The Politics of Belonging: George Monbiot

George Monbiot, journalist, author and campaigner. Photo taken from Geographical, 2015.

I love the writings of George Monbiot and look out for his articles in the Guardian.  I enjoyed reading his new book Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis and it made me reflect upon the way that western society has been going. What he writes resonates so strongly with my own beliefs about the world.

Here is a section called ‘The Story – in Summary’ taken from the book’s first chapter. I first ‘blogged’ about this Story on my Sharing Culture website in June 2018. The more I’ve reflected on the relevance today of the Carrolup Story, the more I’ve realised how important this story is.

‘We are astonishing creatures, blessed with an amazing capacity for kindness and care towards others. But this good nature has been thwarted by a mistaken view of our own humanity. We have been induced by certain politicians, economists and commentators to accept a vicious ideology of extreme competition and individualism that pits us against each other, and weakens the social bonds that makes our lives worth living.

Though it is not the only factor, this has helped to usher in an age of loneliness, in which, on this crowded planet, we are disconnected from each other as never before. The result is an epidemic of unhappiness and of psychological and physical illness. The atomisation we suffer has eroded our sense of common purpose and sapped our belief that, by working together, we can change life for the better. It has undermined democracy, and allowed intolerant and violent forces to fill the political vacuum. We are trapped in a vicious circle of alienation and reaction.

By coming together to revive community life, we, the heroes of this story, can break the vicious circle. Through invoking the two great healing forces – togetherness and belonging – we can discover the central facts of our humanity: our altruism and mutual aid.

Where there is atomisation, we will create a thriving civic life. Where there is alienation, we will forge a new sense of belonging: to neighbours, neighbourhood and society. Where we find ourselves crushed between market and state, we will develop a new economics that treats both people and planet with respect. Where we are ignored and exploited, we will revive democracy and retrieve politics from those who have captured it.

In doing so, we can reclaim our happiness, reclaim our self-reliance, reclaim our pride, and reclaim our place. We will belong once more to society and ourselves.

I propose a name for this story: ‘The Politics of Belonging’.’

George Monbiot, Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis, Verso, 2017.

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