REVOLT FROM THE CENTER: Utopia or Big Brother? by Niels I.; K. Helveg Petersen & Willy Sorensen Meyer

REVOLT FROM THE CENTER: Utopia or Big Brother?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This Danish contribution to the ""small is beautiful"" literature poses the alternative in the subtitle as a false choice and purports to opt instead for a realizable ""humane, ecologically sustainable society,"" which turns out to be a little bit of both alternatives. Much of the book is given over to the by-now-familiar shortcomings of the contemporary industrial order: it is wasteful of natural and human resources, devoted to oppressive centralization and hierarchic authority, uncompetitive and inegalitarian, and confident, still, that all its problems will be solved through continued, but impossible, growth. Plus: the political system is dominated by special interests directed by bankrupt dogmas of left and right. But the authors--physicist, politician, and philosopher, respectively--have a technocratic solution all worked out. First, they envision a decentralized society of cooperative economic entities operating through a true competitive market. The members of these cooperatives receive the same wages. Technology has been employed to reduce unpleasant or boring labor, and computer technology has been decentralized along with everything else so that it is now useful to everyday life instead of a Big-Brother threat. Politics, too, is concentrated at the local level, and the national government exists as a technical instrument of coordination at national and international levels. We can get there, moreover, without shaking the boat or even changing the political system. The first step is a wage policy aimed at penalizing those over the national average and increasing the wages of those below (while compensating those on both sides for inflation). This is combined with measures against inherited wealth and in support of industrial experimentation; hut the authors do not combine their wage program with either measures protecting the economy from international inflationary pressures or with a price control program, which has the net result of keeping wages down. Like many such plans, it's appealing--on paper.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1980
Publisher: Marian Boyars (99 Main St., Salem, NH 03079)