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A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It [Paperback]

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Aug 2010
It often seems that different crises are competing to devastate civilisation. This book argues that financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages need to be considered as part of the same ailing system.

Most accounts of our contemporary global crises such as climate change, or the threat of terrorism, focus on one area, or another, to the exclusion of others. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed argues that the unwillingness of experts to look outside their own fields explains why there is so much disagreement and misunderstanding about particular crises. This book attempts to investigate all of these crises, not as isolated events, but as trends and processes that belong to a single global system. We are therefore not dealing with a 'clash of civilisations', as Huntington argued. Rather, we are dealing with a fundamental crisis of civilisation itself.

This book provides a stark warning of the consequences of failing to take a broad view of the problems facing the world and shows how catastrophe can be avoided.

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A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It + Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq + War on Truth: Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism
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Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (6 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745330533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745330532
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16.3 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

[Ahmed's] arguments are in the main forceful and well-sourced, with particularly good sections on agribusiness, US policies of 'energy security', and what he terms the 'securitisation' of ordinary life by Western governments. (Guardian)

How can a discussion of the all too familiar crises of our time be a hopeful book? By combining a microscopic dissection of the structure of each with a telescopic view of how they weave together in a whole system. If the myriad international conferences and programs haven’t worked, it isn’t that we have to try harder but that we have to confront the whole free of conventional constraints. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed confronts the whole. (Richard Levins, John Rock Professor of Population Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University; author, Evolution in Changing Environments)

This important analysis exposes vital truths and challenges much conventional wisdom. It deserves to be widely read. (Mark Curtis, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Strathclyde; former Head of Policy, Action Aid and Christian Aid; former Research Fellow, Royal Institute of International Affairs; author, Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World and Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses)

This is an important book. There has been much discussion already about climate change, peak oil, the cost of food and overpopulation, the global financial crisis busting neoliberal capitalism, the rise of violent extremism, and the containment of the so-called war on terror. But this is the first book to systematically explore their interconnections and place them within a single comprehensive narrative. That makes it a very worthwhile read for policy-makers everywhere. (Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher MP, UK Minister of State for the Environment (1997-2003); Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (1975-79); Under-Secretary of State for Industry (1974-75))

Few thinkers weave as many threads into a tapestry as Nafeez Ahmed has done so superbly in this book. Those of us who seek to operate within the form of capitalism that has evolved today would do well to ask ourselves a very big question. Are we wasting our time? If it is true that only root-to-branch rewriting of the global economic operating manual can save society from an unliveable future, shouldn’t we be putting our weight behind that re-engineering process before it is too late? (Dr. Jeremy Leggett, UK Department of Trade & Industry’s Renewables Advisory Board (2002-2006); CEO, Solarcentury, member of UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil & Energy Security; author, Half Gone and The Carbon War)

Nafeez Ahmed’s book confronts the reader with the stark message that life as we know it is unsustainable. It provides a chilling enumeration of the existential challenges humanity faces, and can only by qualified as optimistic in the sense that it does not leave a single illusion in place. A must-read but not as bed-time reading. (Kees van der Pijl, Professor of International Relations, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex; Chair of Department of International Relations and Director of Centre for Global Political Economy (2000-2006); Leverhulme Major Research Fellow; author, Modes of Foreign Relations and Political Economy (3 volumes))

A staggeringly comprehensive bird’s-eye view of the gaping cracks that are appearing in global industrial civilization. Ahmed weaves a context that makes current economic and geopolitical events comprehensible. If you want to understand why the world is coming apart at the seams and what we can do to lay the foundations for a sane, peaceful, and sustainable society, read this book. (Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute; author, The Party’s Over, Powerdown and Peak Everything)

Dr. Ahmed presents the clearest synthesis to date of the systemic problems facing human civilization. There is no shortage of popular texts on climate change, economic challenges, energy scarcity, and terrorism, but this work is the first to effectively integrate these diverse issues into a compelling and unified system - one that is both accessible to a broad audience yet grounded in rigorous academic research. (Jeff Vail, Former US Department of the Interior Counterterrorism Analyst; former US Air Force Intelligence Officer for global energy infrastructure; author, A Theory of Power)

In this magisterial exposition of the multiple intersecting challenges facing humanity in our century Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed points to real solutions. Armed with the depth of knowledge and the courage demonstrated in this work we can and will construct the other world that is possible. All of us, but especially the youth of our planet will be empowered by reading this book. (David Schwartzman, Professor of Biology, Howard University, Washington DC; author, Life, Temperature and the Earth: the self-organizing biosphere)

About the Author

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development in London. He has taught international relations, contemporary history, empire and globalisation at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex and the Politics & History Unit, Brunel University. His previous books include The War on Truth: Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (2005) and Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq (2003).

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this on DVD now! 14 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback
This book (By Dr Ahmed) is now released as a Documentary Feature, on DVD, directed by Dean Puckett.
I was lucky enough to get a copy from the makers. It's a tight, insightful DVD, a must have, and well worth watching, massive amount of extra material, plus superb thought provoking Animations by Lucca Benney.
Should be on Amazon in the very near future! The book was excellent and I hope this DVD makes a superb compliment to it
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, well balanced and comprehensive. 5 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback
Amazing book. This book is great for anyone who wants a comprehensive review of global issues and their convergence in one book! Interesting suggestions for change at the end, food for throught and consideration. I must say that I was happy to find that it was easy to read. Many interesting images and references. Lots of useful sources! Must read for everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very thought provoking read 27 Nov 2011
By Chptr3
Format:Paperback
I dont normally leave a review but this book's genuinely hit a cord with me.
It's really refreshing to get a new analysis of our current global situation and i've really benefited from it.
Great book, well worth the read. Definitely recommend it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The transition to the post-carbon age 24 Oct 2010
By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this mighty guide N.M.Ahmed analyzes the interconnection between the main aspects of the actual global human civilization crisis, except the world's demographic explosion or eventual pandemics. The dragon to be slain is neoliberal capitalism.

The issues
Climate change: a 6 'C temperature rise could wipe out all life on earth.
Energy scarcity: `peak oil' could lead to permanent high oil prices and new energy wars.
Food insecurity: industrial farming ravages the environment and denudes the soil. Vertically integrated food oligopolies are undercutting the livelihood of subsistence farmers.
Financial instability: financial liberalization and deregulation provoked a worldwide economic and banking crisis to be solved by the government (the taxpayer).
International terrorism: is linked to the world's over-dependence on oil. It is sponsored by Western intelligence in order to destabilize strategically important countries and to redesign actual geographical maps.
Political violence: its `normalization' by the `deep State' could generate `Police States' and curtail seriously civil liberties.

Neoliberalism
Neoliberal (`pure market') policies are unable to recognize long-term human costs by focusing on short-term profit maximization for a super-wealthy oligarchy (an imperial social system). Economically, it drives actually nearly exclusively on oil energy. Its ideology is based on unlimited growth and consumption maximization.

Structural reforms
On the political front, there should be more real democracy (decentralization of power) through community-lead governance.
On the economic front, there should be sustainable (not unlimited) growth.
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