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In 2020, two mighty sets of forces battled for control of the United States.
Trump led the charge, threatening to continue his brand of racist, gangster capitalism. Revolted by the prospect, the Democrats, influenced by Bernie Sanders, mobilised voters in record numbers. But, now in the White House, can Biden and the liberal centre ally with progressives under the banner of humanity to renew democracy on Earth and save our ecosystem?
From Anthony Barnett, co-creator and former editor-in-chief of openDemocracy, comes this blazing response to the confrontation between Trumpism and Biden in America, that sets out how the future of humankind is at stake. As democracy rests on a knife edge in the USA, changed forever in the wake of Black Lives Matter, the ongoing climate crisis and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taking Control! shows how what is happening in America may yet give us hope for change across the world.
Anthony Barnett is the author of Iron Britannia, Soviet Freedom, This Time and The Lure of Greatness. He was the first Co-ordinator of Britain’s Charter 88, Co-director of the Convention on Modern Liberty, and was a founding Editor of openDemocracy from 2001-2007.
“Up against the wickedness of those who choose to abuse their wealth and power, Anthony Barnett sees a slender chance for hope in the USA, and challenges us to rethink how we do politics. I hope he’s right.”
“Taking Control! is a marvellous book that reads like a thriller. It shows us how the fascist inclinations are innate to the neoliberal system and offers a solid way out of the global perils without hesitating to discuss the socialist option. It is clear from the tone that Barnett truly feels the pain of man-made troubles of our age and makes it his own problem to fight against them.”
“Taking Control! is a moving exploration of political possibility and an essential guide for making sense of our historical moment, its potential and dangers. Sketching what he calls the “forces of humanisation,” Anthony Barnett provides an impressive account of today’s unequal global order, with the US at the center, as well as the potential for genuine change, with a concrete vision of what liberation might entail.”
“With discontent uniting so many of us, at a time when the climate crisis demands real change, how can we break through deadening polarization? How do we build both the democratic movement and the structures essential for us to take control? Barnett has done a wonderful job in capturing so much. As a fellow ‘68er, I applaud his coherent challenge to keep organizing.”
“Out of the ruins of neoliberalism and its vast human cost there emerged Donald Trump. He was denied a second term by disparate forces that, if properly united, offer real hope. In this superb analysis from the democratic (and romantic) left, sometimes withering, essentially optimistic, Anthony Barnett generously delivers a rebuke to the pessimism that is paralysing a scattered opposition. The centre and left must hold together. This passionately conceived book comes at a crucial moment, for the stakes could not be higher. If Trump and his grim surrogates around the world succeed then, among much else, climate change resistance is doomed, Barnett argues. He has given a lifetime to the cause of a saner, more democratic politics and his memory is long. Here, his mission is grand and big-hearted. He ranges widely to propose how we might act so the destructive, delusional folly of Trumpism shall not pass.”
“Anthony Barnett writes beautifully and with sharp insight, and about the possibilities opened up by historical contingency and human creativity. Whether he is right about the rest of the contemporary juncture — and with such panoramic scope that is unlikely — he is blunt and stark on the threat posed by Trumpism, and clear-eyed about the struggle to prevent climate breakdown.”
“A wonderful book that tells a compelling story of a democratic awakening. Agency and possibility are back to reanimate the spirit of 1968. But also for the darker forces it unleashed, not least Trumpism, which seized on the nightmare America became for far too many. A worldly optimist, conscious of past defeats, Barnett sets out a possible route to a democratic future.”
“An astonishingly good book, jam packed with crackling insight and practical hope.”