Jamie Bartlett's Radicals: Outsiders Changing The World
Here's the book blurb:
In the last few years the world has changed in unexpected ways. The power of radical ideas and groups is growing. What was once considered extreme is now the mainstream. But what is life like on the political fringes? What is the real power of radicals?
Radicals is an exploration of the individuals, groups and movements who are rejecting the way we live now, and attempting to find alternatives. In it, Jamie Bartlett, one of the world’s leading thinkers on radical politics and technology, takes us inside the strange and exciting worlds of the innovators, disruptors, idealists and extremists who think society is broken, and believe they know how to fix it.
From dawn raids into open mines to the darkest recesses of the internet, Radicals introduces us to some of the most secretive and influential movements today: techno-futurists questing for immortality, far-right groups seeking to close borders, militant environmentalists striving to save the planet's natural reserves by any means possible, libertarian movements founding new countries, autonomous cooperatives in self-sustaining micro-societies, and psychedelic pioneers attempting to heal society with the help of powerful hallucinogens.
As well as providing a fascinating glimpse at the people and ideas driving these groups, Radicals also presents a startling argument: radicals are not only the symptoms of a deep unrest within the world today, but might also offer the most plausible models for our future.
Radicals was reviewed by the Guardian - an excerpt here:
...All of the chapters contain thoughtful and intelligent reflections on the position of outsiders who, as Bartlett reminds us, could well be proven by history to be ahead of their time. After all, he argues, the past is littered with people who seemed mad or mavericks in their own era, but by today’s norms would seem conventional. It’s also worth remembering that history is full of fruitcakes who have grown no less nutty with the judgment of time.
Bartlett started writing the book in 2014. Since then, the world has changed quite a bit: Brexit and Donald Trump were once marginal cases that didn’t fit into the “Overton Window” of acceptable ideas. So were Brexiters and Trump supporters radicals who have now shifted to take control of popular terrain? Although these unexpected outcomes help make Bartlett’s book more timely, they also expose the problems in collecting non-mainstream beliefs in such a seemingly random manner.
Neither Trump nor Farage are radicals in any meaningful sense of the word: they’re opportunists whose particular reactionary agendas happen, for various reasons, to be enjoying their day in the sun. By the same token, most of the subjects of Bartlett’s notebook, including the egregious Tommy Robinson, founder of the EDL, as well as the short-lived Pegida UK, are not promoting political beliefs that have any real shelf life in a fast-changing world.
You sense that Bartlett knows this, and it’s the touching futility – rather than any pragmatic utility – of their beliefs in which he is most interested. I wish he’d focused more on the deluded and desperate aspects of what drives people away from mainstream ideas. Because if true radicals inherit the future, then too many of the occupants of these pages are haplessly trying to recreate an idealised past.