ISBN is

978-0-333-90164-9 / 0333901649

Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain

by Monbiot, George

Publisher:Macmillan

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

If both George Monbiot's Captive State and Naomi Klein's No Logo are the two Zeitgeist books of the beginning of the 21st century, then it is good old-fashioned late-20th century capitalism that has put them there. While Klein investigates how the counter-culture has been bought out by big business, Monbiot takes a close look at how this green and pleasant isle has been delivered into unaccountable corporate control with disastrous results for local communities and for democracy itself. The project of investigating this process is vast and strewn with problems, not least that a great deal of the material Monbiot needed was not in the public domain. Thus, the book itself is the result of "stargazing on a cloudy night": an impassioned attempt to understand what stellar corporate influence is brought to bear on which governmental constellation before the clouds close over again. Depressingly, he demonstrates how New Labour has smoothly transitioned from anti-corporate opposition to big business bedfellow. Like Klein, Monbiot celebrates grassroots action, but his local heroes are more likely to be drawing up battle lines in Skye, rather than Seattle. In his evocative dealings with those at the rump end of corporate mismanagement and greed, the sense of betrayal is palpable, and Captive State can be seen as a warning shot across New Labour's bows. The devil, though, is in the details. Anonymous brown paper parcels arrive full of classified documents and Monbiot is to be applauded for bringing together a wealth of material and rendering it intelligible and intelligent, if sometimes he doesn't shy away from big theatrical deliveries, especially at the end of chapters. Ironically, it seems from reading Captive State that one of the victims of the corporate infiltration of the government is choice as well as voice. Whereas some resistance has come from consumer power--for, as Monbiot reminds us, the things that join us together are the things we are sold, he goes on to make the pertinent point that consumer power is diluted when choice is restricted to a local superstore or one hospital on the edge of town. Monbiot asks the right questions, but his answers remain elusive and caught up in a foggy democratic rhetoric that is less effective and inspiring than the tales of local activists clogging up the system that was supposed to work for them in the first place. Captive State is the first big ideas book of this decade. Let's hope it goes out of date before the next. --Fiona Buckland

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