The Age of Consent Paperback – 4 Oct 2004
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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, GuardianSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.''
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.Read more ›
Ironically for a fully paid-up member of the so-called 'Anti-Globalization Movement, one of Monbiot's central arguments is that there is, paradoxically, a need for more rather than less globalization - in the sense of greater connectivity between people beyond national frontiers as opposed to the unrepresentative and undemocratic 'internationalism', which at present merely masquerades as globalization.
Though Monbiot has been, and will continue to be, criticized for his lack of realism, such shortsighted reactions only serve to underline how vital his horizon-expanding views are to defining the early 21st-century zeitgeist. This book's central aim is clearly to inspire its readers to act, a goal in which it will undoubtedly succeed.
To quote the author's opening broadside: "Everything has been globalized except our consent. Democracy alone has been confined to the nation state. It stands at the national border, suitcase in hand, without a passport." Indeed, releasing democracy from its current shackles must surely be the foremost challenge of our times - fortunately, this book may well provide the key!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent enlightening read on the manufacturing of consent by the media. Thank you.Published 7 months ago by john wilson
Excellent well written book. Gives me hope that one day the world may become a better place, though I fear not in my life time. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sara
Hope for those of us that despair of the greed and inequalities of our financial system and governments. We can do something about it and I, for one, am going to try. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jane Little
Well it's always nice to get acquainted with someone talking a whole lot of sense about something of such relevance and importance. Read morePublished 16 months ago by keen reader
This book outlines necessary changes to our global society and even provides the mechanisms to achieve them....a truly empowering achievement....Thank you, George......Published 19 months ago by stuart cluny