A devastating indictment of the corruption at the heart of the British State by one of our most popular media figures.
"Captive State," throroughly researched, well-written, and engaging, leads me to conclude that we are not far off the sort of lifestyle grimly portrayed by the likes of Orwell - only it won't be the State whose control we're under, but rather the multinationals. Everything needs to make a profit - our taxes, it seems, are not intended to enhance our quality of life but to assist in "driving commerce forward", "expanding into new markets" and other supercilious corporate-speak. For shame!
I held back one star because I was expecting a bit more from Monbiot as to how we, the Great Unwashed, can turn this horrible juggernaut around. There seems little point in voting for a change in government (he points out that New Labour has actually lowered the corporate tax rate - Maggie Thatcher would no doubt approve), and changing our habits as consumers means in most cases merely shifting our credit card bills from one set of greedy ogres to another.
Corporations certainly have an important role to play in a modern society, and are a necessary evil of any free enterprise system; it would seem governments have taken advantage of voter apathy and couch-potato behaviour to let them ride roughshod over the world.
I hope Mr. Monbiot will continue to enlighten us with further relevations in future books.
None of these episodes is covered in this book. Yet through its coverage of the Skye Bridge, the Coventry hospitals, the “regeneration” of Southampton, genetic engineering in agriculture and medicine, the takeover of our universities - and much, much more it explains everything about the decline in quality of life, accelerating gap between rich and poor, and the total destruction of anything remotely resembling “democracy” which is going on all around us while we sit there swigging Special Brew and watching reality tv.
If Monbiot never wrote another thing he would have entirely justified his existence with this book which is quite simply THE most important book on politics in Britain this century. In reading it you realise that you are not mad after all and neither are “they”!
Quick! We have only a few months to save the world. The single most useful thing each of us can do is to buy TWO COPIES of this book right now. Send one to your local MP with a note saying you are waiting for her/his response before casting another vote.
In whole it is a reminder that corporations are merely a tool to be used by the human race, and must not be allowed to affect our civil liberties. While the tone is journalistic and generally non-biased, the content is enough to stir the blood and inspire action at a personal level - this reader for one is already making efforts to avoid shopping at supermarkets. And reading it 3 years after its publication is still worthwhile - particularly as it now seems the power of corporate lobbying has reached the point where it can even co-erce governments into going to war.
The only thing that may put some readers off is that Monbiot is a researcher first, populist agitator second, and the academic-style prose with long lists of facts make certain sections a bit of a grind to read. For this reason a film by Monbiot would probably be a lot less successful than one by Michael Moore. But it would be a lot harder to pick holes in his arguments.