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Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain Hardcover – 22 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (22 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333901649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333901649
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 3.8 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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If both George Monbiot's Captive State and Naomi Klein's No Logo are the two Zeitgeist books of the beginning of the 21st century, then it is good old-fashioned late-20th century capitalism that has put them there. While Klein investigates how the counter-culture has been bought out by big business, Monbiot takes a close look at how this green and pleasant isle has been delivered into unaccountable corporate control with disastrous results for local communities and for democracy itself. The project of investigating this process is vast and strewn with problems, not least that a great deal of the material Monbiot needed was not in the public domain. Thus, the book itself is the result of "stargazing on a cloudy night": an impassioned attempt to understand what stellar corporate influence is brought to bear on which governmental constellation before the clouds close over again. Depressingly, he demonstrates how New Labour has smoothly transitioned from anti-corporate opposition to big business bedfellow. Like Klein, Monbiot celebrates grassroots action, but his local heroes are more likely to be drawing up battle lines in Skye, rather than Seattle. In his evocative dealings with those at the rump end of corporate mismanagement and greed, the sense of betrayal is palpable, and Captive State can be seen as a warning shot across New Labour's bows. The devil, though, is in the details. Anonymous brown paper parcels arrive full of classified documents and Monbiot is to be applauded for bringing together a wealth of material and rendering it intelligible and intelligent, if sometimes he doesn't shy away from big theatrical deliveries, especially at the end of chapters. Ironically, it seems from reading Captive State that one of the victims of the corporate infiltration of the government is choice as well as voice. Whereas some resistance has come from consumer power--for, as Monbiot reminds us, the things that join us together are the things we are sold, he goes on to make the pertinent point that consumer power is diluted when choice is restricted to a local superstore or one hospital on the edge of town. Monbiot asks the right questions, but his answers remain elusive and caught up in a foggy democratic rhetoric that is less effective and inspiring than the tales of local activists clogging up the system that was supposed to work for them in the first place. Captive State is the first big ideas book of this decade. Let's hope it goes out of date before the next. --Fiona Buckland

Book Description

A devastating indictment of the corruption at the heart of the British State by one of our most popular media figures. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By "ajf93" on 10 Dec. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Essential reading for residents of the UK. Using real life examples of exploitation and deception, Monbiot unsparingly illustrates how the government is by-and-large more interested in serving its own needs and those of the corporations that support it than those of the British people and environment. The stories he uncovers are truly shocking and disturbing, and detail very worrying levels of corruption, apathy and corporate control in politics today.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Aug. 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book in one sitting, completely transfixed - not so much at the greed of the businesses and corporations concerned (which one takes as a given) as the complicity of government officials in nuturing it. Having read it as I did a day after going through Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" I found myself slowly losing the will to live...
"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.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Julienne B. Ford on 8 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
The Dome, the lottery, the Scottish Parliament, the Manchester tram scam, the destruction of the railways and London Underground: these are all scandals we know about and which make us think the lunatics are running the asylum. We feel bewildered disempowered, ripped off and plain scared for the future of our country and the world.
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.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By "timdreid" on 15 July 2004
Format: Paperback
"Captive State" is an eye-opener for anyone who still believes New Labour has anything to do with socialism. Monbiot presents a rigorously-researched, rational and hugely convincing portrait of the extent to which corporations are changing the way society functions and exploiting weak government for monetary gain. The approach is refreshingly non-subjective - he showcases the human side of private-finance blunders such as the Skye Bridge fiasco without becoming overly sentimental, and acknowledges that universal trade treaties like the controversial Multilateral Agreement on Investment could be beneficial if properly policed. However he makes no secret that the failures of governments to stop the virtual blackmail of food suppliers by large superstores, and the behaviour of pharmaceutical companies in the use of harmful chemicals and genetic modification, are truly unforgiveable.
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.
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