by Kevin Karaca | @kevinkaraca
Peak Oil is around the corner. The rise in the political-right sends hints that the neoliberal project is coming to an end. Economic growth is being questioned by many. What could a post-growth society look like?
It’s the third decade of the 21st century when Industrial Civilisation collapsed. A community living on an island in the South Pacific Ocean find themselves isolated with no way of knowing what is happening on the mainlands. So, their only option is to survive with what they have on the island.
This utopian novel from Samuel Alexander, scholar and Head of the Simplicity Institute, is a narrative rooted in very realistic theory. Unlike the utopias we’re used to, Alexander looks at what a post-oil future could look like and what we might have to achieve in order to survive and be happy. As an academic engaged in degrowth theory, Alexander is in a great position to bring in the concepts discussed, which are especially relevant in today’s political climate. He looks at the commons, conviviality, job sharing and politics, whilst painting a clear picture of what a simple lifestyle could really be like.
The island’s story is told by a character, born on the island and lived there all his life. The island lost contact with the outer world when the first settlers had moved there all those years ago. So, for all they know, they are the only human community left on the planet!
The protagonist guides us through the result of 7 decades of trial and error and how they created a self-sustainable economy with the limited resources they have. We see the joys of their community, how they celebrate together, hold meetings, make decisions. Marriage no longer exists yet it is not what you would think. Also, leisure time is a thing of the past and the arts are thriving. Education is booming regardless of the tragedy of the fire. Simplicity has brought happiness.
Maybe the biggest surprise is not the way of life that is so beautiful. No, Entropia concludes with a twist. A Noble Lie that has you confounded and shocked. To say more would be to spoil the pleasures of reaching the climax of the story…
In conclusion, Entropia has you turning the pages throughout, and is a great introduction to the concepts that underlie degrowth theory. This book is perfect for anyone interested in ecology, alternative narratives, the alter-globalisation movement or environmentalism. It shows that life without excessive material consumption can be one full of joy.
Alexander has done a great job at showing what an alternative lifestyle could look like in a post-industrial world. Will we get there? I think so. Will it be in our lifetimes? I’m not so sure, but it sounds awesome.
Book Cover taken from www.bookofentropia.com homepage.