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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial, entertaining, objectionable, thought provoking ..., 17 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Can Life Prevail? (Paperback)
I stumbled across this book surfing Amazon for books on the environment and was intrigued by the background and provocative quotes given in the book write-up and reviews. Further research on the internet revealed additional details of the author, who, amongst his attributes seems to have a deep love of nature and distain for what man and his rampant materialism is doing to it. He is well known in Finland for his controversial views, has been writing books and articles since 1955, and as a proponent of deep ecology has been labeled an eco-fascist. This is latest book and the first to be translated into English. Not surprisingly, this all sounded quite interesting so I took the plunge and bought the book. Whilst the book and author didn't quite live up to my elevated expectations, it was in many respects an interesting and thought provoking read.

So, what do you get with Can Life Prevail? The book is just over 200 pages long, and is divided into five chapters. It has 37 short articles, most of them dating back to the 1990s. They are grouped under the following chapter headings:

Chapter 1: Finland (six articles)
Chapter 2: Forests (six articles)
Chapter 3: Animals (eleven articles)
Chapter 4: The World and Us (eleven articles)
Chapter 5: The Prerequisites for Life (three articles)

These chapter titles are somewhat bland indicators of the fascinating articles they feature. Most of the articles are relatively short and concise. This has the benefit of that you get clear, to the point article content and that the range of topic matter per chapter is wide. However, it should be noted that Linkola is very much a man of Finland, and his frame of reference and experience is derived from that country. In some cases the article content is very Finland specific; in others, although his Finland experience dictates his viewpoint, the topic matter can easily be related to what is happening elsewhere in Europe and the world.

Chapter 1 is a good illustration of how even Finish focused themes have a wider relevance. Though titled Finland, chapter 1 actually covers topics of universal relevance within a Finish spark point;

o article 1 looks at the modern obsession with food hygiene which Linkola believes actually undermines the peoples ability to resist germs;
o article 2 discusses the decline in physical exercise which in his view is changing the concept of what it is to be a human being;

o article 3 explores the modern fixation on money and the role of media in filling peoples conscious with what he regards as `rubbish that is both trivial and false';

o article 4 asks the question of whether the minority in society are leading the majority in a direction they don't want to go;

o article 5 ruminates on the topic of life protection, utopia's and agriculture prompting Linkola's statement that the worst mistake that anyone can make in thinking about improving society is `to envision the prevailing system a starting point';

o and article 6 looks at why building a new motorway should be viewed as a criminal activity given the state of the planet and natural world.

Therefore, just from this one chapter of Can Life Prevail? you can see the scope of what is discussed is quite diverse and of universal interest; and this where the chapter focus is Finland.

The real strength of the book is Linkola's uncompromising views and the colourful turn of phrase. There is no doubt that his values and way of life belong to an older age, but this, combined with his environmental concerns, provide an valuable perspective from which he views the destructive and negative aspects of today's society and culture. Throughout the book there are some quite incisive observations that really do get you thinking. He is not afraid to speak unpleasant truths, as some of the examples that follow will show.

In Can Life Prevail? Linkola see's the western way of life, the democratic system and the population explosion as being huge factors in our destruction of the environment. He believes parliamentary democracy is "a suicidal form of government". He understands that "Our society and ways of life are based on what man desires rather than what is best for him.". He believes that `The underlying values of a society ought to be questioned, when such a society is headed to its doom.', and that `The most serious environmental disasters occur in democracies. Any kind of dictatorship is superior to democracy, for a system where the individual is always bound one way or another leads to utter destruction more slowly. When individual freedom reigns, humanity is both the killer and the victim'. He says `all kinds of collective suicide are perceptible in our society'.

He strongly believes that population growth must be curbed if the planet and natural world as we know it has any chance for survival. He suggest that the human population must fall to about 10% of its current levels if there is to be any hope for us and the natural world (although a 50% cut would be good start), and advocates that extreme measures are taken before it's too late. He argues that procreation can no longer be a family decision; it must be regulated by society, and that `It would be a spark of hope if only wars were to morph in such a way as to target the actual breeding potential of a population: young females and children, half of whom are girls. Unless this happens, wars will mostly remain a waste of time or even a harmful activity'.

He has withering views of the population at large. `Faith in humanity is the greatest of all follies. If man knew what was good for him would history be chock-full of wretchedness, war, murder, oppression, torment and misery? Would mankind have driven itself to the brink of total destruction by following millions of false beacons?'. The only solution to move from our `suicide society' to `one of strict central government and the tireless control of citizens'. Such a Government could implement a programme for the preservation of life. The eco programme he envisages, as outlined in the last article of the book, is a simplistic, absurd and utterly terrifying vision. It makes the life depicted in George Orwell's novel `1984' look like a holiday camp.

As the examples given show Linkola can be extremely controversial and provocative in his comments. However, if you think the whole book is full of explosive comments you would be mistaken. Linkola does speak his mind freely but when it comes to the environment, nature and its birds and animals, animal rights and factory farming, and a host of other topics covered in this book, he speaks just plain common sense. He is direct and forthright but his arguments are well grounded.

So, would I recommend you get this book Can Life Prevail? Yes and no. It is far from perfect. However, the forthright observations, engaging writing style and total candor make the book a compelling reading, even if some of what he says is highly objectionable. Open the book at any page and there will be a comment or point of view there that draws you in. So, if you want a book that will challenge your existing mindset, provoke a reaction, and make you think, then this book might just fit the bill. I've certainly not come across anything quite like it before.
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