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The Age of Consent [Paperback]

George Monbiot
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Oct 2004

Naomi Klein's ‘No Logo’ told us what was wrong. Now, George Monbiot shows us how to put it right. Provocative, brave and beautifully argued, ‘The Age of Consent’ is nothing less than a manifesto for a new world order.

‘Our task is not to overthrow globalisation, but to capture it, and to use it as a vehicle for humanity's first global democratic revolution.’

All over our planet, the rich get richer while the poor are overtaken by debt and disaster. The world is run not by its people but by a handful of unelected or underelected executives who make the decisions on which everyone else depends: concerning war, peace, debt, development and the balance of trade. Without democracy at the global level, the rest of us are left with no means of influencing these men but to shout abuse and hurl ourselves at the lines of police defending their gatherings and decisions. Does it have to be this way?

George Monbiot knows not only that things ought to change, but also that they can change. Drawing on decades of thinking about how the world is organized and administered politically, fiscally and commercially, Monbiot has developed an interlocking set of proposals all his own, which attempts nothing less than a revolution in the way the world is run. If these proposals become popular, never again will people be able to ask of the critics of the existing world order, ‘we know what they don't want, but what do they want?’

Fiercely controversial and yet utterly persuasive, the ingenious solutions Monbiot suggests for some of the planet's most pressing problems mark him as perhaps the most realistic utopian of our time and a man whose passion is infectious and whose ideas, many will surely come to agree, are becoming irresistible.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; (Reissue) edition (4 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007150431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007150434
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 178,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

George Monbiot's reputation as a campaigning journalist and proponent of social justice makes The Age of Consent a fascinating prospect. And so it proves. It is nothing less than what its subtitle calls a manifesto for a new world order, a proposal to change the way everything works. This is aiming very high indeed. Monbiot is interested in the global mechanisms that control war, peace, trade and development, and his manifesto explores the practical means by which the control of these mechanisms can be removed from the hands of the unelected rich and put into those of truly representative democratic bodies. (Many campaigners within what he calls "our movement" will be disconcerted by the briskness with which he dismisses the parallel options of anarchism and doctrinaire Marxism as useless to his purposes, concluding that a democratically elected World Parliament is the only possible solution.)

Corporations figure largely in his arguments, as you might expect, but Monbiot's analysis of their current and possible future role in a reformed world system is more nuanced than some offered by his anti-globalisation cohorts. He recognises that global trade is a necessity and that global corporations are best placed to carry this out, but only if they are properly policed, their ability to "externalise" (i.e., dump on someone else) hidden costs, such as environmental damage, rigorously controlled. As Monbiot vividly remarks, a corporation is merely a tool. When it starts demanding, or usurping, the rights of a person, it must be destroyed.

This is thought-provoking stuff. So too is his account of the creation of the World Bank and the IMF in 1944. Above all, The Age of Consent is a call to action: all its research and analysis will amount to nothing, says Monbiot, if it doesn't contribute to the process of change for which he sees a vast global will developing. He genuinely believes, and communicates strongly his belief, that the monolithic political and economic forms that constrain the poor world to its subordinate position can be changed, and offers suggestive and practical ways in which this might be achieved by direct and indirect action. Most powerful among weapons to bring about the transformation of the world is the belief in the effectiveness of collective action. This is fighting talk, powerfully delivered. --Robin Davidson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


'A bracing challenge to the complacency of all varieties of establishment thinking. Argues powerfully that protest is not enough. An arresting contribution to new thinking.' Independent

‘A book that must be engaged with. A simple and revolutionary Manifesto, a weighty political vision. At last, the global justice movement has found a vision as expansive and planet-wide as that of the US neoconservatives. Let the battle of ideas commence.' Independent on Sunday

'An extremely important book. A searchingly rigorous analysis of the sources of American power. Monbiot presents a package of proposals that would radically redraw the present world order. It is breathtaking in its radicalism, but for anyone who is serious about tackling the current US hegemony, it is difficult to fault the logic. This is not a whinge, but a very well argued statement of a positive alternative agenda. And if it is far too radical for some tastes, can they suggest any lesser options that will produce the same vast improvement in world justice and prosperity? The floor is theirs.' Michael Meacher, Guardian

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes globalisation issues much clearer 5 May 2004
By A Customer
This book has been widely described as a "revolutionary manifesto", and that title is apt if initially disturbing. Monbiot advocates nothing less that a complete reworking of global trade and government, but incredibly he provides a coherent (if optimistic) method to achieve this.
However, perhaps the greatest utility of this book lies not in its primary aim of global revolution, but in providing clear and studied explanations of many of the more confused myths of both market fundamentalism and the amorphous "global justice" movement. It also does a creditable job of clearing the much maligned name of Maynard Keynes, as well as highlighting the fact that many solutions to today's global issues have already been proposed, decades ago.
This book will probably leave you, as it has left me, with a far more comprehensive understanding of globalisation issues, and confirmation of your suspicions that the world's corporations (and the governments that they have bought) really are the enemy. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
One key title mentioned in the book is Joseph Stiglitz' "Globalisation and its Discontents" - a book I've already highly recommended many times, and one that's well worth reading for an in-depth analysis of just how devastating the world's controlling financial agencies are to the whole world.
Further titles that spring to mind repeatedly in reading this book are Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy - (starting with "Red Mars") which feature a global revolution (albeit on this planet) and the battle to create a truly equitable world society.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars can't praise it enough 1 Oct 2006
George Monbiot has given me hope, there are alternatives to the problems facing the world - we just need to summon the will to implement them and to challenge those who say 'it was always ever thus.'

This book is worth reading (in my view) for the following quote alone.

''...almost everything I was brought up to believe is untrue. I don't blame my parents for this - they were brought up with the same self-justificatory myths of the British Middle Classes.

All nations, all classes, all tribes tell themselves stories that validate and centralize their existence. These stories are always false.''
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
For anyone who thought that "anti-globalisation" protestors were a bunch of nihilists and raving revolutionary "loony left" sort of people, this book should really set you straight. Indeed the term "anti-globalisation" seems to be used most often by politicians to portray activists as a bunch of insular luddites. By contrast, it is obvious that a lot of thought has very obviously gone into this book, and its conclusion about what needs to be done with the global structures is as appealing as it is sensible.
The idea is basically that globalisation is not necessarily a harmful process per se, but without proper democratic structures in place on a global scale, it is manipulated so as to favour powerful vested interests. This idea should really have confronted anyone who has thought seriously about the future of popular sovereignty in an increasingly inter-connected world. It is unthinkable that GATS, for example, effectively hands over control of business regulation to a secret body of WTO officials - but if the proposed alternative is to throw up barriers to trade in every country that feels like it, there is enormous scope for abuse and over-protectionism. For the poorest countries, blocking and distorting trade on the part of rich countries would be disastrous, as countries receiving ultra-cheap agricultural products from Europe and the US are currently learning. The process needs regulation on a global level.
This book has received rather a cool response so far, which I don't think it really deserves (though admittedly I'm dubious about Monbiot's theory that some form of metaphysical paradigm is developing) but on the whole the proposals seem eminently worth pursuing.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Consent 18 Jan 2006
George Monbiot was educated at Stowe School and later Oxford where he read Zoology. As a journalist he spent 7 years travelling around Brazil, East Africa and Indonesia. He is a plucky environmental, political activist leading to him being beaten up by police and security guards on several occasions being imprisoned and also shot at. A revolutionary thinker with a great deal of experience The Age Of Consent is a ‘manifesto’ picturing a world in which George Monbiot sees maximum prosperity.
In The Age of Consent he puts the current democratic world under scrutiny having also written about this on a more detailed level in his earlier book The Captive State and makes the fact that we can even call it democratic questionable, he suggests new systems to unselected world powers such as. WTO, World Bank with real democratic alternatives, and that power should be changed on a worldwide scale so that the worlds power was more equally distributed in terms of population rather than a countries trade or economic position.
He suggests that globalisation should continue but in a different, more fair way. He sees no need for us to be confined within our national border and asks why our sense of community and common interest should rarely go further than the national border. He asks why we do not forget our geographical differences and recognise that if we began to see our similarities and shared interests it would benefit us all. There are a few revolutionary changes he thinks should be done.
Power should be given to people with the creation of a world parliament whereby the world would be divided up in terms of its population and each part elected a representative. These would then meet and discuss world issues.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives hope and fear in equal measure
I'm an avid Monbiot reader and received this book for Christmas. I read through it twice and it has changed the way I look at the world. Read more
Published 2 months ago by TheColourRead
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good condition at good price
Published 2 months ago by Stephen Rawson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Manifesto for Change
Monbiot describes how we can use the power of globalisation to achieve global justice, rather than trying to stop the unstoppable forces of capitalism and globalisation. Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2010 by Andrew Dalby
4.0 out of 5 stars Solutions to the problems of globalisation
I support the reviews given by most of the other reviewers to date (1 June 2009). I can also recommend a solution to the problems of globalisation: The International Simultaneous... Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2009 by D. V. Short
5.0 out of 5 stars A recipe for reform after our current economic meltdown
The current world wide economic collapse has much to learn from this well argued and insightful book. Read more
Published on 20 Mar 2009 by John D. Croft
2.0 out of 5 stars Basically total rubbish, though with a few redeeming qualities
The foundations of any argument or discussion are the common knowledge and assumptions of the listener and speaker. Read more
Published on 25 Jun 2008 by Swift
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential work
For someone whose only exam failure was a U in Economics at 'A'-Level (no, I don't know why I took it either), I am the least likely advocate of a book that confronts the 'dismal... Read more
Published on 5 April 2008 by A. Grewcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Age of Consent
This is a very optimistic book laying forth (as the author puts it) a manifesto for a new world order, and very plausible and inspiring it is as well. Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2007 by Spider Monkey
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely and visionary food for thought
George Monbiot's 'Age of Consent' is a powerful and visionary call to arms from a seasoned campaigner of the Global Resistance Movement. Read more
Published on 29 Nov 2004 by Dave Watton
4.0 out of 5 stars George Monbiot gives us something to aim at.
This is an excellent piece of work that manages to take our enlightenment ideal of democratic rule, where the powerful are held in check by the choices and consciences of the many,... Read more
Published on 24 July 2004 by "clearenglish"
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