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The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century
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The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  347 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 2012 by Blue Rider Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Jake Goretzki
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I found this well meaning, but all rather tentative and wet behind the ears. I don’t want to doubt its sincerity - I’m just not hugely surprised that a few years on from its publication, examples of ‘ordinary people’ changing politics remain rather scarce.

Ordinary people will not ‘take power and change politics’ in the 21st century. At most, they’ll make small inroads, and perhaps advance some finite correctives. The actions of Carne Ross’s ‘ordinary people’ aren’t what marketers call ‘scaleabl
Wessel van Rensburg
Very interesting in part, in particular in identifying the crisis of modern politics and nation states in solving modern problems. A little light on proposing alternative anarchist non hierarchical solutions. It does not critically take a look at institutions - what role they currently play and how they can be changed.
After reading so many dense, and frankly dull, books based around activism and politics this year, The Leaderless Revolution felt like a breath of fresh air. It's an easy to read and fully accessible book for anyone new to activism who is looking for a few pointers on how to get the ball rolling, whether through individual choices or collectively (though the problems of trying to do things on your own are briefly discussed). I also enjoyed the interesting background info of Carne's previous life ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
This is less of a wake up clarion call to arms for the everyman and more the high-brow musings of an affluent middle-aged white man on how the electoral, democratic and governmental organisation of most western countries has failed the populace.

It's no galvanizing analysis of political and social events that spurs the reader on to taking action, getting out there and making a difference as you would get from say John Pilger.
This seems to be far more akin to a stuffy editorial piece you would fin
Ammar Hammoudeh
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I liked the concept of how ordinary people could be engaged to shape their political world. In other hand, the author doesn't suggest 'how to do it', alternatively, he keeps the door open for anyone to think of best way to set and apply tactical goals to achieve this strategic goal. ...more
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
An inspiring testament to and call for people to take control over their lives rather than depending on a government that continues to fail them.
Zachary Barker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

The Leaderless Revolution | Reviewed by Stuart Barton.

Carne Ross’ The Leaderless Revolution is refreshing because of its atypical perspective. Contemporary anarchist literature is often written by academics who have studied political theory, or by working class people, who have struggled in a Neo-liberal capitalist society, and understand the need for change. Ross is neither of these; a former British diplomat, he was a lead official at Britain’s mission a
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This book really changed my view of the world when I read it in 2010, particularly through the authors experiences as a British diplomat during the time of the Iraq war. His revelations as to how the political and media class spin truths and half truths to manufacture consent.
How 'watch dogs' are set up to make us think there are impartial bodies keeping an eye on the powerful - so that we don't have to. In reality they are often toothless groups without legal weight at best and at worst popula
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was during the #ZumaMustFall campaigns in South Africa that I was looking for books about Revolution to help remove a corrupt president that I came across this book.

We liked it so much that the name stuck and we registered - a disruptive education platform to prepare people for the Fourth Industrial Revolution by creating projects and products that would show them how to take power back using the digital age.
Charles Latimer
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
An old white man, who's been working "as the man" his entire career long has a revelation in his later years. He is now is now a self-described anarchists who uses a real-estate deal to demonstrate the need of face to face interactions as humans (eye-roll). Has some insights into how decisions are made in the halls of power, but falls flat in giving any real meaningful push towards the ideal of a functioning decentralized human society (Anarchy). ...more
Fernando Pestana da Costa
A bitter critique of the current state of the world, particularly in what concerns the emptiness and ineffectiveness of much of the international relations activities. The author, who was a member of Britain's diplomatic staff, clearly knows what he is writing about, although some of his well meaning suggestions I found but somewhat lacking in realism. But maybe I'm wrong... ...more
Susan Ross
Jul 11, 2020 marked it as to-read
go carne. help us FIX this!
Vanessa Fuller
This has certainly inspired a lot of thought. But,... it also seems somewhat dated given the last 10 years.

I need to think about this further...
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More relevant than ever. If you’re dissatisfied with the state of the world and those posturing for control here in 2019, this 2011 treatise by a disenfranchised, former British diplomat is essential reading.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
It's a shame to like what a book stands for and dislike the book.

What I wanted: an in-depth analysis of different forms of government / political action followed by a conclusion (which, given the subtitle, would obviously be in favour of citizen action, but I could live without the suspense).

What this is: advocacy from the outset, the basis for which, you all-too-slowly learn, is a hotchpotch of questionably relevant anecdote, questionably convincing extreme examples and tired (maybe less tired
David Cheshire
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it
There are some good insights in this book, written by an ex-diplomat who quit over the Iraq war. Indices of social capital show that immigration increases social fragmentation in the short run but improves social capital longer term; long-term enrichment follows short-term disruption, in other words. Gandhi says the means of protest and change should be identical to the ends, as in satyagraha, non-violnece born of truth and love. Capitalism gets into trouble when it becomes not just an economic ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A sweeping, well-written and compelling call for taking personal action in new ways. A critique of our hierarchical institutions and of the failings of representative democracy, Carne Ross is suggesting 21st century realities demand a "revolution" --an evolution, actually--toward a more participative and consensual democracy, a deliberative democracy where the marketplace (my term) of ideas and interests are more equitably shared. Today this is made realizable, in part, by advances in communicat ...more
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a good insight into the workings of the British diplomatic service from someone at the very top of the tree.

From my own reading Ross is coming from a hyper globalist position with a twist, that he gives his own take on how to deal with the transnational problems such as pollution, economic inequality etc. through an anarchist lens.

That people should do things non-violently and take charge of their own destiny since the traditional role of government is becoming less and less effect

I found this book quite interesting with lots on little facts and historical examples provided. The overall message that I took away from this book was be the change you wish to see in the world and also where you spend your money is a vote of support for the people or corporations that own it. One fact that really stuck in my head is that for every $1 spent in the economy the 1% get 52 cents of it leaving the other 99% to split the 48 cents.
Sidney Luckett
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Compelling critique of modern liberal democracies - how government is divorced from the people.

The conclusion is a profound reflection on his life as a British diplomat - it literally demoralized him. Inspired by anarchism, complexity theory and WH Auden, Ross suggests that a new world is possible and what it will take for individuals to move to this world.

(Strangely, the weakest chapter in the book, Nine Principles for Action, is a bit thin)
Picture Bandit
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
The leaderless Revolution gives you an insight in to the veiled actions of diplomats, countries and the UN.Sometimes there are facts that are hard to believe but well documented with sources.

The points raised are also food for thought just as the suggestions on how "we the people" could act.

Everybody who has but the slightest interest in diplomacy, international affairs, Iran, Iraq, USA, Britain and the UN should take a few moments to look in to it.
A great book highlighting today's political errors in governments and such, while suggesting a new way to approach those objects in power. The author, an ex-diplomat, approaches anarchy with a new point of view; instead of the usual chaos that we are used to think of when it comes to anarchy, people might just finally relate to their instincts and help each other, forming a circle of trust within a nation itself and not having to depend on the government at such times. ...more
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it
A passionate and thus somewhat polemical critique of government and those of us who rely on government to get stuff done. Since I read this during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York, I was particularly skeptical about the author's ideas that an individual's sense of agency and ability to form small working groups on a local level could ever substitute for government, however lacking and infuriating such governments may be. ...more
Xiaoyu Li
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We don't need "the neat logic of neoclassical economics and representative democracy" which "created a mental cage of our minds, and ambitions". "Real life was far too complex and contingent to be controlled by those at the summit of the pyramid".
The world needs our own voices. Our future must be controlled by ourselves, not by some ostensible democratic governments.
"Even failure is better than acquiescence".
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I do think this is a book worth reading. While I argue with some of the premises this book starts with, it at least offers solid avenues for people to try and act, in line with it's principles which is unusal for this type of book.
I do think some of the problems it identified exist and could be solved by greater involvement of people, however I don't think less restrictions and government involvement is the answer, at least at the local level.

One to read and ponder.
Sep 20, 2012 added it
First I read Colorado Senator Morgan Carroll's book on Take Back Your Government. Empowering. Next, for our October meeting our Littleton Great Decisions Discussion Group is reading Ill Fairs the Land by Tony Judt, and then the following month we'll be reading this: Leaderless Revolution.
Book gave me some pointers on how we as individuals could move forward.
Hannah Jones
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Although I enjoyed this book, I did feel it was slightly 'forgettable.' I also felt like the conclusion was almost independent to the rest of the book as it brought in some new ideas and a new way of looking at things. Overall, I did enjoy this book though and it did encourage me to think about the power we all hold. ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting book especially discussing how the interests of government can and often do run contrary to the interests of social justice . Unfortunately, I found that the last two chapters talking about how to create the leaderless revolution were very vague and not particularly helpful.
Peter Podbielski
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
In describing how ordinary people will take power and change politics in the 21st Century, the author fails to note that the same lot has been doing just that since time immemorial. Much of this book lacks coherency.
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Ross joined the British Foreign Office and worked at the UK embassy in Bonn, Germany before moving to the UK mission to the UN, where he worked from December 1997 to June 2002. At the UN, Ross served as the UK delegation's expert on the Middle East. Ross also worked on several important Security Council resolutions such as SCR 1284 which rewrote the Council's Iraq policy and established UNMOVIC, t ...more

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