Tuesday, September 20, 2016


by Samuel Alexander
Simplicity Institute Publishing 2013

This 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.

However 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.

Conspicuously 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.

By 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.

I 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 author.

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