Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain Paperback – 7 Sep 2001
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A devastating indictment of the corruption at the heart of the British State by one of our most popular media figures.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
"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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Easy read of why the human race HAS to take a stand against Elitism and the takeover of our planets resources.Published 6 months ago by Ron Moore
Corporatocracy is where there is no separation between the corporation and the state and where there is a revolving door for politicians who are supposed to regulate corporation... Read morePublished 9 months ago by a badly positioned hole near centre of chariot wheel
This is a most excellent book for anyone studying politics or the economy. It shows how currupt matters are at the top and names many of the fat cats and how they came about... Read morePublished 10 months ago by A. S. Phillips
A bit dated now, having been published in 2000, but still very relevant because, if anything the situation he describes has got worse. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Andrew Martin Fraser
Cant think how it took me so long to find this book. Easy to read, well written and researched- everyone should read it.Published 17 months ago by sugee
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