading, which gives renewed belief in the power and importance of civil society. Over the past few years, developments have shown that mobilization on grass roots benefits, and that it is ordinary people who ultimately decide in which direction the world is going.

"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.

Henning Næss
Literary critic in MODERN TIMES.

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