The idea that human nature is inherently competitive and individualistic isn’t just harmful, argues George Monbiot in his new book. It’s also contradicted by psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology. Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis provides a compelling argument for how we can reorganize our world for the better from the bottom up. Order it today by donating to Truthout!
George Monbiot ardently believes in the “politics of belonging.” In this interview with Truthout, he explains the argument put forward in his book Out of the Wreckage: Humans are altruistic, but we need a new story of empathy and shared development to overcome the propaganda of the neoliberal story.
Mark Karlin: You begin your book with the importance of the stories we accept as our personal narratives as members of society. How did we end up with the neoliberal story prevailing?
George Monbiot: Starting with the formation by Friedrich Hayek and others of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947, the neoliberals, with sponsorship from some very rich backers, built a kind of international network. They set up think tanks, sponsored and captured academic departments, brought journalists and editors into their meetings, and managed to insert advisers into key political departments. They knew that, when Keynesian social democracy was broadly accepted by parties across the political spectrum, that they had no chance of immediate success. But they were patient. Across the course of 30 years, they built their networks, refined their arguments, and brought more and more people into their orbit. They knew that when an economic or political crisis came along, they would be ready to go. As Milton Friedman remarked, “When the time came that you had to change … there was an alternative ready there to be picked up.”
Every generation or so, political stories need to be refreshed or replaced.
But most importantly, they had something which their opponents…