I initially read George Monibot’s somewhat utopian vision of a better world, based on a “politics of belonging… rooted in community” (So how do we get out of this mess?, Review, 9 September) with eager anticipation. But then I realised that he had not addressed the question of what “belonging” and “community” mean in the increasingly globalised, mobile, interconnected and multicultural realities that make up our world in the 21st century. As Zygmunt Bauman explained so well in his insightful books on “liquid modernity”, more and more people (including me) are finding it difficult if not impossible to figure out where and with whom they belong in this contemporary reality.
I have owned a house in a small town in the West Midlands for the last 11 years, but have only lived in it for five of those, because during the other six I’ve lived and pursued my career in two other countries. And although I was born and grew up in England, I have spent half my life living and working in another country, of which I am also a (dual) citizen. My families are scattered across the world. Now that I am back living in my house here, I cannot credibly claim that I belong in this community, and I suspect that it will be a long time, if at all, before those who have lived here all their lives will consider that I do. So what does a “politics of belonging” mean for me and millions of others like me?
• Although neoliberalism and social democracy might be seen as conflicting economic doctrines, their similarity is where our attention should be focused. Whether discussing nationalisation or international corporations the crucial point is they are both products of a “boss system”. An injection of industrial democracy is needed if we are to achieve the kind of cooperative decentralised society George Monbiot seeks.
All Stretton, Shropshire
• History is full of failed utopias. But there are many successful ventures around the world that fit George Monbiot’s values: co-operative movements, stakeholder organisations, shared ownership and not-for-profit businesses. These are documented in Margaret Heffernan’s book A Bigger Prize, which I commend to all who share Monbiot’s altruism.
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