Book review

NetworkReviewAutumn2015By David Lorimer, Editor of Network Review – Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network, Autumn 2015, page 69

Common Sense
Tom Butler

Astraea 2014, 489 pp.
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Uneasy about the ethical standards he saw around him, Tom Butler left the world of venture capitalism just over 15 years ago to devote himself to an organic lifestyle and researching the many dimensions of our current planetary challenges and the background thinking that informs them. This book is the story of his discoveries as he comes to the conclusion, shared by many others, that we urgently need a universal global system change starting with the individual and based on the very simple premise of doing the right thing in the right way. He takes the view that there is no meaning of life but that there can be meaning in life resulting from our general orientation. His central conclusion is that change is coming and that we must learn to live with nature and natural laws or nature will get rid of us.

Many readers will be familiar with the ground he covers and indeed with the recommendations he makes. The real challenge is implementation. For instance, in relation to population he recommends voluntary self-control. The fact that populations are not increasing in developed countries, however, is not principally a matter of self-control – there are many factors involved, including the education of women. Nor is it clear how we will voluntarily limit our consumption as he suggests. It is true that the future is in our hands in terms of the choices we make, but the drivers maintaining the current system are very powerful and unlikely to step aside before a serious breakdown occurs – the ‘suits’ in charge know little or nothing about ideas such as holonics discussed in this book and tend to take a ‘winner takes all’ view. Having said that, the author provides some useful personal tools for change at an individual level, and we all have a role to play in the evolution of our collective choices.