by Samuel Alexander
Simplicity Institute Publishing 2013
is essentially a manifesto for a sustainable way of living. It's
presented as the fictional account of an island society protected from
the general collapse of global civilization. There are some good ideas
here and I strongly identify with the themes of this book.
I can't honestly say this is a satisfying read. The presentation style
gets tedious after a few chapters. We are supposed to believe that the
narrator has left the successful island of Entropia and is telling us
all about it in the past tense. However this never feels particularly
authentic because there are no funny annecdotes, no fleshed out
characters, no tension. The story is essentially a projection about what
life could and should be like in the future: "we do this with our
resources because of this"..."our political structure is like this for
these reasons"... etc and the device of telling it in the past tense
just gets in the way after a while.
The tone is also a bit waffly. There's often times long paragraphs with only a word or two of substance.
absent in this discussion of Entropia is the subject of information
technology. There doesn't seem to be much mention of communications or
computers. This was disappointing to me because I was (am) curious to
know how these technologies fit in with the author's vision of a
sustainable society. I also wondered why none of the young folk of the
island ever attempted to reestablish contact with other parts of the
world. These omissions are somewhat explained at the end of the book.
the way, it's worth sticking it out for the ending. If you're
understandably bored in the middle of the book you may be reassured that
something interesting does indeed happen in the last chapters.
have probably sounded a little critical so far but there were a lot of
things that resonated with me. Probably my favourite part of the book
was the "charter for the deep future" - basically the constitutional
statement for the people of Entropia. For example: "We affirm that
providing enough for everyone, forever, is the defining objective of our
economy, which we seek to achieve by working together in free
association".... "We affirm that maintaining a healthy environment
require creating a stationary state economy that operates within
environmental and energy limits" ...etc etc.
Apparently there has
been the creation of an actual planned community based on the ideas in
Entropia. So I'm eager to hear about it perhaps in a future book by this