Maggie Shaw’s Book of the Month | May 2022

Hi there, Maggie Shaw here, proud owner of Eregendal and author.

As a lifelong lover of reading, each month I choose one of my favourite books- and tell you all about it!

For May’s Book of the Month I have chosen This is Not a Drill – an Extinction Rebellion Handbook published by Penguin Random House in 2019. This collection of essays by many contributors was edited by Clare Farrell, Alison Green, Sam Knights and William Skeaping. The essays were compiled with the intention of giving people who are concerned about climate change the skills and knowledge to be able to support the Extinction Rebellion movement and work as activists to support their green cause.

The book is divided into two main sections: Part One: Tell the Truth; and Part Two: Act Now. The Foreword and Introduction are preceded by Extinction Rebellion’s Declaration of Rebellion against humankind’s walking blindly into a sixth mass extinction event, which concludes with the statement, ‘We act on behalf of life’. The Afterword, contributed by former Archbishop Rowan Williams, is followed by cartoons encouraging action and protest, and a specimen form of The Social Contract to the reader understand how political government has broken the contract between the state and the individual, implying that this leaves the individual free to break the contract between the person and the state.

I found the twelve essays in Part I particularly powerful, as writer after writer described the damage already caused by climate change to their different ways of life and their countries. Rampant capitalism had always been of great concern to me, because of its two false assumptions that our planet’s resources can be exploited indefinitely, and that increased growth can continue ad infinitum. This section clearly describes the damage that such consumerism has already caused to those who experience the most destruction and yet receive the least benefit from the system.

The seventeen essays in Part 2 put together practical actions which can be taken to protest against such an unbalanced political and economic system, and ways to cope with the risks entailed in activism, such as facing police, arrest and going to jail. I was particularly interested in the essay A New Economics by Kate Raworth, which clearly stated the difference between the destructive Economist’s centralised linear industrial system, and the more natural Nature’s growth curve based on decentralisation, regeneration and reuse We are called to reimagine who we are: not just the labour, consumers, creditors and debtors of the market-based system; but the partners, parents, residents and voters who should expect our political and economic systems to act by co-operation, empathy, altruism and reciprocity – qualities sadly missing in our present day government.

Reading this book, left me feeling disappointed that the Covid-19 pandemic struck just as Extinction Rebellion was getting going. The activism before lockdown achieved one of the movement’s desired goals, in that climate change is now much higher up on many political agendas worldwide. But for the rich and powerful, who have been able to use the pandemic to increase their wealth and power, it is still business as usual, preventing the dynamic change needed to avert impending climate disaster.

So there we have it, May’s Book of the Month! Be sure to check back in June as I’ll be revealing another must read.

Take care,

Maggie x

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