Cover of the book "Out of the Wreckage" by G. Monbiot
Book Review

Book Review: “Out of the Wreckage” by G. Monbiot


During the summer I read something different. I didn’t read about Archaeology, Digital Methods or Archaeogaming. Instead, I read “Out of the Wreckage” by G. Monbiot. A book about politics, environment and especially neo-liberalism. It was shocking to read how easy it can be and how hard it actually is.

What is the book about

George Monbiot writes in his book “Out of the Wreckage” about our society. How competition and individualism are destroying it and how to replace it with a more natural and positivistic view. Based on new findings in psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology, he shows how humanity is fundamentally on the wrong track. He proposes a society based on altruism and cooperation. Sounds unrealistic? I thought so as well, but George Monbiot explains how this might be possible.

In his ten chapters, he first explains what the biggest problems of our society are today and how it has come to this. A growing alienation, a missing sense of belonging and the ever growing economy that is actually destroying what humanity has built are at the core of his analysis. He rightfully names the problem neo-liberalism, the economical theory we are living in right now. In it, everything is subordinated to “the market” and we were made believe that this is a good thing.

Monbiot’s key points

To summarize his whole theory would be outside of the scope of this blog entry. What I can summarize are his key points. In order to change the current status, society has to fight certain neo-liberal values like individualism and the resulting alienation. Instead of global loneliness, Monbiot proposes local community projects. In politics, Monbiot calls for more participation to claim back our democratic power and he offers real-life examples from other countries. This holds true for all his ideas. Monbiot is not a positivistic dreamer, but always offers real-life examples on how to achieve what he proposes.

All his points nevertheless point into one direction: That the way we live today can not continue. Unlawful wars, climate change and the rise of right-wing policy-makers are only very obvious reasons a system-change has to happen. The question is how. Sri Lanka tried just recently.

Where to go from here

I honestly don’t know. The key difference to Sri Lanka is, that people living in the so-called “First World” are saturated and don’t feel the need for a change. Unfortunately, these people are the ones responsible for many of the wrong-doings. When I first heard about Monbiot’s book, I thought that his ideas are unrealistic and only wishful thinking. While reading it, I realised that I had actual the same wishful thinking as he has. By the end of the book I saw, that Monbiot is not a dreamer. Nevertheless, what he proposes is not easy and certainly calls for a system-change. In what way that change has to come is not clear. I certainly will give his other books a read.

George Monbiot is a journalist and columnist at The Guardian and has his own website.

Cover of the book "Out of the Wreckage" by G. Monbiot
George Monbiot: “Out of the Wreckage”
Monbiot, George. 2017. Out of the Wreckage. A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. London - New York: Verso.
  1. Reply



    Thanks for this! I also enjoy Monbiot’s work!


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Sebastian Hageneuer

Hi! My name is Sebastian. I am an archaeologist, a university lecturer, freelancer, guitarist, and father. You could say I am quiet busy, so I learned to manage my time and energy to build good habits and still have space for myself and my family. Sounds difficult? Read here how I do it. Every Friday.

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