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Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,475 ratings  ·  209 reviews
A toxic ideology rules the world - of extreme competition and individualism. It misrepresents human nature, destroying hope and common purpose. Only a positive vision can replace it, a new story that re-engages people in politics and lights a path to a better world.

George Monbiot shows how new findings in psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology cast human nature
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Verso (first published September 1st 2017)
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Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
Paradoxically, George Monbiot slightly undermined my enjoyment of ‘Out of Wreckage’ by being too effective a speaker. I went to an event about the book back in November, which was excellent and convinced me to read it. However, I remembered almost everything from his speech, so the content didn’t seem terribly novel. In fact, I think the way he structured his thesis in spoken form was better than in book form. That’s pretty impressive: I lecture students and often struggle to impose a better str ...more
João Martins
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-my-bookshelf
George Monbiot's latest book is everything I was expecting from his last one and did not get: a beautifully articulated and well-supported narrative about the maladies of modern political and economic systems, topped with a clear and thoughtful alternative story - a 'politics of belonging' - to replace them.
Absolutely essential!
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't give up. Read this instead. ...more
Jamie Johnson
I enjoyed reading Monbiot’s book, as I enjoy reading his contributions to the Guardian. The arguments for a new story, the retaking of the common weal, and engaged activism at the community level are all important and well presented.

My main issue is that the book does not take the current political and economic forces at play seriously enough.

First, the Hayekian interpretation of free markets, commonly referred to as neo-liberalism, where the ‘market’ is the ultimate aggregator of available info
Tara Brabazon
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a ripper. It explores the role of stories - of narratives - in creating truths we believe. Particularly, this book probes what happens when the two narratives of the twentieth century - neoliberalism and social democracy - are exhausted.

The loss of community and the rise of atomization remain key tropes throughout this book. While the word 'crisis' is overused, in inability to summon a believable and authentic narrative of life, identity, family and work is devastating for consensu
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After enjoying Monbiot's rapier-sharp commentary for the Guardian, I felt let down by this book. I think he is far better at original dissection and analysis of problems in current politics and society than at proposing solutions. And solutions are what this book is supposedly about.

The book is absolutely worth reading for the first and last chapters. Chapter 1 is an eye-opening essay about how important narrative and storytelling are in politics and the way opinions are formed. The last chapter
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Monbiot argues that we need a new story for politics, which he says should revolve around community. This would entail a more participatory politics, subsidiarity, controls on political spending, etc.

It all sounds very nice. On the other hand, I'm not convinced we're likely to get it. He says that the community organisers behind the Sanders campaign show the way forward, and that they would have been successful had they only learnt what works earlier in the Democratic campaign. We shall see.

Bill Hsu
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm a fan of Monbiot's thoughtful and articulate pieces in the Guardian, and was happy to see this. A whole book on such a broad topic is obviously quite a different endeavor from a short focused article, but this is mostly intelligent, engaging and inspiring, and grounded in specific examples. I do agree that building inclusive communities is the way forward, though I'm maybe a little less optimistic than Monbiot; even organic, self-organizing communities with demonstrated successes can turn ou ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've always had a lot of time for George Monbiot, and have been keen to read Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis (2017) since it was published.

His message seems more pertinent than ever given our era is characterised by populism, climate change, political corruption, corporate power, rising inequality, and alienation.

As someone who believes in the inherent goodness of humanity, I found Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis to be both inspiring and hopefu
Jun 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed the first chapter (narrative and storytelling is crucial for political discourse), but most of the middle chapters seemed to be about a political utopia, not a map for how to get there.

This British writer contributes a weekly column for the Guardian (I haven't read it) and perhaps many of these chapters were originally articles. Most are interesting, if unlikely, though I'm not sure I buy all the arguments. One chapter goes into the tragedy of the commons, seeming to call for lo
Trenchant, egregious and passionate, “Out of the Wreckage…” (“The book”) represents a loud voice bemoaning the surge of neo-liberalism that has wielded what George Monbiot perceives to be a pernicious influence over humanity. Preferring the ferocity of individualism over the warmth of togetherness, man has tragically become a puppet whose strings pull him dangerously towards material possessions and cultural detachments. Every step taken towards this end signifies a few other steps away from the ...more
Sarah Clement
I don't want to leave this a star rating, as I feel I cannot rate it fairly. Monbiot is simply repeating the arguments of so many authors, but I don't know if I am jaded because I have read these ideas so many times before, because I am sad that the left has run out of ideas, or because I just can't understand what's new about this after having read so many books about democracy. I have complex views about Monbiot....I think he is a compelling writer and his passion is intoxicating. But he reall ...more
Heather Hollick
You can see my full review of this book on my website. Here's the short version:

First I read Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America to get an understanding of the intellectual and philosophical underpinnings of our current political situation. Then I read Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right to get a sense of who was behind this movement and how they were putting their money to work.

And finally, tee
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
‘Out of the Wreckage’ (great title for a holiday read) by writer and environmental activist George Monbiot (VERSO, 2017). The principal objective of the book is to identify exit routes from this miserable condition we and the planet are in today. If you’re following the discourse on 21st socialism (including radical municipalism) and Monbiot’s regular The Guardian columns then you’ll be familiar with most of the ideas and policy ideas contained in the book. In the case of the UK, John McDonnel’s ...more
Wendy Liu
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I already pretty much agree with everything he says, so I didn't get a ton of new value from this book, but it's a good overview of how to move toward a (slightly) better world. Nothing too radical (at least in the sense that he's not encouraging a violent revolution): build better community solidarity, take control of our political system, better taxation to ensure the euthanasia of the rentier, etc. Some proposals for transforming the currently awful & unaccountable global monetary organisatio ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


“Craving contentment and a sense of connection, we succumb to compulsions that often find expression in a frenzy of consumption. We chase brief spikes of satisfaction, which soon subside, to be replaced by the urge for another hit.…These tendencies are reinforced by an economic system that puts a price on everything and a value on nothing; a political system that promotes economic growth above all other aims, regardless of whether it enhances human welfare or damages it
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: uk
Catch me on a more optimistic day and it's a 4. ...more
Brandy Cross
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
This seems a lot like a flimsy community anarchist manifesto from the introduction

On reading it, I’m unsure what this book actually wants to be. Part anarcho-communist polemic, part rational and reasonable discourse on government and public ownership, part Bernie Sanders propaganda, and part egotistical rant this book goes back and forth between calling the working poor to build communities and law to engaging in intellectually snobbery like the assumption that people need storytelling to handle
Nov 13, 2020 added it
Skipped most of it because my brain doesn’t work anymore apparently but I think it’s good
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is frustratingly optimistic and hopeful, even if it felt like a melding of Robert Putnams' "Bowling Alone" and John Michael Greers' "Retro Future", which aren't exactly uplifting books. It reads like a self help guide, and you could probably argue it kind of is, except instead of helping you to develop habits of successful people or interview well, it instead focuses on your political health. Important caveat: if you don't agree with Monbiots' basic premise of the innate altruism of ma ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author is absolutely right that it is essential to tell new economic stories and also right that the neoliberal narrative has failed. He is also right that the left does not have a great counter narrative to the right's market-dominance. He tries to offer a counter-economic narrative here and points to Kate Raworth and others who have done great work in this area. Unfortunately, I don't know if the idea of the "commons" is quite strong enough to counter Ayn Rand's individualist heroes. I thi ...more
Steve Lawless
An inmortant contribution to the struggle for social justice and sustainability if somewhat rushed in the writing. As a community development professional myself I liked his chapters on community organising. Definitely the way to go rather than a vote to give away your own power every five years. It does, however, beg some serious questions. The power of the ruling elite to undermine true democracy and the real risk of a coup and suppression should there be any real threat to their power is not ...more
Rob Kall
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant book, one of the best of the year.
Smart, visionary analysis of the current problem, discussion of neoliberalism, of progressive values and principles and the need to create a story that includes the principles we as progressives embrace.
I loved the hour plus interview I did with George.
Odi Shonga
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m not quite sure when I became the sort of person who has favourite journalists, but somehow I’ve made that transition. George Monbiot is one of them. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon him — it will undoubtedly have been through a social network and somebody having linked an article of his; that’s how everything is discovered these days — but I distinctly remember being drawn to his writing style and the ideas it encompassed. I don’t know much about him, except that he writes principally in ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very welcome shaft of optimism through the gloomy state of the world in 2018. Monbiot charts a course for what he calls “the politics of belonging”, which begins with people being engaged and active in their local communities and leads from there to a reconceptualisation of economics and political organising based on the essentially altruistic and cooperative nature of humans. I know, I know, but honestly, give it a read. If enough of us believe it maybe we can make it true.
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This gives me hope. I bought this in late 2018 in an airport bookstore while I was having a mini crisis of my place in the world as a newly turned adult, and I finished it one plane ride. I reread this in another time of personal crisis (this book will definitely accompany me through my life) and I believe in everything Monbiot says: a clear portrayal of the failures of the stories we have been told and the systematic exploration of the possibility of a ‘real’ democracy. I am all for the politic ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economic, politics
This has got to be the best book I've read in 2019. It's such a complete book. It provides a very clear understanding of the problem is, and offers solutions. Great work by George. ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Please Read. It discusses heavy subject matter in an easy to understand way & offers practical solutions to our democratic woes.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book to read on New Years Day. Thoughtful, coheren, clear, and full of direct examples and action.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Good ideas, well defined, but the whole thing is merely the tip of the iceberg. If you're on the verge of awakening, the book might just be the push in the right direction. If you've been fumbling with debugging the system for a while, it's merely a soothing confirmation that other people have been doing so much more skillfully. Finally, if you think everything's alright the way it is now, by all means, start reading, start reading right now. ...more
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