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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written diagnosis of our present condition and points to the answers that lie within our power, 3 April 2013
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This review is from: Common Sense: Occupation, Assembly, and the Future of Liberty (Kindle Edition)
Dan Hind displays a clarity in his political writing that would surely have pleased George Orwell. This well-written treatise has the courage to speak uncomfortable truths to our present society and confront popular delusions.

Hind doesn't pretend that challenging the status quo is easy. In fact he says, "Nonconformity in thought, a billion adverts tell us, is dynamic and fun. A billion adverts lie. The pursuit of truth in defiance of widely accepted errors is a kind of self-harm... To call things by their proper names makes a revolution in us before it changes anything else. If we are to be free, we must change, and to change is to kill some part of ourselves. It is no wonder that we hesitate."

I was very receptive to this book as it touched on many themes that I am currently thinking about a great deal, and it did so with great eloquence. Hind acknowledges that a writer can't conjure a readership into existence, but they can "speak to a state of mind, put into words something already felt". This is what the book did for me.

Hind discusses the fact that banks create money through lending. This is a crucial part of what money is, and how our financial system works, that far too few people understand. For those wanting to know more about this I would recommend reading 'Where Money Comes From' by the the NEF, or to look at the Positive Money website.

Hind takes on the notion of 'freedom' and the importance of reclaiming the idea in its fullest sense - which should encompass not just a "freedom from coercion" but "a freedom to shape the conditions or our shared life". He also touches on the rise in anxiety and stress - which I currently see rising amongst all my peers - and argues that our personal troubles are best understood with reference to the public world and have origins in our collective arrangements.

When confronting 'common nonsense' he particularly takes aim at the cult of the market and the cult of the expert. He says that the public are kept away from decisions and the information needed to make them. Hind finds the answer to this predicament in deliberative democracy and is inspired by the lessons from the Occupy movement. The significance of Occupy is that it led those involved to believe that they were consequential. By gathering, and being listened to, they began to experience what it feels like to be fully free. The deliberations and debate amongst those assembled enabled all subjects to be "held up to the daylight of general inquiry" and this useful scrutiny exposed the fictions of 'common sense' to a new shared understanding. We think more clearly when we are with others and our beliefs become sturdier when submitted to uninhibited debate. Hind sees Assembly as a great instrument for refining and sharing knowledge, and as the beginning of new power (with greater legitimacy).

Hind writes in the belief that "we each have some useful fraction of a world-changing power within us" and encourages us to assemble to gather, talk and learn from one another. This book is a gift that points a possible way forward for all of us, together, towards a more honest, enlightened, happier and more free future. Dan Hind dares to understand, dares to know and dares to describe what he sees. The test for us as readers is, do we? Hind's book makes the prospect a little less daunting.
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