ForeWord Reviews

great books independent voices

Occupy World Street

Foreword Review

According to Ross Jackson, Canadian philanthropist and co-founder of SimCorp, a Danish financial software company, our civilization is in the midst of an unavoidable global collapse and “life as we know it” faces ruination. The threats are multitudinous and complex: climate change and global warming; species extinction; overpopulation; global injustice; increasing inequality; ecosystem overload; over-consumption; the peak in global oil production; and political corruption and inaction. And, as Jackson shows, the principal threat to the survival of our civilization is today’s “dysfunctional, undemocratic” economic and political establishment.

The world’s “ruling elites,” Jackson writes, “are quite satisfied with the status quo and have no interest in finding global solutions … [while] ordinary citizens are dissatisfied with the status quo and are crying out for change.” Thus, the central dilemma of this perilous inertia is: “those who can, will not; those who will, cannot.”

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in September of 2011 attempted to communicate this maddening frustration felt by ordinary citizens whose economic welfare has deteriorated due to “an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the nonprofit sectors of society … to the already wealthy.” The protests drew participation from 1,500 cities worldwide, and by October had “morphed” into Occupy World Street.

Jackson’s Occupy World Street is a multilayered treatise that defines and dismantles the global issues putting us at risk. He writes expertly on humankind’s relentless rate of consumption that far exceeds Nature’s ability to replenish. He crafts a devastating indictment of the United States as a declining democracy that’s trending toward a “corporatocracy” and motivated by “elitist self-interest and indifferent to the dangers [of an economic system that] is driving our planet to ruin.” He is ultra-precise in his presentation of our flawed and exploitive economic structure.

Ultimately though, the book is a call for radical revolution of the current worldview and the formation of a new civilization that Jackson terms the “Gaian world order.” This emergent worldview is based on ecological sustainability; universal human values; egalitarianism; and “ecological economics,” which derives from the laws of physics and biology and recognizes that the economic system is “embedded in an ecosystem [that] is finite.”

Jackson details how to implement a Gaian world order that promotes global cooperative governance. His ideas are systematic, inspiring, and optimistic. For some, Jackson’s notions may seem impractical, even unattainable. Yet, every revolution begins with an idea, and Jackson’s book deserves widespread attention.

Amy O'Loughlin