If, like this particular reviewer, you grew up in the West and have come to take for granted a competitive capitalist culture where the mantra of 'survival of the fittest' reigns supreme, David Edwards' insightful synthesis of radical political dissent and Eastern philosophy may come as something of a revelation.
Edwards wastes little time in casting seeds of doubt on the vain pursuit of personal wealth and happiness at the expense of others as practised in Western culture, condemning the "institutionalised subordination of people and planet to corporate profit" and "an economic system reducing humans and animals to the status of industrial fodder". Here the author summarizes the now-familiar critique of the global justice movement: the demolition of democracy epitomized by the corporate takeover of the planet. Edwards ties in this analysis with a razor-sharp dissection of the myths of press freedom, elegantly distilling the extensive writing of such outstanding dissidents and modern historians as Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, Howard Zinn, John Pilger and Mark Curtis into a very clear and readable summary.
The true power of Edwards' message, however, lies in his detailed analysis of the underlying malaise of a capitalist system that relies on the unholy trinity of greed, hatred and ignorance in order to prevail: the greed for profit at any cost, the hatred and demonizing of anyone or anything that stands in the way of that profit, and the widespread ignorance of the truly dreadful effects of Western corporate 'business as usual' on people and planet. More powerful still is the convincing case Edwards makes for applying Buddhist teachings to the ills of our times: "the antidote is awareness [as opposed to ignorance] rooted in compassion...working for the happiness of others is the basis of all happiness."
Edwards observes that "from an aggressive and hard-hearted culture, an aggressive and hard-hearted - and therefore largely impotent - resistance movement has evolved." Thus a radical politics that is rooted in anger rather than compassion is doomed to failure. Using examples of Bhuddist teachings and meditation techniques, Edwards shows how the reader can take the first important steps along the path to dispensing with self-destructive anger, replacing this with unconditional love for others. The writer concludes that "looking after number one and desiring that all beings are happy in heart are synonymous."
'The Compassionate Revolution' makes it very clear - if there ever was a doubt - that 'an injury to one is an injury to all'. Reading it has profoundly changed my outlook on life, perhaps more so than any other single book. I hope it changes yours.
This book provides a most readable and insightful critique of the present neo-liberal consensus. The author deals with the issues with intelligence and compassion. By bring together the insights of those such as Noam Chomsky, as well as those of Buddhist philosophy and psychology, compassion is felt not only for the victims of the present world order, but also for those responsible - for what state of mind must our rulers be in for them to feel indiferent to the sufferings of their fellow citizens? It's a refreshing change to see someone involved in radical politics to aknowledge that it is hatred and ignorance others' suffering that is the root of today's problems, for all too often, even the most sincere radicals have accepted hatred and suffering so long as it is directed towards their enemies. The result being that the cycle of suffering is maintained, no progress is made and even the most delicious dreams of how society could be like, turns sour.
So, what *does* Buddhism have to do with radical politics? According to David Edwards the answer is "everything". The roots of Buddhism lie in compassion, and it is compassion - not anger - that empowers activists and dissidents, whether they be environmentalists, human rights campaigners, or anyone else concerned about social and ecological justice. At present, argues Edwards, "Our capacity for compassion is hobbled, vestigial, a fact that explains our failure to generate effective resistance to the forces of greed and hatred currently laying waste to our planet." Simply put, compassion is the root of all successful dissent. Compassion - not anger, facts, action or even protest - should be central to the effective struggle for freedom and democracy. David Edwards has written an inspiring, incisive and essential work that deserves a wide readership.
There is probably not much i can add to the above reviews, except to say that it has cleaned some very dirty windows, and given me a much clearer understanding of modern "democracy". As I am already a practising buddhist it made me realise how important that practise and compassion is.
Its a great read, and i hope that this book is widely read. Everyone needs to know and understand the message it contains.
This is an excellent book. It explains how we are all part of the problem and also part of the answer. Why neither Democracy or Socialism have the answers and are actually not really greatly different. It is actually very simple through developing compassion we can stop the destruction of the world .. sounds far fetched read this book ...!