Book review by Dave Young

The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness by Bruce Nixon has two immediately obvious attributes: positivity and accessibility.

Many recent tomes documenting the current ecological crisis have been incisive in diagnosing the problem, yet less assured in proposing remedies.  No wonder, the complex and interrelated economic and environmental problems of the planet have accrued over many years of industrialisation, and laissez-faire government policy; fixing all that is a tall order.

In contrast this book features short chapters, punchy paragraphs and a range of strategies from someone with direct experience of the private sector; who ultimately will need to be co-opted into any systemic remedies.

Bruce Nixon is a self-described: “veteran change agent, author, writer, speaker, facilitator and activist, former development consultant and business schoolteacher”. He is also part of his local Transition Town steering group. There’s a full and fascinating biography at

In the book, Nixon confronts failures of political leadership
and makes a cogent case for fundamental changes to current democratic structures in order to support community-based environmental policy formulation. A new kind of politics based on an incisive and informative geopolitical analytical model he terms ‘systemic thinking’. 

“The greatest obstacles are the lack of farsighted, courageous leaders who are well-informed and will speak the truth, together with disempowered citizens who think there is nothing they can do.

“People (are) concerned about the unprecedented challenges facing humanity: Climate chaos, ecocide, economic and social injustice… 

“All over the West, neoliberal economic ideology, austerity, consumerism, free-market capitalism and top-down politics are being challenged, especially by younger people. The internet is transforming politics by facilitating dialogue and giving power to people. 

“We face the biggest challenges in our history. Science and technology will not help us unless we are determined to act urgently on the need to tackle climate chaos, conserve a living planet, resolve gross economic inequality and break entrenched power structures.”

First published in 2016 when it was awarded the Oxford Alumni book of the year accolade, this book offers ways forward and practical solutions based on ideas from an impressive range of people and institutions, such as the Electoral Reform Society, Global Justice Now and the New Economics Foundation – advocates of the Green New Deal. As Nixon says: “It will help you decide how you want to engage with others in creating a better world through a peaceful revolution. Above all it will give you hope.”

Published by Acorn Books, £9.99, PB, 300 pages.

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